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Read the latest news from across the whole sector that highlights the development of affordable, accessible and low-carbon shared mobility

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News - 21 Oct 2019

Shared Mobility – from “nice to know” to “need to have”

It is almost a month since the launch of the Commission on Travel Demand’s report on Shared Mobility: where now? Where next? This blog is an opportunity to take stock and ask not just where next but how to get there. The report painted a very clear picture about the carbon, congestion, inclusion, investment and indeed health benefits of greater sharing. Whilst it brought together data from across government, academia and industry, these statements on the positive benefits of sharing are not new. What was different was their placement against the demands of a Net Zero carbon future. Greater sharing is a technologically, socially and financially credible approach to rapidly decarbonising, alongside electrification. So, why is it still at the margins of policy and what needs to change for shared mobility to be at the forefront rather than the margins? First, there needs to be a recognition that nowhere in the UK has a credible transport strategy which is consistent with Net Zero. Not just the end goal of Net Zero but the carbon reduction pathway necessary every year en-route. Research by colleagues shows that even a Norway style take up of EVs does not get us close to our targets and that a MAJOR shift in how we travel has to be part of any pathway that gets us anyway close. I fear we will be waiting a year or two for the numbers to be run in local and national governments to show that there is no deliverable ‘electrification only’ strategy. We can’t rely on nudge either, the scale of behavioural change is not a nudge but something more fundamental. So, policy honesty is a necessary pre-condition to opening up the need for a substantially more ambitious shared mobility future. Second, the transport profession needs to do more to place the car in a mobility ecosystem. We should all advocate as strongly as we can for low carbon mass-transit, walk and cycle options. However, if we ignore the different challenges and needs or peri-urban and rural areas then we simply will not be providing a system which works for everyone. Shared cars, delivered through a range of business models, need to be part of the solution to decarbonise quickly. Without the work of CoMoUK and its predecessor organisations the evidence cupboard would be pretty bare. As such, the report recommends that the Department for Transport works directly with CoMoUK to develop a neutral repository for data and evaluation of new innovations such that there is a robust and trusted evidence base from which to justify policy change. The Commission made twenty recommendations to different national government departments, local government and industry players. They include ensuring that the potential for shared mobility to deliver carbon savings is given due consideration by the Committee on Climate Change and rethinking how research on sharing is done and how demonstrations and trials are funded, again areas which I would expect CoMoUK and member organisations to lead on. However, the recommendations are also action oriented as well as process focussed. In particular we identify a major opportunity with public fleets and procurement and for a change in approach by Highways England which currently focuses on vehicles per hour rather than people per hour. A rapid shift to supporting a motorway network which facilitates sharing and integration into local transport networks could be brought about if it is taken to be important. Twenty recommendations seems a lot and I would be surprised if they all prove to be implementable. Nonetheless, they represent a serious attempt to take an integrated overview of what needs to change to increase the amount of sharing from today’s levels. I’m looking forward to discussions at the CoMoUK Collaborative Mobility Conference in Birmingham in November to continue to push this ambitious, inclusive and low carbon agenda forward.
About the author: Greg Marsden is a Professor of Transport Governance at the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds. He is Co-Chair of the Commission on Travel Demand which is funded by the Centre for Energy Demand Reduction Solutions and UKRI. He also leads the DecarboN8 network which takes a place-based approach to accelerating decarbonisation across the North.
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News - 18 Oct 2019

It’s time to move the private car from star billing to supporting part

Richard Dilks, CoMoUK Chief Executive, writes on improving transport efficiency.

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News - 28 Aug 2019

The end of innocence: helping shared mobility find its rightful place

Richard, CoMoUK Chief Executive, writes on how how inclusion of all mobility services is key in LTT.

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News - 19 Jun 2019

Our Chief Executive’s Thoughts After His First Month

As I reach the nano-milestone of my first month in the job, it’s a moment to pause and reflect. I said on taking up the role that it was an honour to do so, and this month has only solidified my view on that. Well-designed and executed shared mobility already has had huge positive impacts, and there is so much potential to go further. To be able to help CoMoUK take that forward across its research, advocacy, guidance, accreditation and practice is a great privilege. I’ve found within CoMoUK a team of highly talented people doing a huge amount on slender resources. They’re a genuine pleasure to work with and are at the cutting edge of shared mobility thought and practice. My priorities are to help CoMoUK grow sustainably; to build its profile, including in London where I am based; to continue and deepen its evidence base; to roll up our sleeves on ideas that bring shared modes together through our Share North work on mobility hubs; and to help it bridge into those areas that so entwine with shared mobility, but are often disconnected in terms of policymakers’ approaches. I am thinking here of health; urban design; public transport. One time where you should feel all this coming together is our conference in Birmingham in November – the programme for which is shaping up very excitingly. After all, you’re only 20 once. I think the challenges and opportunities apparent in 1999 are mostly still with us – it’s just that a lot of them are more acute. We better understand now what we are doing to our climate and to the air, particularly in our cities and towns. We have more people than ever in those cities and towns. But we do also have the technologies to help us with these issues, and increasingly we have the public sector and private market procuring, commissioning and delivering shared mobilities that hold part of the answer of how we are going to get more people into urban areas while making them more pleasant, sustainable places to live and how we are going to provide mobility in rural areas when the costs and physical requirements of private car ownership and use do not stack up for everyone or for the rural environment itself. I believe we partly all have CoMoUK to thank for that and here’s to the next 20.
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News - 20 May 2019

CoMoUK New Chief Executive Announced

Richard Dilks delighted to be taking the helm at CoMoUK
  Richard Dilks’ passion for what transport does for people has brought him to CoMoUK as their new Chief Executive. Richard was previously transport programme director at the business group London First, where he led policy and advocacy across a wide range of transport modes. Prior to that he worked as a policy adviser and journalist at the consumer body Which?. On taking the role at CoMoUK Richard says “It is a huge honour to become CoMoUK’s Chief Executive at this momentous time for shared mobility. The opportunities for it to deliver the journeys people want in a more efficient and healthy way than is possible with private car-based transport are real and happening right now, and yet also have so much potential for growth.” Climate change and air quality are key issues for our time. Richard believes that shared use of cars and bikes can still play a critical role in tackling these. “Bike and car share can make a real contribution here. How can shared mobility become more like one ecosystem, working in concert with public transport?” These are the questions CoMoUK seeks to resolve as it celebrates its 20th birthday and looks to the future. Richard will be CoMoUK’s first London based appointment and his plan is to raise the charity’s profile and stakeholder relations in London while building on its successful track record nationally. Antonia Roberts will revert to her position as Deputy Chief Executive based in Leeds. In the next 20 years CoMoUK forecasts that private car ownership will increasingly be a thing of the past, people being much more able to choose the mode of transport that works for them, for that journey – to their benefit, places’ benefit and the environment’s benefit.
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articles - 5 Apr 2019

DfT Future of Mobility Report Review

The Department for Transport has released their 'Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy'.  CoMoUK welcomes the publication of the 78-page paper which makes for positive reading for advocates of a more efficient, cleaner and less impactful urban transport system.  
Mobility not modes
  The report denotes a change in language and intent: the emphasis throughout is on mobility rather than transport. Mobility is our ability to access goods and services over space and time, transport is the mode which takes us there. The emphasis is therefore on accessing said goods or services, not on the relative performance of the mode in question. The strategy rightly cites the danger of a siloed and fragmented marketplace as a threat to delivering optimum mobility services.  
Guiding Principles
  There is a recognition that the moment of opportunity has comes with the advances in vehicular technology, data science, mobile technology and artificial intelligence. However, these advances alone won’t deliver the urban transport system that reduces congestion, improves air quality and makes our cities liveable for years to come. On this, the strategy will be underpinned by nine principles which will facilitate the innovation in urban mobility for freight, passengers and other services. We consider this principle-based approach a very positive step for the provision and delivery of urban transport. The DfT Principles are inspired by Robin Chase’s well-known 'Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities'  in North America and have been interpreted into a set of well-constructed useful framework for transport planning in the UK. The strategy has recognised the moment of opportunity that comes with the advances in vehicular technology, data science, mobile technology and artificial intelligence. However, this alone won’t deliver the urban transport system that reduces congestion, improves air quality and makes our cities liveable for years to come.  
Micro-mobility
  Getting into more detail on the nuts and bolts of the strategy makes for positive reading. The first of these is the regulatory review into micro-mobility modes. With advances in mobile phone and battery technology, a suite of new modes and operations have come to market. However, our current vehicular and licensing legislation is not-fit-for-purpose. The regulatory review will encompass micro-mobility modes, Mobility as a Service, transport data, bus and taxi licensing. CoMoUK hopes this serves to legalise micro-modes such as E-Scooters, but only in ways that create the tools for local transport authorities to manage and regulate them. One of benefits of the CoMoUK accreditation is that, in the absence of formal regulatory tools to manage shared modes it has provided a voluntary framework for minimum standards for operators. The accreditation schemes could provide the basis for future regulatory framework which would allow government in their efforts to manage and regulate these new modes plans to build-in flexibility in to the framework and we will be making this point in our formal response to the DFT strategy.  
Spreading the benefits to all
  As the strategy recognises, there is an opportunity to drastically improve our urban transport systems. The gains could be great. To this end, we want and need the mobility providers who want to innovate and change the way we move for the better. The government wants to harness this innovation by incentivising cleaner, safer and more efficient modes. Importantly the strategy has underlined the importance in creating an environment where new mobility providers can flourish and prosper. This is reflected in the second principle which refers to the need for the benefits of technological gains to be realised by all segments of society across all parts of the country.  
Turning principles into reality
  The strategy is light on funding for initiating the transition to more sustainable modes, particularly walking and cycling which is key for these short urban trips which make up a significant proportion of journeys in our cities. The strategy points to the 45% of urban trips which are under two miles. Principle 3 (promoting walking and cycling for short local trips) will need to be underpinned by financial commitment from central government to ensure active travel has the best chance of being the go-to mode for short urban trips. The strategy makes little reference to the use of punitive measures or controls to curb private car use. We welcome, however, that it points to the alternatives to private car use such as car clubs or lift-sharing. The ‘Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy’ sets forth a framework for delivering the urban transport system that is definitely needed and welcome. Our journeys of the future could be faster, cleaner, safer and more affordable, bringing benefits to both individual journeys and society at large. We agree with the strategy that in the future we should continue and increase to use our mass transit networks. To do this, and as the strategy rightly says, it makes sense to move away from the ownership model of transport, a system which drives inefficiency, and transition to the usage model of mobility instead. CoMoUK looks forward to seeing the DfT vision for the Future of Mobility become a reality and will continue to support shared mobility development as a key linchpin. If after reading this review you have any questions or would like further comment from CoMoUK please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us through info@como.org.uk

Department for Transport Principles

 
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articles - 21 Nov 2018

What would future mobility look like if designed by real people? Alistair Kirkbride for LTT Mobility Matters

I think the Spice Girls might help us plan the future of mobility. Like an earworm, “I’ll tell you what I want what I really really want…” keeps fusing in my head with me pondering where mobility might be heading.   I would hate to think where we would get to, but the future of mobility is repeatedly said to be service-led where the user is placed centrally in terms of shaping the services. What has been missing is real-world evidence that sets out what real users might actually want, rather than what practitioners might think they want. Clearly there needs some “curation” of competing demands, but that’s not for today. In the past year, a collection of rich evidence has started to emerge that might help sketch out the demands of real future travellers. Firstly, The Commission for Travel Demand’s “All Change” report looked in depth at evidence relating to changing travel demand, and was especially interested in unpicking blips from enduring change. And? People are travelling less, making fewer trips (especially commuting) and miles. Younger people are learning to drive later and are travelling much less by car for a variety of reasons. Figure 1 illustrates that two dimensions of this trend: it is more marked in more metropolitan areas and it is age related. Whilst it could be suggested that people drive more as they get older, Chatterjee et al’s 2018 work (LTTYYY) suggests that the effect is enduring; they showed that the suppression in driving license applications by young people endures as the cohort ages. So it looks like in a future mobility system, the private car won’t be anywhere near as dominant as today. Maybe they’ll all shift to AVs, but we’ll come back to that.   Marsden, G, et al. (2018) All Change? The future of travel demand and the implications for policy and planning, First Report of the Commission on Travel Demand, ISBN: 978-1-899650-83-5; http://www.demand.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/FutureTravel_report_final.pdf http://www.demand.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/FutureTravelDemand_infographic.pdf Chatterjee, K. et al. (2018). Young People’s Travel – What’s Changed and Why? Review and Analysis. Report to Department for Transport. UWE Bristol, UK
So how will people want to travel? MaaS gets a lot of press, but only recently are results of pilots emerging. These get interesting as they show what people actually choose and prioritise when services are presented side-by-side. The ESP group’s Navigogo project[1] involved target users – young adults in the Dundee and north Fife area – in the co-design of the Navigogo MaaS platform. The main demands were facilities such as personalised journey planners, deal matchers, easy payment and booking, information on destinations and taxi fare splitters i.e. facilities to make planning easy, reduce cost and reduce the sense of “missing out” on the best deals. This reflects Transport Focus’s 2018 work “Using the bus: what young people think”[2] (LTTZZZ). This showed that younger people (late teenagers) would like bus services to be easier to use (simpler fares, mobile tech for planning and ticketing), better value for money with better facilities for people to stay connected whilst travelling i.e. wifi and at-seat charging. The value of being connected trumping travel keeps coming to the fore in research. I recently took part in a workshop at a MaaS symposium that revealed some really interesting insight into our possible views on modes in a MaaS system. The participants (imagine those who attend MaaS symposia to gauge the nature of the sample) were asked to convert their existing mobility lifestyles to a private-car-free MaaS lifestyle, then score each mode by how pivotal it was (to make their MaaS work) and how attractive it was to them. And the answers? Though core public transport (intercity & local trains, buses, underground & trams) were pivotal, 1-way bikeshare was the second most attractive mode (after the underground), followed by trains (intercity, local) then 1-way car clubs. Interestingly, ride hailing came quite a way down the list. From a co-mobility / shared transport perspective, I clearly like to hear this, but what does it tell us about future mobility, especially if the user really is going to be more central in defining services?   If I was going to extract main attitudinal themes just from the above evidence to help define a mobility system, they would probably include the following. 1. Personal control of journey-making and personal space; 2. Value for money; 3. Simplicity, transparency & fairness, especially regarding cost; 4. Reliability & back-up service “insurance”. This isn’t new, but how do these translate to a mobility system?   Here’s one stab at translating what people seem to want into a mobility system:
  • mass transit would remain the backbone – both inter-city, inter-settlement and within cities & towns. It provides the efficiency to move lots of people along the main demand corridors in an affordable way.
  • demand-responsive & ride sharing services would both feed mass transit and to pick up the finer-grained matching between users that DR services are able to do.
  • point-to-point services (1-way car sharing, bike sharing, scooters and taxis (conventional or ride hailing)) would allow for journeys where larger scale matching isn’t viable – people or small groups want to go from point to point individually, either because the points are otherwise difficult to access or there are special circumstances (large loads, special needs etc)
  • back-to-base car (sharing/rental) and bike services would provide ways of people making independent back-to-base journeys over different timescales.
Of course, within all of this walking would be the main lubricant and mode for short journeys and linking other components. We can look to continental Europe to consider where private bike use might fit in; whilst we might be jealous of the levels of cycling in places such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Ghent, the rise of bike share is seen as a solution to tackle the associated bike parking problems, especially at rail stations in larger cities. Cycling will be a key component for providing local access in future mobility, and how this is split between bike share and private bike use will mainly be determined by type of place.   Let’s just pause and ponder where autonomous vehicles fit in to all of this. It could be argued that they provide independence, personal space and reliability (?). But will they ever manage to provide the VFM that most users would stand? And let’s not get into either the AV spatial efficiency debate nor the public & political acceptability of the constraints required to realise the benefits.   How many traps have I fallen into in writing this? The future is (definitely) uncertain, and setting out different scenarios probably more reasonable than just one. What about rural areas? Won’t peoples’ attitudes and demands evolve with the emergence of new types of services? Yes to all of these, but hopefully the trap that I have explicitly avoided is the future mobility landscape being defined by the disruptor-du-jour, but instead by real user preferences.   So what? Policy and investment need direction, hence why we see so many visions of future mobility scenarios.  Whilst “only a fool would make predictions – especially about the future” (Samuel Goldwyn apparently, or choose your own favourite quote about prediction), there is a difference between laying out visions of the “stuff” (what mobility services will exist) and how we might behave. It’s easier to generate visions & scenarios of “stuff” rather than behaviour. What I have stumbled through here is an attempt to get to some of the future “stuff” from what people are saying they want to use. Cause and effect get messy when we stretch timescales (but that’s for another day). There is currently a risk of the well-funded-disruptor-tail wagging they mobility dog, and what’s likely to happen being dismissed as not visionary enough. Worse still, somewhere in the midst of this, meaningful discussion on what is important to most people gets airbrushed out. Aditya Chakrabortty recently made the point (Guardian, 6th June) “Britons can throw tens of billions on infrastructure projects… or we can choose policies that serve the everyday economy that the rest of us actually live in”. Put another way, if you had a spare few hundred million quid to invest in a mobility system that would be used by most people in 10-20 year’s time and you read the “All change” report, what would you invest in?         [1] https://www.navigogo.co.uk/ [2] Transport Focus (2018) ‘Using the bus: what young people think’ https://www.transportfocus.org.uk/research-publications/publications/using-bus-young-people-think/
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News - 4 Jun 2018

The evolution from Carplus Bikeplus, echoes the evolution of shared mobility

CoMoUK is the new name for Carplus Bikeplus, short for Collaborative Mobility it represents the wider remit of the charity. Over the last 2 years, Carplus developed the sister arm Bikeplus to represent the shared bike sector. The shift to CoMoUK will help to enable more effective integration between these and new shared modes.

CoMoUK's intention is to play a leading role in the UK's transition to integrated mobility solutions designed for the public good.

 

CoMoUK works to maximise public benefit of shared modes, car clubs, bike share, 2+ ride share, and emerging modes such as "on demand" buses and scooter sharing, by supporting their development and nurturing innovation.

 

The charity carries out research to illustrate the impacts of the sector, leads on innovative development projects to maximise benefits to all and facilitates the sharing of best practice. In addition CoMoUK offers technical advice and consultancy services.

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