Car sharing innovation and impact: Comparing European cities
Today the City of Bremen(Germany) hosts the final meeting of STARS, a 30-month research project on sharing mobility funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme and coordinated by professor Marco Diana from Politecnico di Torino (Italy). STARS closes the gap between the potential benefits of car sharing, boosted by the innovative forms enabled by recent technology applications in the transport sector, and their real impacts in terms of congestion mitigation and environmental footprint. The final objective is to develop tools to help local decision makers and planners to adopt the best incentive policies and solutions for different European urban areas.
The project consortium, composed by Politecnico di Torino as coordinator and by other eight partners including universities, automotive producers, public administrations and associations of car sharing providers in five EU countries, has worked to frame a picture of these services in Europe, analyzing different organization and business models and the impact on the automotive industry and has studied how individual behavior and preferences impact on different models, to design scenarios that consider also co-modality, such as public transport services.
In this conference STARS intends to present the main project results and to widen its horizon by linking to experiences from other parts of the world such as Asia, North America and the motherland of car sharing: Switzerland. The discussions and talks will give participants fresh insights and ideas on how car sharing can maximise benefits in terms of congestion mitigation, environmental footprint, social inclusion and opportunities for different industrial sectors: automotive, public transport, sharing mobility services, management of corporate fleets, digital platforms developers, real estate sector.
“We think that understanding, on the basis of local peculiarities, what are the sharing mobility models that best suit a given urban area and what are the policies to reach the highest benefits for citizens is very important in order to promote more comfortable urban centers under the point of view of congestion and air quality, a fundamental topic of the public agenda in this period” Marco Diana says.
Some case studies are presented in Bremen: Frankfurt and Bremen itself for Germany, Brussels for Belgium, Milan and Turin for Italy. The analysis was made through questionnaires given to both users and non-users of car sharing services in order to outline an “identikit of the users, who seem to be more familiar to multi-modality – just to make an example – and to the use of other sharing mobility forms, like bike-sharing” states Andrea Chicco, the researcher who will present the Italian case studies today. “Another interesting aspect resulting from the analysis is that car sharing is an incentive to an increase in using local public transport, especially where its infrastructure is wide and diffused”.
Therefore, policies improving the efficiency and incentivizing at the same time the public transport and car sharing services can be a win-win solution for cities like those analyzed, both in terms of better public service and of reduction of pollutants and GHG emissions. In some cases, as reported by the research team, meaningful effects are also observed in terms of car ownership. The relevance of these effects seems to depend on the car-sharing models available: in Italy we find a majority of “free floating” services (most suitable for one-way trips) while in Northern Europe other solutions are widespread, like station-based services, attracting other types of users and boosting positive fallouts. This last point should inspire some thinking on which operational and business models to encourage. Such decisions will be further stimulated and guided by the final output of the project, a toolkit for policy-makers in charge of mobility policies in large urban areas, which will be available from May onwards.
Elena Foglia Franke