The Future of Mobility

The ‘Future of mobility: urban strategy’ outlines the UK government’s approach to maximising the benefits from transport innovation in cities and towns. It sets out the principles that will guide government’s response to emerging transport technologies and business models.

The strategy also contains details of the next steps for the government’s Future of mobility grand challenge.

Alongside the strategy, the Department for Transport (DfT) has published the summary of responses to its Future of mobility call for evidence.

Although not overly relevant to us here in Wales from a policy point of view, there are lots of lessons to be learned on the future of mobility and issues of air quality, active travel and the South Wales metro area. It can be used to look at the problems surrounding current transport trends and ideas for the future including case studies.

The document states the below definitions which are useful in this context:

Active travel: The terms ‘active travel’ and ‘walking and cycling’ are used in this document
to encompass a range of methods of active mobility, including trips made by wheelchair,
mobility scooters, adapted cycles and e-bikes.

Car clubs (sometimes known as car-sharing): Car clubs use electronic systems to
provide customers unattended access to cars for short-term rental, often by the hour.
Business models can be categorised into round-trips, where the vehicle must be returned
to its home station, and flexible, which allows one-way trips. Vehicles may be owned by
individuals and lent out on a peer-to-peer basis via an intermediary platform, or form part of
a fleet owned by a single organisation.

Demand responsive transport: A flexible service that provides shared transport in response to requests from users specifying desired locations and times of pickup and delivery. Dial-a-ride services scheduled through next day or advance bookings are a traditional example.

Dynamic demand responsive transport: More recent applications of demand responsive transport seek to work dynamically, adjusting routes in real time to accommodate new pickup requests often made minutes in advance.

Fractional ownership: An ownership model that involves a group of people purchasing or
leasing a good (such as a vehicle) and splitting the costs.

Micromobility: The use of small mobility devices, designed to carry one or two people, or
‘last mile’ deliveries. E-scooters and e-bikes are examples.

Mobility as a Service: The integration of various modes of transport along with
information and payment functions into a single mobility service. Recent services that
allow customers to purchase monthly subscription packages giving them access to public
transport and private taxi and bike hire schemes are an example.

Ride-hailing: Ride-hailing services use smartphone apps to connect paying passengers
with licensed taxi drivers or private hire vehicle operators who provide rides for profit.
Ride-sharing (sometimes known as car-pooling): Formal or informal sharing of rides
between unlicensed drivers and passengers with a common or similar journey route.

Ride-sharing platforms charge a fee for bringing together drivers and passengers. Drivers share trip costs with passengers rather than making a profit.

Shared mobility: Transport services and resources that are shared among users, either
concurrently or one after another. Public transport, or mass transit, as well as newer models
such as car-sharing, bike-sharing and ride-sharing, are all types of shared mobility.

Current UK Car Statistics

  • 74% of adults have a driving license (80% of men and 69% of women)
  • 76% of households have access to a car (35% having two or more)
  • 61% of all personal trips are made by car (78% of personal trip mileage)
  • 85% of people travel by car at least once a week
  • 87% of people agree that they need to own a car in their current lifestyle
  • There are six cars for every ten people in the UK but the average car is unused 96% of the time.
  • Parking spaces occupy around 15-30% of a typical urban area

Air and Noise Pollution

Air pollution remains the top environmental risk to human health in the UK. It is worse in towns and cities and road transport accounts for 80% of nitrogen oxide concentrations at the roadside. The social cost of sleep disturbance, annoyance, and not to mention health impacts such as heart attacks, strokes and dementia from noise pollution was estimated at £7-10 billion in 2010.


The time lost as a result of congestion costs the UK economy approximately £2billion a year before we consider the serious environmental costs of driving that is not fuel-efficient in stop-start traffic.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Transport is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the UK, accounting for 27% of all emissions (road transport accounting for 91% of these emissions).

Health Issues

The lack of physical activity due to modern lifestyles and reliance on personal cars is a cause of obesity. Around 60% of adults in Wales are overweight or obese, with the UK currently having the highest obesity levels in Western Europe.

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