NLC Report Dives Into Future of Mobility and Tech in Cities

The National League of Cities City of the Future report explores trends in mobility and technology and identifies what cities can do to move into the future of mobility.


National League of Cities

NASHVILLE — A report released from the National League of Cities (NLC) explores trends in mobility and technology in cities and identifies what cities can do to move seamlessly and efficiently into the future of mobility. City of the Future: Technology & Mobility explores how transportation will change with coming technological disruptions, draws on knowledge from leading experts in the field and delves into city and regional transportation planning documents from the 50 most populous U.S. cities—as well as the largest cities in every state—providing an unprecedented look into what is happening next.

“Transportation is critical for our cities. This report is part of a multi-year research project that focuses on five different factors affecting cities: technology, economics, climate resilience, culture and demographics,” said National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony.

By exploring mobility and the impact technology is having on how we all get around, NLC is highlighting specific issues that will help cities anticipate changes in the urban landscape and prepare accordingly.”

The report finds widening gaps between innovation in the private sector, the expressed preferences of citizens and the visions of city planners regarding transportation investment. The mobility environment in cities is rapidly shifting-primarily due to technology-and this will impact cities’ future land-use decision-making, as well as infrastructure planning. Specifically, a majority of cities do not have concentrated efforts to prepare for new transportation innovations. Though half of the cities surveyed have explicit plans for new highway and infrastructure construction and maintenance, the majority of cities are not taking into account the effect of driverless technology or private transportation network companies.

“Our collective thoughts on the future of transportation have moved from Deloreans to driverless cars in what seems like the blink of an eye,” said Brooks Rainwater, director, NLC Center for City Solutions and Applied Research. “With the mobility environment rapidly changing, cities are central and leading the effort toward better, more seamless and equitable transportation systems.”

The report also outlines a forecast for 2020, 2030 and beyond:

Forecast for 2020
  • There will be extensive demographic and workforce changes that will impact transportation networks, such as changing commuting choices, office location and workspace changes, decreased vehicle miles traveled and an increase in contract jobs.
  • More states will establish infrastructure banks, paid road models will be on the rise in cities and there will be an increase in public-private partnerships for mobility projects.
  • There will be more modal and transit options available to cities, with optimized bus lines and integration of apps and fare payment systems.
  • Transportation network companies will be the main modes of personal and freight transportation in cities of all sizes, and there will be an increase of driverless cars and electric cars on the roads.
Forecast for 2030 and Beyond
  • Urban areas will continue to grow, commuting patterns will change and rush hour will be dispersed over longer periods of time.
  • A national infrastructure bank and other public/private financing options will change the way transportation projects are evaluated.
  • Public transportation will begin to go driverless and cities will see a reduction in single occupancy vehicles.
  • Bike communizing will become more attractive, though electric assist technology, and high-speed rail systems will be constructed in the east and west coast travel corridors.
  • Additional modes of transportation, such as inner-city rail and air travel, will expand and there may also be first-class amenities on some public transportation services as well.

Read the full report on the NLC website.

About the NLC

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.