The Human Element

With the advent of COVID-19, the importance of human psychology as a factor in urban mobility has only grown greater. How do we choose our modes of transportation? How do we weigh economic factors against emotional ones? How do we balance shorter term risks, such as an active pandemic, with longer term ones such as environmental degradation and climate change? To what extent can people’s choices be influenced or modified by changes to the built environment?

MIT is running a timely research initiative to explore these questions. As an investor in these sectors, COVID-19 has reminded us that while physical infrastructure and systems are the stage on which urban transportation plays out, people are the actors that ultimately drive the plot forward.

It is too early to conclude on the extent of behavioural changes brought on by the pandemic, but it is fair to say that transportation choices could face more rapid change and volatility going forward be it due to ongoing public health concerns, work from home policies or economic recessions. Luckily for cities, they now have access to a growing eco-system of digital products and data analytics to help them better understand their citizens, get ahead of behavioural change and build more flexibility and resilience into their transportation networks. Companies that partner with cities to help them navigate through these uncertain times could have some very busy years ahead.

Image: Nathan Dumlao via Unsplash