Five Ways Technology Will Change Transportation In 2022 - Forbes

Brett Wheatley, TransLoc

Cars on a highway.
Photo Credit: Getty, Forbes

As we reflect on two consecutive years of community disruption, one area has remained a critical lifeline: our transportation systems. From personal cars to buses and trains, Americans have relied on transportation to get to work, access critical amenities or care for their families. Although the pandemic presented new challenges for the transportation industry, it also created new opportunities for innovation. In turn, we’ve seen significant progress in upgrading vehicles, enhancing transit accessibility, creating better rider experiences and even reducing emissions — and technology is at the core of all these improvements.

In 2022, innovators must ensure new technologies — such as autonomous vehicles (AV), electric vehicles (EV), on-demand services and smart city integrations — pave the way for enhanced transportation systems that will drive the industry and our communities forward.

Consumers Demand On-Demand Solutions

Unfortunately, Americans’ rising health and safety concerns significantly impacted the transportation industry during the pandemic as riders avoided crowded vehicles that put them in close quarters with others. These fears pushed many to single-occupancy vehicles or appointment-based transportation services to control vehicle occupancy while increasing reliability.

In fact, ride-hail services have seen a modest comeback, and their value is extending into public transportation systems. On-demand technology is starting to support microtransit shuttles and buses, helping improve the timeliness and efficiency of public transit while also aligning with riders’ new demands for health and safety. In 2022, we expect to see more transit agencies deploy on-demand services, more riders adopt them and continued innovation for the platforms that deliver these offerings.

More Clean, Green, Moving Machines

Despite mobility declines, transit emissions were the nation’s largest driver of climate change in 2020, and Americans want to see change. As of 2020, nearly 1.8 million EVs were registered in the U.S., which is more than triple the amount in 2016. However, the benefits of EVs extend beyond personal use, and consumers have an appetite for sustainable public transit options. In fact, my company’s Transit Value Index report revealed that 52% of American transit riders want their local agencies to implement more sustainable practices.

As EV innovation advances, EV companies, transportation agencies and city officials must work together to ensure this technology is accessible for all. This includes deploying universal charging stations and making necessary investments into redesigning city structures to support electric fleets. With the new infrastructure bill allocating significant funding toward sustainable transportation, 2022 will be a landmark year for seeing widespread innovation around the electrification of buses and trains, as well as micromobility services like e-scooters and e-bikes.

Micromobility Tech Fills Transportation Gaps

Micromobility is a critical building block to creating a more resilient transportation system. It helps break down barriers, allowing every American to access affordable transportation regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location. In fact, when the pandemic forced public transit ridership to drop, many cities saw a drastic increase in the use of micromobility.

As Americans began experimenting with smaller, personal-use vehicles such as bikes and scooters, many found that these services help fill gaps in their commutes, creating a seamless and efficient travel experience. For example, my company recently started more closely collaborating with another Ford Motor Co. subsidiary to launch an integrated mobility ecosystem on the University of California San Diego’s campus, optimizing how its 75,000 students and staff move around via buses, carts, e-bikes and e-scooters.

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