Congested Middle Eastern cities need solutions for mobility challenges: BCG

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Urban Mobility
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A recent report by renowned management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has opined that global urban transport networks are close to the breaking point in megacities while many new mobility modes designed to fix fundamental issues and improve quality of life are creating further problems. 

The ‘Solving the Mobility Challenges in Megacities’ report from BCG reveals that as long as mobility-related issues such as traffic congestion and air pollution persist, urban mobility will continue to deteriorate.

Citing Riyadh in Saudi Arabia as one of the use cases, the report stated that the city with an approximate population of 4.9 million and an equated one million cars on the roads daily presently struggles with congestion and is ranked amongst the most polluted cities in the world.

BCG underscores the need for mobility challenge solutions in Riyadh with an expectation of seven million potential new women drivers by 2025 along with the 35 percent of inhabitants currently under the age of 18 who will obtain drivers’ licenses in the near future, and an estimated population of more than eight million people by 2030.

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Mr. Giovanni Moscatelli
MD and Partner
BCG Middle East

“Urbanization is growing exponentially. While traditional modes of transport – metros, trams, and buses – can be further enhanced, new mobility ecosystem solutions present a viable avenue to sustainability. E-scooters, ride-hailing, and other emerging mobility modes such as AVs, robo-shuttles, and MaaS can be essential components in the urban transport system of the future, gradually replacing automobiles.”

Speaking about an effective solution for the problem, BCG Middle East’s Project Leader Ingmar Schaefer remarked that “System-level change is essential. Addressing urban mobility requires an understanding of what consumers truly want from their transportation system, and public and private operators in the fragmented mobility ecosystem working together effectively. Therefore, cities need an orchestrator to bring order to the transportation chaos.”

The consulting firm sees the introduction of an orchestrator who can impose order by making decisions regarding the roles of every player, establishing rules, identifying an optimal mix of different mobility modes, creating an overarching vision, and setting target KPIs such as travel times.

BCG recommends that with an orchestrator at the realm, private players and city planners must prepare to take the following essential steps to maximize future urban mobility benefits and opportunities.

  • Define the ambition: The orchestrator must decide their position in the future ecosystem and cities require a vision of want to look like in the future.
  • Create effective governance: Those responsible for orchestration will have to institute future-proof procedures to define the roles of all concerned parties, ensure productive performance, and maintain momentum.
  • Invest in new competencies: The orchestrator will need to build technological capabilities and skills when the ambition has been defined and governance created.
  • Develop robust partnership models: Successful collaboration will be essential to delivering better and more integrated transport solutions.

Municipal authorities in the Kingdom must become orchestrators of the urban transport ecosystem to prevent mass mobility disruption,” said Edoardo Geraci, Project Leader, BCG adding that “By reinventing themselves and coordinating public and private contributors, they can establish more prudent, integrated transport networks.”