Shared Mobility

Are you a transport planner? Undoubtedly you will spend a lot of time in infrastructure, public transport planning and promotion for bicycles: But what about shared mobility? Make no mistake, how shared mobility is developing depends not only on the market. As a transport planner, you have also impact. Shared mobility can lead to more cycling and use of public transport and, ultimately, a much more attractive city. Do not leave it by chance. Through this editorial, you will get more insights into developing a shared mobility policy.

01. Introduction

Mobility is increasingly becoming a fundamental aspect defining the lifestyles of Europeans, changing the diversity of European culture. It plays an important role in defining social status and power relationships. It defines the ability people have to move about in time and space and so impacts their professional opportunities. It influences personal relationships and social interaction. It is a defining element in a person’s self-esteem and achievement, and an important factor in the personality they project to others.

Shared Mobility can be defined as one of the transport modes, but in this tutorial we prefer to define it more as a strategy to make better use of other modes. Shared Mobility gives users the opportunity to have access to cars and bicycles at the moment they want to use it. Shared Mobility is the alternative of ownership. It’s similar to renting, but the user experience and patterns of usage are different: Short-term usage and seamless transactions.

Shared mobility includes car-sharing, bike-sharing, ridesharing (carpooling and vanpooling), and on-demand ride services. Traditional transport modes like public transport and taxi services are in a certain way, also ways of shared use of vehicles, but in this tutorial we focus on a rather narrow definition.

A key characteristic of shared mobility is ‘idling capacity’. It is the unused potential of assets when they are not in use. Cars are not in use 95% of the time. During this idle time they are consuming street space, are make using of expensive indoor garages. Car occupancy, mainly for commuting and business trips is rather low: Less than 2 persons per car. Filling empty seats in cars already on the road is a cost-efficient strategy to reduce congestions.

Since the rise of the sharing economy, as first detected by Rachel Botsman and Boo Rogers (What’s Mine is Yours, 2011), the number of start-ups and investors in shared mobility is increasing rapidly.

In this tutorial you will learn about the colourful landscape of shared mobility, and find tips on how to maximize the benefits in your city or region.

Insights used in this tutorial are not always scientifically approved, but rather a result of a 10 years observation of this market. Some statements in this tutorial are set to be used as hypothesis for academic research.

02. Shared mobility and the Sharing Economy

Shared Mobility has a long history so far. Probably shared mobility is older than solo-car use. But it was only since the 2nd World War that the first carpool campaigns were launched, to save on fuel: “If you ride alone, you ride with Hitler”.

Later, during the sixties and the seventies we saw the first services for shared mobility. In Amsterdam, already a first bike-sharing scheme was launched, with white bikes and later cars in the city. During the oil crisis many carpooling initiatives were initiated, like Taxistop in Belgium. During the first years some of these initiatives reached a critical mass, but many of them struggled to survive the eighties when trust among strangers disappeared. Their history, was the same as hitch-hiking. The hitch-hiker became an endangered species.

Only since the last decade technology and general access to this technology was the enables of the reborn of shared mobility. Mainly due to social media and smartphones people are sharing rides and car among peers again.

This is part of the trend of the sharing economy, often associated with Airbnb and Uber. What the sharing economy really means is a source for many debates. The term ‘sharing’ has been marketed differently than the real meaning, and creates lots of confusion. In this tutorial we don’t dig deeper into this debate. It is only relevant to recognize the broad spectrum of services in this new economy. Some of these services are rather hyper-capitalistic, whilst other are more post-capitalistic. Some of them are global brands, other are only local and even non-for-profit. To know more about the impact of every type of initiative it is important to promote research on mid-term and long-term impact of shared mobility services.

It’s not about shared mobility, stupid

Inside the transportation pyramid, car-sharing an ridesharing are located between solo car-usage and collective transport. Taking this sustainable hierarchy into account, both shared modes are never high on the political agenda. I makes sense not having shared mobility as a real objective in sustainable urban mobility plans. Nevertheless, shared mobility is an important way to disrupt the car-dependent mobility lifestyle of many people. Car-sharing is the missing link to make car free living as convenient as car ownership. It sounds contradictory, but sharing of cars leads to less car usage and a modal shift towards more sustainable transport modes.

Shared Mobility leads to more walking, cycling and the use of public transport. In other words, a shared mobility action plan, is a way to promote sustainable transport and make cities more liveable. A shared mobility plan is a proven strategy to reduce congestion and increase the use of sustainable modes higher in the transportation pyramid.

03. Shared Mobility Classification

The house of shared mobility is a house with many rooms. Many of them are looking similar, but they are different and have another impact on mobility behaviour.  



Although these services are different, they all contribute to a shift from ownership to access. This leads to another mobility behaviour: Owning cars leads to reflexive usage. People who doesn’t own a car anymore think twice before choosing the most appropriate transport mode. It has been proven that carsharers start to cycle more and make more use of collective transport.

There is sometimes a debate about which services are contributing most to the urban environment. In the short term, one will have more impact on mobility than the other. However, there is no long-term research on how the various services contribute to fewer cars in the city and a modal shift. There is sometimes a debate about which services are most affected by mobility. In the short term, one will have more impact on mobility than the other. However, as mentioned before there is no long-term  research on how the various services contribute to fewer cars in the city and a modal shift.

Car – sharing

Business-to-consumer car-sharing

There’s a lot of diversity in car-sharing. The most visible services are business-to-consumer car-sharing initiatives: companies who offer a fleet of cars to their clients. This is sometimes called: “fleet-owned” car-sharing. There are two main types of these services:

  1. Roundtrip (or station-based) car-sharing: The cars always have a fixed car-sharing station. The cars have to be brought back to the same station. Examples: cambio (Germany, Belgium), Co-Wheels (Scotland), Greenwheels (Netherlands).
  2. One-way car-sharing (or free floating): In this kind of program, cars can be picked up at point A, and dropped at point B in the same city. There are no dedicated parking lots. Examples (Car2Go, DriveNow).

Somewhere in between both services, there are also car-sharing providers without fixed parking lots, but cars always need to be returned to the same neighbourhood. This system is offered by Bolides in Belgium. It has as advantage that cars never need to be a repositioned, and that the barrier to start in a certain neighbourhood is really low as no parking lot needs to be provided by the city.

Both, one-way car-sharing and the hybrid variant offer technology with geolocalistion for users to find the cars. For users, on the other hand, fixed parking lots are preferable, as the customers know the walking distance to their favourite car-sharing station, and they never have to search for a free parking lot, a very important incentive in dense cities.

A German study ( on free floating car-sharing has shown that the average distance of one-way car-sharing is 5 km. Like that, one-way car-sharing is also competition for urban public transport, taxi, walking and biking. Nevertheless, it creates a positive image on shared mobility and it might have an impact on car-ownership also.

Often car-sharing is called short-term car-rental? But what exactly is the difference? Actually there is no clear line, and also car rental services are evolving more to short term car offering.

What’s the difference between sharing and renting a car?
Car-sharingCar Rental
Pay-as-you-go (distance related price)Duration related price
Long term customer relation (subscription, season price, …)Customer relation related on transaction
Short trips (mileage and time)Long trips (mileage and time)
Short reservation procedure and access technologyContract handling and key swap

Car-sharing with electric cars

The amount of cars in cities and the emissions of greenhouse gas are among the main challenges for urban transport planners. Therefore offering car-sharing with electric cars seems an ideal solution. But actually, currently, car-sharing with only electric cars has certain restrictions:

  • Battery capacity: However the capacity of electric cars is improving a lot, for most cars the capacity doesn’t fit every transport need of the user. Car-sharing is sometimes used for longer distances or a weekend trip. Electric car-sharing doesn’t fulfil these needs.
    On the other hand, most usage is still below the action radius of the newest electric cars.
  • Flexibility for operators: The time necessary for recharging the battery limits the time that the cars can be offered to users. The dependency on charging station makes it complicated to reallocate cars to neigbourhoods with increasing demand.
  • The price: The price of purchase and the unpredictable depreciation cost makes car-sharing with electric cars more expensive, and more difficult to convince people to make a shift from ownership to car-sharing.
  • Product image: Although the quality of the cars (battery capacity, comfort, size) has changed a lot the previous years, for many people the electric car has still an image of being unsafe or unreliable. This creates another barrier for people to choose for car-sharing. On the contrary, car-sharing is an ideal showroom for electric cars and contributes to a perception of electric cars that is much closer to reality.

But anyway, different operators already have proven that these restrictions are affordable. There are certain conditions:

  1. Support of the local government to create a dense network of charging stations.
  2. Financial support for purchasing electric cars by the local or national government
  3. Availability of car-sharing with traditional cars to have a solution for every car journey.

But what about electric car ownership, supplemented with car-sharing?

In most countries the main barrier for private persons to buy an electric car is the purchase price. In Norway however, due to financial incentives, many people are still buying cars with conventional fuel engines. They still prefer to buy a bigger car, or a car to go for a weekend to the mountains. The type of car that people are buying is adjusted to their exceptional needs, instead of their daily needs. For most people an electric car is perfect for their daily behaviour. For people who often need a car an electric car supplement with a car-sharing membership fulfils perfectly every transport need.

Therefore, to promote electric cars, governments could provide also incentives for car-sharing: Refund of car-sharing subscription for owners of electric cars.

Peer-to-peer car-sharing

Sharing is about making use of idling capacity. As most cars are still owned by private persons, and standing still 95% of the time, there’s a lot of car-sharing capacity available.

Some companies have discovered this opportunity and are offering a centralised platform for peer-to-peer car-sharing. The peer-to-peer car-sharing operator offers an open platform to bring private car-owners in contact with users. An online platform brings offer and demand together. The operator skims a certain percentage of the transaction cost between the owner and user to provide an appropriate insurance, and the operating costs. Examples: Drivy, Caramigo and Snappcar.

The usage of peer-to-peer car-sharing cars in an centralized platform compared to business-to-consumer car-sharing cars is much lower per car. There a several reasons for this:

  1. The transaction is often not automated. There’s still a need to hand-over the keys between the owner and renter. This is positive as it creates trust, but it makes the usage more complicated. However, the automated access technology to install in cars evolves rapidly and becomes much cheaper. This could change this market.
  2. Supply and demand are not always in balance. A business-to-consumer operator put cars in neighbourhoods with high demand, a peer-to-peer operator has almost no control on the location of cars.
  3. You would assume that the cars could be offered much cheaper via a peer-to-peer platform as there are fewer overhead costs, and the cars are not bought for car-sharing. But prices are not really cheaper. Owners expect an affordable price for renting out their car, and the additional insurance and transaction fee for the operator are impacting the mileage price. Enhance, business-to-consumer operators have the power to purchase cars at lower prices than private persons.

There’s also another way of sharing cars among neighbours: Decentralised car-sharing: This is the most spontaneous form of sharing private cars. This type of peer-to-peer car-sharing doesn’t deliver an open platform but supports groups who are sharing their car in their neighbourhood. 
Examples: Cozycar (Belgium), CarUso (Austria) This way of car-sharing is often totally cost-based sharing, and creates a real alternative for owning a car. 

Sharing of municipal fleet, also in rural areas

Many local authorities manage their own vehicle fleet. These cars are often used only during office hours. A survey of a number of municipalities showed that the cars are used very little compared to private cars. Example Flanders: an average Flemish car does about 16 to 17 thousand km per year, while a municipal vehicle in smaller municipalities usually drives no more than 10 thousand km /year. (source: Momo car-sharing  project) The costs of a municipal vehicle fleet, therefore, are relatively high. By sharing the fleet with residents of the municipality outside office hours and on weekends, these costs can be reduced.

In smaller cities and remote areas there is not always a business model for commercial operators to put cars over there. This is of evidence, as people in smaller cities often depend too much on cars for their travel needs. However, also in rural areas, car-sharing has a role to fulfil:

  • It can provide an alternative for the second or third car in a family
  • It can provide another type of car for people (bigger car for long weekend, a cargo car to go to a recycling park)
  • It can provide a car for people who cannot afford the purchase of a car.

There are two options to get directly involved as a municipality in car-sharing:

  1. Share your own fleet: The municipality remains owner and offers its fleet to the local inhabitants. It’s recommended to integrate the car in an existing car-sharing platform who takes care of customer interactions.
  2. Get rid of the municipality fleet, and use cars of an car-sharing operator: A commercial operator has no interest to come to small cities, unless the local municipality can provide a certain revenue, which makes it business wise affordable.

From a political perspective it is a quick win to start sharing the municipality fleet. Local people really appreciate that kind of initiative by their local elected people. In Flanders today 40 municipalities took this opportunity already.  

Car-sharing also with wheelchair friendly cars

A challenge for the whole sharing economy is to reach all target groups, and not only the typical higher educated mid-incomes. In many European cities car-sharing is already becoming more mainstream, but nevertheless there’s a need for a special focus on certain target groups.

For disable people for instance, there are some inspiring examples. In France already, Citiz offers wheelchair friendly cars in 16 cities. An initiative in the Netherlands is Wheelshares.

In Belgium there’s a project AVIRA. In this project the goals of car-sharing concerning the environment and sustainable mobility are being linked to the goals of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

How it works

A wheelchair-friendly car is far underused and mostly only one or two people use a single adapted car. To optimise the level of use, the cars can be shared with other disabled persons and the nearby living neighbours. In this way, disabled persons become better integrated in their neighbourhood and the cars can be used by different people. This is the perfect match between goals in terms of fewer cars, fewer CO2 emissions, more space, more use of public transport and goals concerning social inclusion and accessibility for disabled persons. The Belgian umbrella organisation for car-sharing created a method to introduce this concept in an easy and structured way. Organisations, care centers and persons with disabilities get full support from to introduce this innovative car-sharing concept in their neighbourhood.

Around 10 wheelchair friendly cars are being shared in 5 pilot projects. One project has been running for 1.5 years and the results are better than expected. 35 people are using two adapted cars, amongst them 17 neighbours.

04. Carpooling

Ride-sharing or carpooling is the sharing of car journeys so that more than one person travels in a car. Besides spontaneous ride-sharing, without any technology, there are several kinds of ride-sharing.

Carpool apps for short journeys

Carpool apps for short journeys are mainly used to bring commuters together. That’s why it is also called ‘corporate ride-sharing/carpooling’. This service is sometimes subsidised or paid by employers who want to reduce the number of cars towards work, as ride-sharing happens regularly. Examples: (BE),, (UK), Weepil (Fr).

Besides offering the appropriate software, providers also support companies with advize and campaigns: Companies needs customised advice and promotional activities, not just a subscription to a carpool website.

There are some variants of these kind of carpooling services, with a special focus on certain types of journeys: Eventpooling, schoolpooling, etc.

Long distance carpooling

Today long distance carpooling became really successful in Europe, mainly through BlaBlaCar. Their ride-sharing business model is based on skimming the transaction cost between driver and passenger. Drivers like to share rides in these schemes as they have a guarantee to share the costs.

The business model of this type of ride-sharing is different than for ride-sharing schemes without peer-to-peer payments (for commuters). revenue comes from mainly long distances, which are very often occasional. That’s why this service is also called ‘monetized ride-sharing’.

Corporate ride-sharingMonetized ride-sharing
Medium distanceLong distance
CommutingLeisure/business trips
Less flexible Flexible
High barrierLow barrier
Revenue by enterprises/public authoritiesRevenue by users


Ridesharing also includes vanpooling. Vanpooling is transport in groups, often bigger than carpooling (between seven to 15 persons) commuting together in one van, whereas carpooling involves groups smaller than seven traveling together in one car.

Vanpooling is often organized by the employer or a group of employers for employees in remoted industrial zones, are areas with 24 hours economy where public transport is difficult to organize. Also for constructing companies with changing locations of work, vans are offered for commuting.

Belgian Tax Incentive for carpooling and vanpooling

In Belgium, there’s a tax incentive for carpoolers or vanpoolers, already since 2002. People who carpool to work, are enjoying a financial advantage. The carpooler gets an exemption on the employers’ contribution for travel (commuting) expenses:

  • 100% for travelling with public transport (season ticket)
  • 100% for “organized common travelling” –> This could be carpooling, or vanpooling. The exemption is limited to the price of a weekly train ticket 1st class (Belgian National railways) for the same distance, multiplied with the nr of days carpooled, divided by 5 (conversion days, into week).
  • “organized” means that the employer needs to have a carpool regulation, carpoolers have to sign a declaration, the employer needs to control it, and in the yearly tax form the amount needs to be filled in under ‘”organized common travelling”.
  • Until € 380 for people travelling by other modes (normally by car).

On-demand ride-services

In the early 2010s, several technology companies introduced apps that were advertised as ridesharing, but in fact these services are quiet similar to a regular taxi service. Transportation experts have called these services “ridesourcing” to clarify that drivers do not share a destination with their passengers; the app simply outsources rides to commercial drivers. – cite_note-4 (source: Wikipedia).

Examples of these “ridesourcing” companies are FillCar, UberLyft, and Djump.

Drivers are offering rides a few hours per week, during their spare time, or even as a freelancing part-time or fulltime job. The drivers are no direct employees but connected through an API with the service provider.

These services are controversial, variously criticized as lacking adequate regulation, insurance, licensure, and training. In certain European cities and countries Uber is banned. In this paper, we don’t issue these services, because this is out of the scope. From a mobility perspective it cannot be denied it.

Ridesplitting is a form of ridesourcing where riders with similar origins and destinations are matched to the same  driver and vehicle in real time, and the ride and costs are split among users. (Uberpool).

As today the line between the different services is quiet clear, it will be more ambigue in the future.

Regular taxi services are also developing apps  and offering the same service (, MyTaxi), also for ridesplitting there are apps used by the regulator taxi sector, like Splyt.

The impact of these services on transport is still unclear: Does it have an impact on car ownership in urban environment? Are these services leading to more or less car usage? We recommend to public authorities to ask for data as a standard condition for all transport operators to operate in their market. This data is necessary to enrich opinions and transport research.


The world of bike-sharing is also diverse and evolving rapidly: There are two main categories: Roundtrip and one-way bike-sharing

One-way bike-sharing is also called urban bike-sharing. It is a bike-sharing network offered in a certain city. Users can easily pick-up bikes at different bike-stations in the city. The bicycles can be dropped at other stations. Very often the short-term use is very inexpensive. Longer use becomes expensive: The price scheme is defined like this, to convince users to put the bike back in the system after using it and to avoid parking the bike elsewhere. Examples: Velib (Paris), Copenhagen bike. Recently there are new technologies on the market to install one-way bike-sharing in cities without the use of docking stations: This makes it much cheaper to install and have a quick start.

Roudtrip bike-sharing is also called last mile bike-sharing. This is not concentrated in one city, but in a network of different cities. The bikes are offered near train stations or public transport hubs. The bicycles are mainly used for the last mile after a train journey by visitors to a city. The bikes have to be dropped in the same bike-sharing station. The rental price is typically per day or half-day, as this nature of the trip makes it difficult to return the bike, for instance, during a meeting. This type of bike-sharing encourages multimodal mobility. Examples: OV-Fiets (The Netherlands), Blue Bike (Belgium), Call-a-bike (Germany).

Furthermore, and it still has a very small market share, there’s also peer-to-peer bike-sharing. Tourists for example can rent a bicycle from inhabitants in Amsterdam.

05. How to stimulate shared mobility?

Shared Mobility in every Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan

A Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan is a strategic plan designed to satisfy the mobility needs of people and businesses in cities and their surroundings for a better quality of life. It builds on existing planning practices and takes due consideration of integration, participation, and evaluation principles. A SUMP is a very efficient tool to realize a serious impact on travel behaviour.

Even the European Commission is working closely with the Member States to ensure the SUMP concept is adapted to the specific requirements and existing planning practices in each member state and actively promoted at national level in order to reach hundreds of cities in Europe.

A SUMP typically addresses the following topics:

  1. Public transport
  2. Walking and cycling
  3. Intermodality
  4. Urban road safety
  5. Road transport (flowing and stationary)
  6. Urban logistics
  7. Mobility management
  8. Intelligent Transport Systems

Even though shared mobility is often mentioned in guidelines and concrete SUMPs, it often lacks a real ambition and a clear strategic plan with responsibilities, investments, etc.

Shared mobility could have a serious impact on travel behaviour, consumption of street space, accessibility and energy consumption. Shared Mobility simply enhances the quality of life. Therefore it is very surprising that only a few cities like Bremen and Ghent already have action plans on shared mobility. If you recognize the benefits, it is really clear that shared mobility needs a real ambition and strategy in every SUMP.

One of the main obstacles for the absence of shared mobility action plans in most SUMPS is the fear to interrupt in a market.

Shared mobility suppliers are very often independent companies. As a city, it is difficult to interact in this market, especially when competition is going on. Therefore it is necessary to have a good understanding of this market. Shared mobility is a very broad spectrum of solutions, as shown in this tutorial before . Even if solutions look really similar, business models and impact could vary a lot. For instance corporate carpooling (focus on commuters) is much different than long distance carpooling schemes. Also roundtrip  and one-way car-sharing look similar but answer different travel needs.
It’s up to the city to define its main objectives (for instance modal shift, space consumption, accessibility) and to see if the market supports to this. If not, or not enough, the city should interact.

First step: Set an ambition and create a coalition

What do you want to achieve as a city or region? You can only define a roadmap if you know where to go. Ghent and Bremen are both aiming to have 20.000 car-sharers in 2020.

The most comprehensive approach in Europe is probably coming from Flanders. Inspired by the Dutch Green Deal on car-sharing, SHARE-North partners and Taxistop teamed up with Belgian organisations The Shift and The New Drive and launched the “Green Deal Shared Mobility” with the Flemish Government on March 27th, 2017. The aim of this Green Deal is to accelerate the growth of shared mobility (car-sharing, carpooling and bike-sharing) in Flanders by 2020.

The “Green Deal Shared Mobility” is a partnership of many different organisations that are willing to undertake actions to provide alternatives to car ownership. It is an engagement between several parties and the Flemish government. No less than 80 organisations came together in Flanders on March 27th, 2017 to sign the Green Deal with three Flemish Ministers: Bart Tommelein (Energy), Ben Weyts (Transport and Public Works) and Joke Schauvliege (Environment). The signing organisations chose their own actions to contribute to the 4 main objectives of the Green Deal. All together, they will undertake 511 concrete actions to accelerate the growth of shared mobility in Flanders by 2020.

To dramatically accelerate the growth of shared mobility, ambitious and SMART goals have been set for every shared mobility mode and concerning electrifying the shared fleets. Those goals are:

  • Increasing the number of car-sharing members to 80,000
  • Doubling the companies undertaking actions to support carpooling
  • Increasing the number of bike-sharing members to 400,000
  • Multiplying the number of shared electric cars and bikes by a factor of 5
  • This Green Deal is perfectly suited for (shared) mobility operators, public transport and environmental NGOs. However, the strength and beauty of this Green Deal is the wide variety of different types of organisations. The signatories also included insurance companies, research institutes, regional provinces, cities, municipalities, the Polis network and umbrella federations of car renting and car industry.
  • Integrate shared mobility in urban planning
  • New urban planning is a key on the quality for a certain environment for at least the next 50 years. The impact of every decision taken today, will continue for decades.
  • Also the policy on the number of parking lots should take into account shared mobility. As for many years local regulation obliged urban planners to provide a minimum of parking lots to avoid increased parking pressure in surrounding streets, today it is recommended to combine a maximum number of parking lots together with an offer of car-sharing. This makes constructing cheaper and provides more livability for the future. The most successful city in North-America in terms of car-sharing is Vancouver. The success is related to this policy already going for many years.
  • The station of the future: A local mobility hub
  • Partners in the Interreg North-Sea Region Project Share-North are also promoting the concept of local mobility hubs: “MobiSpots”
  • concept
  • A MobiSpot is a physical place where different functions meet. The MobiSpot is tailored to a neighbourhood. There are several MobiSpots spread across a city. As a train station is the main mobility hub for a city, a MobiSpot is the hub for a neighbourhood.
  • The main function is mobility, but it also offers other solutions: Info on neighbourhood activities, a bread dispenser, parcel locker, … Depending on the functions of the neighbourhood, a MobiSpot may have other accents. For example, a MobiSpot can be set up for a business cluster, a neighbourhood with retail, or a residential area.
  • A MobiSpot contains at least a certain number of the following functions, the first two of which are essential.
  • Available services
  • Car-Sharing station: Preferably more than 1 and different types of car.
  • Bike parking facilities for private bikes
  • Bike sharing docks
  • Public transport stop (up to 100 meters)
  • Pickup service packages (online shopping, distribution point supermarkets)
  • Bench and or table
  • Charging point for electric cars and/or bikes
  • Bookshelf to share books with neighbours
  • Digital Valve for neighbourhood activities, real-time info public transport
  • Pick up point for taxi or carpooling (smooth parking space)
  • Shuttle service to train station
  • As a function of climate change: Car port with green roof or solar panels to protect shared cars from heat and hail.


Today, in many locations, car-sharing lots are are already available, with additional features. These are in fact MobiSpots. But until today there is no recognition of the concept, both for city planners and users. To give the name a certain branding and a clearly recognizable image used throughout many cities and regions, must lead to increased quality, use and accelerated implementation.

Carpool lanes

During the late 90s several carpool lanes were installed in Europe during the EU-project ICARO. These lanes are still open for cars with more than one passenger. Since than only a few carpool lanes were installed in other European regions (Amsterdam, Trondheim, Bergen, …). In the USA carpool lanes is a more common phenomena.

Today however, it’s time for a second wave of new carpool lanes. There are to main circumstances that makes it a perfect momentum to install them:

  • Since the rise of the sharing economy, people are using carpool apps much more than ever before. They have trust in stranger due to features for ratings and evaluations.
  • In many regions authorities are opening up emergency lanes during rush hours. This new trend to have a temporary function of infrastructure with dynamic signalisation creates new opportunities also for carpool lanes.

Quality neigbourhoods: 100% shared mobility

In a “quality neighbourhood” the neighbourhood and the car become like the supermarket and the shopping trolley: Every visitor can use a trolley through simple technology. The supermarket ensures that there are enough trolleys that each customer is served. This is possible with cars in cities also.

A study of the International Transport Forum  (ITF) shows that we can enjoy the same mobility in a medium-sized European city, with only 10% of the current fleet. The study examined the potential of autonomous (self-driving) cars. The researchers came to the conclusion that, with good public transport and optimal shared mobility, we can greatly reduce the number of cars.

100% shared mobility is of course utopic at a city level.  At neighbourhood level this is possible. Areas with a good public transport connection and supply of services are eligible. Some cities are already making city centres car free. In the future certain urban environments, new or existing areas, might become quality neighbourhoods: 100% shared mobility.

Integrate shared mobility in software planning

The future of mobility is also about connectivity. Sharing connects people, but also several transport modes are being connected. And even more, the Internet of Things connects items with software. Shared mobility, of course, needs to be totally involved in every connected service in the future.

Many cities today are developing or investing in Mobility-as-a-Service (Maas). It seems evident, but still, it is necessary to draw attention to integrate shared mobility services as part of it.

Also many route-planners are taking into account several transport modes. The integration of shard mobility today is still exceptional. Today, Waze is experimenting to integrate carpooling in California, and the European Horizon2020 project SocialCar investigates how to integrate carpooling and public transport in multimodal journeys. Most travel planners are still making a choice between several modes and lack the ability to combine trips. There’s still a lot of research necessary to develop algorithms to combine traditional modes and shared mobility and match with realistic customer preferences.

Shared Mobility and self-driving cars

A future with self-driving cars can lead to several scenarios. One of the scenarios is a future with an increase of cars on the road. Another is a future with more shared mobility, which is a consequence of the evolutions in connectivity as described in the section before.

UITP, the international association for public transport has published an opinion paper on this subject. UITP finds that many car owners today are not ready to share their rides or vehicles and therefore fears that a future with self-driving cars could lead to more urban congestion.

To ensure a future with a smoother, more sustainable mobility, UITP calls today to action: Shared mobility needs to be actively promoted today. UITP calls for strong support for car-sharing and carpooling with incentives and campaigns. A coalition of public transport and shared mobility is clearly the strategy to make the cities more attractive in the future.

Campaigning and social innovation

Another recommendation to support shared mobility in your region we emphasize the importance of campaigning and social innovation programs.

Campaigning is important to accelerate the growth of this market, especially for services where the business model is more challenging, but the benefits are higher. And the main strategy for campaigning is clear: Repeat the message again and again. Repeat the message again and again. Repeat the message again and again.

An important rule to follow: Don’t campaign against cars, but in favour of quality of life, health, convenience, etc.

Social innovation programs are important to attract new target groups to shared mobility. Shared mobility is probably more of interest for elderly people or people in poverty. However, the early adaptors of these services are millennials or people with higher incomes. To achieve link accessibility, and equity standards to sustainability, social innovation programs are crucial.

Support walking, cycling and public transport

It’s not about shared mobility, remember? Good quality of walking, cycling and public transport facilities are necessary conditions to stimulate shared mobility. But don’t forget to create a Shared Mobility Action Plan, it will contribute to all other sustainable modes. Therefore it’s never a choice between several transport modes: It’s a choice for the quality of the urban environment and accessibility of transport in every region.

Angelo Meuleman

Angelo Meuleman is involved in Shared Mobility since 2007. He works as project director for Taxistop, a Belgian NGO who enables several shared mobility services. He was involved in many European projects to learn and share insights about shared mobility, very often in connection to public transport and cycling. He also works as policy advisor for Shared Mobility in the Flemish Transport Advisory board. Besides his work for Taxistop he is consultant on shared mobility and is involved in the international community OuiShare as connector for OuiShare Flanders and OuiShare Mobility.

Relevant European programs on Shared Mobility

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