Can shared mobility make you feel free?


Over a lifetime, if you buy your first car at 18 and stop driving at 75, that’s about half a million dollars spent on a vehicle that sits unused about 95% of the time. While citizens start to open their minds to alternative modes of mobility, cities must shift their focus from accommodating cars to accommodating people.

Although easier said than done, a good way to understand the need for a multimodal mobility ecosystem with regards to urban transit is to put representatives from a car manufacturer, a carsharing service and an innovator of the MaaS concept together in the same room. At the Movin’On Summit 2018, PSA’s Brigitte Courtehoux, MaaS Global’s Sampo Hietanen and movmi’s Sandra Phillips sat down with The Globe and Mail’s Oliver Moore to answer the key question: Can shared mobility make people feel free?


 “You have to admire Henry Ford. The car brought the freedom of mobility on open highways — to be free to go anywhere. We have to bring a bigger dream. With the same money you are spending on your car, we will give you an open world.”
Sampo Hietanen, MaaS Global


When public transit offers freedom

According to Sampo Hietanen, in order to compete with the freedom cars inspire, transit systems have to bring the consumer the same ideas of freedom, and the feeling they can go anywhere, anytime. Citizens must be confident that their mobility needs will always be taken care of.

On average, city dwellers spend 90 minutes in transport every day. ”If I can give something more to you,” says Mr. Hietanen, “I can give you back those 90 minutes. As soon as we get over this production phase of how we facilitate different modes, it will be about what we are going to bring you.”


Seek political backing

Politicians must support change. According to Sandra Phillips, “when a new rideshare company comes in, there is often a lot of pushback, so you need strong political relationships that believe in that.”

Take the case of Vancouver: Over the course of 10 years, Vancouver’s carsharing market went from 10,000 members and roughly 400 cars to 200,000 users and 3,500 vehicles. This may partially explain declining numbers in car ownership despite an increase in population.


Ensure affordability

Transit must be affordable. “You have to show the people the economics of why it makes sense to share vehicles. You know that the car is used 5% of the time, but you pay for 100%,” says Sandra Phillips.

According to Brigitte Courtehoux, younger generations don’t have such a strong attachment to their cars that they would refuse to share it with others if it covers the cost of owning a car. And she doesn’t just say that: it’s exactly the service offered by PSA’s carsharing solution, Free2Move, an app that allows people to find and compare vehicles from a wide variety of carsharing providers on a single device in 33 cities around Europe and the USA.

Similar apps, like Transit, go beyond carsharing services to integrate bike and ridesharing as well as public transit. And with the support of companies like movmi, more and more players can enter the shared mobility market.

And if the dream of freedom inspired by car ownership is not entirely matched yet by these services, they nonetheless continue to grow year over year in terms of cities covered as well as in terms of users, which could mean a change in habits in the near future.