• Press Release
  • September 27, 2018

Driving change: Hong kong and Singapore take contrasting approaches to the adoption of autonomous vehicles

The arrival of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) will have a disruptive influence on urban mobility, and a new report from Arcadis outlines how CAVs present a huge opportunity to radically transform how we live. Citizens in Motion, from the leading global Design & Consultancy for natural and built assets, discusses how the emerging CAV revolution has the potential to improve cities and people’s quality of life.

The report looks at 14 global cities and offers a snapshot of activity across three key elements: citizen connection, governance platforms and enabling infrastructure. Each city has the opportunity to incorporate CAV as part of their mobility mix, giving them the potential to become more competitive and sustainable. Each city has a different vision for CAV: Singapore has put CAV at the heart of the future of mass transit, while in contrast, Hong Kong is exploring CAV as an alternative mode of transportation as a part of its smart city vision.

Singapore: One of the world’s most active CAV testing environments.

In Singapore, the government’s Smart Nation blueprint stresses alternative modes of mobility, and it is one of the world’s most active CAV testing environments. Given Singapore’s tight land and manpower limitations that currently constrain the city-state’s transport system, CAV is broadly accepted by both citizens, who already widely use car sharing schemes.

The focus on CAV is for ‘first and last mile connection’ across regional transit systems. There is already enabling infrastructure including high quality communications and road networks. The Committee on Autonomous Road Transport for Singapore (CARTS) coordinates all CAV initiatives and plans to have self-driving buses and shuttles on public roads by 2022. They are also targeting a 10x increase in electric vehicles for car sharing and taxis by 2017-2020.

The report highlights how Singapore can accelerate and leverage sustainable, cost-effective technologies to provide safe and reliable green transportation to achieve its desired goal of a car-lite Singapore. Currently 12% of land is given over to roads and parking; this land could be ultimately repurposed to help with Singapore’s land issues. 

“In Singapore we are moving toward a future where the general public has an increasing acceptance of CAVs. While there are some concerns over safety and how to enable integration with other modes of transport, it’s clear that the government has a very well-thought out plan on how to make CAV work for Singapore,” said Tim Risbridger, Country Head, Singapore.

Hong Kong: Cautious approach presents challenges to CAV acceptance

Given that the land-scarce city is grappling with chronic congestion, overcrowded transport and poor air quality plus a lack of suitable housing for many of its citizens, the digital disruption caused by CAV could be a solution.

In Hong Kong over 12.6 million passenger trips are taken on its world-class public transportation system daily. By developing CAV routes that complement the current metro system, with a focus on ‘first and last mile’ connection around stations, residents can get to their homes and places of work more quickly and efficiently. As CAV requires less roadway and parking space, if its vision is realized, land can then be repurposed for residential, commercial or mixed-use projects.

In Hong Kong, the increase in the number of private vehicles in recent years remains one of the major contributors to the city’s traffic congestion problem. Between 2013 to 2017, the city saw an increase of about 29% of private cars (at 552,710), making up for 90% of the increase in the total number of licensed cars of the same period.  With population expected to reach a peak of 8.22 million in 2043, the city’s congestion will only worsen if no action is taken soon.  Other consequences of traffic congestion include road side pollution, increase in travel time and cost – elements that shape and define Hong Kong’s livability.

At the moment Hong Kong is taking an extremely cautious approach to CAV and lacks specific policies. The government’s Smart City blueprint mentions CAVs, but there is no legal framework in place yet with data and smart traffic management systems prioritized over CAV.

“To maximize the opportunities offered by CAV, cities must prepare now. CAV has the potential to address some of Hong Kong's urban challenges and improve the city's livability.  What we do need is a framework that strives to strike a balance between the interest of transport operators, passengers and technology, while meeting Hong Kong’s unique needs and ambitions,” said Francis Au, Arcadis, Head of Hong Kong & Macau.

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About Arcadis

Arcadis is the leading global Design & Consultancy for natural and built assets. Applying our deep market sector insights and collective design, consultancy, engineering, project and management services we work in partnership with our clients to deliver exceptional and sustainable outcomes throughout the lifecycle of their natural and built assets. We are 27,000 people, active in over 70 countries that generate €3.2 billion in revenues. We support UN-Habitat with knowledge and expertise to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities around the world. www.arcadis.com

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