Shared mobility and MaaS - The regulatory challenges of urban mobility


This CERRE report finds that to effectively reduce congestion and pollution in cities, policies should focus primarily on the rarest resource: space. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) also has a role to play in the transition towards truly sustainable mobility. But this is provided regulation guarantees that new mobility models complement and not substitute for public transport.

European cities have been trying to enhance their mobility and transport systems, while reducing congestion, pollution, CO2 emissions, noise and accidents. Local transport policies across countries strive to encourage car drivers to switch to public transport, but with limited success. The authors of the report find that the lack of success of policies to encourage the switch to public transport is often due to the alleged trouble of using other transportation modes compared to the convenience of private cars.

“If cities are to effectively reduce congestion and pollution, regulation of access to cities must change dramatically. Until now, the constraints on the use of cars have largely remained low”, explain the authors. “An approach promising individual time savings will not benefit the collective interest. To be efficient, policies should focus primarily on the rarest resource for the community: space. Transport authorities must intervene on the uses of roads, sidewalks and pedestrian zones. It is up to them to define the balance between the different uses of roads”.

In addition, public authorities should significantly develop public transport systems that constitute a genuine, practical, fast, reliable, and affordable alternative. The lack of public transport in areas of disperse and low demand due to financial reasons also remains a critical issue to be addressed.

The CERRE report also finds that new mobility services (such as shared cars or free-floating e-scooters) provide unprecedented opportunities to reduce the disutility users would face from simply switching from the private car to public or active transport. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) enables users to change their routines, discover the variety of mobility services available and to combine former and new mobility services.

Shared mobility providers may complement public transport, especially by supplying first and last mile solutions, and by serving areas where public transport is not financially viable. However, unless ridesharing replaces solo trips by car at a large scale, the impacts on congestion, pollution and CO2 emissions are likely to be neutral at best.

Urban mobility public authorities cannot neglect the opportunities brought by new mobility services. Public authorities have to be more ambitious. They have to enlarge their spectrum of mobility services that will, in a financially sustainable way, ease user life and foster alternatives to solo car use. But to effectively deal with new mobility services authorities must develop new skills in the data and platforms areas. Platforms, information services and ticketing are crucial to increase the number of users of urban mobility services.

Although digitalisation cannot be considered a magic wand, it plays a critical role in achieving this transition to new mobility services. For MaaS to develop, Mobility data must be gathered under the umbrella of Metropolitan Transport Authorities, who are the only trusted party able to do so.

“Policies for the use of roads should discourage the use of individual cars and incentivise ride sharing. As long as individual cars can move freely and on the same roads and use services in the same conditions as shared vehicles, it is unlikely that MaaS and shared mobility will be successful. In addition, public authorities need to modernise and grasps the opportunities that digitisation and data offer for the transition to a truly sustainable mobility”, conclude the authors. 

Yves Crozet, Georgina Santos, Jean Coldefy