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Bombardier innovation contest produces new urban mobility proposals

Bombardier innovation contest produces new urban mobility proposals

Rail technology leader Bombardier Transportation has unveiled three innovative proposals to help emerging economies meet the challenges of 21st century urban transportation. The winners of Bombardier’s interactive YouCity competition presented their joint concepts for the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte on September 20 at the world’s largest rail trade show, InnoTrans 2012, in Berlin, Germany. Bombardier had invited the three winning teams to work out the details with its own experts at an innovation camp in Berlin during the trade show.

The first proposal revolutionizes passenger flows by opening an entire side of a train instead of using doors as entry and exit points. This allows for faster commutes and higher network capacity by reducing stopping times at stations.

The second proposal fine-tunes the AutoShuttle concept, which won the YouCity prize in the engineering category. Individual transparent cabins would transport cars along motorway routes on dedicated Maglev (magnetic levitation) lanes at 180 km/h. Drivers would be able to choose at any time to take the next exit and join the conventional road network.

A software-based innovation completes the trio of ideas. By improving the capacity of current journey planner displays, passengers would be able to see the exact location of a rail vehicle or bus in real time. They could also see the destination, traffic condition, or any other information displayed through augmented reality.

André Navarri, President and Chief Operating Officer, Bombardier Transportation, said: “Belo Horizonte is an excellent case study for emerging urban centres around the world. This innovation contest challenged participants to think holistically and define a proposal that describes not just a technical solution but also its financial viability and appeal in terms of urban planning. The breadth of concepts has been truly impressive.”


Tomorrow’s transport solutions have to match the requirements of urban planners for the cities of the future. By 2050, more than two out of every three people in the world are expected to be living in cities. The YouCity contest has demonstrated what smart, interconnected urban mobility could look like in the future to move more people than ever before quickly and efficiently. The competition attracted 215 entries by almost 900 students and professionals from 74 countries.

Bombardier invited candidates to develop their concepts in one of three work streams: engineering (product definition, technical concept), business (business model, stakeholders, financing strategy) and urban planning (network layout, urbanism concepts, integration). To focus the contest, candidates tailored their proposals to one of three cities that represent the different markets for urban mobility around the world: London, UK (mature market), Belo Horizonte (BRIC[1] market) and Vientiane, Laos (emerging market). A jury of experts at Bombardier evaluated the concepts, which were voted for by YouCity’s online community as well as on social media.

AutoShuttle won in the engineering workstream (see above). The winning business concept is called Liquid Oyster and is based on London’s existing Oyster pay-as-you-go card. In a two-step approach, Liquid Oyster would start by automatically applying daily, weekly and monthly price caps when their cost is reached. In the second phase, a continuous pricing scheme would limit the total of all fares paid over a 12 month period to the cost of an annual travel card.

In urban planning, a proposal for different coloured zones identifying different parts of Vientiane won the contest. Travellers could more easily agree fares and vehicle sharing for taxis and tuk-tuks (motorized rickshaws) by using different colours to identify the different villages (administrative areas) that make up Vientiane.

[1] Brazil, Russia, India, China