The English city of York has been shortlisted for the Toyota Mobility Foundation Sustainable Cities Challenge.
The US$9m (£7.4m) fund was created to help cities improve access to opportunities, apply data-driven approaches for more resilient transport systems and reductions in carbon emissions.
The Toyota Mobility Foundation, in partnership with Challenge Works and World Resources Institute, launched the Sustainable Cities Challenge in June 2023. It is designed to help cities prepare for the future and support innovation.
This year, more than 200 entries were received from more than 150 cities in 46 countries globally.
These were assessed on the impact the challenge would have, the receptiveness of the issue to open innovation approaches, capacity within the city, and the focus of the entry.
Three cities from the shortlist will be selected to launch their own Sustainable City Challenge and, in mid 2024, the call will be launched to global innovators to work with the winning cities.
The Sustainable City Challenge will identify and support innovators through a two-year challenge with funding available to innovators and cities to support the growth and scaling of solutions.
York, one of two European entries and the only finalist from Great Britain, was included on the 10-city shortlist alongside cities in Brazil, Colombia, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico and the USA.
York entered the Sustainable City Challenge to find new solutions to turn its existing fragmented public transportation, shared transportation and private vehicles into a more cohesive virtual fleet to enable better urban management of total vehicle movements for people and goods.
Transport represents almost a third of York’s total emissions, negatively impacting health, wellbeing, and the city’s architectural heritage.
In consideration of the city’s 2030 Net Zero target, York recognised the need to reduce vehicle miles by 20% and thereby shrink the impact of each journey.
While the current focus of York’s entry is cohesive virtual fleets, if successful, the city team will also explore other mobility issues with local stakeholders to identify how to best support transport systems.
Pete Killbane, City of York Council deputy leader and executive member for economy and transport, said: “The city centre challenges of York’s mediaeval street pattern means that getting transport right for everybody requires significant care, careful consultation and ambitious innovation to make sure we assign limited shared space efficiently, dynamically, and sustainably.
“It is a significant credit to York that we have been included in this global list of world-leading cities.
“This is a major boost as we embark on the very significant and broad ‘Our Big Transport Conversation’ consultation we are carrying out from later this month, as part of our commitment to reducing vehicle miles by 20% and delivering a transport infrastructure here in York.”
Cities were invited to enter the challenge by identifying areas in which innovation would help them expand access to safe, affordable, and inclusive modes of transportation; harness data to create connected and resilient mobility ecosystems; and reduce environmental impact through low-carbon and renewable solutions.
Michael Howard, City of York Council’s head of highways and transport, added: “York’s aging population is experiencing greater need for personalised mobility services while at the same time, an affordability crisis is undermining accessibility, and Covid-19 has changed commuting patterns.
“A growing understanding of the need for enabling transport provision for women and people with disabilities, requires a reconfiguring of urban transport.
“York also receives almost 20 times per capita more visitors than London, adding significant demand when transport – mostly from road transport – is already almost a third of York’s total emissions, negatively impacting health, wellbeing, and the city’s architectural heritage.
“The 2030 Carbon Net Zero target recognises the need to shrink the impact of each journey. York’s solutions need to empower sustainable mode choices while increasing affordability of passenger and goods movements.”
York will be invited to attend a capacity building academy and will receive support developing its challenge design based around advancing low carbon mobility, becoming part of a wider network of other innovative city teams.
Innovations and achievements in sustainable urban mobility will be celebrated at the second annual CiTTi Awards on 21 November 2023 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Visit www.cittiawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable event for the UK’s transportation sector – and to book your table today!