European cities dominate the world in urban mobility

12 October 2020 3 min. read

Oliver Wyman’s latest round up of global urban mobility systems has put six European cities in the top ten. London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Berlin and Paris all make the top ranks.

The consulting firm worked with The Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California in Berkeley (UCB) to evaluate cities worldwide based on a comprehensive list of well over 50 metrics. Broad themes include regulation, infrastructure, social impact and readiness for future technology. Although Singapore topped the list of the 50 urban centres assessed, European cities peppered the top ten.

According to the researchers, cities in Europe are friendly to public transport and pedestrians, while safety, sustainability and cleanliness are among key priorities for mobility on the continent. The electrification drive has also been strong in Europe, while many are preparing their infrastructure for the advent of autonomous vehicles as well.

Mobility within the city aside, most European cities are also well connected with main modes of transport within their national and international networks. Several airports and reliable rail connections allow for easy access. According to Oliver Wyman, what gives these cities the edge when it comes to mobility innovation is their network of stellar academic institutions that are encouraged by local authorities to inform growth and development.

Urban Mobility Readiness Index: City Rankings

The firm published a similar index late last year, where Amsterdam, London and Helsinki all made the top ten. That being said, the previous list was dominated by Asian cities at the top, however, the scales have tilted heavily towards Europe this time around. For Professor Alexandre Bayen, Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCB, Europe’s strong performance in the latest index in part follows from the ability of its cities to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“These cities have a richer portfolio of mobility options and infrastructure systems making them more resilient in the face of crisis,” he said. This resilience was aided by an already solid base of mobility in the region.“European cities have a great balance across all the dimensions of the index with the top cities scoring high across most of the categories,” he added.

No doubt, each city has its unique strength. London, for instance, earned its place on the list through its comprehensive network of international airports, while the city’s network of leading global universities has helped drive innovation.

The report also highlighted Helsinki, which has managed to amass a dominant market share for electric vehicles resulting in cleaner air when compared to other urban centres. “Finland’s capital also has a comprehensive transportation network featuring affordability, density as well as access to Finland’s rail network,” reads the report.

Berlin, meanwhile, is lauded for its resilience in the face of Covid-19. The city’s transportation network had a detailed risk preparedness and service continuity plan in place, which minimised disruption from the crisis. This added to an already innovative mobility landscape, characterised by widespread connectivity and an integrated app that allows for route planning across several modes of transport.

Across the board, it is still to be seen how mobility maturity emerges out of the Covid-19 crisis. “Many cities around the world were at a tipping point, even before COVID and while we won’t know the true impact on cities yet, the cities that ranked high are in a better position to meet future challenges,” explained Guillaume Thibault, co-author of the index and partner at Oliver Wyman.