Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

ITF work on Shared Mobility

Shared mobility
How can cities reduce the negative impacts of car traffic without reducing the mobility of their citizens? Can air pollution, congestion, CO2 emissions or the use of public space be limited while enhancing people’s access to jobs, shops, health services or educational institutions? ITF’s work on shared mobility explores workable answers to these questions.

This work starts from the observation that the car today is a spectacularly under-used asset. The average privately-owned car operates less than one hour per day and carries an average of 1.5 passengers or less. Improving the use of existing capacity through car sharing and ride sharing could potentially reduce the number of total kilometres driven. Digital technology offers effective possibilities to match demand for travel and supply of rides, so that shared travel must not mean people will be less flexible.

In its now-famous “Lisbon Study”, ITF researchers in 2015 examined a “what if” scenario: What if all private cars in a city were replaced by shared vehicles? Using real mobility data from a real city (Lisbon, Portugal) they built a highly detailed computer model of mobility in that city. They then removed all private car trips and replaced them with trips in shared vehicles, testing different configurations including self-driving shared vehicles, electric vehicles, 6-seater Shared Taxis and 8- and 16-seater “Taxi-Buses”. The results were stunning: In the shared mobility city, only 10% or less of the number of vehicles were needed to get citizens where they wanted when they wanted. Congestion disappeared, CO2 emissions fell by one third and on-street parking space was no longer needed.

The initial findings have since been confirmed in simulations with data from other cities. They have also shown that shared mobility can dramatically improve equality of access to jobs, health services, education and other opportunities. Extensions of the model from the core city to a wider metropolitan area have shown that shared services can act as feeder for existing metro and commuter rail lines, thus complement metro and commuter rail services and help increase their ridership.

Later studies have also explored the issue of a transition, looking at factors to help introduce and scale up shared mobility systems to a sustainable level. Not least, recent work has included survey of, and focus group with, citizens in cities under study to include the user perspective in the evidence base.