Lisbon Shared Mobility Challenges by Ashley Cho

Lisbon shared mobility challenges
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Lisbon: the city of ‘seven’ hills. Since I moved to Lisbon in June 2017, I can vouch that this is definitely true.

I find it is easy to get around Lisbon because of the breadth of mobility options available: from metros, buses, trams, trains, ferries, and faninculars (tuk tuks). These breadth of options is one of the reasons why Lisbon ranks 27th on Western Europe SMCI 2016 report.

Lisbon Shared Mobility Options

Lisbon also offers shared mobility options such as peer-to-peer carsharing (car owners renting out their vehicles to others for a fee) and ride-hailing (on-demand service where people use their cars to drive others to various locations).

For example, CarAmigo is a peer-to-peer ridesharing service, offered in Lisbon which makes it a great option to connect residents living in suburban areas such as Belem and Cascais to Lisbon’s inner city. Cabify and Uber are the dominant ride-hailing services in Lisbon.

Lack of Bike-sharing and Carsharing

Interestingly, there is little to no presence for bike-sharing or carsharing. Lisbon just started to experiment with bike-sharing in June 2017. Lisbon launched a pilot project with 100 public hire bikes, two thirds of them electric, in the Parque das Nacões neighbourhood. The goal of this pilot project is to eventually roll-out 1,410 bikes, where 940 of the bikes will be electric to cope with the city’s hills.

BMW DriveNow also recently announced it will open operations in Lisbon later this year. CityDrive is the only active carshare operator in Lisbon but has little presence.

Why has it taken so long to have these types of operators in Lisbon’s transportation space? We analyzed the major Lisbon shared mobility challenges ahead for any carshare or bikeshare operator to succeed.

Lisbon shared mobility Challenges

Major Challenges Facing Bikeshare and Carshare operators:

  • Heat. Lisbon can get very hot during the day from June to September with average temperatures ranging in the thirties, not including humidity. This makes bike-sharing a less appealing option, especially with Lisbon’s hills.
  • Parking. Parking options are extremely limited in Lisbon. Parking lots are always full and side-street parking is always taken. Trying to find parking is so hard that many cars will just park on the sidewalk (and cops usually turn a blind-eye!).
  • Underground Metro covers a large area. With 4 metro lines (55 stations) to travel around the city this is a great option for people to get around for only 1.45 each way. The metro runs frequently and is on-time. As well, the underground station is a great way to escape the heat since many of the carts have air conditioning and the tunnels have high ceilings to keep the atmosphere cool. With this great, affordable transportation option, this will make it difficult for carshare and bikeshare operators to convince commuters to use other services.
  • Low disposable income. The average monthly salary (after tax) in Lisbon is 860 euros per month.The implication for Lisbon residents with a lower disposable income may mean that they are not be able to afford  services such as carsharing. Depending on the pricing scheme, it may not make financial sense for people to use when other (cheaper) mobility options such as ride-hailing are available.

Launching a carsharing or bike-sharing operation will be difficult in Lisbon. Since parking is one of the biggest key success factors for any carsharing operation, the key to success in Lisbon will be how to handle on-street or off-street parking when there are limited options. With great public and private transportation services options this will make it a hard market to gain market share in.

Perhaps bike-sharing has a more favourable chance for adoption because even though Lisbon gets hot in the summer, Lisbon’s subtropical Mediterranean climate makes for mild winters and springs. It will be interesting to see from the pilot project if electric bicycles will get the buy-in from locals to move over those hills and use it as a common transportation method.

Interested in more information about carsharing in Lisbon? Click here to inquire about the latest SMCI report.


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