New report on the impact of digital platforms and COVID-19 on urban transport systems

Researchers at The University of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute have published a new report titled ’How digital platforms are reshaping urban mobility in a time of COVID-19 and after’.

Drawing on a range of examples from around the world, the report examines how digital platforms have responded to the shock to urban mobility created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report analyses six different kinds of response and how these have contributed to changing patterns of urban mobility, highlighting three key implications for urban transport authorities, policymakers and practitioners working in the area of urban transport, especially in the UK:

  • First, the global pandemic and platform-based responses to the shock to urban mobility pose serious challenges to agglomeration thinking which has dominated urban transport policy and planning in recent decades. Changing patterns of mobility and its implications for urban geography presents a pressing strategic concern for urban transport authorities.

  • Second, COVID-19 has accelerated and intensified the reshaping of urban mobility by digital platforms. These include growing pressures on public transport operators; intensifying surveillance and datafication of urban transport; an increasingly fragmented and unequal urban landscape of work, mobility patterns and transport provision; further experimentation with alternative forms of private platform-based mobility provision.

  • Third, responses to the pandemic have shone light on opportunities for transport authorities to mobilise platforms to strategically shape urban mobility for the common good. However, in order to create truly integrated urban transport systems and meet today’s mobility challenges, urban transport authorities clearly need significantly greater power, resources and expertise. This is especially important with respect to the ownership and control of urban mobility data and integrative mobility-as-a-service platforms.
Photo by Mangopear creative on Unsplash

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