SAG 26 – Social benefits of shared mobility: metrics and methodologies

The 26th ACEA Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) report examines the social impacts of shared mobility. Through reviewing existing studies and evaluation frameworks, the report provides clear recommendations on how to capture the social impacts of shared mobility and how this can be delivered through the collaboration of the various public and private actors in the system.

This SAG report by Professor Greg Marsden (Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds) focuses on what is understood about the social benefits of newer forms of shared mobility such as pooled ride-hailing, e-scooters and carsharing. However, it does so from the perspective that these innovations are just a further part of the mobility eco-system. Their role and their impacts need to be understood alongside the existing mobility options such as bus and rail or active travel.

Much sharing goes on informally, through family or social groups and often now organised via chat platforms such as WhatsApp. We know already that a large part of the population is multi-modal across the week and so these new options will most likely form part of a new blend of mobility for users.

Sometimes new services will act as complements to and sometimes as competitors with existing modes. If new forms of shared mobility are to be treated fairly in terms of regulation and support then it is important to understand what role they fulfil.

There is also a huge diversity of shared mobility innovations being developed. Some are about sharing of assets such as cars, bikes or e-scooters which can be through private companies, local governments or peer to peer. Other sharing is about sharing on the go, such as demand responsive services, pooled ridehailing or liftsharing.

That too can take diverse forms. In discussing the social impacts of shared mobility it is essential to recognise that this is not one thing – but many – and the purpose, target markets, barriers and use cases will potentially be quite different. Shared mobility provides additional options into the transport mix for the areas in which they operate.

There are four main ways in which shared mobility could impact on individuals:

  1. They can provide greater spatial accessibility for people who are within a reasonable walking distance of the system. They also offer the potential for first and last-mile trips which connect to mainline public transport services thus widening the spatial opportunities reachable within a reasonable time frame.
  2. They can be made available 24/7 in many instances and thus offer a wider temporal accessibility than existing public transport services. Whilst, in theory, such services could be provided by public transport, limited demand often makes this too expensive to subsidise through traditional services.
  3. Sharing assets may be able to lower the unit costs of journeys through more efficient use. Shared ridehailing services for example offer discounted fares, although with a small trade off in extra detour journey times.
  4. Over and above journey time (spatial accessibility) and cost savings there may be other aspects of journey quality which shared mobility augments such as greater exercise, social benefits from coordinating journeys with colleagues or friends and family and feelings of satisfaction and well-being.
The 26th ACEA SAG report provides clear recommendations on how to capture the social impacts of shared mobility and how this can be delivered through the collaboration of the various public and private actors in the system.

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