Traveling together is beneficial in many ways, both from individual and environmental perspectives. It reduces pollution and land use compared to an infrastructure centred around the private car.

The car has dominated the city structure for 60 years, but now a shift is underway where pedestrian and bicycle traffic is increasing.

Bike lanes are one of our most common projects we see. Also, that there will be more alternative modes of transport, often with a well-developed public transport as a backbone and with complementary modes of transport in the form of, for example, car pools or bicycles or electric vehicles that you rent or borrow. We have vehicles that are used together and adapted to the travel and transport needs.

Public transport in European cities is inaccessible to some residents and visitors, whereas others choose private alternatives because public transport fails to meet their needs.

For cities to provide access to efficient transportation for everyone in the future, new approaches are needed. Part of the answer will likely be new technology and shared mobility, such as self-driving cars, mobility as a service (MaaS) and vehicle sharing.

The Sweco Urban Insight report “Transport revolution – the future of accessible public transport in urban areas” explores the current challenges to public transport, as well as solutions that will be viable in the near future.



One of the main challenges in designing or improving public transport is accessibility. Long walking distances to the users’ nearest stop may be an obstacle – particularly when the journey is comparatively short and walking to the stop takes as much time as the entire trip.

The alternatives for reaching public transport stops or stations faster include bikes, cars e-bikes and taxis, but all of them present challenges in terms of physical accessibility and cost both monetary and/or environmental.

More attractive solutions with increased capacity are expected in the near future. Some of the concepts we expect to disrupt the transport sector are mobility as a service, shared mobility and autonomous vehicles.

  • Shared mobility: Shared mobility refers to the shared used of a vehicle, bicycle, or other mode of transportation for accessing transportation services on an as-needed basis. The concept includes a variety of transportation modes such as car-sharing, bike-sharing, peer-to-peer ride-sharing, on-demand ride services, and micro-transit. To varying degrees, these can supplement fixed-route bus and rail services. While the first sharing solutions took place between defined sharing partners, through peer to-peer platforms, we are now heading towards shared mobility on a new level, partly aided by the use of digital technology.
  • Mobility as a Service (MaaS): MaaS typically packages services from multiple mobility providers into a single service – often using an app or other digital platform, which may include both public and private mobility providers. The solution will take users more or less seamlessly to their desired destinations, and the users pays for the services as a single trip.
  • Self-driving/autonomous vehicles: Self-driving vehicles typically use a combination of sensors, cameras, radar and artificial intelligence (AI) to sense the environment and navigate without human interaction, with different levels of automation. Many such systems are now evolving in terms of technological and market maturity and may eventually disrupt the transport system as we know it.

While self-driving vehicles have been operating for many years in rail systems in closed areas, today’s focus is on letting autonomous operate on the same streets we drive on in our traditional cars. Barriers vary from country to country, but typical obstacles include a lack of specific regulations, low consumer acceptance, lack of local tests, and lack of infrastructure, such as charging stations and high-speed mobile data networks.



Traditional public transport can also be viewed as a form of shared mobility, but nowadays the term generally refers to the sharing of private vehicles. From this perspective, such forms of shared mobility are well established in society and have a long history.

Carpools, for example, take multiple travellers in cars owned by one provider. Although carpooling has existed for over 50 years, it is only relatively recently that shared mobility has seen considerable growth. This is primarily due to the increased digitalisation of society. Location data gathered by smartphones and other devices are key to sharing mobility solutions effectively. Easily locating an available vehicle in the nearby area is one example.

The increasing use of technology in everyday life has made us comfortable using apps and other digital platforms to share vehicles effectively. People have also become increasingly used to paying for services by phone. This reduces barriers to accessing shared mobility solutions on the go. Together, these societal changes create a situation that paves the way for further development of mobility sharing solutions.

The changes that stimulate the use of shared mobility also facilitate the use of mobility as a service on a large scale. Several European cities currently offer MaaS solutions, with various packages of public transport, car-sharing, car hire, cab, rent-a-bike and/or walking.

While the evolution of autonomous vehicles is to a large degree independent of that of shared mobility, they are often mentioned together. Studies have found that, in a worse-case scenario, autonomous vehicles will generate more traffic. But integrating shared fleets of autonomous vehicles with conventional public transport can improve the future for urban areas – providing affordable, sustainable and convenient mobility options to all citizens. This includes less-mobile persons, the elderly, children, and people living in suburban or rural areas.


For additional details, including conclusions and recommendations, please refer to the full report. This Urban Insight report uses historical development of public transport as a springboard for discussing new technology that is likely to disrupt urban transportation in the near future.