Demoday #24: Exploring the public transport of the future with Amsterdam’s Mobility Radar (2024)

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Yuki Tol and Joaquim Moody, trend watchers for Smart Mobility at the Innovation Department of the Municipality of Amsterdam, delivered the Mobility Radar on future public Transport.Twee 'moonshots' geven je een,van zo'n 11 jaar) this March. In this first edition, the Amsterdam Smart Mobility program delves deeper into the city's mobility challenges. Will staff and funding shortages, the energy transition, and a growing demand for (accessible) transport options continue to impact the city's future public Transport system? Two 'moonshots' give us a glimpse into the future, showing what public Transport might look like in 2050.

The new concession for public Transport in Amsterdam is nearly ready and will commence in 2025 for a period of approximately 11 years. This is a good time to engage in discussions about the steps that need to be taken to achieve the goals and ambitions set for 2050. It is also crucial to determine what measures are necessary to address the developments that public Transport will face in the future. If the current system is continued, we are only one or two concessions away from 2050. Therefore, now is the time to start working on developments, innovations, and concepts that we want to include in the concessions for the 2030s and 2040s.

Exploring the future together
The Radar team has developed a workshop to engage with various organizations, experts, residents, and enthusiasts to discuss the Mobility Radar. In this workshop, participants jointly explore the trends and developments that can influence the future of mobility. It is a great way for participants to practice this way of thinking, and such a session also brings up topics and discussion points that the Municipality of Amsterdam can incorporate into its future explorations and concessions.
During our 24th Knowledge and Demo Day, Joaquim Moody hosted a work session for a diverse group of participants various organizations and domains. In three groups, we analysed an emerging public Transport challenge using the Mobility Radar approach and creatively thought about solutions. In the following paragraphs, I summarize what we discussed with the group.

The starting point is a number of current challenges in public Transport: staff shortages, funding shortages, accessibility, the energy transition, and the growing demand for public Transport.

Each group selects one of the challenges and then 'dissects' it. Using a worksheet, you look at the following topics: What basic need underlies this challenge? What are examples of how or where you see this challenge currently? What macro changes play a role in the emergence of this challenge – in the long and short term? And how do these macro changes affect which basic needs are important and how they are fulfilled?

Next, you start creating a solution for this challenge and trend. Examples of solutions are: a service, a product, a regulatory adjustment, or an informative campaign. You also need to consider how you would deploy it and who exactly the target audience is.


One of the groups analysed the challenge of public transport accessibility. This needs to be adequate for everyone, now and in the future. Accessibility involves affordability, the digital skills required, travel costs, and physical accessibility. This challenge mainly revolves around the basic needs of connectedness, independence, and control. The macro changes playing a role are migration (increasing number of people to be transported) and aging (more people wanting to travel independently but requiring extra assistance – particularly in digital and physical aspects). Therefore, more space and special assistance will be needed for a growing group of travellers.
The group proposed focusing more on 'micro public transport' and 'on-demand public transport' and making bus and train compartments more flexible. This would make people less dependent on a rigid system and travel environment. The group argued that air travel can serve as an example, where you can specify exactly where you want to sit, whether you need extra space, and if you require extra assistance. These needs deserve more attention in public transport as well. This can be tested with prototypes in train cars and buses and is intended for the target groups: the elderly, people with disabilities, and parents with young children.

Staff Shortages in Public transport
The challenge of 'staff shortages in public transport' is reflected in developments such as cancelled schedules, high work pressure, high absenteeism, strikes, and less social control in public transport (due to less staff). The basic needs affected by this challenge are the need for social status, financial security (for the driver), and a pleasant, healthy workplace. Macro changes playing a role include the large number of job opportunities in other sectors, increasing aggression and hardening in society, worsening public perception of public transport, and aging. As a result, working in public transport has become less prestigious, less safe, relatively less well-paid, and there is little influx of new, young employees.
The group proposed a campaign to improve the image of working in public transport. Currently, too few people choose this profession. However, with campaigns similar to those by the Defense Department, it could be made trendy and attractive again. Influencers or famous Dutch people could also play a role in this. The target audience to be enthused includes young starters and people considering a career switch.

The Growing Demand for public transport
Finally, the third group presented their worksheet regarding the challenge of the growing demand for public transport (and the decline in public transport investments). This is reflected in the decline in service quality, travel options, and the fact that less equipment is available. This affects the basic needs of comfort, connection, and being able to be oneself). Macro changes exacerbating these challenges include the decreasing space for mobility, individualization as a societal development, and increasing travel costs. This leads to a kind of public transport anxiety, aversion, and aggression, which is already happening and is only getting worse, the group noted.

The group proposed recognizing the societal role of public transport more, which would lead to more respect and funding. We should also further 'de-peak' travel times by better aligning telecommuting days or departure times for employees. This can be tested with pilots in specific (travel) areas or with large employers. The target audience can be seen as all travellers together.

Joaquim will use the presented analyses and solutions as inspiration for further research and use the feedback on the method and workshop to improve such sessions in the future. Enthusiastic participants also wanted to use this method for sessions with students and international delegations, illustrating its success!
During the upcoming Knowledge- and Demo Day, we will have another session on mobility with a similar approach, but this time we will work with the scenario studies made by the Province of North Holland. Thinking about the future using trends, scenarios, and moonshots is essential in every domain, especially when done with a diverse group and maintaining connection.