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Mike Duggan: Next-Gen Mobility Must Be Part of Long-Term Growth Plan for Cities

Next-generation mobility will play a pivotal role in helping Detroit alleviate existing problems such as congestion on roadways while also augmenting existing transit options to connect people to jobs and opportunity. That’s the vision Mayor Mike Duggan has for the city.

Duggan, who joined a panel of government leaders from Ontario and Finland at the Forum, said the city is taking steps through government leadership and public and private collaboration to lead the way in mobility options for residents.

“We are rebuilding the city in a way few other cities have had the chance to do,” he said, calling out the QLine streetcar and his plan for 20-minute neighborhoods.

Reiterating the fact that thousands of Detroit residents lack access to adequate transportation, Duggan said ride-sharing services and autonomous cars offer additional cost-affordable options for seamless transit. However, he said they are only one part of a larger connected transit puzzle.

With technology moving at a rapid pace, local governments often struggle to keep up, Duggan said, especially when it comes to making decisions on infrastructure to support new mobility options. As an example, Duggan’s administration is grappling with whether to build more parking garages, a 50-year investment, as an efficient use of land especially as ride-sharing and public transit become more popular alternatives to owning a car.

“These are the questions we have to deal with,” he said.

Another challenge for local governments is striking the right balance of regulations to ensure safety for connected and autonomous vehicles while not hindering innovation, said Anne Berger, minister of transport and communications for Finland. Berger said Finland has adopted an open-door policy for any startup looking to test mobility technology on roadways.

In addressing a question about infrastructure funding from moderator Gabe Klein, co-founder of CityFi, panelists said leveraging private and public partnerships is critical.

“Government can’t do it all. How we leverage the technology around us and the public and private sectors to get people where they need to be mindlessly without being frustrated will be important,” said Heidi Francis, assistant deputy minister of road user safety for Ontario Public Service.


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