“Shared Mobility” services of various kinds have become an essential part of at least most big cities. Whether scooters, bikes, cars or ride-pooling services, the demand for shared mobility forms to suit every taste appears to be satisfied in urban areas. But what about user acceptance? What future potential do shared mobility services have? And which aspects might need to be improved? In this article, we try to shed light on these and other questions.
The advantages of “Shared Mobility”
Shared mobility brings decisive advantages: the traffic load on roads and inner cities is reduced, and pollution caused by emissions and particulate matter decreases. In the light of alarming reports proving that the transport sector accounts for around 1/3 of all carbon dioxide emissions in Europe, with 70% of this coming from cars, trucks, vans and buses, there has to be a shift in thinking about local transport.
Shared forms of mobility have the potential to help reduce traffic congestion and can be an important pillar in achieving the Paris climate targets, which require, for example, that the German transport sector emits up to 42% fewer greenhouse gases in 2030 (compared to 1990).
Less traffic also means fewer busy roads, less noise and fewer traffic jams. Certain areas in city centres that were previously cluttered with cars could become accessible to citizens, which would significantly improve the quality of life for city dwellers.
In addition, shared mobility is also more economical for each individual user, because those who share rides also share the costs.
What people say about “Shared Mobility”
Living with fewer cars sounds tempting; who wouldn’t be happy with more space and better air quality?
In a study released by the Swedish technology company Ericsson in March 2021, over half of all respondents (57%) say that they believe shared mobility concepts will gain popularity among consumers over the next 5 years. The expectations are that more shared mobility solutions will reduce general traffic and the resulting environmental impact.
These data show that people have recognised the importance of shared forms of mobility and consider them to play an important role in the fight against climate change.
And yet, the numbers are surprising when considering that public transportation, especially in Corona times, suffers. Whereas just before the pandemic, in April 2020, 57% said they preferred their own car to shared mobility, that number has risen to 87% globally* over the course of the pandemic.
So why do respondents’ perceptions and actual usage numbers match up so poorly?
What do people really think about “Shared Mobility”?
In fact, in the same Swedish study, the picture changes when people are asked what they think their own consumption habits will be in the next 5 years. Over half of all respondents (51%) see themselves driving a personal (autonomous driving) vehicle by then. In other words, people think shared transportation is a good and important concept, but are worried about losing their own liberties and, thus, prefer to stick to a private car.
Why “Sharing” is still THE Mobility solution of the future
These survey results reveal one crucial aspect: under certain circumstances, people are certainly willing to abandon an individual vehicle, however, without sacrificing personal independence and flexibility.
So, if people are basically willing to make the switch and recognise the transport revolution as a crucial element in protecting the environment, and yet there is still no significant increase in the number of passengers, we need to find ways other than emissions statistics to convince them.
The key here lies in the offer. 58% of all respondents of the group of working parents of the Ericsson study are interested in sharing offers that promise a personal advantage in contrast to private, unpooled car travel. This could be the factor of entertainment and customer service, for example, a personalised user account that knows immediately upon boarding which light or seat setting the customer prefers, or even what kind of music they would like to have played on their headphones. Customers would also opt for a “shared mobility” service if they had access to a fast and robust Internet connection (64%) everywhere. A study by the German Fraunhofer Institute (March 2021) found that 58% of the respondents would be particularly interested in ridepooling services that operate at night.
It is therefore important to establish a service where there is a corresponding need. The relevant questions need to be answered: how do we establish a full-coverage offering in the sense of a Mobility as a Service solution? How can data be shared and used securely? How can the peri-urban areas benefit from a shared mobility solution in order to relieve the inner cities of a load of daily car commuters?
If the right questions are asked and solved bit by bit, consumers will also follow suit – the basic willingness to do so exists.
*11,000 consumers from 11 countries were surveyed for this study
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