Existing and emerging models
As well as the sharing modes such as car clubs or bike sharing, co-mobility encompasses the sharing of specific journeys in a private car, taxi or demand-responsive minibus. Boundaries are blurring, but importantly, they work alongside other types of co-mobility and public transport services to enable flexible modern mobility lifestyles.
In this section we look at different models of shared rides
• 2+ ride share
• taxi share
• micro transit /on-demand mini-buses
CoMoUK does not include ride sourcing / ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft as co-mobility. From a mobility perspective, they are new forms of taxi service. They are often – confusingly – referred to as “rideshare”.
…and the rest
Collaborative mobility is a rapidly developing sector, and new models are developing all the time. Other models which (at time of writing) have yet to launch in the UK include:
• e-scooter share:
• autonomous taxi share
2+ Ride Share
Sharing of journeys in a private car is also known as car sharing, carpooling, lift sharing or 2+ ride sharing. These are peer-to-peer services whereby a private citizen offers to share a trip with one or more passengers. They are the mobility equivalent of AirBnB – i.e. spare capacity (seats on cars) are matched with people needing a lift.
People share rides informally through networks in neighbourhoods, communities and workplaces. More formally, peer-to-peer 2+ ride share services are enabled via web & app matching of people offering rides with those needing them. This should serve to make it easier for; the passenger to find the appropriate ride, for the driver to share but also increase the number of riders they can pick-up and drop-off in their vehicles on along the route of that trip.
• UK law means drivers cannot make a profit, but can charge for reasonable expenses
• Pre-arranged only
• Often used in closed groups such as workplaces
• Service provider makes income from licences from local authorities and employers
Closed & semi-closed ride share groups
Operators such as Liftshare, Carbon Heroes offer closed group services which support employers to offer staff ride share scheme with the reassurance that even if they don’t know their fellow rider they are known to the company. Closed groups also allow specific incentives to be applied, offering sharers perks such as priority parking spaces or vouchers.
2+ ride share is also a popular solution for access to festivals and large events, with Liftshare and GoCarshare embedding services into the event publicity. The social network created through the shared interest of the festival leads to the desire to share journeys.
Open ride share services
Open services involve more one-off and opportunistic journey sharing. People who know that they are making a journey – especially a long journey or regular (e.g. commute) trips – log their offer; people seeking a ride are then able to search for a reasonable match.
All 2+ ride share operators offer this service; the largest scale global operator is Blablacar.
But isn’t Uber rideshare?
Services such as Uber and Lyft looked at in mobility terms are effectively taxi services. This is because the car journey is generated to serve a rider’s demand with the driver being paid (like a taxi), rather than the rider occupying a spare seat in a car that was already making the journey.
Boundaries are blurring and public transport services are enabling flexible modern mobility lifestyles.
Sharing taxis is a cross between taxi use and 2+ ride share – by filling spare seats in taxis.
This has been done informally, such as by people identifying others at taxi ranks to share journeys. Black cab sharing was supervised at Paddington station in London, mainly to manage excess demand for taxis at peak times.
App based taxi sharing
App based taxi sharing has emerged in recent years:
The co-design process of the Navigogo MaaS pilot led to taxi fare splitting being one of the most popular features.
The main benefits of taxi sharing are the more efficient use of taxis and that it may attract people to use taxis who may otherwise have used a car.
Micro-transit services are commercial on-demand mini-bus services operating along fixed or flexible routes.
• On flexible routes, routing is dynamic to pick-up and drop-off passengers en-route without significantly increasing the overall journey time.
• They run without a set schedule. Pick-ups and drop-offs are timed within guaranteed windows. This reconciles the requirements for flexibility with reliability and certainty.
• Booking, payment and navigation is managed by back-office IT systems, leaving the driver more able to focus on customer service
• Micro transit services use smaller vehicles, usually mini buses, often offering power points, tables, wifi and even access to shared folding ebikes in the boot for onward travel.
- There are two options available to local authorities; Software as a service or Transit as a service. The former provides the local authority with the software to run a micro-transit service at the front and back-end (routing, payment processor, App interface). In this instance they may already have their own vehicles and drivers, and wish to upgrade their traditional service. Transit as a solution is the whole package of software and hardware including vehicles and drivers.
- The most important feature to a micro-transit service is the ability for the local transport authority to tailor it to the specific needs of a community, at what is likely to be at a lower cost than providing a traditional bus service which doesn’t have the same inbuilt flexibility as a micro-transit service.
Operations in the UK
Bespoke micro transit
Micro transit vehicles are adapted mini vans to add extras such as wifi and charging points. Some have suggesting offering folding ebikes or links to public transport or bike share for onward travel.
Moia a development from the VW group, has developed a new electric vehicle that is explicitly “…made for sharing”. It is minibus-size but with only 6 seats, provide ease of access and personal space with real-time information. Part of the design brief was to provide the levels of comfort and sense of independence that are the norms for habitual car-users. It will launch in Hamburg in 2018.