In this episode of the Future Car Podcast, in our series “Women Driving the Future,” I talk to Sharon Masterson, head of the Corporate Partnership Board at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s International Transport Forum. We discuss how she brings together people from all over the world to build innovative ideas for the future of transportation and smart mobility. We touch on everything from how different countries with different needs work together, differences in how men and women use transport, how COVID is affecting the future of transportation and how to make transportation more equitable.
This is the transcript of the episode in the Future Car Podcast where I interview Sharon.
Ed Bernardon: Let’s start off by envisioning your own personal city of the future.Take a minute and close your eyes, unless of course you’re driving or walking.What do you hear? What do you see? Is it birds singing over the gentle hum of electric vehicles or is it more like the roar of delivery truck engines and car horns honking? Do you see parks, trees and green open space among the buildings, or a sidewalk and curb where scooters, delivery bots, ride share services, public transport, cyclists, cars and other forms of micro mobility battle it out for their share of space?
How we envision our city future depends to a great extent on our transportation future and the effect it will have on our cities and towns, delivery of goods, education, health, businesses small and large, as well as our climate.To realize the ideal vison for our future cities, we need to get countries from all over the world to plan together to accommodate the growing needs of humans and the environmental impact created by these needs across the diverse economies of the world.
Realizing our goals depends on many factors, but perhaps the ones with the greatest impact are policy and open dialogue across the globe. My guest today just happens to be one of the people behind the curtain influencing those high-level discussions.
Welcome to the Future Car Podcast. I’m your host, Ed Bernardon, VP Strategic Automotive Initiatives at Siemens Digital Industry Software. On the Future Car Podcast, we touch on a range of mobility topics from cars and vehicles to all the way through designing the smart cities of the future. We like to say, “from chip to city.”
Today our guest, Sharon Masterson, takes us to the city side. Sharon truly has her finger on the pulse of the future of transportation, especially the impact it will have on our way of life. She works at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s International Transport Forum where she heads the Corporate Partnership Board. This group brings together people from all over the world, in effect creating an international think tank for the transport sector. She leads a diverse set of cities and countries to share ideas and learn from each others’ experiences in order to create a common foundation from which to build the innovative ideas for the future of transportation and smart mobility.
Welcome to The Future Car Podcast, Sharon.
Sharon Masterson: Thank you very much, Ed.
Ed Bernardon: It’s great to have you here. For all our listeners, I think it’d be great if we could start off because many of them may not be familiar with the OECD. Can you tell us a little bit about what it is and what they do – who’s part of it?
Sharon Masterson: I work at the International Transport Forum at the OECD. The OECD is an international intergovernmental organization. At the International Transport Forum, we look after policy for transportation. The OECD more broadly looks at a number of different aspects: tax, education, science, etc., and policies for that – better policies for better lives. At the International Transport Forum, we have 62 member countries. So, we’re an intergovernmental organization based in Paris, France, with 62 member countries across the globe, and one observer country which is Brazil at the moment.
Ed Bernardon: So, you’ve got a wide variety of countries from all over the world. What’s the goal? What are they really trying to accomplish when they come together?
Sharon Masterson: Our key stakeholders are the ministers of transport, and we work closely with them and also with industry, with research academia, with all of the different stakeholders, really, across transportation and beyond. Our goal is to give impartial policy-based evidence analysis so that when policymakers are making a decision, they have something in front of them, which is impartial and gives them advice on this topic regardless of what it might be across all modes of transport.
Ed Bernardon: Can you give us an idea of some of the types of projects that you try to address?
Sharon Masterson: We’ve been working for a number of years on a project called the Decarbonizing Transport Initiative. Decarbonizing transport, as you know, very important to reaching our global goals of reducing emissions and global warming. And of course, as transport is a huge part of the energy-related CO2 emissions – in fact, 23% – we can’t do that without addressing transportation, and reduction of emissionsTransport has grown hugely over the last 50 years, and we also expect that demand will grow in the coming decades. So, it now is the time to really tackle this issue and to try and decrease transport emissions because we do believe that it’s possible that our transport emissions could grow as our activity grows, and transport is particularly hard to decarbonize because we rely very much on oil. The Decarbonizing Transport Initiative is really aimed at helping governments and others to help translate climate ambitions into climate actions. After the COP-21, we recognized that there was a lot of momentum out there and that this was fantastic. But we needed to go from what were ambitious targets to seeing, “Well, how are we going to actually achieve those targets?” And to put in place steps that could help governments achieve those targets. So, we’re working with a number of our different countries as well as companies on studies looking at sectors – decarbonizing rail, decarbonizing road, decarbonizing aviation – and also looking at what are the different levers that can help governments to really put these policies together and to put their plans together to reduce carbon emissions.
Ed Bernardon: The whole idea – ambition to action because everyone’s talking about decarbonization and climate change, but actually creating action, especially if you have such a diverse group – like you said, you have countries from all over the world. How do you work to, first of all, get consensus on what needs to be done, then actually, how do you create the action?
Sharon Masterson: Well, it’s a very important point because carbon emissions are everybody’s problem, regardless of where they’ve come from.
Ed Bernardon: That’s definitely a global problem, right?
Sharon Masterson: Absolutely. And I think that we also know that what works in one country or one city or one area may not work in another area for various different reasons. What we’ve done is to put a number of different measures so that countries and cities can look at these and say, “These are the measures that will work for me at this moment in time.” “This is the measure I can afford.” “This is the measure that we can currently undertake given our situation at the moment.” So, it really is important that we have a menu of options that our policymakers can look at and say, “Well, for the moment, we think this would work very well for us, and this might work well for us.” It could be something like eco-driving, for example. It could be something like looking to decarbonize certain sectors, incentives that they’re going to offer to try and decarbonize the transportation sector,
Ed Bernardon: When you pull everyone together and they put their projects on the table, different countries are at different levels of economic development, say, or their transportation infrastructure may be at different levels. So, I would think that there may be some push and pull as to what one country wants to do which may not be appropriate to the other, how do you hash through all that and figure out the right path forward that brings the most common benefits to everyone?
Sharon Masterson: It’s really up to each country, what they would like to do. We’re there to support them in deciding what they would like to do. We’re not prescriptive – we don’t tell them what they should do – we tell them what could work for them; we look at different options, different measures, and we share best practice and I think that’s very, very important amongst our countries, so that we know what has worked for different countries, and what policies have worked for different countries, so that other countries can learn for that. And more importantly, also, what hasn’t worked – that’s also something equally important to share. All of that is actually available on our website, we have a whole catalogue of measures, including our Transport Climate Action Directory.
Ed Bernardon: Well, tell me about your role in the International Transportation Forum
Sharon Masterson: I’m in charge of our Corporate Partnership Board. And our Corporate Partnership Board comprises a group of companies – roughly 30 – from across the transport sector and beyond. And we look primarily at emerging policy issues. So, what’s burning? What’s coming up not around this corner but around the next corner? And what do countries need to look at? What should they be already planning on creating policies for?We work on a number of different things like shared mobility, new mobility including micro-mobility, blockchain, and a number of other topics. And of course, our corporate partners are very involved also in our Decarbonizing Transport Initiative because, of course, it is many of those that are also looking at new business models and new propulsion technologies that will be very important in this regard, too. We set up the Corporate Partnership Board with a view to taking into account the insights that we could get from the private sector and what was happening literally on the ground and including national policy advice that we give to our ministers and ministers of transport.
Ed Bernardon: It’s an interesting collection of members, you have car companies like Toyota and Volvo, then you’ve got your higher-tech Uber, Waymo, Airbus, and oil companies – Aramco and Shell. Again, like different countries, here, you have different types of corporations with different goals. I bet that makes for some interesting conversations.
Sharon Masterson: It does. And I think one of the important parts of this board is that it’s not just by sector, and it’s not just by mode. And this is really where we benefit because we learn from each other, as you say, they’re varied in what they do, they’re also varied in where they’re based, etc.,. So, we’re bringing really a number of different perspectives together for what is, at the end of the day, a huge ecosystem, transport, and mobility. We need all these different voices because what happens in one area impacts the other area. And many of them, of course, are involved in a number of different areas. If we just take, for example, Airbus – Airbus is in aviation, but Airbus is also in cities because they are looking at drones, etc. And of course, we’ve seen those over the last 10-20 years that a lot of companies are involved in more areas than just what they traditionally would have been in the past.
Ed Bernardon: I would imagine in the cities of the future – you’re going to have the drones working hand in hand with the cars that Uber, and Waymo, and Cruise autonomous cars that are out there operating, not to mention trains, and whatever else might be. Does the conversation focus on how to bring these different pieces together?
Sharon Masterson: It focuses on what’s coming, what’s really going to come around the corner. And you mentioned collaboration across some of those different areas. We’re seeing it already in things like Mobility as a Service, which brings together, really, a group of actors who would have been in their own silos 10 years ago, perhaps. We are seeing that mesh of activity changing. So yes, I think it is very, important to do have this dialogue more broadly. And yes, they will be working together more closely in the future as well, there’s a lot of collaboration happening at the moment.
Ed Bernardon: You manage the Corporate Partnership Board, correct?
Sharon Masterson: Correct.
Ed Bernardon: And you have a bit of a varied background, you come from the airline industry, you’ve worked with startups from the US trying to get a foothold in Europe. Tell us a little bit about your career, how do you go from the airline industry to managing a global board like the one you’re describing here?
Sharon Masterson: It’s interesting, actually, because I suppose like many people starting out, you don’t know exactly where you’re going to end upo. And I think it’s very interesting, (and we can talk a little bit about careers in transport as well), But I also started in Germany, actually, in a company called Wurth International, an assembly technology company, whose goods are sold and transported around the world. I worked then for American companies who, again, were moving their goods around the world, then with a startup which worked on logistics software, on the business development sideand then moved into aviation, in commercial and and operational areas, and then more of the strategic side and planning. And then I moved to the OECD and the International Transport Forum, where I have been for nearly 11 years at this stage. But I think it was important ( and I think it was interesting) for me to have a varied background and to have come from the private sector as well. And to now see – from this perspective, the policy side – the importance of dialogue. That’s something that we stress at the International Transport Forum – better dialogue for better policy. Statistics and data are important, they help us underpin the dialogue that really brings all of this together because it’s only in sharing and in discussion that we’re able to maximize what is actually happening. And this is where I suppose I really value from my past experience, workingd with policy, but not as closely as I’m working on policy right now.
Ed Bernardon: The experience that someone has always formed – how they carry out their current job. But what you described, initially, moving packages are logistics and then the airline business is moving people. It’s all really about mobility, be it people be at packages, and now you’re taking that experience, it seems like, and moving it to the broader goals of how transportation fits into our future. What are some of the key things you think you learned when you were working in the airline industry and with the startups and the logistics that help you do your job now?
Sharon Masterson: One of the things I think I learned is that a lot of those companies, especially startups, probably aren’t aware of how important policy is for them and their growth and the impact that they have. I think that’s something that I’ve really taken forward. The other thing that I have taken forward arethe discussions on gender, which is something that in aviation, of course, it’s a big topic; also in logistics – in transport in general, it is something that is an important topic and I think that we discuss those in the private sector very actively when we were trying to recruit people. And now more on this side from the policy side of it, it’s good to have the insights of working on the ground and these challenges that companies face on the ground and understanding the impact of these when we’re trying to bring this into our policy perspectives.
Ed Bernardon: You mentioned the idea of gender in transportation, it doesn’t immediately become obvious but the way one would look at transportation if you’re a man or a woman, how is it different? Why is it important to consider that?
Sharon Masterson: Well, I think maybe it’s not obvious depending on where you’re looking at it from! There is a huge difference in how men and women use transport. For example, women have hugely different patterns in how they travel around, they’re far larger users of public transport but of course, in the public spaces, and especially at night, there is a fear sometimes of lack of safety, and there is sometimes a lack of safety, obviously. So, it’s important that when we’re taking into insecurities that when we’re looking at transport systems that are inclusive, and at the end of the day transport is a means to access healthcare, it’s a means to access education, it’s a means to access work and jobs. So, it’s very important that we enable women to feel safe and secure when they are traveling. And I think that there are a number of different initiatives out there, and of course, our governments are working on this important topic. But also, what’s important in this is that when we are setting up these transport systems, we need different voices at the table to bring those questions and to bring those queries and worries to the table as well, and also to bring the solutions. One of the things that I would like to see in the transport sector, of course, is more women joining and more young women coming out of college and school to be considering transport as a career. It mightn’t be an obvious one, it certainly wasn’t something that I thought of when I was leaving school.
Ed Bernardon: Well, absolutely. And like you were saying, what’s obvious to one person may not be obvious to another because of the experiences that they’ve had.
Sharon Masterson: That’s right. And I think that’s where awareness-building comes in. We need to really focus on what a job in the transport sector or a job in mobility really is. And, of course, over the last number of years (we just spoke about it earlier we are seeing this mesh. A job in tech can be a job in the transport industry. When we talk about jobs in the transport industry, we sometimes focus a lot about STEM, which is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths. Pople that are not maybe good at those subjects would never consider a job in transport because they think you need to be STEM-focused. But of course, a lot of jobs in the transport industry are not STEM-related, for example, policy, or urban planning. I’ll give a good example of that, I think that maybe people are not as aware of what these jobs involve, and I think that there are some things that we can do to raise awareness through this, eg. young people are playing games like SimCity, or City Skylines, building their cities. But they don’t make the correlation between this game that they’re playing and potentially looking at a career in something like transport or urban planningt. I think that’s something that may be worth looking at. UN-Habitat is using the video game Minecraft – several young people lay Minecraft at a certain age, – and they’re using it as a community tool for public space and to promote improved civic and youth engagement. They’ve latched on to the fact that we can reach out to youth and get more youth engaged through some of these medium.
Ed Bernardon: transportation – one of the things you mentioned is it’s varied. It’s not just about STEM or engineering. It’s not just about cars and buses and autonomous this or connected that. It’s also about cities, it’s also about government, it’s also about policy, there’s this big mix in there. Let’s say you’re a young person trying to determine if you might want a career in the transportation world. There are so many choices, so many different things, how does one go about figuring out which slice is appropriate for them and what they have to learn, what their education should be, to make sure they’re prepared for be it on the government side or the commercial side, technical, policy, whatever it might be.
Sharon Masterson: Absolutely. I think now more than ever, I mean, we’re in the middle of this pandemic, with obviously a lot of negative sides, but one positive thing is in working remotely and online conferences, etc. is that everything is online and everything is accessible. Conferences that you maybe did not have a budget to attend, for example, as someone in university or just starting in school looking to see what you will study or just looking for a job even, these things are available now and they’re accessible. I would urge young people – whatever the topic, transport or other – to really take advantage of that, and to connect with people. I think people are very conscious of young people coming up behind them, and we’re very conscious of that pipeline. I would see it as part of our duty to look after the pipeline and those coming up behind us. No one I’ve met isn’t willing to speak to someone about their particular job. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to people through LinkedIn, through Twitter, keep an eye on what’s happening. If you see someone interesting, just reach out to them and ask them a question.
Ed Bernardon: It could be a variety of different types of people. It could be someone working in the mayor’s office, it could be someone that’s styling a car body, or it could be somebody working on AI to program some sort of a transportation system or an autonomous car.
Sharon Masterson: Sure. There are many things available today that I wouldn’t have had in my youth. There are different YouTube channels from different companies, from different governments, cities, etc. Social media – most of these entities have social media and leaders have social media that you can follow and see what they’re writing, what are they talking about? What are their videos on? What are they posting? And you really get some good insights into what’s happening or what’s about to come up. So, I would say, keep an eye on what’s coming out, just keep an eye on social media. And that, of course, is a two-way thing as well. And definitely attend the conferences for which you have access now freely in many cases that you wouldn’t have had even this time last year.
Ed Bernardon: Let’s get back to those video games because who doesn’t like to play video games, right?
Sharon Masterson: Me.
Ed Bernardon: You haven’t jumped into Minecraft yet?
Sharon Masterson: No.
Ed Bernardon: Well, but I bet you know all about it. Because video games and gaming is a great way for anyone in a fun way to learn about a new topic. So, how exactly do you use Minecraft in the transportation area?
Sharon Masterson: We have to understand that the younger generation are leading different lives to what we’re leading, and they spend their time doing different things. And we have to reach out to them through these mediums be it whatever it is. For example, I think in Finland, and it’s called Colossal Order, two ladies that for urban planners and they started this company called Colossal Order, and have this giant game now called City Skyline, much akin to SimCity, and it’s very, very popular. And of course, these urban planners have designed this in a way taking into account their backgrounds and their knowledge and their experience in the past to set this up in a way that is very, very engaging. So, I think that we need to look and see if we’re looking to get youth involved in what we’re doing and make youth aware of what we’re doing, then I think we should be doing it in a kind of an interactive way on things that they are actually engaged in.
Ed Bernardon:I might even try it myself because sounds like it could be a great way to learn even more about transportation. Women have been making some progress into the transportation industry. I know the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, for instance, is in the transportation business. Siemens has had some CEOs, Sabrina Soussan, in the mobility division. Can you give us some more examples of women that are, as we say, driving the future?
Sharon Masterson: There were actually so many women in this area. You’ve mentioned Sabrina who was co-CEO of Siemens mobility. There’s the Head of Sustainability in Alstom – Cecile Texier. There were many groups set up, there were many women in road safety, there were many women in rail. And there are a number of groups set up, and I came across one recently, rail in Malaysia, for example, founded by Natasha Zulkifli. So, there were so many fantastic examples of women in transport and across all the different sectors. And I think that we’re seeing those act as real examples for people who are coming into transportation right now.
Ed Bernardon: It goes back to what you were saying before when we were talking about what may be obvious to one and not to another. But women are more than half of the people in the world, and a big portion of the market, and it’s important for any company, I would imagine, to understand what their needs are in the transportation business.
Sharon Masterson: For sure. I think you’re spot on there. Women are not a minority, they are over 50%. And it’s very important that a number of companies have latched on to this, obviously, it’s a huge potential market. Companies are looking at this. There are, for example, automotive companies looking at the design of cars and the interiors, etc., to make them more attractive to women. I think a French car manufacturer at one stage a number of years ago at a conference said 61% of the decisions for their purchases are made by women, either for their family car or as perhaps the second car. 61% decisions, they had estimated, were made by women. So, they really see that they do need to address this market and therefore also being very inclusive about hiring women to design these cars and interiors as well.
Ed Bernardon: I could speak from personal experience in my family. When we went to purchase our last car, the salespeople were paying more attention to my wife than they were to me because they knew who was going to make the decision. And I will say the interior was a very important part of the decision based on the features that she and I both wanted. But you mentioned that in what you were just talking about here that women now are taking a greater role in the design of interiors for cars.
Sharon Masterson: That’s right. I remember the same person who was speaking about the design and the interiors, they said, for example, that one of their female designers had come up with a suggestion for having seats or seat covers on the seats that were washable, for practical reasons. We all know – people who have children, for example, they’ll spill things, these things will need to be washed from time to time – just practical things like that. I think things are coming out in those discussions that had never come up before.
Ed Bernardon: Well, speaking of washing seats, COVID has made us all much more aware of cleanliness and making sure things are sanitized. I would imagine, especially when it comes to public transportation, that COVID-19 is going to have a big impact on where we’re headed in the future.
Sharon Masterson: I think it’s already having a huge impact on how we are moving around the city, and it has had a huge impact on how we are moving or not moving, as the case may be, around the sachets. We did see a huge drop in the use of public transport as people were maybe not moving, maybe staying at home, teleworking, etc., but also a huge increase in micro-mobility. We saw, in a number of different cities, that they had set up this light infrastructure to cope with new mobility and more cycling more pedestrian, and also the use of new mobility. We’ve looked at this and in some of the reports that we’ve done and some of the studies that we’ve done on the impact of COVID and transport. We do believe that mobility in cities post-pandemic could be very, very different from what they were beforehand. Of course, one of the last things that we did actually with the Corporate Partnership Board before this pandemic really took hold in Europe was to launchd our Safe Micromobility report at the UN Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Sweden, which was in February of 2020. This was really to look at how it was important to take into account micromobility in road safety because it is relatively new and it is something that is increasing hugely but does bring urgent challenges for policymakers and city officials. It’s important that we take this into account, so we did some work on putting a framework together to define micro-mobility and looking at a range of safety improvements for micro-mobility, relating to, for example, vehicle design, fleet operation, infrastructure, and regulatory enforcement. And also training – training in the use of the vehicles but also training in understanding where those vehicles are from other user perspectives. So, talking about the importance of everyone being aware of increased micro-mobility on the roads and that includes car users.
Ed Bernardon: What is micro-mobility? What are the different components of it? Most people think of scooters right away, but it’s more than just scooters, right?
Sharon Masterson: Yes.I mean, there’s a whole range of different micromobility, there’s Uniwheels, bicycles are micromobility, scooters are micromobility, small mopeds are micromobility. There’s a huge number of different types of vehicles that could be classed as micromobility.
Ed Bernardon: It can also be a love-hate kind of relationship. I remember actually being in Paris, and not too long ago, and I was warned, “Be careful, keep your eyes open, you may get run over by a scooter.” How do you make it so that that love-hate relationship becomes more love than hate on all these new and different types of transportation?
Sharon Masterson: You may also get run over by a car or a bike or anything else depending on where you go! If I just gave an example, it’s kind of a funny one, I call it the expansion of the family, and everyone adjusting to this new arrival. So, micromobility is a new arrival to the family of transport.
Ed Bernardon: It’s the baby on the block.
Sharon Masterson: It’s the baby. I think everyone needs to adjust a little bit. And we, of course, need to make sure that everything is safe for micromobility users, but not just for micromobility uses, for other vulnerable users as well – pedestrians, for example – that was a pedestrian viewpoint that you gave, that, you might get run over by a scooter, not for you as a car driver, for you as a pedestrian. It’s really about understanding what are the dangers posed by everyone and to everyone. I suppose that’s the holistic view of all of that.
Ed Bernardon: Well, if it is the baby in the family, it’s going to misbehave, probably, but you have to show it a little love and welcome it into the family but also make sure it knows how to fit in.
Sharon Masterson: Well, people misbehave, not vehicles!
Ed Bernardon: It seems also that when you have change like this, like micro-mobility is coming in, but it’s not just micro-mobility, there are all sorts of other things that are coming in all at the same time. And not to mention the COVID-19 is probably accentuating and making us think of a lot of these changes more so than we would have in the past is you have to start to think about how to manage it. And one of the interesting things I think is looking on your website, you have all these different groups and transport modes that want to access the sidewalks and the curbs. You have your scooters, you have your rental bikes, you have bicyclists, you have trucks and vans dropping off packages, you have car-sharing people, not to mention buses and public transport micro-mobility – who knows, maybe even robots delivering packages, how do you go about figuring out how to allocate space? And who has rights to do this or that? It seems like a pretty complex problem.
Sharon Masterson: As you mentioned, there have been new things coming. Literally every month we hear something new. I think it’s important that we do look at really understanding that because I think from a policy perspective, we have to make our policies as future proof as possible. And when we’re doing something to make it encompassing, so that it will take into account the things that will come next month and next year, etc. So, yes, we have seen a huge increase in shared mobility in cities. We’ve done studies on a number of different cities, we started with one in Lisbon. Looking at it, if we change the use of the car from being one where the car is used one hour a day – for example, someone drives to work, they take half an hour to drive to work, they park it for the day, they drive the half an hour back home, and they park it again for the night until the next morning – to a scenario where we are using shared mobility more, and where those cars are being used 23 hours a day as opposed to 24 hours then they’re not sitting idle, then they are actually moving around and there’s less demand for the space that they would have been parked in. Iin fact, actually, in the study that we did in the city of Lisbon, we saw that nine out of 10 cars could be eliminated in city streets. And this is modeled on the actual use of travel in the city of Lisbon, using their data. So, this could ve a huge impact on emissions but it also meant that it could have a huge impact on the space needed for parking in Lisbon alone. In Portugal, we estimated it would free up to the equivalent of 210 football fields – a lot of space. This is something then that could be repurposed for something else.
Ed Bernardon: What do you do with all that space, now that you have it?
Sharon Masterson: You could put little parklets there, or actually over the last number of months here in Paris, we’ve seen a lot of that space being used up for restaurants – outdoor space. So, this is something that can be repurposed for other use, depending on how the city actually would like to do that.
Ed Bernardon: That makes sense. Parking spaces go away, opens up the opportunity to do new things with that. But yet, at the same time, everyone wants access to the sidewalk into the curb. Like I was saying, before dropping things off or driving your scooter on it or a bike lane. How do you go about allocating that? Or is there a monetary way to do that by charging for it? Do you think it’s more on the regulation side, a combination? It’s almost like the sidewalks are going to have rules of the road, just like our streets have.
Ed Bernardon: At the moment, we see a prettystatic, for the most part, use of the sidewalks and the curb, in that, you know, it’s parking. And there were parking fees for it. But we see more increased need for pickup and drop-offs from shared mobility and other types of drop-offs and pickups. But it’s important that we take this into account. I must add that parking fees are a huge source of revenue for a city. So, of course, changing what they would do with those parking spaces is very, very important to them, and understanding how that they can still perhaps make those changes but have the revenue, at the same time, I suppose, have your cake and eat it, is very, very important. We did a study on this actually looking at the use of the curb, and looked at dynamic use of the curb as opposed to static use of the, curb and changing the use during the day, for example.
Ed Bernardon: What do you mean by dynamic versus static use of the curb?
Sharon Masterson: Static would be, for example, if you say, outside of this building, there are four parking spaces, and it’s that’s what it is all day long. Dynamic would be, outside of this building from seven to eight in the morning, which is the peak drop-off time for people going on trains or people going to this building for work, this is just a drop-off and pickup – so, people just drive in, drop off, and pickup. Maybe that’s not the same at the weekend, maybe there’s nobody being dropped off at that office block at the weekend, and maybe that can be used for parking or logistics, deliveries for food, for example, or other deliveries that you were mentioning earlier in the city, and it can be more dynamic. So, it can be used for a number of different reasons in a number of different ways and changed, depending on the time of day of the week or even the time of the day.
Ed Bernardon: Now, during COVID, everyone’s ordering out food; certainly delivery services like Amazon or whoever might be, they’re constantly delivering packages; ridesharing is dropping people off, there’s only so much curb to go around. There’s going to be some frustration, I think, right?
Sharon Masterson: It is a valuable piece of infrastructure. I think that more analysis is needed to really understand how to optimize this infrastructure. And that again is by city, that’s not generic. I think that would need to be looked at city by city. But that said, we’ve decided to look at the impact of freight because we’ve seen, obviously, through COVID, quite a lot of freight deliveries in the cities and everywhere, really, during the COVID time. And it’s important to look at what is the impact of freight deliveries in cities? And what are the types of vehicles that are delivering in cities? And how can we optimize what is happening? And of course, we talk about electric vehicles but electric vehicles are also a little bit heavier. So, in terms of impact on the roads and impact on the curbs, there’s that as well to look at.
Ed Bernardon: Just to draw on our metaphor of the family. As you bring more and more children in, you bring in micro-mobility, you bring in more shared mobility, on-demand public transport. At first, you can accommodate it, but eventually, it seems like it could be a little bit of chaos there. It would seem to me that an organization like yours could take a leading role and trying to sort through all that chaos. What are the regulations we need? How could we use monetary incentives or charge for the curve, for instance, to push people to use it more efficiently, or maybe just to use it when they need it? What’s being done to help, I guess, sort through all that?
Sharon Masterson: Well, cities take very different perspectives. At the end of the day, it’s up to them how they would like to move ahead with what is happening in their city. But I think that there are a number of different incentives across the world, like, pick up and drop off zones at public transport areas where it’s a drive and park and connect to public transport. I think we’re looking also at when we look at the likes of Mobility as a Service as feeding into things like public transport and some of the work that we’ve done as well on shared mobility. It looks that if we use shared mobility to feed into public transport, then that also means that we’re capitalizing on the existing infrastructure and services that are already there as well. So, I think it’s really looking at it from from a holistic perspective and looking to see in different cities what would really work and what are the options that are available and understanding that choice is very, very important. And we talk about scooters, these this little moped, little kick scooters, but these have been around for a long, long time. And children had them before adults had them, initially.
Ed Bernardon: Everyone needs transportation, actually pointed it out early in our discussion here, transportation for education, for food, to be wherever you need to be but it’s not always affordable to everyone. Equalityin transportation is very, very important for equality overall, how do you see that evolving, as modes of transportation and how we look at transportation changes as we move forward?
Sharon Masterson: That’s very important. I think this is also a key goal of our ministries and of our cities to make sure that this is equitable and to make sure that as many people as possible have access to a good level of transport. And I think that this is why choice is important too. This is why giving choice and enabling people to use a broad range of transport types is also important. It’s important that we make space for bikes, it’s important that we leave room for pedestrians, and it’s important that we give that opportunity to our citizens to have those mobility options that they can afford and would like to have also from a health perspective, maybe. So, I think that’s very, very important. One of the studies that we did, for example, on shared mobility was looking at how shared mobility which would be an on-demand system – going from A to B – from where someone wants to go to where someone wants to go – rather than being dependent on what was existing at that time. It increases the possibility hugely because if you are dependent on fixed networks, they go at a certain time, they go in a certain direction, maybe you’re going via somewhere else to get to your final destination. If you’re in the outskirts of a city, you may have to go into the station to get back out to the other outskirts. We looked at this, and we looked at particularly in jobs, education, and health. We looked at where they were centered and looked at what an on-demand system would give as opposed to a fixed system. And so that it did increase hugely, the opportunities for people to be able to get to those places in a certain timeframe. So, that’s important because we also understand that people are less inclined to maybe make two or three changes on a subway or a metro system than they are inclined to make one change.
Ed Bernardon: Make it easy for them. The easier you can make it, it is better chance they’re going to use it. Let me ask you one last question. It’s the year 2040 or 2050, let’s go forward 20 years into the future, what is it you would love to see in that city of the future when it comes to transportation?
Sharon Masterson: That’s a good question. And I always laugh at that question now this year because ‚where do you see yourself in five-years-time’ is something that people often askin interviews.And I don’t think anyone that was asked that five years ago ever thought that they’d see themselves here today in teh middle of a pandemic. So, where are we going to be in 2040I don’t know. I can honestly say that that is a very, very difficult question to answer. We do not know what’s coming around the corner and we’ve seen so much change in mobility and transport over the last 10-20 years that it’s hard to hazard a guess. But what I would like to see is definitely more equity in transport. And also, very importantly, for our planet and future generations, more decarbonization of transport!
Ed Bernardon: Sharon, thank you so much for your vision of the future. And now comes the most fun part of The Future Car Podcast, that’s a part we call rapid-fire, where we’re going to give you a series of very simple questions can answer them in one line, you can answer them in multiple lines as much as you want, or you can even say pass if you want. What was the first car that you ever owned?
Ed Bernardon: Sharon, thank you so much for your vision of the future. And now it’s time for the funniest part of the Future Car podcast, what we call ‘rapid-fire’, where I’m going to give you a series of easy to answer questions. So you can answer in one line or two lines, or if you want longer answers, or even say pass. Are you ready to go?
Sharon Masterson: I think so.
Ed Bernardon: All right. What was the first car you ever owned?
Sharon Masterson: It was a Volkswagen Polo.
Ed Bernardon: Did you name it?
Sharon Masterson: I did not.
Ed Bernardon: Did you pass your driver’s test on the first try?
Sharon Masterson: Yes.
Ed Bernardon: And what’s that first drive you took now that you had your license?
Sharon Masterson: Well, it was the drive from the test center to the house.
Ed Bernardon: Anything happened that you can remember? Or was it just that simple drive back home?
Sharon Masterson: It was so long ago, I can’t remember, to be honest, Ed.
Ed Bernardon: Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?
Sharon Masterson: Speed is responsible for 20 to 30% of all fatal road crashes, and it kills them. Next.
Ed Bernardon: All right. Now, on the Future Car podcast, we like to talk a lot about what travel is going to be like in the future. And we have this theme called Living Room on Wheels. So in the future, you’re not driving, and your car is going to become like a living room that will transport you and you can do pretty much whatever you want. So imagine you’re in the future, you’ve got a five-hour trip, you’re in your living room on wheels. Describe what’s in this living room.
Sharon Masterson: I would have definitely a chill area – somewhere where I could play music, somewhere where I could also work, get something to snack like eat or drink. And somewhere I can actually stretch out. I think for a five-hour trip it’d be pretty important to be able to stretch out.
Ed Bernardon: Do you play a musical instrument? Or would it just be recorded music?
Sharon Masterson: Recorded music.
Ed Bernardon: What person – living or not – would you want to spend that five-hour car ride with?
Sharon Masterson: Well, I would probably put as many friends and family who have passed into the car for a good old catch up.
Ed Bernardon: Do you have a favorite car, car scene, or car chase scene from a movie?
Sharon Masterson: Well, the “Royale with cheese” scene from Pulp Fiction was good.
Ed Bernardon: If you could have any car in the world today, free of charge, what would it be?
Sharon Masterson: I’d have to ask for James Bond’s Aston Martin.
Ed Bernardon: Ah, the Aston Martin comes up so often. Especially that particular model. If you could eliminate one car from having ever been produced, what would it be?
Sharon Masterson: That’s easy. It’s the Ford Cortina. And for a reason that we had many Ford Cortinas one after the other when I was growing up, so I think it’s just a case of too much of a good thing.
Ed Bernardon: Was it a reliability problem?
Sharon Masterson: No, it was very reliable. I just got sick of the Fort Cortinas.
Ed Bernardon: So, were your parents in love with the Cortina for some reason?
Sharon Masterson: I think so. Yeah, it was a very popular car in Ireland. And of course, Henry Ford has Irish heritage and we have a big Ford plant in Ireland. So we had a lot of Ford Cortinas.
Ed Bernardon: What car best describes your personality besides the Ford Cortina?
Sharon Masterson: Well, then I’d go to something completely different. Like, maybe Sally Carrera from the Pixar film Cars.
Ed Bernardon: A Cartoon car?
Sharon Masterson: Yeah.
Ed Bernardon: Okay, what do you do to relax?
Sharon Masterson: I read, I walk, I bake – my new COVID past time.
Ed Bernardon: What’s your favorite item that you bake?
Sharon Masterson: Bread.
Ed Bernardon: Any particular kind of bread?
Sharon Masterson: Soda bread.
Ed Bernardon: Everyone’s cooking soda bread these days.
Sharon Masterson: I think so. Yeah, it’s a relatively recent thing.
Ed Bernardon: Now, why is it that COVID has people cooking soda bread versus the French baguette?
Sharon Masterson: Because it’s easier.
Ed Bernardon: What’s a hobby you have that has nothing to do with your work?
Sharon Masterson: Golf?
Ed Bernardon: What is your all-time favorite movie or TV show?
Sharon Masterson: Anything that makes me laugh, like Mr. Bean, and all the old classics like ‘Yes, Minister’, or ‘Yes, Prime Minister’.
Ed Bernardon: What do you wish you were better at?
Sharon Masterson: Oh, gosh, that’s easy. I wish I had a better sense of direction. And I will be eternally grateful for GPS.
Ed Bernardon: Greatest talent not related to anything you do at work.
Sharon Masterson: Creating imaginative stories.
Ed Bernardon: What’s your favorite city?
Sharon Masterson: Paris.
Ed Bernardon: If you could un-invent one thing, what would it be?
Sharon Masterson: The chewing gum.
Ed Bernardon: You’d like living in Singapore, then. Right?
Sharon Masterson: I think so.
Ed Bernardon: If you could magically invent one thing, what would it be?
Sharon Masterson: Something that could match every piece of litter to its owner.
Ed Bernardon: And the last question. If you were mayor of Paris for a day, what would be your executive order for that day?
Sharon Masterson: To find all the chewing gum and litter owners.
Ed Bernardon: Sharon, thank you so much for joining us on the Future Car podcast.
Sharon Masterson: You’re welcome, Ed. Thanks very much for having me.