Survey says Edinburgh leads the way in UK smart commuting

Thinking Cities
By Thinking Cities April 22, 2015 06:13

Survey says Edinburgh leads the way in UK smart commuting

A new survey from Xerox finds Edinburgh is making the best use of urban mobility opportunities in the UK.

Edinburgh ranked first among 12 of the UK cities surveyed for having commuters who regularly use mobile services for parking, ticket buying and comparing transportation services. London was ranked second, Brighton third, while Glasgow ranked fourth.

“It is perhaps surprising that Edinburgh – which has a comparatively low level of transport infrastructure investment when compared to other large cities – has enabled the smartest commuting for its residents,” said David Jones, general manager, Xerox Urban Mobility. “It indicates that size has little to do with creating opportunities with mobile technology. Edinburgh, Brighton and Glasgow are notable examples of cities that are deploying accurate information and open data in ways that are becoming pre-requisites for modern city mobility”.

The research also suggested that integrating car and public transport options is a critical factor in increasing the use of urban spaces. While the majority of drivers surveyed believe that driving a car is the safest (36%), most reliable (53%) and time-saving (48%) transport option, 34% indicated that “nothing would prevent me from using public transport in my city.”

But cost is a concern. The average weekly spend by respondents suggests public transport to be the costlier option at £14.95 per week, compared to £13.11 per week using a car. Birmingham offers the cheapest drive, with residents paying on average 95p per mile. Alongside Newcastle, Birmingham also has the cheapest public transport network at 62p per mile.

Parking Seen as a Barrier to Urban Centres 

Adequate parking for cars is critical to city centres, according to the report. “Out of town shopping malls with plentiful free parking will inevitably attract footfall away from city centres unless adequate parking – and the means to find it – are made available,” Jones said.

The research found:

  • High street parking was considered inadequate with 54% of drivers surveyed saying that this is very poor or poor. Half (50%) of those expressing an opinion said that it took them 10 minutes or longer to find a parking space. The highest average parking times are in Cardiff at 10.96 minutes, while the shortest is Sheffield at 7.9 minutes.
  • The majority of drivers surveyed (58%) still use physical meters to pay for their parking.

Growing Appetite for Internet and Mobile Parking Applications

The most popular Internet and mobile applications are those for maps and directions used by 64% of respondents followed by apps to view public transport departure times at 57%. Locating (45%) and paying for parking spaces (36%) were the top two applications that respondents said that they would be interested in using in the future.

However, there are significant numbers of people who are not using these services, and their appetite for doing so in the future is somewhat polarised. For example, only 7% of people currently use Internet and mobile services to locate parking spaces, and while 45% would be interested in doing so, 37% indicated they would not be interested.

The least used apps are those to locate parking spaces (7%) and apps for cycle hire (4%).

“There is a large variation in app use across the cities surveyed that may reflect the transport options available as well as the normal travel patterns of residents,” Jones said. “In terms of app development, it’s clear that local authorities will need to decide whether to do this in-house or to release data in order to facilitate the development of third party apps,” he said. “For areas with low app usage the authorities may need to consider a more regional approach to travel coordination and integration to achieve the necessary critical mass.”

Commenting on these findings, Professor Phil Blythe, Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at Newcastle University and Director of the Transport Operations Research Group (TORG), said: “This report shows that there is an appetite from the public to utilise mobile technology to improve their transport experience. Applications to support public transport travel and parking have widespread use and offer the possibility to develop smarter and user friendly services which will promote more sustainable transport use in major cities. I hope these findings will encourage cities to adopt and roll out new technologies in an effective way.”

Image by Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons

Thinking Cities
By Thinking Cities April 22, 2015 06:13