RIYADH: Riyadh and Jeddah are among the world’s most improved cities in terms of urban mobility readiness, according to the newest edition of an annual study of 60 cities.
Riyadh moved up five places, from 54 in 2021 to 49 in 2022, and Jeddah rose from 58 to 51, in the ranking compiled by the Oliver Wyman Forum and the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies.
The report concludes that current large-scale investments in mass transit and innovation mean the cities will likely continue to improve their positions.
André Martins, partner and India, Middle East and Africa head of transport services and operations at the Oliver Whyman Forum, said: “Because of the consequential growth in both population and tourist numbers, mobility solutions and urban transport infrastructure are a key part of Vision 2030.
“Mobility is a complex and fast-moving field – and in cities like Riyadh and Jeddah, the solutions need to be multi-fold: from smart use of micro-mobility solutions to accelerated deployment of public transport systems.”
He added: “Meanwhile, Saud Arabia’s giga projects have a unique level of flexibility from an infrastructure and design perspective, meaning they can act as both entry points for innovation into the Kingdom, as well as global pioneers of urban mobility solutions.”
The index highlights that Riyadh’s near-complete mass transit system, which will combine a bus network with six lines of automated metro, will play a key role in the city’s mobility future.
The findings showed that the city’s current car-centric approach is mitigated by good road infrastructure, strong adoption of ride sharing, and the government’s new investments in connected autonomous vehicle technologies.
Saudi Arabia has also recently announced its first EV manufacturing plant – which will help in achieving their stated goal of 30 percent of all cars within Riyadh being EVs by 2030.
Meanwhile, Jeddah’s strengths include its high-quality road infrastructure and strong regional linkages. Another strength is borne from the seaside city’s proximity to Makkah and Madinah, while its international airport’s connection to the Holy Cities by high-speed rail makes it an important and connected global hub.
The city also plans to develop a comprehensive public transit system, including a metro that is due to open in 2030.
The report noted that preference for cars across the Middle East contributes to the region’s low utilization of non-motorized transit, however a generally high penetration of shared mobility services, such as car-sharing, helps to lower congestion levels.
The index ranks 57 quantitative and qualitative key performance indicators that measure social impact, infrastructure, market attractiveness, system efficiency and innovation.
Other measures in the overall Index include electric vehicle charging station network investment and incentives, the number of car-free zones, autonomous vehicle adoption, and public transport ridership and affordability.