Growth in vehicle ownership and demand for transportation is leading to higher congestion in urban centers. Ownership of private assets to the users of shared assets can address these growing challenges. ‘Shared mobility’ has emerged as a service that enables people to use mobility on an “as-needed basis”. It is a tool to reduce congestion, transportation infrastructure, co2 emissions, and travelling impact on the environment. Shared Mobility includes diverse forms of car sharing, bike sharing, on-demand ride services, shuttle services & paratransit services. As the transportation market is witnessing a transformation, Shared Mobility is setting an example of sharing economy. It is based on the idea that paying for temporary access to a product is more convenient and affordable than owning it.
In the past, during World War II government in the U.S encouraged “Carpooling Lane” to rationalise oil consumption. The informal way of ride-sharing in the 70s was hitchhiking, which became organised with time. People during that time informally start queuing at strategic positions to hitch a ride. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 1980, 23.5% of Americans used Carpooling compared to 11% in 2011.
Multiple shared mobility practices that developed with time are listed below:
- Carpooling Services: Carpooling is when drivers offer possible seats in their rides within the city to be matched with commuters. Nowadays, technology has made connecting drivers and commuters on the same platform easier. Many mobile apps offer a platform for the same.
- Taxi & Ride-Hailing Services: Here, professionally trained and licensed drivers are provided to offer taxi services. There are Transportation Network Companies that offer ride-hailing services through mobile apps.
- Car Sharing Services: Similarly, in car-sharing services, the benefit of owning a car through a share of ownership and usage of the vehicle can be accessed.
- Micro-Mobility Services: Micro mobility includes mobility provided through a fleet of small, low-speed vehicles for personal transportation in urban areas. Often, only one person can access this service at a time.
It is to know that evolving shared mobility sector has promise for sustainability. SAE International, a global organisation, provides a taxonomy and definitions for terms related to shared mobility and enabling technologies. The standard is named J3163_201809. The standard covers six categories of terms related to shared mobility:
- Travel Mode (Car Sharing / Bike Sharing)
- Mobility Application (Mobility Tracker App)
- Service Models (Peer 2 Peer)
- Operational Models (Station-based roundtrip)
- Business Models (B2B Round Trip)
- Depreciated Terms (Ride Sharing)
The benefits of Car Sharing are multiple, which are listed as below:
- Fewer Parking Space: The car spends more time in motion in car-sharing service and is less often parked. Efficient use of cars in short-term rentals thus lead to fewer parking spaces.
- Increased NMT Share: In addition, car-sharing discourages the non-exclusive use of vehicles, thus increasing the average distance travelled by Bicycle and Walking.
- Less Emission: Using car-sharing leads to a decrease in the average emission per person in day-to-day commute.
- The car-sharing model (in all its variants) changes car usage’s social character: it is no longer seen as a luxury but of many means of transportation.
Worldwide car-sharing growth
Asia is the largest car-sharing region measure by membership, accounting for 58% of worldwide membership and 43% of global fleet deployment. Europe being the second largest market with 37% of the global fleet. The main factors that contributed to this growth are rapid urbanisation and industrialisation.
Image Source (Shaheen, Cohen, & Jaffee, 2018): Asian Trend
Image Source (Shaheen, Cohen, & Jaffee, 2018): European Trend
Shared mobility can contribute to more efficient use of available resources. Moreover, reducing the number of cars and potentially less road congestion and casualties. Car access is more sustainable than ownership, where free movement of people and goods does not negatively affect the environment.
The role of central and local public authorities is the key at the policies level and for allocation of funds. Laws and regulations at a national and local level need to support the sector’s development and provide a minimal barrier to its growth.
The article is based on: United Nations Report Geneva 2020