Mohamed Jama Mohamed: "Public transport authorities need a plan for working with ride-sharing"
Mohamed Jama Mohamed is the first PhD-student who will come to Sweden as part of Mistra SAMS's work with an international young researcher team, he's a researcher from the Transport Research Institute, Edinburgh Napier University. Mohamed Jama Mohamed is studying how transport authorities are responding to the rise of ride-sharing services such as uberPOOL, and will compare Stockholm with London.
– In London there is a huge amount of people using ride-sharing services. They're comparatively cheap, you could end up paying for a door-to-door ride the same amount that would pay for a ride on public transport in the central London zone. I'm looking into how this can impact the public transport system and what authorities need to do.
Use of ride-sharing services has increased rapidly in London over the last few years, but use of public transport has also remained high. Currently there are few empirical studies into who is using new ride-sharing services and how these services are impacting traffic in the city. Mohamed Jama Mohamed aims to shed light on the situation by conducting interviews and focus groups with users, authorities and uber drivers.
– There’s very little empirical data so far, and it doesn’t tell you where these travelers are coming from, what types of trips they’re making, and so on. In a nutshell - is this adding to vehicle-kilometre-traveled or decreasing it? Hopefully my research will shed some light on this by talking to the users and asking what they would use if they were not using these services. And by talking to the policy makers about their plans - what is being regulated at the moment and what will be regulated in the future?
Mohamed Jama Mohamed sees a cooperation between public transport authorities and private suppliers of ride-sharing services as an important part of urban transportation in the future. Some variant of mobility-as-a-service solutions are necessary to have both innovation and control. Authorities need to plan for handling innovations.
– Because if there is an impact on public transport they obviously need to plan for that in the future, and see these services are part of the larger transport system. In the long term it won’t be able to keep going through business as usual, because new innovative services will turn up. You need a good relationship between private actors, local government and research institutions. It’s not efficient that government runs everything, or that the private sector does. We need a hybrid system. Government needs to set regulation and look after the public goods, protect citizens and their data for example.
He will conduct interviews throughout the summer of 2017 and will come to Stockholm for two weeks in the fall. His aim is to compare the two cities, and their public transport authorities' thoughts on new services. The work will result in a paper contrasting the two cities, and Mohamed sees the comparison as highly relevant.
– Stockholm and London are both well-connected, and have relatively young populations. I see them as quite similar as comparison cases. Both have good public transport, are pro-cycling and have congestion charges for private cars. They also have a similar lack of housing, so people need to commute.
During his first stay in Stockholm, 18 - 29 September, Mohamed Jama Mohamed will conduct interviews to gather data, and he will return sometime in early 2018 to follow-up on findings and collaborate further with Mistra SAMS. Besides his PhD-studies, Mohamed Jama Mohamed works as a transport planning and engineering consultant internationally, with focus on transport planning and policy for new developments. Over last few years much of his work has been focused on the Arabian peninsula, specifically urban developments in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He is frequently asked to create master transport plans for large areas, so the results of his PhD-work will come to good use straight away.
– That's one of the main reasons I’m doing this. I’ve been working in the industry for almost 17 and a half years, with hands-on work. With that background, I believe that I approach research in a different way than if I was coming directly from my master's degree. I’ll have a very direct use for my results!