Andrew: Thanks for taking the time and having a chat with us, Scott. How’s Lisbon treating you?
Scott: Thanks for having me Andrew, and a pleasure to chat. Lisbon is an amazing city, with incredible history (one of the oldest in Europe), architecture, urban design, public transport, open space, and pedestrian friendly streets, albeit a bit challenging with the strenuous hills and topography.
Andrew: How did your move to Portugal come about?
Scott: My wife is Portuguese, and we married and raised a family in Southern California. She wanted to pursue her PhD in Psychology, and we decided that the Lisbon region would be perfect for her studies, and to be closer to her extended family close by.
Andrew: Do you miss Los Angeles and the United States in general?
Scott: Los Angeles is more than a city, it’s a state of mind and cannot be compared to more “traditional” colonial-era US cities such as New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. It is really a post modern city that has evolved over time and space into a unique region, with its own cuisine, music, art, architecture, and culture. I do miss LA (and the US) of course, but more specifically for the small things, like corner taco carts and street food stalls.
Andrew: I can imagine that after three years in Lisbon, you are starting to settle down, what have you been working on lately?
Scott: I have been focused lately on sustainable mobility and multimodality, in my business and personal lives. As we emerge from COVID, we are seeing a convergence of opportunities that will enable urban recovery, economically, environmentally, and socially. And all of these have to to with how we move around cities, vis-a-vis mobility. So this is what my interest is, here in Lisbon and globally.
Andrew: Which of those cities do you admire the most when it comes to urban infrastructure and mobility options?
Scott: I am a bit biased towards Lisbon, as I live here and like to call it a “right-sized citiy”, not too big, not too small, and most points can be covered by public transport or shared mobility options. However, in my European and global travels, I would have to say Berlin is the one standout. Every single point in the city is covered within a 5 min radius walk to a station, with no more than a 5 minute wait for the next bus / tram metro. That translates to a metro region that has outstanding public transport “coverage” AND “frequency”. Amazing!
Andrew: Can you give us an idea how Lisbon compares to Berlin?
Scott: Lisbon has its strengths, most importantly its urban street network, traditional Manueline architecture, monuments and statuary, and visual focal points and numerous hilltop viewpoints. Each of these attributes provide Lisbon with a “sense of place”, and differentiate it from pretty much any other city on the planet. And that sense of place is what makes the city so magical, because there is always something new to discover, just off the beaten path, in an alley way, staircase, or public square.
Andrew: Anyone within the industry who has been paying attention would know that Norway is simply killing it, and there are a number of pockets out there where e-mobility has a high adaption rate. Where would you say Lisbon and Portugal rank? How do the general public perceive the transition to electric?
Scott: Lisbon and Portugal has a fairly impressive public charging network, operated nationally by MOBI.E. As of now, there are 540 public use charging stations as part of the MOBI.E network, renovated in 2017; 100 of the 540 points were upgraded to semi-fast charging (22kW) with 3 upgraded to new fast chargers (50kW) installed in key places in the city. However, the expansion rollout has slowed due to COVID, and there are gaps in the public charging network outside of the major cities of Lisbon and Porto, within Portugal. Therefore, range anxiety remains an issue for greater conversion from ICE to e-mobility.
Andrew: What do you feel are the biggest barriers to overcome in the city?
Scott: I would say the biggest barriers to overcome in the city are still an over reliance on single car commuting and ownership, especially for people living outside the city and working in Lisbon. There is no easy solution, part is economic, part is physical, and part of cultural.
Andrew: I must ask, as a fellow American, I know that cars played a big role in your family’s life in LA. How are you guys getting around in the city? Are you still a two-car family?
Scott: We are actually a 1 car family now, and have been for the past three years. This has been easily accomplished as my wife drivers our one car, a Fiat 500. I regularly walk, take public transport, or use shared mobility options from time to time, such as e-scooters and bikeshare. Every so often, I will even opt for ridehail, but that’s only when I need to travel quickly across town. However, the benefits far outweigh the costs of becoming a 1 car family.
Andrew: There are lots of amazing cars coming out on a regular basis, do you have an eye on a particular model? Which one would be that dream e-car for you?
Scott: I do really like the new all electric model that came out from Citroen, the Ami. It is the perfect size for a compact city like Lisbon, and it would be easy to maneuver across town. I will keep my eye on that model, if and when we choose a 2nd car.
Portrait photo courtesy of Scott Shepard.