Carshare: 3 Strategies to Meet the Policy Challenge


Last week I was at Wocomoco, the world collaborative mobility congress, which was held in Innsbruck and organised by the Mobility Academy of the TCS (Touring Club Switzerland). I had the honour to be on a panel together with Oliver Schmerold, CEO OEAMTC; Peter Goetschi, President of the TCS and Silvia Kaupa, Head of long-distance traffic of the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) to discuss the policy challenge.

Prior to the discussion in plenary, each of us presented our ideas on how to tackle the policy challenge. I decided to focus on Vancouver and share how the shared mobility services (mainly carsharing) have doubled in only five years and how a city with less than 7,000 carsharers in 2010 has now over 100,000 members. I believe there are three strategies to build a strong mobility ecosystem in a city:

1. Understand your local users: Mobility is a very personal thing and we all have various needs and preferences on how to get around. Sometimes it is most important to get from A to B in the most direct and fastest way. Other times we have to transport an Ikea bed or travel with family. Sometimes, we want reliability and know exactly when we arrive at our final destination and prefer public transit. Or we prefer to be active and want to use a bycicle. I believe that it is extremely important to understand how the people in a city want to move and where there are challenges (f.i they can’t get across town after 11pm with a bus) to create a mobility offering that meets your local users’ needs.

2. Change bylaws and regulations: The City of Vancouver has had a very clear vision with their Greenest City 2020 strategy and particularly their goals for green transport and attracting green businesses. I believe one of the key factors in making Vancouver attractive for carsharing operators is that the City of Vancouver actively reviewed and adjusted regulations and bylaws to allow new services to run their business. They had to fit into the Greenest City vision and the City was very clear that policies and bylaws must be inclusive of all players. It’s a win-win for both sides: the biggest hurdle for new entrants to the market are existing bylaws that hinder running their business (in the case of carsharing it’s the parking bylaws). If the right framework is provided, cities don’t have to invest in new mobility options themselves but can offer their residents more choice.

3. Collaborate: Municipalities, public transit providers and private operators have to work together to build a great ecosystem for mobility systems that serve the residents. There is not one solution that fits everyone’s needs: at night it might make a lot more sense to have a one-way carsharing vehicle instead of a bus for just one person. I don’t believe it’s either public transit or shared mobility: it’s both. While public transit providers and private operators understand how people want and need to move, cities have the possibility to create and adjust bylaws and regulations. Collaboration between these different groups is the only way to create integrated mobility networks that are sustainable and financially viable. Which ultimately results in less vehicle ownership and more liveable cities.

You can find my presentation here.

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