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In every city and community around the world, congestion and high traffic have reached unbearable levels. It is simply destroying our quality of life and our environment, not to mention wasting our time, damaging our health and without any doubt killing people.

But if you look into the subject deeper, you will find that congestion is not something that is happening to you. You are the congestion. Will let this sink in for a minute.

Each and every time you choose to get into your car alone and drive into the city, you are part of the problem which is not going away that easily. You are, in effect, doing this to yourself – which means you can choose to do something different.

There is no doubt that in many cities around the world, soon you will not be allowed to drive your car into the city or it will become so expensive that you will choose to do opt for a different method of travel.

At the recent World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, three trends that are shaping the future of mobility in 2020 have been defined:

  • The cost of owning private vehicles will rise.
  • Citizens’ demands for inclusive mobility are growing in volume.
  • More public-private partnerships will form to address mobility issues.

As society is no longer willing to bear the high cost of private vehicle ownership without making the vehicle owner pay, owning a car will become more expensive in many ways. These ways come in the form of higher registration, fuel taxes, road tolls or parking fees. And by looking at car-sharing options, which are not the solution, because it won’t get more cars off the roads unless those cars are fully or nearly fully occupied, there is a new trend emerging.

People today are insisting that mobility is a right and a public good and that it must be inclusive.

Inclusivity means the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of minority groups and around the globe, inclusivity and improved quality of life are top of the list of the most important issues.

This means that mobility must serve everyone – including those on low incomes, the disabled and elderly, and places with low demand such as rural areas. Inclusive mobility is mobility that is safe for everyone.

Technological advances can be harnessed to make mobility more inclusive and improve quality of life. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, connectivity, and automation are being applied to mobility.

And, when talking about mobility and public transport, the best example is Tallinn, Estonia. A destination where we are heading to host the inaugural edition of the TECH Conference Europe Spring Edition.

From the beginning of January 2013, Tallinn is the first capital in the EU to provide free public transport to its citizens.

To be entitled to freely use public transport in Tallinn, citizens of Tallinn have to purchase the so-called ‘green card’ (EUR 2) and personalize it. People from outside Tallinn can also buy the ‘green card’ which enables them to load the needed amount of money to use public transport. How about that?

But, let’s not stop there. Since August 2019, a self-driving bus line is connecting the Kadriorg Tram stop to the Kumu Art Museum. Yes, you read it right, it’s a driverless vehicle that is carrying passengers between 10 am and 1 pm and 2 pm and 4 pm from Tuesdays to Sundays.

The bus is part of the Sohjoa Baltic project which researches, promotes and pilots automated driverless electric minibusses as part of the public transport chain, especially for the first/last-mile connectivity. In Estonia, the project is run by Tallinn Transport Department in cooperation with Tallinn University of Technology (Taltech).

When it comes to self-driving vehicles in Estonia, a company called Lumebot has just announced last November the release of autonomous snow-shoveling robots for public use. The first robots have already taken to the streets from the beginning of November 2019 in the Tehnopol Science and Business Campus in Tallinn. Meanwhile, the company is mapping international markets as well.

As you can see, there are many ways in which we can innovate and hopefully can consider 2020 as a cornerstone of mobility.

TECH Conference Europe Spring Edition in Tallinn will take place on the 5th of May at Radisson Blu Hotel Olümpia and you can still benefit from the Early Bird Rate until 31 January. Register now to secure your seat! (limited to 125 delegates)