You may have heard the term ‘last mile’ before. It’s used in supply chain management and transportation planning to describe the movement of people and goods from one place to a final destination.
For example, getting people from an airport to the city centre or a person getting off public transport to their workplace. If you live in a city, then you probably travel the last mile on a daily basis.
In this article we’re going to explore:
- What the last mile problem is
- Why there is a last mile problem
- What options there are to solve the last mile problem
- Why electric scooters are a good solution to the last mile problem
- Advantages of owning an electric scooter in a city
What is the last mile problem?
The ‘last mile’, or sometimes referred to as the ‘first and last mile’, describes the beginning and end of a person’s trip on public transport. This may involve walking or catching a bus to reach our destination. In some cities, they have train networks that run like clockwork that allow people to easily commute across town, such as Tokyo. Unfortunately, not all cities have excellent public transport networks, or many points that are close to destinations, and this is what creates the last mile problem.
A study by McKinsey in the U.S. found that people are 90% more unlikely to use public transport when they have to walk more than half a mile (800 meters) to the nearest stop. When fewer people use public transport, then more people are on the road creating traffic congestion, which slows down buses and trams making people even less willing to catch public transport.
While catching an Uber can be a quick solution for some, it doesn’t really seem worth the cost when you only need to travel less than a kilometer or mile down the road. So, cities are left with the option of expanding public transport routes or continue allowing people in less populated areas to have little access to public transportation.
Why is there a last mile problem?
The main reason for the last mile problem is simply that public transport cannot take us door-to-door from A to B. While some people don’t mind walking, it’s not very enjoyable when it’s raining or you’re carrying heavy items. Most cities have been designed for vehicles rather than people.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, people are even less inclined to catch public transport because they are worried about being in a confined space with other people. In some cities like Melbourne, sales in second-hand cars have increased with people citing avoiding public transport as one reason for buying a vehicle to get around.
So the issue that cities are facing now is – how do they get people travelling on public transport again in a safe manner?
What options are there to solve the last mile problem?
You would think the obvious solution to the last mile problem would be to drive, but cars only create more urban congestion and increase carbon dioxide emissions. In Melbourne, the traffic on the roads is set to climb higher than pre-Covid levels because of the boycott on public transport. That means heavier rush hour traffic with people sitting in their cars for longer periods of time.
Many cities are trialling different ways on how people can get around central business districts by making some streets pedestrian-only with wider paths so that cyclists, walkers and other electric vehicles can get around more efficiently. If we look at Melbourne again, walking makes up 90% of travel within the CBD, yet pedestrians are only allocated 24% of space.
Cities are exploring micro-mobility modes of travel as a way to combat this last mile solution and some have had great success. Brisbane trialled a Lime shared e-scooter scheme and due to its popularity, the council decided to extend it for another year. The electric scooter stations were placed near bus stops and train stations to encourage Brisbane residents to use them for their last mile trips.
As electric scooters gain in popularity, more people are choosing to buy their own e-scooters from companies such as Raine, which is a Melbourne-based start-up.
Why are electric scooters a good solution for the last mile problem?
Electric scooters are a great form of transport to close the last mile gap because they’re fast, easy to ride and cheap to run. McKinsey did an analysis on shared e-scooters in Munich and found that the average electric scooter was completing about five and a half trips a day, with people travelling around two kilometers or 1.3 miles.
Not only can electric scooters solve the last mile problem, but they can directly compete with public transport. People who own their own e-scooter don’t even have to bother getting on a train or bus to go to work if it’ll take them the same amount of time on an electric scooter.
There are a number of fast electric scooters available on the market that can travel at speeds of 30-40 km/h [19-25 mph] and have a long range, so they can be recharged while you’re at the office.
What are the advantages of owning an electric scooter in the city?
Walking can be tiresome when the streets are packed with people. If you’re on an electric scooter you can ride in the bicycle lane, so you’re not hindered by pedestrians. Public transport can also be quite slow if you get caught in traffic, making an e-scooter a much more appealing option. Electric scooters are very useful if you need to get to a meeting because it’s much quicker than walking and you won’t break a sweat. The Raine One electric scooter can reach a top speed of 45 km/h [28 mph].
Electric scooters do need to be recharged but as technology improves, light electric vehicles are getting longer ranges which means you won’t have to recharge it as often. The Raine One has a range of 40 km [25 miles].
Sometimes you might be feeling too lazy to walk but not lazy enough to drive – so the solution is an electric scooter. Great for short trips to the shops or when you need to duck off to the post office, you can easily zip around on your e-scooter to get you there fast.
Good for the environment
Electric scooters don’t require fuel, but rather run on an electric battery. While the battery needs to be recharged regularly, the time it takes for electric scooters to fully recharge has decreased with the improvement of battery technology.