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Shared mobility for low-carbon and inclusive transport

By Platform
Parking filled with cars

European cities and regions face the dual challenge of reducing both carbon emissions, and the number of vehicles on the road. More cars not only produce more emissions, but also take up more public space, and cause increased congestion which has an economic impact from time lost to inactivity. At the same time, regions that are reliant on private vehicles for mobility face the challenge that not everyone can afford to purchase and run their own vehicle, leading to increased inequality, and reduced socio-economic opportunities.

These challenges will not be overcome by only introducing low-carbon vehicles such as electric cars, which can reduce emissions but which neither reduce the impact of congestion and land-use, nor overcome inequality. One proven solution, however, is that of shared mobility, by which individuals can gain access to mobility services without owning a vehicle. These include not only shared cars, but also bike rental and micro-mobility options such as scooters.

Shared mobility has several benefits for regions including:

  • Reduced traffic congestion
  • Lower environmental impact
  • Reduced space requirements for parking
  • Reduced costs for drivers
  • Improved accessibility, while also providing flexible and convenient transport options

Shared transport schemes, normally being run by private companies, can also be integrated into the broader mobility system, providing last-mile transport options,  with pick-up and drop-off points at multi-modal transport hubs.

Good practices for shared mobility

Vehicle sharing schemes are often reliant on private companies, but public authorities can do much to stimulate development. This can include establishing a supportive framework with licencing schemes, safety standards and requirements for data-sharing, investing in infrastructure, establishing public-private partnerships, offering financial investments, integrating services into regional mobility planning and information platforms, raising awareness amongst citizens, or running pilot projects and demonstrations. 

Interreg Europe projects have identified several good practices for supporting vehicle sharing systems.

In Belgium, with the ‘Delen is voor iedereen’ (Sharing is for everyone) campaign, the City of Mechelen (CECI) sought to raise awareness of vehicle sharing while also offering a financial incentive to users. The city ran information sessions and test drives, while also providing a refund on bike purchases or shared mobility subscriptions when a resident sold their private car. The city also provided reserved parking spaces for shared mobility users as an incentive for use.

Facing a high number of private shared mobility services, the City of Barcelona (SMART-MR) established a regulatory framework to ensure that companies provide their services in the entirety of the city, and not only in the most profitable areas, ensuring vehicle sharing also supports socio-economic development goals. The regulation sets out who can operate such services, their minimum geographical coverage, and a tax per vehicle whereby sharing companies pay licenses to operate. Vehicles must also meet safety and sustainability criteria and contain geolocation systems that can give real-time data to public authorities.

Additional good practices also demonstrate how shared vehicles can be integrated into existing mobility services. One such example is the LISA programme in Austria, which aims to reduce reliance on private cars in rural areas by providing a flexible service that can back up the existing public transport offer with bike and e-car sharing to cover the last mile to transport hubs. In a similar vein, the EasyBike system in Greece (INNOTRANS) has been implemented as the basis of a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) offer, acting as the last-mile solution while also collecting data to determine mobility patterns, to inform MaaS development.

Find out more about shared mobility in Interreg Europe

Interreg Europe projects have looked extensively into shared mobility, with past projects finding many good practices on the topic, including those above, from CECI, e-MOPOLI, EV Energy, INNOTRANS, LAST MILE, Next2Met, PriMaaS and SMART-MR

The new project SMAPE (Shared Mobility Action Programmes Exchange) is exploring this issue, looking in particular at:

  • How to integrate shared mobility with public transport
  • MaaS
  • Use of data
  • Increasing use through behaviour change
  • Establishing public-private partnerships
  • Integrating into Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans

By the end of the project, this will result in improved policy instruments for partner regions in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Romania and Slovenia.

Sustainable mobility