Covid-19 changed living habits in cities, but will the choices that we are making today have impact in post-pandemic mobility? This unavoidable question marked the first session of the Portugal Mobi Summit 2021. Carlos Carreiras, Major of Cascais Town Hall, Vera Pinto Pereira, CEO of EDP Comercial, Eduardo Ramos, Executive Director of Brisa and José Rui Felizardo, CEO of CEiiA – Centre for Engineering and Development joined this morning from the TSF radio station.
Judging from EDP’s barometer, the use of private cars returned and it’s going to stay. “About 40% of respondents are thinking about continuing in the future, to avoid public transportation, and the younger, who before were not thinking about buying an automobile, are now thinking about this hypothesis” reveals Vera Pinto Pereira. The tendency is actually for the car to earn major relevance in long distances, substituting the airplane and the train, defends EDP Comercial’s CEO.
Although, the major change it’s in the attitude towards mobility: “We are now assisting to a major awareness of carbon footprint, a behaviour that is reflected in the adoption of environmentally friendly modes of transportation”, added on its turn, Eduardo Ramos. This is the reason why, according to Brisa’s executive, the increase of long journeys made by car have implications in the patterns of electric charging. Its actually why Brisa’s goal is to complement its network by the end of the year “We will have 24 ultra-fast charging stations by July, and we will keep on investing accordingly to the increase of the number of electric cars” ensures the Executive Director of Brisa.
Public Transportation’s space
While tendencies are already pointing towards some possible directions, trying to imagine “what world will emerge after the pandemic” it’s still a risky exercise, warns the Mayor of Cascais’ Town Hall. “I think that we are all feeling a little bit like mice inside a big laboratory constantly testing new experiences”. “We are in a moment of rupture – says Carlos Carreiras – and the main focus must be towards the “social and economic pandemics” that will extend for far more time, warns the mayor.
Support measures for population must be therefore a priority, as well as the strengthening of collective transportation sector that needs to reconquer its space. “Cascais is not any different from the rest of the country and we are also taking advantage of this moment of confinement to promote not only the use of the bicycle, but also of road public transportation, that, after an international contest, will be free of charge from may 25th, doubling the offer in the municipality.”
Make up for lost time
As many changes as the pandemic might have provoked, Eduardo Ramos reminds us that the need to be together of families, friends and colleagues won’t disappear. Fearing traveling will decrease as the vaccination plan goes forward, says Brisa’s executive – and mobility will regain a major growth, with people trying to “make up for lost time”.
Taking into account this point, we must add the boom of e-commerce, bringing additional challenges for circulation inside cities. Electric bicycles and scooters had, in the meantime, a new impulse and now there is the need to understand how all of these “soft and not so soft” means of transportation will coexist in urban centres. “It’s an issue that is worrying us in Brisa, first and foremost because it’s accidents and people’s lives that are in stake” alerts Eduardo Ramos, looking at new technologies as “helping” researching solutions that can allow a safe way of coexisting.
The evolution from fossil to renewable energy is ongoing and the tendency is to keep growing. More than that, José Rui Felizardo believes that it’s an agent of change, triggering new ways of mobility supported through innovative business models. “Having in mind compensating emissions with avoided emissions, is how more city mobility solutions will surface” defends CEiiA’s CEO, giving as an example their recent partnership with Google for the promotion of the Ayr platform in cities all around the world. Environmental sustainability it’s not only limited to the company’s marketing budgets, defends the specialist: “It’s a central strategy of future business models where certain types of assets and behaviours will be valued”.