Transportation in Latin American cities is not the best in the world and I, Joaquín Di Mario, CEO of Ualabee, can explain why.
My story and the story of my company began in Córdoba, Argentina, as a simple university thesis project that sought to solve the pain of Córdoba’s citizens when using public transportation. There was no information about bus arrival time at the bus stop, nor was there any app to tell you if there was a traffic jam that interfered with your route. And that’s how Ualabee, a technology and Big Data company that provides mobility solutions for individuals, companies and governments, was born.
And that is also how, fortunately, thanks to applications like Ualabee, Latin America began to grow in terms of public transportation and mobility. In fact, the Urban Mobility Index conducted by the international consulting firm Arthur D. Little and the UITP, which evaluated 84 cities in the world on a scale of 0 to 100, revealed that public transport in the region is not the worst, and that there are many others below.
Of course, it still has a long way to go to improve as far as Latin America is concerned. And the trend is in line with generational and structural changes that are taking place between now and 2030, which we at Ualabee have analyzed in our Mobility Trends 2030 Report.
Mobility will not be the same by 2030, and some advances are expected: reduced traffic jams, improved communication and consensus between governments and citizens, increased air quality due to the abandonment of fossil fuels, quieter roads and a lot of service offerings at people’s choice, if everything turns out as we expect.
In addition, people will be increasingly aware of climate change and the impact of the practices of the brands that produce the services they consume, taking into account their values when buying or choosing a service, being willing to pay an extra to be in line with their values, which makes a real difference that a brand, or in this case, a public transport company, will not want to miss.
A clear example of this was the report developed by the IDB on urban transport systems in Latin America and the Caribbean, which studied the users’ willingness to pay public transport to improve their service, and noted that people are willing to pay more for a more efficient service. A survey of Ualabee users also revealed that 44% of users would agree to pay more to a travel company that holds the same values in relation to sustainable mobility.
This finding shows that a better transportation service is not only measured by quality, waiting time, hygiene, safety, etc., but also by the possibility of being more environmentally friendly.
With applications like Ualabee, for example, users are now aware of the impact and emissions of their journeys and trips, and are willing to pay a premium price to companies that help reduce and compensate for these emissions.
But is this what is currently happening with public transport in Latin America, and are people willing to pay more? No. Most of them have a negative assessment of public transport, since the price-quality ratio is not good.
Undoubtedly, with all this analysis it is clear that there is a huge job to be done in terms of urban mobility, where parameters such as service quality, cost and environmental efficiency must be taken into account if we want to achieve service levels comparable to the best in the world, such as Hong Kong.
So how do we make this transition? Because surely the infrastructure in LATAM will not be ready in 2030 for the upcoming technologies – autonomous driving and electric vehicles.
The answer is simple. We have to start from the bottom up. The region will be ready for flexible trip planners and a transit data structure like GTFS Flex, which allows consumer applications to list and combine transportation alternatives without fixed routes, stops or schedules.
Transportation companies should also be prepared to gradually migrate to renewable sources of energy and MaaS organizations allies like Ualabee, with the idea of providing diverse mobility alternatives to users in the same place, considering that the future of transportation is diverse and non-proprietary.
Are we ready for the revolution? Most mobility stakeholders are. 2030, we welcome you with open arms, just like our planet, which is crying out for this change: more efficient, green and sustainable transportation and mobility that benefits us all.