23116_FOC Centralized Content_Mobility_Report_v3[90]

New modes of travel have unlocked significant changes to our cities historically. For much of history, people walked from home to their place of work. This dictated maximum community sizes and led to the densification of cities as their populations grew. Horses and carts allowed for the transfer of goods to and from a marketplace. However, distance comes at a cost, and the residual value of land therefore became highly contingent on the distance from the marketplace. The shape and values of our modern cities have been largely dictated by subsequent transport modes, and particularly, the train and the car. The train was a primary driver in the suburban form of most UK cities. It allowed people to decouple where they lived from where they worked, enabling demand for more space and in doing so addressed contemporary challenges around health and density as well as in many cases create MOBILITY Here’s where there’s a split. 82% of Londoners use public transport to get to work, whereas it is much lower in the rest of the country, where car use is preferred. However, in both cases as our cities have densified, our infrastructure has not kept pace, and now both road congestion and packed rush hour trains are the norm – even if that has been alleviated slightly since the pandemic. a consumer choice around proximity to space, residential requirements and commuting time.

This is not sustainable and new solutions are needed. Local authorities are taking active steps to return roads to people, and whole areas of city centres in Birmingham and Oxford for instance are proposed to be pedestrianised. Whilst this has many positives, it will only amplify the challenges of transporting people via public transport. Unlikely many of the other trends, we actually have good visibility on the major transport infrastructure of 2040. Such is the duration of infrastructure planning, that if it has not yet been planned, it is unlikely to be delivered by 2040. By way of example, London’s Crossrail was believe-it-or-not first scoped in 1941 and was only opened in May 2022. Even extra-urban point-to-point connection have long gestations, and the second phase of HS2 might not in fact be delivered prior to 2040. On these kind of journeys, new technology such as Hyperloop provides the prospect of reduced journey times (theoretically London > Birmingham in 14 mins). With rapid technological improvement, there is a risk that long term infrastructure such as this becomes obsolete before it is delivered. The UK is small and dense compared with other nations, and rapid transit such as this would increase the coalescence of our already well-connected major cities. What might change?


1 Cushman & Wakefiled | Future of Cities |

Takeaways » Transportation is perhaps the biggest determinant of the shape of our cities today. » London’s reliance on public transport stands in contrast to other UK cities. » New infrastructure can take easily 20 years to deliver; we are well sighted on the pipeline to 2040. » Increased capacity on existing lines will increase densification and public transport use. » New last mile modes will disperse and increase congestion, but will be protected against in development and city planning. » We are all likely to travel less by 2040. Black Swan Risks » Decrease travel time merges the UK’s cities into just one city. » Virtualisation radically reduces travel. » Reduced travel makes infrastructure improvements unaffordable.

More likely than new infrastructure is the delivery of increased capacity on existing infrastructure. More trains and longer trains will ease existing crowding issues. However, this will do two things. Firstly, it will encourage increased density in existing urban areas, rather than increased urban sprawl. Secondly, it will give trains the advantage over cars (where new road capacity is more challenging to deliver) and push more people onto public transport. At a finer grain, a resurgence in the use of personal transport either self-powered or electric is likely to continue and find favour in policy. Meanwhile an increased use of last mile modes such as a scooters, drones / automated pods and delivery vans, together with mobility-as-a-service fleets of automated vehicles have the potential to further drive congestions. Against this, much more scientific use of smart city traffic routing, will smooth out some capacity issues. Finally, we are all likely to travel less in 2040. Corporate occupiers are already working on strategies that prioritise ‘less and more meaningful’ travel and targeting a reduction in ‘corporate tourism’. A mix of home working, telecommuting, an increased focus on localism and ’15-minute cities’, and an increased economic reliance in digital products perhaps through the metaverse that move virtually, will result in less unnecessary journeys.


2 Cushman & Wakefiled | Future of Cities |

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