Traditional public transport can also be viewed as a form of shared mobility, but nowadays the term generally refers to the sharing of private vehicles. From this perspective, such forms of shared mobility are well established in society and have a long history.
Carpools, for example, take multiple travellers in cars owned by one provider. Although carpooling has existed for over 50 years, it is only relatively recently that shared mobility has seen considerable growth. This is primarily due to the increased digitalisation of society. Location data gathered by smartphones and other devices are key to sharing mobility solutions effectively. Easily locating an available vehicle in the nearby area is one example.
The increasing use of technology in everyday life has made us comfortable using apps and other digital platforms to share vehicles effectively. People have also become increasingly used to paying for services by phone. This reduces barriers to accessing shared mobility solutions on the go. Together, these societal changes create a situation that paves the way for further development of mobility sharing solutions.
The changes that stimulate the use of shared mobility also facilitate the use of mobility as a service on a large scale. Several European cities currently offer MaaS solutions, with various packages of public transport, car-sharing, car hire, cab, rent-a-bike and/or walking.
While the evolution of autonomous vehicles is to a large degree independent of that of shared mobility, they are often mentioned together. Studies have found that, in a worse-case scenario, autonomous vehicles will generate more traffic. But integrating shared fleets of autonomous vehicles with conventional public transport can improve the future for urban areas – providing affordable, sustainable and convenient mobility options to all citizens. This includes less-mobile persons, the elderly, children, and people living in suburban or rural areas.
For additional details, including conclusions and recommendations, please refer to the full report. This Urban Insight report uses historical development of public transport as a springboard for discussing new technology that is likely to disrupt urban transportation in the near future.