How can we reach our destination in traffic-plagued cities comfortably but with less environmental impact? Intermodal travel, the linking of different modes of transportation for seamless door-to-door connectivity, is not yet a reality in Germany, despite many new transportation options. Telekom's mobility analytics experts are investigating the reasons for this with the help of simulation tests in our Berlin digital twin and in the RealLab in Hamburg.
On the one hand, many major cities are experiencing gridlock, with more frequent and longer traffic jams (TomTom Traffic Index Ranking 2019), and citizens are complaining about air pollution and noise pollution (we have published a detailed analysis in “Stuck in traffic”). On the other hand, digitalization is constantly giving rise to new technologies that open up new travel options. The widespread use of smartphones and apps (mobile maps, turn-by-turn navigation, smartphone payments) has enabled ride-hailing, carpooling, and car-sharing services (such as Uber, Free Now, and Lyft). And better batteries have driven innovation in two-wheelers like e-bikes and e-scooters – in Germany, laws even had to be changed (eKFV 2019). Smartphone-based mobility platforms with a multimodal or Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offering have already emerged in some major cities, such as Jelbi from Berlin's public transport company and Switch from Hamburger Hochbahn. And the streetscape there has become more colorful on account of e-scooters – such as those from Bird (black), Lime (white), Tier (green), and Voi (red) – and rental bikes from providers such as Donkey Republic (orange) and Next (silver). Yet despite this vast array of new transportation options for the last leg to the destination (micromobility), no intermodal service offering has emerged to date. And that raises the question: why not? At first glance, the new micromobility should make public transport services, which are tied to rigid routes and schedules, more flexible and thus more attractive. So what are we waiting for? One answer would be that the e-scooters are exciting for the geek and tech enthusiasts but ultimately do not result in any practical benefit for the end user.