The transportation mobility market is going through a massive transformation from self-driving and electric vehicles to bike sharing, e-scooters, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Although this shift is set to offer huge benefits to the environment and could also reduce congestion, it poses several challenges in mobility regulation.
For instance, regulators need to ensure that still-unproven technologies will indeed improve safety and make people's lives better. Ultimately, while companies developing new technologies and services may have good intentions and strive for societal benefits, it's the responsibility of policymakers and regulators to ensure that these new systems are safe and in the public's best interest.
Regulators versus Innovators
As history shows, those creating new technologies (innovators) and regulators wanting to set the rules to ensure order and safety haven't always been in agreement.
Uber is a great example. When the service first entered the market, it wasn't regulated at all. Fast forward a few years, and now cities are beginning to implement strict policies and procedures, such as limiting the number of cars allowed on the roads and being overly punitive about cars left where they shouldn't be. Typically, this results in increased costs for providers, which is detrimental to the service, affecting society.
Ultimately, if cities are unfamiliar with and uneducated about high-growth mobility services that enter a new market, they sense that they are losing control. This results in the implementation of harsh regulations. For example, Beijing recently banned bike-sharing schemes after city pavements were left overrun with abandoned bikes.
Although regulation is undoubtedly necessary to ensure public safety, regulators need to balance managing concerns with new mobility services and creating an environment that encourages innovation.
The Future of Regulating the Transportation Mobility Markets
New forms of mobility, like autonomous cars and aerial vehicles, are on the horizon, and with them comes the need for further regulation. This includes laws on road safety, manufacturing and safety of vehicles, insurance, and data privacy.
By adopting a more forward-looking and comprehensive approach to new mobility technologies, regulators can help create mobility systems that are effective, efficient, and inclusive.
Here are a few critical considerations for regulators:
● Implement flexible rules and be willing to revisit them as technology evolves
● Craft tailored regulations based on circumstances - understand that certain mobility modes carry more risk than others
● Monitor the impact of new mobility services closely and adjust policies quickly (when necessary)
● Collaborate will all stakeholders to solve problems
● Introduce new mobility services into select areas in a controlled way to monitor the impact