Transport / Shared mobility
Case Studies
Policy Areas


Cities face a constant array of challenges. Many of these are externalities of transport, such as congestion, poor air quality, loss of public and green spaces, and reduced social mobility and accessibility. Reducing the number of car journeys can address some of these challenges by alleviating traffic with the aim of reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, freeing up space for pedestrians and cyclists, reducing journey times and increasing productivity. There are various measures – generally referred to as “shared mobility” measures – that can be used to foster a reduction in journey numbers.

Shared mobility measures include: (i) car-sharing, which is the practice of renting a car from a service provider and having use of that car for a limited time; (ii) car-pooling, in which a group of people travel together using their own private vehicles (especially for commuting), taking turns to drive; (iii) ride‑sharing, which involves using a smartphone app to book a ride in a privately owned vehicle; and (iv) micro-mobility services such as shared bikes and e-bikes, as well as standing and seated e‑scooters.[1]

Car and ride-sharing schemes can help to increase citizens’ mobility. For example, women tend to make shorter and more diverse trips than men, and they are more likely to travel with children. Shared transport helps women to meet their complex and diverse transport needs and enables them to reach previously inaccessible places or travel at night.[2]

However, concerns relating to safety and accessibility are often raised. The issue of personal safety is a significant barrier that limits women’s participation as ride-sharing drivers and riders, as they face the potential threat of gender-based violence and harassment. At the same time, car and ride‑sharing may not be accessible to elderly and disabled people, owing to limited internet access or insufficient wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Micro-mobility lacks a commonly agreed definition; however, it generally refers to micro-vehicles weighing no more than 350 kg with a speed no higher than 45 km/h.[3] Micro-mobility vehicles are convenient for short trips and can act as a solution for first and last-mile journeys, supporting a more integrated transport network that focuses on public transport and active mobility.

A major concern when it comes to micro-mobility is safety – particularly in relation to the speeds that e-scooters can reach. Also, a recurrent issue with dockless fleets is the haphazard way in which e-bikes and e-scooters are sometimes parked in the street, which creates obstacles for blind and partially sighted pedestrians and people with other disabilities.[4] Shared mobility measures are not predominantly public-centric policies, but public authorities can facilitate or incentivise shared mobility programmes and introduce regulations to ensure the safety and security of such programmes. This can be seen as an interim policy before the introduction of full congestion charging or pedestrianisation. However, careful planning and attention is required for any modal shift that focuses on replacing private car trips with journeys made using shared vehicles.

Resource implications and key requirements

Car-sharing can have a low administrative and technical burden and, although it could have an associated financial burden if incentives are offered to individuals or companies to operate, there are significant savings to be obtained through reducing the number of cars on the road. Congestion is estimated to cost the EU economy €100 billion annually, with a US study indicating that if car-sharing schemes were widely adopted vehicle numbers could be reduced by one-third in specific scenarios.[5]

Potential private-sector participation

In order to develop and implement successful shared mobility programmes, local authorities must work with a wide range of stakeholders, including regional transport authorities, regulatory bodies, businesses and various local government bodies. Local authorities may have to invest in online platforms or require businesses to make such investments in order to facilitate the matching of users and vehicles. Self-service schemes are normally administered by the private sector.

The private sector also plays a vital role in promoting more inclusive car-sharing and ride-sharing schemes. Anti-discrimination policies should be in place to reduce opportunities for unlawful discrimination (such as discrimination against riders with disabilities). Companies also need to have strong safety measures to protect both drivers and riders, as well as enhancing workforce diversity and closing gender pay gaps. For example, Safr – a ride-sharing app aimed at women that was launched in Boston in 2017 – adopts several safety and security measures, including comprehensive background checks and safety training for drivers, a 24/7 real-time ride tracking centre, and an in-app SOS button. Safr’s drivers – most of whom are women – also get paid more than the industry standard.

Implementation obstacles and solutions

The first barriers that need to be overcome when it comes to car-sharing are the reluctance of potential users to adopt car-sharing services and a strong desire for car ownership. To overcome these barriers, it is important to generate awareness and change aspirations from single car ownership to the use of connected transport modes, through robust awareness campaigns and measures tackling user behaviours.

Car-sharing may not necessarily have a major impact on overall levels of car use in a city, and further infrastructure for cars may have to be provided that is specific to self-service sharing schemes. Moreover, the effect of ride-hailing apps on congestion is contested. They could reduce traffic by encouraging people to leave their cars at home, or they could increase the number of vehicles on the road if people switch away from public transport or forms of active mobility

In the case of ride-sharing schemes it is also important that, for passenger safety, the appropriate insurance is in place and that there are procedures for driving licence checks.

A further challenge relates to restrictions on private vehicles that pose a threat to car-sharing. Exemptions from such policies could be a way to promote car-sharing.

It is difficult for self‑service car-sharing schemes to generate a user base that is large enough to reach a reasonable operational scale, and competition from competitively priced taxis has been found to reduce the use of such schemes.[6]  The Autolib’ electric car-sharing scheme, which operated in Paris from 2011 to 2018, offers some important lessons for other cities in this regard. The service had to compete with a minicab service, it suffered from poor maintenance by users, and the vehicles became places of refuge for drug users. As a result of declining use of the service, the operating company became insolvent and stopped operating.

Shared transport schemes may face resistance from traditional taxis. In the United States of America, ride-sharing had a market share of just 8 per cent in 2014; however, four years later, it commanded 70.5 per cent of the market, with taxis accounting for just 6 per cent. This can have adverse effects on taxi drivers’ livelihoods, especially for those who already face financial challenges.[7] This can be mitigated by offering them skills training or access to entrepreneurship opportunities. A mixed regulatory mechanism that allows competition between ride-sharing and taxis can also be developed to address any regulatory asymmetry.

In order to be successful, it is important that the operators of car-sharing schemes understand the policy context and regulatory frameworks of the cities where they plan to launch. For example, DriveNow – a car-sharing scheme with 1 million registered users across multiple cities and countries – has had to stop operating in Stockholm owing to high congestion charges and parking costs. [8][9]

Meanwhile, ride-sharing apps such as Uber have encountered resistance from the public owing to their employment practices, leading to bans on taxi and ride-sharing apps in some countries and cities. Solutions to this issue can include labour law reforms for self-employed workers and regulations on the mandatory installation of meters. Furthermore, such apps require a strong and reliable mobile network, with reasonable costs for data use. Economies in the southern and eastern Mediterranean have particularly weak data networks, with Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia all in the lowest third of countries globally for overall data speeds.[10]

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Metro is working with car-sharing company Getaround to provide an affordable and “hassle-free” car-sharing service at more than 25 Metro transit park-and-ride sites.[11]

In the absence of a robust legal framework encompassing rules on the parking and riding of micro‑mobility vehicles, improper parking of such vehicles can creates obstacles for blind and partially sighted pedestrians and people with other disabilities. Moreover, with electric micro-mobility vehicles there is also the problem of recycling batteries at the end of their life. If the private companies offering e-mobility services do not operate a sound recycling system, their negative environmental impact could offset the CO2 emissions that are saved by using those vehicles. In the United States, Lyft is partnering with Redwood Materials, a battery recycling company, to ensure that the batteries from its fleets of shared e-bikes and e-scooters do not end up in landfill at their end of their life. Moreover, in most cities micro-mobility schemes are not inclusive: city-sponsored across the United States reveal that people who use micro-mobility solutions tend, on average, to be younger, single and male, with higher levels of income.[12]

In Paris, city authorities have taken action in relation to free-floating e-scooters by establishing a code of conduct while waiting for the adoption of a new legal framework at national level. All e‑scooter operators in the city were invited to join the working group for that code of conduct, which established guiding principles and paved the way for good public-private collaboration. [13] Thus, municipal authorities and industry leaders have to collaborate in order to ensure that micro-mobility schemes benefit all citizens (not just specific populations or districts) and minimise the risks (both environmental risks and risks to personal safety) that can arise from the use of such solutions.

Comparison with other policy options

Car-sharing does not yield the same benefits of transitioning to active or public transport but can still be successful in reducing congestion and air pollution and can lessen the risk of low public acceptability that can be associated with car-free zones or congestion charging. Car-sharing is not intended to replace other traffic management policies but rather to complement them.


[1] L. Barber (2016), “Carsharing, carpooling, ridesharing…what’s the difference?”, 12 May 2016, Liftshare website.

[2] IFC (2018), “Driving Toward Equality: Women, Ride-Hailing, and the Sharing Economy”.

[3] EU Urban Mobility Observatory (2020), "The rise of micromobility",  European Commission website

[4] EU Urban Mobility Observatory (2020), "The rise of micromobility", European Commission website.

[5] Transport and Environment (2017), “Does sharing cars really reduce car use?”, June 2017, briefing note.

[6] ITDP (2015), “What’s Stopping Carsharing? 4 Challenges Holding Emerging Markets Back”, December 2015, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

[7] M. Goldstein (2018), “Dislocation And Its Discontents: Ride-Sharing's Impact On The Taxi Industry” June 2018, Forbes website.

[8] M. Holder (2018), “BMW takes full ownership of DriveNow carsharing scheme”, March 2018, Business Green website.

[9] N. Rolander (2018), “BMW’s DriveNow Car-Sharing Services Bite the Dust in Stockholm”, July 2018, Bloomberg website.

[10] Opensignal (2017), “Global State of Mobile Networks (February 2017)”, Opensignal website.

[11] Metro (2019), “Metro partners with Getaround to offer car sharing at 27 transit stations”, website page, February 2019, The Source blog.

[12] Forbes (2020), "Cities Need to Rethink Micromobility To Ensure It Works for All”. Forbes website page.

[13] Revolve (2020), "Micro-Mobility: Challenges and Opportunities for Cities & Regions”.