The road ahead
It won’t be easy to change entrenched transportation systems. In addition to the practical difficulties, city officials often have little visibility into the return on investment (ROI) for these initiatives.
Overall, 56% of respondents acknowledge that lack of clarity about implementation roadmaps and ROI are major roadblocks in their efforts to make their cities future-ready. For transportation, there are at least four main reasons why any ROI projection is bound to be little more than an educated guess.
First, it’s difficult to anticipate the extent to which new behaviors spurred by the pandemic—including remote and hybrid work and increased home-based entertainment— will continue, especially with continued technology advancement. For example, might new home entertainment options encourage even more people to stay home during weekends? How would societies react to possible new health crises?
Second, the very availability of new transportation options may create new demand as, for example, more people move to previously poorly served areas. This could divert demand for other transportation options, further complicating ROI calculations of new city projects.
Moreover, the ROI of a transportation project is not limited to the sector itself. It must include not just any revenue it generates but also the benefits it offers to the wider economy and business environment. These could include better access to retail outlets, higher productivity through shorter commute times and enlarging the talent pool for companies through multi-modal transport options.
Finally, transportation improvements deliver value that can’t be measured through financial gains. These include quality of life through streamlined commutes, cleaner air, improved health and greater environmental sustainability.
Like a journey on a potholed road, improving urban mobility will be full of bumps along the way. The scale of the problems that must be overcome can be daunting.
But with the willingness to try new solutions and use emerging technology, cities can create future-ready transportation systems that result in a healthier, more prosperous and resilient place to live.
This article was written by Eduardo Plastino, Director, Cognizant Research, and Rajeshwer Chigullapalli, Associate Director, Cognizant Research.
Find out more about how Cognizant Mobility contributes to sustainable mobility by providing architectural development, testing and integration for electric vehicles, charging systems and back-end solutions at our Automotive website.
For the full study, see our ebook, “Beyond smart cities—to future-ready cities.”