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Today is Earth Overshoot Day – an event that should make the call for a transport turnaround even louder

The fact that we, the human race, live beyond our means and are almost unrestrained exploiters of our home planet shouldn’t be news. Almost all of our everyday habits, especially travelling and being mobile, contribute significantly to the consumption of finite resources. 

This Thursday (29 July 2021) highlights this fact even more, as today marks what is known as Earth Overshoot Day. The day on which humans will have used more resources than the Earth can produce within a year.

In order to calculate this date, UN statistics on the ecological footprint of humanity and biocapacity are taken from a specific year, divided and multiplied by 365. The result is the Earth Overshoot Day of a given year. 

By the way, the same can also be calculated for each individual country:

 

Since 1970, we can see that the Earth Overshoot Day is moving further and further back – this year already to the end of July. A crucial sign and an important signal that not enough is being done to reduce the negative impact of human life on the environment. 

Earth Overshoot Day – an important message for a rapid change in transport policy

Private motorised transport contributes significantly to the deterioration of air and climate. This is mainly due to our increased level of mobility, which in Germany alone has almost doubled in the past forty years, with the main means of transport still being the individual car – with an upward trend.

Whereas in 2000 there were still 532 cars per 1000 inhabitants, this number has risen to 580 cars per 1000 inhabitants by 2020. This development is burdening the environment in many ways: air pollution is increasing due to the growing emission of pollutants, in addition, more and more cars require more and more space, which leads to a large-scale sealing of the natural soil.

In Germany, almost half of the ground surface is sealed, among other things to create more space for roads and parking spaces – with disastrous effects. In recent weeks, we have witnessed at first hand the consequences of human intervention in natural habitats: Rain can no longer be absorbed as easily by the ground, existing sewage systems can no longer cope with the masses of water, flooding may result.

All these scenarios, which already have a massive impact on our lives, should wake us up: the transformation of transport is an important part of reducing harmful human-made environmental impacts and must therefore be implemented as soon as possible.

Earth Overshoot Day – How can the change in transport look like?

It has long been obvious that a shift in mindset is necessary when it comes to transport. The task now is to create incentives that make it easier for people to switch to shared modes of public mobility.

Only then will it be possible to reduce the approximately 17% of global CO2 emissions caused by our mobility behaviour and to conserve the earth’s resources.

Our existing habits play a decisive role in this. Car drivers are used to getting around easily: Roads are everywhere, detours or subsequent longer walks to the destination are almost non-existent, huge areas are covered with concrete so that cars, which spend a large part of the day just standing around, can be parked almost anywhere. These and other amenities have educated us to use the car. But this behaviour can also be changed.

To do so, it requires two things: 1) making the use of public, shared transport more attractive and 2) making the use of one’s own car less attractive.

Of course, these demands are not fully applicable to all people and life situations. People who live in rural areas are usually dependent on using their own car, while public transport hardly operates or does not do so on a regular basis.

A fair balance must therefore be created that benefits everyone and does not penalise those who are particularly reliant on a car. For example, people who move out of the cities because they cannot afford an expensive city residence, but still have to commute far to their workplace every day.

An attractive shared mobility offer can be created when mobility options are developed that actually correspond to the reality of people’s lives. These can be employee shuttles (for big companies) or on-demand feeder services that take people to main transport hubs that they cannot easily reach on foot or by bike.

A wonderful example of how such Demand-Responsive Transport services are catching on is, for example, the Clam’Express in the greater Paris region. With a fleet of three vehicles, people are comfortably transported the first and last kilometres from their home to their destination. The service stops at hubs where passengers can easily transfer to the regular transport network. The Clam’Express is inclusive, allowing people with reduced mobility to effortlessly book and use it.  Furthermore, the minibuses are electrically powered, which makes an additional positive contribution to energy efficiency.

Further solutions for rural mobility, especially a Mobility as a Service (Maas) approach can be reviewed in our current White Paper. A link to download it is available at the bottom of this article.

Financial incentives, such as discounted tickets for employees or free tickets for senior citizens (at certain times), as is the case in the UK through the “Older People Freedom Pass“, should also be considered by governments to make public transport more attractive options for more people.

On the other hand, persons who drive every kilometre with their own car and occupy large parts of the public space should be charged significantly higher parking fees, for example.

Earth Overshoot Day – What does the future hold? 

Under the hashtag #MoveTheDate, solutions are being collected online to help push back the Earth Overshoot Day.

The solutions listed above, along with other incentives to make public shared transport a ‘normal’ means of transport for the general public, can enable us to move Earth Overshoot Day back by 13 days (compared to today). Saving 50% of current mobility-related emissions is already enough. In other words, about one-third of all journeys usually made by car should be replaced by public transport.

A demand that certainly is not utopian. Decision-makers are now obliged to pave the way for an effective change in transport. Innovative ideas and products for this already exist and only need to be used effectively and distributed fairly.

 

This interview about “Empirical Evidence on Demand-Responsive Transport Services” might interest you as well.

Get to know more about Padam Mobility  

 

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Empirical evidence on On-Demand Mobility Services

Interview Gregoire_Lisa

On-Demand (or Demand-Responsive) Transport has been trending worldwide. But what does it mean exactly? It’s a mode of transport where instead of having fixed lines and fixed timetables, the itineraries are actually optimised based on the demand or bookings. In order to understand a bit more the impact of on-demand mobility on sustainability, Grégoire Bonnat, CEO of Padam Mobility, interviewed Lisa Dang, Research Associate at Lucerne University about the conclusions she had following the publication of her recent study on the subject.

Lisa, you are with the University of Lucerne and you recently published your study on the impacts of on-demand mobility on sustainability. Could you start by describing briefly what your study is about?

In our study, we examined the effects of On-Demand Mobility Services on sustainability in terms of emissions and traffic volume. For the analysis, we created four service options designed to be as realistic as possible, depending on the level of On-Demand Mobility integration into public transport :

  • On-Demand Line Operation, a service that operates like a “conventional” bus line, but is enhanced by an additional on-demand component;
  • On-Demand Public Transport Supplement, a service that provides an extension of public transport and is used, for example, only during off-peak hours when public transport services are infrequent;
  • On-Demand Public Transport Replacement, a service that replaces public transport through virtual stops, e.g. door-to-door rides;
  • Commercial On-Demand, a service that directly competes with public transport and aims to poach users.

The main focus of the study is the comparison of a rural area that is Glarus South with an urban region that is Basel St. Johann, both located in Switzerland. The calculations of the study are based on a sustainability simulation model created on Excel. The input data for the simulations are taken from the literature, as well as empirical data from pilot projects.

So according to your simulation, which of the service options is the most efficient?

In the service options that are the extension, the replacement and the competition, a significant increase in CO2 emissions can be expected, as a considerable share of users of these services come from the more environmentally friendly modes of transport, that is public transportation or non-motorized transportation.

However, implementing the supplement service option is recommendable. There are positive effects in terms of CO2 emissions because in this case, many passengers change from a taxi or a private car to this eco-friendly collective transport service.

And what would be your findings regarding traffic volume?

In all service options and in both spatial contexts, additional road traffic is a consequence of the on-demand collective transport services. There is additional traffic because according to the model assumptions, a considerable proportion of users in all service options switch from public or non-motorized transport to the on-demand collective transport services. And moreover, this effect is due to the low occupancy rate of on-demand collective services caused by a low degree of ride pooling and a high proportion of empty kilometres.

Have you found any interesting differences between the urban and the rural areas?

Yes, the results of the simulation regarding the influence of the area on the advantages of on-demand collective transport services show that the extension, replacement and competition service options generate higher additional CO2 emissions in the rural than in the urban area. The supplement service option, which is the favourable one, leads to a reduction of CO2 emissions in both areas with a higher reduction of CO2 emissions in the urban area. However, in urban areas, there’s a negative impact on the traffic volume in terms of additional vehicle kilometres since the pooled public transport demand is replaced by less pooled on demand vehicles.

So, in the end, which factors influence the ecological balance of on-demand shared mobility?

By calculating sensitivities, the present study shows which factors influenced the ecological balance and how strong the effects are. The model shift as well as the propulsion system technology have a strong influence on ecology and traffic volume. Regarding the traffic volume, we can say that the model shift, the average usage and the pooling rate have a particularly high influence on the generated traffic. 

If the majority of trips could be shifted from motorized private transport to the new On-Demand Mobility Services and at the same time an average capacity higher than that of a private car could be achieved, there would be positive effects on space and environment, and these aspects are particularly important in densely populated areas with high traffic volumes.And regarding the ecological effects, we find that the introduction of on-demand collective transport services leads to less traffic and fast to lower CO2 emissions when making optimistic assumptions regarding the pooling of ride requests, the empty rate and the shift from private cars. Also, the electrification of the vehicle fleet has a major effect, while the average distance per passenger has only a small effect.

 

This article might interest you: DRT optimisation: without the guarantee of advanced booking, no efficient route optimisation

Find out more about Padam Mobility.

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[Forum] The shadow of the private car is back

Private car is back

After so much effort to de-clutter the roads, the health crisis has reshuffled the cards. The modal share of public transport is in freefall, and there is a real risk that the private car will return to the forefront.

Pollution indices were among the few good news during containment. The French High Council for the Climate reported a 30% drop in GHG emissions.

The prospect of a major traffic jam

As ecological awareness has come up against the difficulty of guaranteeing health security for all, deconfinement has redistributed the modal share cards in the daily lives of citizens. Public transport has been deserted. According to Ile-de-France Mobilités (the Paris region Public Transport Authority), last June the number of people using the Paris region network represented barely 40% of the number of people using the network at the same time last year. In September, the figure did not reach 60% of passengers. Reluctant to board buses or metros, many urban and suburban dwellers want to avoid the promiscuity of public transport. Deprived, elected officials have seen their citizens demand impossible guarantees while seeing their public transport revenues drop.

The car is therefore on the verge of making a resounding comeback. Published in March, an Ipsos poll carried out in China revealed that 66% of the Chinese people questioned intend to choose the car to get around, a figure that did not exceed 34% before the crisis. In France, 233,820 new cars were registered in June 2020, compared to 96,310 at the same time last year, a notable increase of 1.2%. 

Favouring alternative solutions by being responsible

On all our roads, in the city centre as well as in the peri-urban and rural areas, it is not possible to give up responsible mobility. There is only one way to do this: be more responsible. It is up to us to wear masks, to respect sanitary measures and to avoid unnecessary travels. This is also how we will enable transit operators to be resilient. It is also up to us to trust them to ensure our safety by choosing the most suitable alternative for our journeys.

Among the solutions, Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) provides both flexibility and resilience that is rare in the world of public transport. This is Padam Mobility’s speciality. In the face of the pandemic, DRT makes it possible to book seats in everyday transport, thus controlling a passenger occupancy rate that guarantees social distancing. 

Adaptable in real time, it allows services to be transformed by adding stops where needs, even temporary, are felt. It is also much more predictable: DRT’s enhanced passenger information will warn users if a vehicle is already too full to accommodate passengers safely. And will direct them to the next available ride.  

This period is testing the resilience of public transport. Which has the means to meet the challenge. 

Thibault Lécuyer-Weber – Chief Marketing Officer, Padam Mobility

 

This article may interest you: Padam Mobility offers technological solutions to ensure social distancing in transports

Find out more about Padam Mobility solutions

 

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Which key measures for Demand-Responsive Transport in the new French Mobility Act?

Mobility Act key mesures Demand-Responsive Transport

What are the main key measures for Demand-Responsive Transport in the new French Mobility Act (LOM)? The text was published in the Official Journal of December 24, 2019. It brings many advances on shared mobility solutions including Demand-Responsive Transport. In particular, it marks the transition from a transport policy oriented towards major projects to an “everyday mobility” policy . 8 key points are to bear in mind:

1. Public Transport Authorities (PTA) mobility can more easily offer Demand-Responsive Transport services.

It is now possible for a PTA to intervene in the following 6 main areas, to develop an adapted offer to the territories: conventional regular transport, Demand-Responsive Transport, school transport, active and shared mobility, as well as solidarity mobility.

2. The mobility plans replace the current urban travel plans (PDU) and take into account Demand-Responsive Transport.

Active and shared mobility, solidarity mobility and the logistic challenges are better apprehended in these new plans. They are part of the objectives to fight urban sprawl, air pollution and for the preservation of biodiversity.

3. The transportation subsidy becomes the mobility subsidy and includes Demand-Responsive Transport.

This subsidy is subject to the setting up of conventional regular public transport services. In addition, it is possible to adjust its rate within the same work union according to the density of the territories.

4. Demand-Responsive Transport for People with Reduced Mobility (paratransit) is facilitated.

The mobility of people with reduced mobility will be facilitated, through concrete measures which include paratransit.

5. The development of Demand-Responsive Transport is facilitated.

The challenge is to make innovation a lever to meet the many unmet mobility needs.

6. The legal framework for carrying out experiments (POCs) on Demand-Responsive Transport in rural areas is adapted.

The act empowers the Government to legislate by ordinance to introduce legislative-level exemptions. This provision is part of the France Expérimentation approach.

7. Employers can implement Demand-Responsive Transport to facilitate their employees’ commuting as part of the compulsory negotiations to be carried out within companies with more than 50 employees.

These agreements must specify the manner in which employers undertake to facilitate the home-to-work trips of their employees. It could take the form of a mobility voucher.

8. A sustainable mobility package is created: up to € 400 / year to go to work by Demand-Responsive Transport.

Tous les employeurs privés et publics pourront contribuer aux frais de déplacement domicile-travail en solutions de mobilité partagée de leurs salariés. Ce forfait pourra s’élever jusqu’à 400 €/an en franchise d’impôt et de cotisations sociales. Aussi, il remplacera l’indemnité kilométrique vélo mise en place jusqu’à ce jour, mais dont la mise en œuvre est restée limitée car trop complexe. Ce forfait sera cumulable avec la participation de l’employeur à l’abonnement de transport en commun, dans une limite de 400€/an (la prise en charge de l’abonnement de transport en commun reste déplafonnée).

All private and public employers will be able to contribute to home-to-work trips’ costs through shared mobility solutions for their employees. This package can be up to € 400 / year free of tax and healthcare contributions. Also, it will replace the bicycle mileage allowance set up to date, but whose implementation has been limited because of it’s complexity. This package can be combined with the employer’s participation to the public transport subscription, up to a limit of € 400 / year (support for the public transport subscription remains uncapped).

 

Learn more about the LOM, the French Mobility Act (in Frenc)

Learn more about Home-to-Work trips

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How does Padam Mobility Demand-Responsive Transport help reducing the environmental footprint?

Padam Mobility

The 5th edition of the French air quality national day, is for Padam Mobility the opportunity to reiterate its commitment for the reduction of our environmental footprint thanks to the Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT). We have been taking advantage of our know-how and the best of the latest technological advances in artificial intelligence. We aim at developing solutions for more virtuous, greener and more sustainable trips.

Padam Mobility is helping to reduce the use of private cars

By offering alternative mobility solutions when conventional public transport is showing its limits – especially in off-peak hours and in peri-urban and rural areas.

Padam Mobility has saved nearly 82000Km of car rides to its users since the beginning of its activity which represents nearly 16 tons of CO2 rejected less.
We contribute to the optimization of existing transport services

By providing intelligent and dynamic optimization solutions that avoid empty rides and calculate the best itineraries.

The average grouping rate * on our dynamic Demand-Responsive Transport services is 80%. It can reach 92% on our best optimized DRT services.

We test and develop solutions to encourage eco-gestures In order to further reduce our DRT services energy consumption.

We can encourage our users to choose their DRT trips according to their environmental impact. According to an internal study, indicating the most fuel-efficient itinerary for DRT users would make it possible, on average, to save 500 kilos of CO2 per vehicle per year.
In 2020, we will continue our mission: to change and make changing the way we move.

We will continue to develop intelligent, optimized, sustainable and less costly mobility services. Services which take into account environmental, social and societal challenges.  

 

* Share of trips with at least two passengers on board

Read more about the other advantages of the Demand-Responsive Transport

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The future of urban mobility

Urban mobility

Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille and Lyon. These are the most congested French cities according to a study by Inrix. In France, traffic jams cost drivers nearly 20 billions euros in time lost, over-consumption of fuel, equipment wear and tear and unproductiveness caused by delays. This is not the only issue when it comes to mobility. Large cities are also saturated by pollution when peripheral territories struggle to develop sustainable transport solutions. One thing is certain: the future of mobility contraste with the last fifty years model. If we can’t eradicate the car overnight, we can change its use. And that’s just one solution among many. Let’s project ourselves into the future of urban mobility.

Tomorrow, a greener urban mobility

Hybrid cars are already a reality. Tomorrow, it could be the dawn of electric vehicles. If they already exist, the technology is still in development. Every year, manufacturers improve battery power, battery life and vehicle options. However, the market maturation can only be achieved when the charging stations are available in sufficient number. Urban equipment adapts, but it may take time. Fortunately The LOM (Mobility Orientation Act) law imposes strict rules : charging stations will be mandatory in all car parks with more than ten spaces, in new or renovated buildings, as well as in all car parks with more than 20 parking spaces in non-residential buildings by 2025.

When it comes to green mobility, Norway is an inspiring example. For the first time in history, more than half of the new cars sold in Oslo are electric and the city is now considered the world capital of electric vehicles.

Tomorrow, a shared urban mobility

A car spends on average 95% of its time on stop. This huge indicator highlights the importance of the transition from the era of possession to the era of use. The trend is to leave the individual car for new solutions. For instance, car sharing, private rentals and carpooling are alternatives that promote shared mobility. The car becomes a way of locomotion like any other, and is no longer seen as an extension of its property or home.

In Canada, Vancouver is considered the car-sharing capital in North America. In total, more than 3,000 shared vehicles cross the road every day, and the demand for public transit is growing. Travel patterns are changing and communities need to adapt.

Tomorrow, a smart mobility

As a result of technological progress and a new ecological, social and societal craze, Smart Cities are now buildings, neighborhoods or entire cities that are connected, semi-autonomous and intelligent. Through the AI development and data processing, mobility generates and uses a large amount of data to optimize its operations and which can serve many causes, such as:

  • The real-time availability of parking spaces.
  • Better traffic management with smart traffic lights.
  • A more efficient sharing of public space.
  • Public transport schedules respected and updated in real time.
  • The emergence of autonomous cars.

Intelligent mobility depends closely on the evolution of technologies: big data, cloud computing, geofencing, 5G, etc. The more communities integrate these innovations into their projects, the more effective mobility can be.

Tomorrow, a plural mobility

Despite the efforts of the territories, it is impossible to satisfy everyone in terms of mobility. The future is therefore a better complementarity of transport modes. You can drive to a station, take a bike out of your trunk to catch the train, and once you arrive at your destination station, you can cycle to work. With shared data and optimized software solutions, tomorrow’s intermodality will be fluid and latency-free.

In the United States, entrepreneur Elon Musk (Space X, Tesla, Hyperloop…) explores underground traffic with his new company “The Boring Company”. He wants to dig tunnels under cities that will be used by cars on smart platforms. Projects are being tested in California and several contracts are under discussion in particular in Chicago and Las Vegas.

Urban mobility is a subject that structures the organization and future of our society. And its future looks bright to connect all territories, reduce the social divide, make travel cleaner and transform knowledge and technology into a lever for performance.

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