First Mile, Backbone, and Last Mile Transport – Building a Sustainable Intermodal System

Juraj Atlas

February 26, 2020

2 min read

Traffic in the city


ringing a viable and convenient alternative to a private car for our basic daily transportation needs will require a mix of different solutions – as I discussed in my previous article here. And I believe that intermodality is at the core of a number of them. But how to build an intermodal system that really is a viable alternative to private cars? 


Excelling comfort and reliability.

All of these solutions, although they may be different, consist of three elements – first-mile transport, backbone transport, and last-mile transport. And in order for any of these solutions to be sustainable, the middle backbone element needs to have the most efficient infrastructure out of all three elements. That’s where we fail with our love for private cars. Their comfort, privacy and availability/reliability are core characteristics that for many still outweigh the inconvenience of the time spent in traffic jams and the costs (of money and/or time) spent on parking.

Where there is not much we can do about the privacy of mass transportation, we need to excel at comfort and availability/reliability.

Where there is not much we can do about the privacy of mass transportation, we need to excel at comfort and availability/reliability. That’s where most of the public capital spending needs to be allocated if we are to win the sustainability tug of war between individual private cars and shared transport solutions, but also, more specifically, between shared low capacity and shared mass capacity.

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The Intermodal Mix.

To mix the right cocktail, we already have many ingredients available. These include various forms of mass transit but also on-demand, demand-responsive and micromobility forms of transportation such as bike-shares, car-shares, e-scooters, ride-hail, taxi, private shuttles, car-pool, etc. 

When mixing those ingredients, many considerations come to play:

  • access / reach (destinations reached per unit of time),
  • individual / low capacity shared / high capacity shared (passengers per unit of space),
  • low vs high infrastructure throughput (passenger miles travelled per unit of time),
  • low vs high energy efficiency (energy consumption per passenger mile travelled).
Illustration of the Mileus Logo


So what’s the recipe?

The solution could be an integrated, guaranteed and automated multi-modal transport system combining:

  • public transport for fast backbone longer-distance travel,
  • various shared on-demand and low footprint mobility solutions, such as micromobility, for dense urban centres and intra-city journeys,
  • and solutions which are capable of on-demand rebalancing for the less dense areas like the outskirts of the cities.

I believe this can make a real difference. And bring a great deal of comfort to our daily commutes – without private cars.

And that is why we at Mileus are working on creating new possibilities for urban transport by interconnecting the best from the world of public transport and ride-hailing services. Using Mileus reduces congestion and pollution in cities, increases comfort for commuters, and improves vehicle utilisation for ride-hailing operators.

How would you mix the intermodal cocktail? Or would you approach it from an absolutely different angle? I’ll be happy to hear your thoughts on this! Hit me up at or on LinkedIn.




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