Crafting Effective Policy Instruments for ‘Smart Mobility’: Can Multi-level Governance Deliver?

Iain Docherty, chapter in anthology Shaping smart mobility futures: governance and policy instruments in times of sustainability transitions, Emerald Publishing Limited, August 2020

The transition to a future of ‘Smart Mobility’ – a mobility system characterised by real time organisation via the internet incorporating technologies such as connected and autonomous vehicles – has the potential to transform many aspects of everyday life. Many countries have evolved a system of ‘multi-level governance’ (MLG) to manage the formulation and implementation of public policies at different spatial scales. Whilst MLG has several potential advantages, such as providing multiple sites for policy innovation and de-risking the implementation of new policies by piloting them in particular places, the existence of many different governing tiers with different priorities and mandates requires skilful management and coordination. The management of any substantive, disruptive transition such as that to Smart Mobility is challenging for the policy system per se; for countries with MLG systems, the task is made more complex still by the need to achieve sufficient policy alignment between different tiers and entities of governance to implement new policy instruments in practice. The specific instruments of transport pricing and roadspace reallocation provide clear examples of these challenges and pointers to how implementation questions might be resolved in an MLG framework.