8 Incredible Things That Happened in Shared Mobility in 2017

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As the year comes to a close, we are looking back at 2017 and recounting all of the incredible things that have occurred in shared mobility and mobility as a whole. From the autonomous movement and beyond, here is our list of the top 8 mobility movements of the past year.

1. Autonomous Bus Pilot in Sion, Switzerland

This year brought us the first autonomous bus that is actually moving passengers around a city in Switzerland. Created by PostBus, the SmartShuttle runs on electricity and was crafted to serve as a new model in a competitive and crowded marketplace. The SmartShuttle travels at 20km/hr on routes not typically covered by public transit and is free of charge for passengers.

The study of this AV will educate auto-manufacturers on the potential for electric and autonomous technology and support future urban planners to create infrastructure that is sustainable and environmentally conscious. The main purpose of PostBus is to innovate transportation in order to come up with environmentally conscious solutions. 

2. MOIA: All electric ridesharing vehicles

Volkswagen’s MOIA officially showcased its electric vehicle designed specifically for ridesharing. MOIA is a van with spacious design elements and wifi accessible features that can travel for approximately 300 km on one charge. The battery can recharge up to eighty per cent of its power in only thirty minutes, and the app allows you to hail the van to reach your designated location. It will debut this six-passenger, all-electric car in Hamburg in 2018, where the company plans to integrate around 200 cars on public roads.

This ridesharing capability allows for fewer vehicles to travel on busy roads. It is estimated that by 2025, one million cars will be taken off the road because of the service MOIA provides and its fleet capabilities.

3. MaaS finally gains traction

Over this last year, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) has started taking off in the United Kingdom. The whole transportation system—including taxis, buses, trains, trams, bikes and car hailing services—are in the testing stages of MaaS. The idea of MaaS is to have electronic pay-as-you-go options and then have a combined total of all monthly transport in one place for payment.

An app that combines all-mode trip planning with a points-based system for payments and ticket purchases is currently being tested in the United Kingdom’s second largest metropolitan area, the West Midlands.

MaaS has the potential to increase jobs and decrease the environmental effects transportation has on the globe. An inclusive MaaS plan should be considered for implementation in many communities because of all the positive benefits the service brings to the system.

4. Saudi Arabia agrees to let women drive

This year, it was announced that women in Saudi Arabia will finally be allowed to drive in June, 2018. This has been a longstanding battle for women in the country, many of whom have defied the law and ended up imprisoned or fined. An article in the Times states:

“the decision highlights the damage that the ban on women driving has done to the kingdom’s international reputation and its hopes for a public relations benefit from the reform.”

This change of policy, at its core, should be about equal rights for women and not about the country’s perceived public image. Nonetheless, the reason why the leaders chose to change it should not take away from the fact that women are now one step closer to equality. Having access to transportation is about freedom of mobility and access to professional and educational opportunities. The policy change allows women to drive but the Interior Ministry of Saudi Arabia has the final decision as to whether women can work as professional drivers.

5. Turo comes to Vancouver

Described as the AirBnB for your car, Turo allows for the renting of personal vehicles, and this past year welcomed it to our home city of Vancouver (where we still don’t have Uber!).

Turo was created in San Francisco, and expanded to many US cities before it made its way to four Canadian provinces. Since Turo users are required to provide their own insurance that covers third party use for their vehicle, it was more challenging for the company to gain momentum in British Columbia.

To get started, Turo teamed up with a local hotel who implemented their technology to provide rental cars for their customers. Now, Turo offers a great opportunity to Vancouver car-owners who wish to generate additional revenue when they aren’t using their vehicle.

6. Free2Move launches in the US

Free2Move is a mobility aggregation platform that compares ridesharing services from cars and bicycles. The company is prominent in European markets such as France, Germany, Sweden, and the UK. Free2Move launched in Seattle with the plan to expand to Oregon. This platform is unique because the user no longer needs to compare or research which service would benefit them most. The software will prioritize which service is the most affordable and timely to speed up your search and get you on the road faster. 

The CEO, Larry Dominique, articulated that: 

“Mobility services evolve and innovate based on the way people think about and consume mobility, bringing Free2Move stateside provides us with a unique way to address consumer demands, as well as a flexible platform to roll out future products.”

7. A new SUV with a carsharing button

The auto manufacturing industry is starting to catch up with the shared mobility movement, being proven by Lynk & Co‘s new SUV with built-in carsharing technology. The SUV was sold in China and 6,000 preorders were placed in 137 seconds. This new SUV has a share button that allows the owner to trigger a shareable digital key to allow a second party to access and drive the car.

This capability opens up a whole new avenue for individuals to generate revenue from their vehicles, and is also a visually-appealing vehicle with features that make it accessible and desirable for the technological innovators of today.

8. Launch of shared mobility principles for cities

This year also saw the launch of the shared mobility principles for cities come to be, created in collaboration by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. The principles are:

  1. Plan our cities and their mobility together.
  2. Prioritize people over vehicles.
  3. Support the shared and efficient use of vehicles, lanes, curbs, and land.
  4. Engage with stakeholders.
  5. Promote equity.
  6. Lead the transition towards a zero-emission future and renewable energy.
  7. Support fair user fees across all modes.
  8. Aim for public benefits via open data.
  9. Work towards integration and seamless connectivity.
  10. Support autonomous vehicles in dense urban areas that should be operated only in shared fleets.

As we discussed in our TED Talk, all of these aspects are important to be considered by cities when creating or expanding on shared mobility services. 

These incredible advances in shared mobility and mobility as a whole ensure that the future ahead of us is looking very bright. Interested in learning what the next trends in shared mobility for 2018 are? Well then you need to talk to us.

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