August 06, 2015

Harnessing Shared Mobility for Compact, Sustainable Cities

In the past decade, the world has seen car sharing go mainstream, bike sharing become a global trend, and hundreds of startups stake their claim to reinventing transport. The new systems, collectively known as shared mobility, reflect the rise of both the on-demand and sharing economies. These dual economic phenomena are changing the way everyone from car owners to public transport users make travel choices. This policy brief addresses how shared mobility is affecting the urban transport landscape and suggests ways governments can guide the industry’s growth toward supporting a sustainable, people-centered city.

A growing range of shared mobility systems has emerged to fill gaps in the transport network
by offering ever more nuanced options for different travel needs. These include new options for door-to-door travel, “last/first mile” trips to destinations and nearby transit stations, special trips, and reaching underserved areas. Innovations in payment structures, variable routes, flexible schedules, and vehicle size all contribute to the new diversity of transit choices.

Yet shared mobility is just one of the ways the urban landscape is shifting. As the world’s rapidly growing cities rethink their transport and land use policies, with increased focus on sustainability, transit-oriented development and road safety, both the benefits and shortcomings of shared mobility deserve attention as part of long-term planning.


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