Shared Mobility: an alternative for everyone?
Extracts in translation from the French article « Mobilité partagée: une alternative tout public? » (Alteréchos, 20/12/2016, Julie Luong)
Pollution, traffic jams, cost price: it seems as though individual car ownership has had its time. Welcome to the age of carpooling and shared taxis. Okay, however… this recent consensus should not let us forget that mobility issues do not only concern the rushed commuter. Also more fragile focus groups, for whom this question is closely linked to the one of social integration, are expecting tailor-made solutions.
Hail a social taxi
Taxistop, pioneer in shared mobility with services as carpool.be and cambio, developed the Less Mobile Service in 1982. In Flanders, 72% of the municipalities already offer this service. It has been launched in the Wallonia since 2008. «The idea is to offer people, the elderly in particular, a service that allows to escape their social isolation,» explains Sandrine Vokaer, projectmanager at Taxistop. «A network of volunteers is at their service to drive them to their doctor’s appointment, to friends, to a restaurant, to the theater, and even keep them company»,
These volunteers are often retired, but also the unemployed or part-time workers are signing up… Only conditions? Own a car and have some time to spare. The cost price for the user of this service is 34 eurocent per kilometer. This is the equivalent of the set lump sump for professional travel. This small amount helps cover the costs for the volunteers, but does not serve as an extra income. We remain far away from uberisation. «Our goal is to reach out to other target groups other than those who use our classic carpooling databases», continues Sandrine Vokaer.
«Conditions however are not too restrictive, since the service is open for people who receive at maximum 2 times the equivalent of minimum wage.» The service is managed on local level. Taxistop provides every Less Mobile Service the necessary software, tools and expertise. «In the future, we wish for the Less Mobile Services to be accessible in all local coordinations or the municipalities,» reassures Philippe Lorent, director of mobility planning Region of Wallonia (SPW DGO2). «All mobility actors are nowadays aware that there is a need for an adapted solution for every single user, people with reduced mobility included.»
«Adapted cars cost 5.000 to 10.000 euro more for the necessary modifications. Sharing the car makes it possible to get return on investment» Nicolas Baudoux, Taxistop
People with reduced mobility are still widely excluded from shared mobility. For this target group, Taxistop has developed another dedicated service: Avira. «The adapted cars are way more expensive», Nicolas Baudoux, project manager on the project at Taxistop, explains. «In average they cost 5.000 to 10.000 euro more for the necessary modifications. Sharing the car makes it possible to get return on investment, just by allowing people who do not have the means to invest in such a car to have access to such a car.» It’s a service that, just like the Less Mobile Service, strives for a complete mobility offer thanks to local community work.
People with reduced mobility also share
«Yet again the initiative launched in Flanders first, in 2014.», Nicolas Baudoux continues. «Here we have 12 carsharing groups. In 2015 it has spread out over Belgium, with currently 4 carsharing groups in Brussels and one in the Walloon region. We do notice that even if certain municipalities clearly show their interest, the mindset is not always ready to follow.» It has to be said, for people with reduced mobility who own an adapted car, this often is their unique mode of transport.
The reluctance is sometimes quite severe, even if Avira provides guarantees. In particular with an indivualised bonus-malus. It subscribes every user as co-driver in the insurance policy and protects the car-owner in case of an accident. «Taxistop, who is subsidized by the regional governments, does not claim a commission: we purely and simply work within the sharing economy, without any goal for making economical profit.» Nicolas Baudoux continues.
«This also means you won’t find price settings any lower than those of our systems. However, this does mean we are less flexible then other services, since we ask a bit more work from the end user, in particular the subscription in a carsharing group before you can share the car.»
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