Singapore is globe's leader in mobility, followed by Hong Kong in Asia

20 April 2018 6 min. read

Singapore has been identified in a new study as the world’s most mobility-friendly city. Hong Kong is the only other Asian city to make the top ten with the remaining number being all European cities. The study by management consulting firm Arthur D. Little looks at both the maturity and performance of existing infrastructure as well as innovation and strategy for the future. 

The city state has put in place adequate infrastructure and is a breeding ground for innovation that will help it face increased mobility challenges. Singapore moved from 6th place in 2013 to 1st place this year due to the country’s innovation and strategy, which includes the implementation of a number of smart-mobility programs to increase urban mobility including bike sharing initiatives, big-data analytics and a relatively relaxed regulatory environment to new developments in the self-driving vehicle sphere. 

consulting firm has been working to create opportunity out of challenges that will no doubt occur in rapidly urbanising cities. Today the number of mega-cities with a population of over 10 million is just under 30, but by 2030 that number is set to skyrocket to 412. 

The rise of mega-cities has been driven through a combination of exponential population growth and economic prosperity of the urban environment. However, greater urban populations cause a strain on the environment and agricultural systems whilst causing logistical problems in energy, transport and mobility. 

The consulting firm supports multinational enterprises, entrepreneurs and the public sector in creating strategies which put citizens needs at the centre of smart-city adaptation policy. It has detailed five key challenges which could limit social and economic prosperity; population density, pollution, urban health, security issues and the growing need for connectivity and mobility.

The future of mobility will be urban

Singapore takes the top spot 

Singapore is a world leader in adapting to these issues and implements a comprehensive smart-city strategy which uses technological initiatives to solve complex urban issues. Technological developments are driving the field of innovation in smart-cities, and big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and new compact forms of energy have shaken up mobility options.

Coupled with traditionally high costs for car owners, public initiatives and digital innovation have led the transformation of Singapore's mobility sector. The government of Singapore has been developing their own autonomous mobility system and a set of principles to govern autonomous vehicles. The country already tests autonomous vehicles of levels 4 & 5 with passengers inside, driverless taxi’s are operating on small circuits, and the country is promoting the development of autonomous ride-share systems. 

“Autonomous vehicles are fast on its way to becoming a reality on our roads…They can enhance the efficiency and convenience of our land transportation system. Thus, it is important that we do not impede their growth as some cities have done,” said Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng. 

The country has also recently progressed in the bike-sharing sector. Singaporean start-up oBike, has grown its fleet internationally to have over a million bikes across 60 cities. The concept behind the platform is that it is station-less, meaning that bikes can be parked anywhere within public bike parking areas and locked through the app.

Three strategic directions for cities

Public mobility in Singapore

Whilst innovation is an important factor for what makes a city into a smart-city, traditional initiatives including public transport and encouraging bike riding also impact mobility. Singapore has a massive public transport initiative which is unrivalled in any of its European counterparts. 

The report indicates that Singaporeans utilise their public transport system more than any other city, with the study showing the city usage at 53%. Hong Kong closely tails with the second highest use of public transport (at 52%), and together the two cities have substantially cheaper public transport than any European city within the top ten. 

Singaporeans use public transport at the frequency that they do, due to both the efficiency and span of the network. High level demand has driven developments in the network and mobility platforms including CityMapper and NextRide made commuting in Singapore relatively painless. Another initiative which has no doubt enhanced public transport use on the island is the CEPAS card which is integrating a ‘one size fits all’ approach to transactions across multiple platforms.

The overall results find that even the two top Asian cities must work on similar areas to improve their ratings. Firstly, the country has an underdeveloped cycle-lane network which sits at half the global average. In comparison to Copenhagen, Singapore has roughly one tenth of the amount of cycle path per km², only being under done by Hong Kong which barely made the register.

Arthur D. Little Urban Mobility Index 3.0 – City ranking

Improving mobility 

The study shows that there is still much to be done around the globe to improve mobility in general. Developing countries in Asia and Africa that are feeling the biggest drive towards urbanisation are also experiencing a strain on their urban mobility systems. Due to poor planning and rapid population growth in relatively small areas, there is much room for improvement in these areas.

Asia-Pacific as a whole scored above all other regions except for Europe. The ratings were based on a number of indicators within three sections spanning innovation, performance and maturity of mobility. Each country received a score out of 100 with the maximum of 59.3% going to Singapore. Stockholm and Amsterdam followed at 57.1% and 56.1% respectively with the next Asian city being Hong Kong at 54.2%. 

The rankings showed above average indicators for Tokyo (50%) and Seoul (45.8%) with three Chinese cities (Shanghai, Shenzhen & Guangzhou) between them. The Asia-Pacific region exhibited the broadest range in scores. Melbourne and Sydney fell in the middle of the ranking, and Hanoi (29.1), Delhi (31.5) and Jaipur (31.9) sit at the bottom of the list.