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Sustainable Mobility Ecosystems in Smart Cities


Three different cities we studied illustrate the power of this multilayered ecosystem approach.

Singapore: Singapore’s officials have said they want it to be a “45-minute city”—meaning that people can travel from their home to their place of work in less than 45 minutes. The government has built infrastructure for bus rapid transit (BRT), light-rail transit (LRT), and mass rapid transit (MRT). (Because sustainability is a key goal, municipal leaders have committed to having a 100% clean energy public bus and taxi fleet by 2040.) Singapore also has collaborated with French transportation company Bolloré to develop an electric car–sharing program, called BlueSG.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Economic Development Board, through various public–private partnerships, is working to create an innovation pipeline to take advantage of new mobility offerings such as on-demand autonomous shuttles—in collaboration with Alliances for Action (AfA), an industry-led coalition—and air taxis, in collaboration with Volocopter. Already a technology leader among cities, Singapore has been using advanced tech, including smart sensors, connectivity, and cloud computing, to enable a centralized bus fleet management system, which has improved service efficiency.

What the city is doing well: To achieve its vision of becoming a 45-minute city, Singapore is focusing on building its infrastructure (e.g., it is building intermodal mobility hubs to allow commuters to move seamlessly from one mode of transportation to another). The city is developing a robust innovation ecosystem, collaborating with many private-sector players. Singapore has proactively shaped both the demand side (e.g., congestion fines, vehicle quotas) and the supply side (e.g., nonmotorized transportation policy), and has provided guidance for forward-looking technologies (e.g., technical references for autonomous vehicles).

Istanbul: The city is focused on providing citizens with multiple ways to travel efficiently (MRT, LRT, and BRT), while expanding roads, highways, and bridges. It is experimenting with technologies such as an electronic tolling system, and is even looking into the possibility of developing flying cars. By adopting an ecosystem approach, the city has made inroads into tackling its mobility challenges.

What the city is doing well: Istanbul is focusing on its modes of mobility/B2C offerings and mobility assets to provide multiple options to its citizens (e.g., MRT, LRT, and BRT). To tackle its unique traffic challenge—the Bosphorus Strait separates the city’s Asian and European sides—Istanbul is building underground road tunnels as well as an underground metro line to mitigate congestion on bridges (the infrastructure layer). It has used the financing and insurance layer to finance capital-intensive infrastructure projects through public–private partnerships.

Brisbane, Australia: On average, Brisbane residents travel farther for work than they do for any other purpose—in fact, double the distance. To alleviate this burden on commuters, the city is developing a new public bus network of more than 1,200 vehicles and 6,200 stops. Queensland is currently trialing hydrogen fuel cell buses, which local authorities want to become as ubiquitous as mobile phones. Through an investment of AU$5.4 billion (US$3.8 billion), the Queensland Government is working on a new high-speed, high-frequency rail link, the Cross River Rail. The in-progress metro project and a provision for water taxis, coupled with the existing shared mobility and micromobility modes—such as electric bikes and scooters—aim at making the city highly accessible and connected.

Brisbane places great importance on improving technology and developing infrastructure. The Brisbane Metropolitan Transport Management Centre, operated in partnership with the Queensland Government, provides real-time monitoring and operation of the city’s road and busway networks. Smart parking and smart traffic lights, along with an integrated payment system, is helping it move ahead on the path of smart mobility. To support these smart mobility initiatives, the Brisbane city council aims at harnessing innovation by bringing together government, industry, research partners, and the private sector to share ideas, technologies, and data.

What the city is doing well: Brisbane is prioritizing its mobility infrastructure via an extensive network of high-frequency buses along major routes that connect the city with the outer suburbs. Brisbane is also focused on enhancing the modes of mobility/B2C offerings and the mobility assets, developing multiple modes of public transit such as rail, metro, and water ferries to make the city accessible and connected. Finally, Brisbane is employing data and technology enablement (e.g., one payment method that can be used across all public transit modes).


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