Europeans and their mobility: better days ahead

One can only feel energized by the latest study published by BCG and Ipsos on the expectations held by Europeans regarding mobility. Surely, Europeans spend a lot of time commuting (almost two hours a day); 65% of them still use their car to go to work/training; and 58% lament the congestion they must contend with during rush hour. And these are only averages: best not to be Greek if you don’t like spending time in transport (2.36 hours per day); and it is in fact in Greece that people most complain about congestion. In short: everything is stuck, polluted, and annoying. Nothing new here.

And yet, at the bottom of this Pandora’s box of mobility woes is more than a hope, a certainty: technology will save us! Consider the electric vehicle: next to three quarters of the sample interviewed for this study (i.e., 10,000 persons in 10 countries) are confident in their ability to cover long distances using electrical vehicles. They also make a strong argument for ever more personalized services, safer driving and an upgraded mobility experience, regardless of the mode of transport involved. Similarly, 70% of them believe that technology will fluidize multimodality: in the future, they will be able to leave their cars at the gates of the city, which they will access using public transport. In the ten countries in question, two thirds of respondents believe that technology will improve their daily commute: more comfortable, more pleasant, less stressful. There, again, the award goes to Greeks: 90% of them believe this, while Germans appear more moderate, a surprise for a country reputed for its technical capabilities.

This optimism is also an appeal to public authorities: “INVEST!” is the other main message emerging from this study. Roads, urban public transit networks, intermodal connections, rail, charging stations for electrical vehicles: the whole spectrum of mobility infrastructure is convened. European citizens are thus unwittingly echoing insistent recommendations from major international organizations such as the IMF since 2014 and implicitly call for the page of the 2008 crisis to be turned.

Optimistic, strong-willed and forward-looking: mobility is one area in which Europeans largely belie the sad portrayal too often drawn of our old continent.

This op-ed first appeared in Urban Snapshot (April 2017) by La Fabrique de la Cité.

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La Fabrique de la Cité

La Fabrique de la Cité is a think tank dedicated to urban foresight, created by the VINCI group, its sponsor, in 2010. La Fabrique de la Cité acts as a forum where urban stakeholders, whether French or international, collaborate to bring forth new ways of building and rebuilding cities.

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