Trying to reach downtown Brussels during the morning rush hour, you will most likely end up stuck in (heavy) traffic. To avoid a total standstill in the future, we need to imagine and create a future in which people move around freely and where congestion becomes the exception, not the norm.
What causes these issues and what solutions can we find? At a recent Business @ Breakfast session on mobility and logistics, topic experts from our member companies came together to discuss the future of mobility in Belgium, focusing on three ideas: big data, flexibility and vision.
Understanding how traffic works is the first step to solving the problem of congestion and reaping the benefits of current and upcoming smart and automated solutions. Data collection and processing is key. Misunderstanding the roots of congestion has led to today’s situation, costing 2% of Belgium’s GDP per year. Data analytics, when correctly interpreted and used, can lead to new solutions through technology such as more efficient public transportations systems, self-driving cars and truck platooning.
Technological advances and shifting mentalities call for flexibility at work, in choosing transportation modes, in doing business and in organizing logistics. In many areas of our economy, mobility is shaped first and foremost by people’s behavior. Offering more opportunities, alternatives and financial incentives for people and businesses to decide and diversify transportation methods could be a promising solution. Examples include:
- Telework & satellite offices for reduced commuter rides
- Fiscal incentives & so-called ‘cafeteria plans’ to promote a variety of transportation modes
- Flexible delivery schedules for less congestion within cities
- Flexible public transportation that allows a combination of transport modes, including ‘park & ride’
An integrated political and economic vision is essential to build a long-term mobility strategy. Last April, AmCham published an open letter addressed to the new Federal Minister of Mobility, calling for a long-term vision. Mobility is a shared competence in Belgium, meaning that it requires collaboration between the regional and federal governments. From highways to the new regional express network, all stakeholders should have a common vision for mobility in Belgium. Streamlining the decision-making process to allow flexible mobility solutions and to swiftly adopt technological advances is an indispensable part of the solution.
In the conclusions of our Business @ Breakfast session on mobility and logistics, we explore more in-depth how to improve mobility in Belgium today and tomorrow.