In this month’s edition of our Women In Shared Mobility series, we take a look back at our interviews of 2019 so far, and share some of the top insights and thoughts from our interviewees.
In this 2019 roundup we will explore the major problems faced by the mobility and transportation industry and share some insights from our interviewees so far. We will discuss public and private partnerships, the micromobility market, how social equity plays a massive role in the future of mobility and electric and autonomous vehicles.
Women in Shared Mobility Roundup: Top Insights From Our 2019 Interviews
Sharon Feigon, Shared-Use Mobility Center
Antonia Roberts, Director of Bike Share, CoMoUK
Karen New, Director of Information Systems at Modo Co-operative
Carol Schweiger, President of Schweiger Consulting
Haley Rubinson, Director of Business Development, Revel
Kristy Zoshak, Director of Marketing & Community, Revel
1. WHAT WAS THE MOST UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENT IN SHARED MOBILITY IN 2018?
Throughout 2018 we witnessed dramatic changes to the mobility landscape across all sectors. The micromobility revolution, particularly electric shared scooters, rapidly took over streets (and sidewalks) across North America.
Sharon: There was a lot happening in shared mobility in 2018, how much and how fast everything developed was surprising, particularly the scooter sharing. Scooter sharing took off this year and grew in so many places. It was very interesting that the cities got on the scooter sharing trend quickly, seemingly learning from the Uber and Lyft experiences that overwhelmed them in the past.
Each interviewee, who addressed micromobility, was in agreement. The popularity of this chosen mode of transportation is inarguable. The future of micromobility is indisputable, however, no one is sure exactly how it will expand, as technology and infrastructure changes alongside it.
Haley: I think the biggest lesson recently has been the popularity of micromobility, which is undeniable. I think there are always questions such as, ‘who is going to use what mode?’ and ‘what is technology going to bring us in the future?’
2. What will be the big developments in shared mobility throughout 2019?
One development for 2019 that was repeated throughout each interview, was the need for public and private transportation partnerships. So far, there has been a lack of co-operation between both sectors with regards to data sharing and support.
Antonia: This was really relevant when the ‘dockless’ bike sharing boom happened, with operators bringing capital free schemes to a city. This should have been an exciting opportunity to lighten the load for cities, but due to a number of external factors, it didn’t play out well. Schemes have closed, contracted and some have not been up to expectations. There will have to be a re-think of these relationships next year.
However, our interviewees had high hopes for better working relationships in 2019.
Haley: I think there is also going to become a better stasis between city regulators and these new start up companies that bring new transportation options into cities. There is clearly a demand and cities are growing increasingly popular as places to live. I think there is a contention between regulators and companies where really there shouldn’t be because we all have the shared goal of moving people; as many people as we can, as efficiently as we can and as affordably as we can.
If 2019 can see changes in how both sectors work together, it could mean huge advancements in creating the ultimate trip planner, for users.
Carol: Several years ago we spoke about moving from discussing individual modes to mobility, we’ve done that, but now we have to speak about mobility in terms of a complete trip. Ensuring that that complete trip is accessible to all travellers… That’s why I feel over the next year we’re really going to be focusing on ensuring that mobility is provided for everyone and it covers that entire trip in all of the trips stages… I think there will be a much bigger focus on data sharing. Data sharing is, I feel one of the most important elements of mobility.
We can assume that alliances won’t be made easily. The public sector is consumed with creating new and easier ways for people to move around cities, however the private sector, is more financially motivated.
Karen: A big challenge in the world for MaaS to be successful is going to be the conflict/tension between these two purposes: the purpose of making money, which requires that there be barriers to transportation, in order that there’s a problem to solve, and the goal of removing barriers transportation so that more people can get around better.
3. WHAT ABOUT EV? ARE WE FINALLY MOVING TOWARDS MASS ADOPTION
We have already seen a massive increase in the adoption of electric vehicles across North America. In the U.S. alone, electric vehicle sales increased by 81% in 2018.
Kristy: I think we are going to see a big shift towards more electric vehicles on the streets, whether it’s electric cars or our shared electric mopeds, there is going to be a movement towards that direction.
We have seen a rise in electric vehicle fleets throughout carshare schemes across North America and Canada, however there are always issues when new technology is introduced, such as the price to buy.
Carol: I think the ownership of electric vehicles is becoming more prevalent, however the price of the vehicles is somewhat a deterrent. I think in terms of electric vehicles and fleets, I think that’s a given and I’m already seeing that happening. I think people are are adopting the use of those electric vehicles – in fleets – but I think the adoption from a private ownership perspective is lagging behind primarily because of the price.
As popular as electric vehicles and fleets may be, the roll out on any major scale depends on the infrastructure of each city. It is much easier to charge personal electric vehicles that shared vehicles. The lack of multiple charging stations in cities across North America, means that the likelihood of a user gravitating towards an EV is less than one with a combustion engine.
Karen: As long as there isn’t that extensive public infrastructure, you maintain range anxiety. People are not sure, as they book a vehicle, that it’s going to have enough fuel for their entire trip, whether that fuel is gas, or whether that fuel is simply electric charge – and so once again we’re back to the question of having enough level 3 charging structures .
4. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST DEVELOPMENTS THAT ENSURE SHARED MOBILITY IS ACCESSIBLE FOR ALL?
Antonia: Shared transport has always been an important tool in providing accessibility; access to services, rather than thinking about owning, storing and maintaining when you buy.
Shared and public transit services aim to create a network of multi-modal transportation options that are accessible by everyone – however, this is not the case quite yet. It terms of physical accessibility, these transportation services have made huge leaps over the last few years.
Sharon: One of the things we are most excited about is the idea of combining public transit with the social (human) service transit such as senior vans, and really integrating these two modes of transport, which seems to be moving. I think this will open up new areas we haven’t even thought about yet.
However, there is still a long way to go before all modes all accessible by all levels of ability, particularly wit regards to car sharing or the future of automated vehicles.
Carol: I don’t think we have focused on enough is social equity and accessibility for persons with disabilities. I think that’s an area that we we don’t tend to focus on sometimes until after we have already designed something… One of the issues that I think we need to look at while we are thinking about the potential use of automated vehicles for persons with disabilities, is how will those functions be performed if there is no one on board to help them? This idea of assistance boarding, potentially docking the wheelchair and these kinds of issues – are these functions going to be performed in an automated way?
Of course, it’s not just physical disabilities that are included when thinking about total accessibility, what about the average user earnings? Not everyone has an income that will allow them to be members of car/bike share schemes or use ride hail services everyday. There have been successful schemes that have created accessibility to those in the UK with lower salaries, such as bike share company, CoMoUK,
Antonia: What takes it to the next level is, in terms of bike sharing, is a scheme we are working on in Scotland. It takes lessons from North America and is providing low cost access to bike share. It takes away payment barriers, wrapping it up in an exciting, welcoming engagement program which makes it less intimidating to join.
Throughout the interviews, it was noted that as a whole, private transportation services have been targeting a specific user group, Millennial urbanites. Moving forward, including all members of society would have monetary value, particularly for private start-up companies,
Karen: the more diverse your member base, the likelier they’re going to need to use those vehicles at different times, for different purposes, in different ways. And so there’s actually not just the social benefit of greater inclusivity, there’s also a financial benefit. You can use those vehicles more efficiently. You can build a better community.
What are your thoughts on the developments in shared mobility that occurred over 2018 and what is to be expected for next year’s developments? What about the future implementation of shared mobility within rural areas? If you would like to be interviewed or to nominate a woman working in Shared Mobility for our next series, get in touch with us here.