Urban Mobility can be considered the most important aspect of urban living. A survey by McKinsey & Company last year said by 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities.
Over the same period, more than two billion people are likely to enter the middle class, with the majority of them living in cities in emerging markets. The number of megacities with more than ten million people will continue to grow said the report.
India being the third-fastest growing economy in the world cannot ignore the many challenges that mobility in cities are set to face.
Bold, coordinated actions from the private and public sectors in both technologies and business models are the need of the hour. This situation also has the potential to create massive growth opportunity for sectors ranging from logistics to urban mobility consultancy.
Sumit Sharma, the co-founder of GoBOLT, a logistics technology startup, says to better understand the future of urban mobility, we need to better understand the urban freight problem before proposing solutions.
Questions like - who is responsible for urban freight? who are the stakeholders? what goods are being transported? when? from where? what infrastructure is available for freight transport? what are the current and future needs of urban freight transport? what are the impacts of freight transport? what are the direct costs and benefits? - Need to be addressed and are important to understand such that Indian cities function efficiently in 2040-50s.
Aditya Loomba the Director of Luxury Car Rentals Company Eco Rent A Car says passengers will soon want to optimize their time where they can be productive on their wireless devices, while on the move.
“Car Rental Operators will offer greater value by optimizing their assets (vehicles & drivers) by using technology to ensure the cars & drivers are not standing idle,” says Loomba.
With measures such as the introduction of e-tolls and increased acceptance of fuel cards along with demonetisation, the cash dependence is expected to significantly go down, according to Raghav Himatsingka, CEO & co-founder of Truckola, a technology-focused cargo transport company.
Mobility is also expected to become faster by as much as 20% with the introduction of the GST which will decongest the state borders. It is also expected to become easier with the ongoing Dedicated Freight Corridor railway project and the government's intention to promote riverine mobility throughout the country says Himatsingka.
Sharma believes small changes have already started taking place in terms of policy and infrastructure in India. Changes such as prohibition of commercial vehicle entry in cities like Delhi and Mumbai during the day, relocating wholesale markets to new locations and create truck terminals on the periphery of city to address mark key changes.
He believes the creation of SEZs in accordance with optimal interaction with the city traffic and freight movements, developing roads and by-pass roads to minimize freight interaction with the city traffic are some measures being taken across various cities along with the passage of GST will lead to emergence of better urban mobility solutions across all growing cities of India.
Is it the Right Time to Enter Logistic Services in India?
Sharma says the complex challenge along with rapid urbanization, globalization, influx of technology in our daily lives along with a plethora of ground-breaking changes to the economy ushered in by the government augurs well for the industry and offers ample opportunity for new entrants in to the industry.
Though Himatsingka is optimistic on the outlook of urban mobility, he says this could be bad time for new entrants to make a mark in the industry.
The future outlook of the country looks bright and it that senses it may be the right time to enter the space. However, logistics is amongst the most competitive businesses in the country and unless there is a significant new innovation, it may be hard for an inexperienced newcomer to survive in the industry, says Himatsingka.
Loomba feels this is a great time for last mile delivery services as e-commerce is booming due to smartphone and internet penetration as well as e-payment options.