Urban transportation has changed significantly for the past decade thanks to innovations in vehicles and transportation. However, as technology continues to shape the industry and as the need for eco-friendly, mobile, and affordable transportation increases, shared mobility trends offer a solution to transportation’s growing congestion and environmental problem.
Shared mobility refers to a transportation system where travellers or commuters share a vehicle to travel together to one destination. A classic example would be carpooling, but recent shared mobility trends include car ride-sharing services from Uber and e-scooter ride-sharing services from Lime and Neuron. Because of its benefits and popularity, the global shared mobility service is expected to reach 36 million users by 2025, according to Frost & Sullivan.
However, with these new developments come new challenges that can affect existing transportation systems, infrastructures, and policies. Although shared mobility is continuously pushing through the industry and becoming the norm, what are the challenges that commuters, lawmakers, and the transportation industry will face? This piece lists down some of the key challenges of shared mobility.
Transportation and Policy Planning
One of the most complex parts of implementing and normalising shared mobility in cities are the local and national legislation involved in making it happen. After all, policies must be specified to regulate ride-sharing services properly and to increase the safety and security of the riders. Moreover, shared mobility modes such as bike-sharing, car-sharing, and other services have yet to be integrated into a city or state’s planning processes, since these are a fairly new type of service in the industry.
Shared mobility challenges like these take time to be resolved as governments and organisations must study the impact of implementing ride-sharing to know if it’s worth doing. Unfortunately, the shared mobility industry is constantly changing due to new developments by service providers and demand from riders, which can make it difficult for lawmakers to catch up with developments and make proper final policies.
Some cities and governments across the globe have already legalised and implemented shared mobility services such as the e-scooter ride-sharing system in Paris. After all, several research and tests have proven that electric scooters offer micro-mobility solutions in cities. More lawmakers across the globe are already discussing shared mobility regulations and legalising e-scooters and e-bikes as part of the policies.
Part of the challenges of shared mobility is the cost and availability of insurance for operators and riders since it’s a relatively new system. In terms of cost, the challenge partially focused on making it available and affordable for younger adults or college students, who are the key consumers of ride-sharing schemes.
Meanwhile, ride-sharing vehicle owners also face the risk of losing their personal vehicle insurance policy or being reclassified as and repriced for being a commercial vehicle. The US states California, Oregon, and Washington passed legislation requiring car-sharing vehicles to have commercial insurance coverage and prohibiting the cancellation of the vehicle’s personal insurance. In some cities or countries, ride-sharing insurance policies are still a blur as ride-sharing is still particularly new.
Other concerns and challenges that operators and riders face include the increased risk of accidents and injuries due to ride-sharing services being popular in highly dense cities, driver distraction due to ride-sharing apps, unfamiliar roadways, and more.
The increase of shared mobility technology in vehicles, especially for micro-mobile vehicles, calls for better physical and digital infrastructures to avoid congestion, keep pedestrians and riders safe, and make ride-sharing more efficient. However, implementing these will require operators, lawmakers, and organisations to solve commercial and security challenges.
Some of the challenges and changes that need to be implemented on a wide scale include providing a fast and reliable data connection for operators and riders, establishing V2X (vehicle to everything) connectivity to improve data collection, processing, and security, and building physical infrastructures such as lanes for micro-mobile ride-sharing vehicles, road signs, traffic lights, street furniture, and markings.
Because of the different elements involved in shared mobility infrastructure and the scale that it operates, resolving these challenges and implementing changes will take a while without a proper and immediate response.
In relation to the digital infrastructure of shared mobility systems, managing huge amounts of data is another clear challenge of shared mobility. In fact, connected vehicles are expected to generate around 4,000 GB of data every day. This calls for adequate and thorough infrastructure, platforms, and systems to store, process, manage, and analyse data.
However, the lack of data on shared mobility makes it difficult for some lawmakers and organisations to understand its impact, scale, and processes as well as the gaps in the transportation network. This can be resolved through different industries cooperating to establish and support proper data and privacy protocols.
The Benefits of Shared Mobility
Shared mobility offers various benefits to commuters and cities. One notable benefit has been shared mobility’s convenience and efficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ride-sharing services became a safe and affordable alternative to public transportation. In particular, ride-sharing for bicycles, e-bikes, and electric scooters helped during the pandemic.
Beyond the pandemic, other long-term positive impacts of shared mobility include reduced road congestion, increased economic activity, available eco-friendly transportation, reduced carbon emissions, affordable personal transportation, and access to more areas in cities.
Pushing Shared Mobility Forward
Overall, tech problems also call for tech solutions. As long as lawmakers, operators, riders, and organisations work together, establishing well-regulated, efficient, and safe shared mobility options in cities is possible. The future of shared mobility seems bright as more cities are investing and researching shared mobility. Moreover, if a city plans to become a smart city, incorporating and implementing shared mobility is a good to have for better convenience, efficiency, and connectivity for commuters and travellers.