The futures of mobility after COVID-19

Scenarios for transportation in a postcoronavirus world: a Swiss perspective

In our report “The futures of mobility after COVID-19: Scenarios for transportation in a postcoronavirus world,” we examine four possible scenarios for the future of mobility and explore the potential implications for players across the mobility ecosystem, including Automotive, Technology, Shared Mobility, Transportation/Shipping, Public Transit and Local Government.

Scenario 1: A passing storm

Acute but brief public health and economic crises accentuate some enduring shifts in mobility trends, including increased reliance on e-commerce and home delivery and greater emphasis on sanitation and safety. Despite a temporary pullback, most providers and governments return to their pre-crisis operational level. “Typical” business cycle downturn dynamics play out, with consolidation taking place across the board, from small mobility startups to larger incumbents.

Scenario 2: Good company

Public goods, including transportation, are provided increasingly by the private sector. Mobility businesses, especially the largest tech-based providers, step in where government-provisioned services struggle to keep up, offering seamless transportation for their customers. Recognising the value of mobility data in managing the pandemic, individuals are increasingly open to sharing information with the private sector: mobility technology advances quickly.

Scenario 3: Sunrise in the east

The perceived success of the East Asian model extends from managing the pandemic to mobility. China, Singapore, Japan and others become the leading hubs for mobility innovation and R&D, overshadowing Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv. The physical and digital value chains for electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and other technologies consolidate in the east, to the detriment of European and North American businesses. Active mobility management to address systemwide challenges around congestion and air quality becomes the norm, enabled by robust government data collection and analytics.

Scenario 4: Lone wolves

National, regional, and local governments accrue greater authority as they lead efforts to combat the coronavirus. Cities force data-sharing and actively regulate mobility via top-down monitoring and control (for example, pricing), first as a way to control COVID-19 and then as a way to meet other, systemwide goals. Data privacy and cybersecurity give way to increased government oversight.

Swiss perspective: What we should expect in the next future in Switzerland?

In Switzerland, is it realistic that mobility businesses, especially the largest tech-based providers, step in where services struggle to keep up, offering seamless transportation for their customers? Is there a shift by the government to active management of mobility and addressing system-wide challenges, also by collecting and analysing data?

The findings of a survey conducted by Deloitte in April 2020 to explore the impact of the coronavirus crisis on current and future mobility behaviour suggest that the pandemic will change how people living in Switzerland move around. While the use of individual and private modes of transport will increase, the use of public transport, taxis and ride-sharing services will decline. About one-quarter of those surveyed would like to spend less time in public transport in the future. One-third of respondents believe they will walk more or make greater use of bicycles or electric scooters. What does this mean for the transport sector and companies? The survey indicates general trends, but not the intensity of change. The crisis will not turn commuter behaviour completely on its head; and underlying trends including moves towards the sharing economy, mobility as a service and electrification will continue and intensify. The perspective of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) also shows that the model of mass transportation will continue over the coming years and that the pandemic will lead to only a short-term decline in passenger numbers. In the longer term, the rate of growth is expected to slow down, reaching a ‘normal’ level of capacity utilisation after two or three years. However if the trends outlined above intensify further, for example if greater numbers of employees switch to working from home in the future, this will have a considerable impact on Swiss public transport businesses, especially at very busy times of day. The costs of any such changes should be monitored and managed carefully.


Our hope is that government and business leaders can use these scenarios to assess the strategic choices facing different actors, and sketch out potential pathways to a better future for mobility. Every participant in the mobility ecosystem—down to every individual—can influence its direction through the choices they make in the coming months. And collectively, by convening and activating that ecosystem, we can create monumental change for the betterment of society.

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