On-demand mobility (ODM) refers to an individual's ability in real-time to access a range of transportation modes that can be both public or private. ODM includes various shared personal mobility services that supply the demand for travel using live data, often obtained through mobile applications.
ODM has highly benefited urban regions, especially in areas that are densely populated or have a high volume of infrastructure (i.e. houses, buildings, offices). In these areas, private car ownership has seen a decline owing to several factors including but not limited to: financial burdens associated with owning a personal vehicle; inability to drive due to illnesses and disabilities; lack of parking space in the area; the stress of congestion; opting to use public transportation to limit the environmental implications from excessive cars on roads. On-demand mobility is often one of the most affordable and fastest ways to travel in an urban area.
For many rural and remote locations, car ownership may still be preferred, as these regions are often underserved and can have poor connectivity to cities and other towns. The use of on-demand mobility within these regions can prove to be beneficial as it will allow for a more efficient commute, often benefiting group bookings.
Current examples and future developments
Many ODM services are operated by ride-hailing platforms, such as Uber, Lyft and DiDi, which provide transport services for individuals from a pickup location of their choice to the desired destination. These services are available through smartphone applications, real-time bookings online or via phone calls, that allow for the booking, tracking and payment of the journey and are heavily reliant on vehicle tracking and route optimization technology.
Another example of ODM is ride-sharing between individuals, with options like Uber Pool or Lyft Share enabling groups to book a shared journey to similar locations. In London alone, Uber is used by about 3.5 million riders, showing how high the demand for the service is.
ODM model also applies to car-sharing schemes such as Share Now GmbH, which enables users to rent private vehicles for personal usage. One of the more recent additions to demand-based mobility is dynamic shuttle services, also known as demand responsive transit (like ViaVan), which combine elements of mass transit with dynamic routing.
Future on-demand mobility is expected to utilise autonomous vehicles for ride-sharing and ride-hailing as well as further integrating with the operations offered through Mobility as a Service (MaaS). There is large potential to see ODM develop to become the future of urban environments connecting communities in an efficient, technologically advanced, affordable manner.
Sources and suggested reading :
Rethinking on-demand mobility - Arthur D Little
On-Demand Mobility | SACD - Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate NASA