The Role of Sustainable Mobility in Qatar's Transformation

  • Publish date: Tuesday، 17 May 2022
The Role of Sustainable Mobility in Qatar's Transformation
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The State of Qatar recently hosted the 2022 Doha Smart Cities Expo. The event addressed many topics including digital technology and its relationship to smart and sustainable mobility. These themes point to a strong link between the need to change traditional modes of mobility, the capabilities and possibilities that digital technology can provide, and the achievement of sustainability goals. For example, the State of Qatar has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030, an ambitious goal that can be achieved provided that countries such as Qatar adopt a comprehensive framework that leads to a qualitative change in the methodology of managing mobility and civil organization.  

Cities can shift towards intelligent and sustainable mobility systems by adopting a comprehensive five-pronged framework:

First, cities must make public transport systems central to future plans, with fully electrified public transport fleets available. The State of Qatar provides such a mode of mobility, having invested $36 billion in the highly quality, automated Doha metro system. The country is also committed to achieving zero emissions from public transport by 2030, with the phased goal of making 25% of the transport fleet completely zero emissions during the FIFA World Cup at the end of 2022 (during which Qatar wants to be the first carbon-neutral country in the tournament's history).

Second, cities should work to replace fuel-powered vehicles with electric vehicles. Qatar has begun to use alternatives such as operating electric buses on the Golden Metro line. Recently, Mosulat - Qatar's public transport operator - launched bus charging stations as part of a comprehensive strategy for electric vehicles that requires the Ministry of Transport to provide incentives for private car owners to approve electric vehicles. The ministry also signed a memorandum of understanding with Al-Fardan for cars to install free charging points for electric vehicles in the country, which will facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles.

Third, cities should reduce the number of private car trips and make mobility more efficient by encouraging shared mobility. A number of companies have proven that vehicle participation is a useful model for improving the efficiency of the transportation system. A regional example is SWVL, which was recently listed on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange, started providing bus services in Cairo, moved to its headquarters in Dubai, and now offers vehicle participation services in more than 20 countries.

Fourth, cities can stimulate mobility by non-vehicle means. This means making cities more pedestrian-friendly and providing easy mobility such as the sharing of bicycles and electronic motorcycles. In addition to being an active and healthy option, this mode of mobility can promote public transport as a viable alternative by overcoming the challenges of connecting the "first mile" and the "last mile" that lead people to prefer their own car as a means of transport. Soft mobility is especially useful during mass events when large numbers of people need to travel relatively short distances, such as between soccer stadiums and surrounding facilities.

Fifth, cities can rethink how they design cities to encourage reductions in the use of private cars. Civic planning can include concepts such as "integrated streets" that provide safer and smarter mobility options for all user groups beyond relying on private cars. Many cities are beginning to adopt policies such as "five minutes" so that all public transport or key facilities can be reached within five minutes or less by foot.

Cities should support the CSF with infrastructure, technology, and other enabling factors. Advanced data analyses — for example — facilitate understanding of traffic flows, effective road traffic guidance, and emission control — making sustainable transport smart. The Qatar Centre for Technological Innovation (QTECH) signed a memorandum of understanding with the California Mobility Centre, a public-private partnership, to co-market locally produced mobility innovations. There should also be policies to allocate the burden of the cost of shifting mobility.