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Commission on Travel Demand Shared Mobility Inquiry: Evidence Session 1

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Commission on Travel Demand

30 April, 2019

Reading time: 8 minutes

Discussions at this session found that there is no clear policy framework for shared mobility services – there may be a need to revisit the traditional divisions between private and public transport as the inquiry progresses.

London 30, April 2019

Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, Euston


There is a really wide range of different types of shared mobility. They each have their own histories, business models and space within the mobility mix. The inquiry will need to ensure it pays attention to these differences. It will be important to understand what shared mobility gets used for and how it links to other activities, for example moving goods, children.

The scale of most of the shared mobility applications which are in scope has been small in relation to total mobility demands. There may be scope to accelerate adoption of some of the most promising innovations. However, there is relatively limited information on how to accelerate adoption. The policy approach to shared mobility has been, at best, light touch. There is a need to understand the role of all of the different influences on how the market evolves such as business behaviours, taxation and insurance.

Through the session it became clear that there are tensions between public transport provision and some forms of shared mobility. Whilst it seems clear that round trip car clubs and bike share schemes are acting as complements to public transport there is evidence of some competition between point to point car clubs and shared ridehail services and public transport ridership and active travel. Whilst such services are attractive because they fill gaps in public transport service provision and act as a complement to public transport they also compete.

The participants remarked on the relative lack of focus on shared mobility as an innovative sector relative to AVs despite the existing evidence base and near term potential to change mobility patterns. The private sector has done the majority of innovation in the market with some pockets of excellence in local authorities. Some participants felt the market was very fragmented and difficult to engage with.

There are initiatives such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS) which may simplify some aspects of this, although that is not guaranteed.

One of the major shifts which shared mobility might enable is for households to shed an ‘own’ vehicle, either moving to a no car household or from a two car household to one car. Once a household sheds a car it generally adopts greater active travel and public transport use, with car access blended in. This has important environmental and social benefits not just from lower car use but because the embodied emissions in vehicle construction also need to be reduced. The size of the fleet matters and, if past behaviour were to continue, then the National Transport Model suggests an additional 9 to 13 million cars could be owned (although this is incompatible with the wider smart mobility agenda). This matters as well as the speed with which the fleet might turnover to newer technologies.

It was clear however that the taxation and incentive structure for the transport system is still very much structured around the notion of individual car ownership. The incentives which do exist to shift behaviour tend to be between vehicle types (e.g. VED) and these are often hidden within three-year lease packages.

It is important therefore to understand how and why the car ownership market is changing. Most new cars today are leased either through company or PCP type schemes (50% of all new cars sold in the UK were through BVRLA members). Whilst, in theory, this offers the potential for very rapid shifts away from ‘own vehicle’ models of accessing vehicles, the extent to which this is really different from individuals seeing themselves as requiring a vehicle and therefore owning one for exclusive use (however financed) is unclear and needs to be understood. This also only represents the new car market and the leasing and rental models currently rely on a strong second hand car market. Is the vehicle ownership market really open to disruption? The transition pathway to a substantially smaller vehicle fleet is unclear.

The market for shared access to vehicles is growing. This is both through car clubs and peer to peer vehicle sharing platforms. More flexible forms of ownership with sharing are being developed.

However, there was significant discussion of the extent to which peer to peer platforms for second hand vehicles should have some degree of regulation for safety and environmental standards. Also, the degree to which these platforms may enable cars to become affordable and kept for longer than they otherwise might have been is open to question. Very little is known about behaviour in peer to peer platform systems.

A further question for public policy is the extent to which there are any obligations placed on actors in the shared mobility space to assist with more universal access for suburban and rural travel. Most of the systems which were reviewed are operating largely in the urban core where there is already generally good coverage. There is also an opportunity to connect to the large fleets of public sector procured services which are filling in services for heath, social care and public transport provision in these areas to look for lessons.

There was little consensus on the potential scale of different shared mobility offers. Liftshare pointed out that there are almost as many people car sharing in the morning peak as commute by rail but this receives almost no attention in policy. Lift sharing appears to fulfil a different market to some of the more commercial sharing platforms. In particular there is evidence of a more social and trust based approach to sharing through company based lift sharing. The best examples of lift share initiatives achieve 40% of people accessing work in shared vehicles. Liftsharing works best when it is tied together with parking incentives and other workplace policies (e.g. you get a parking space if you share three times a week or more).The average trip length for Liftshare customers is 24 miles which means the system is working beyond local authority boundaries. When fuel costs rise so does the intensity of lift sharing. Lift sharing was one of few systems where slightly more females than males were using the system. A lot of liftsharing happens outside of formal systems and we know very little about this.

Various different statistics about people’s willingness to share were quoted during the evidence session. It appears that the way in which that question is asked is very important as well as the system around which the question is based. Claim and counterclaim on the basis of the current evidence base may not be very helpful and this needs further exploration.

There could be some easy actions that could be taken to increase sharing. One particular area for further exploration was around grey vehicle fleet miles, those paid for in own vehicles by business. Grey vehicle fleet miles can be reduced by shifting to workplace car clubs. In addition it was suggested to look at mileage fee reimbursement rates and the differentials between single and shared occupancy mileage.

The decision to place commute and business travel within Scope 3 carbon emissions in company environmental obligations was suggested as important in allowing these issues to go unresolved.

It is a real concern that there is no clear policy framework in which shared mobility services are developing. There may be a need to revisit how we think about the traditional divisions between private and public transport and car and sustainable modes. This will need to be revisited as the inquiry progresses.


Commission on Travel Demand Shared Mobility Inquiry Evidence Session 1

BVRLA: Commission on Travel Demand Shared Mobility Inquiry Evidence Session 1

An overview of & the potential 2+ Car Sharing (Lift-Sharing)

Maximising the benefits of Shared Mobility

Car clubs and minicabs – are they an alternative to private car ownership?


  • Professor Greg Marsden, ITS, University of Leeds – Commission Co-Chair
  • Professor Jillian Anable, ITS, University of Leeds – Commission Co-Chair
  • Jonathan Bray, Urban Transport Group – Commissioner
  • Elaine Seagriff, Jacobs – Commissioner
  • Dr Nicola Spurling, Institute for Social Futures, Lancaster University – Commissioner
  • Antonia Roberts, Interim Executive Director, CoMoUK
  • Matthew Clark, Chair, CoMoUK and Steer Davies Gleave
  • Catherine Bowen, Senior Policy Advisor, British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association
  • Jay Parmar, Director of Policy and Membership, British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association
  • James Lancaster, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Enterprise Holdings International
  • Spyridoula Vitouladiti, Policy Analysis Manager, Transport for London
  • Ali Clabbourn, CEO Liftshare
  • Juhi Verma, Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
  • Ewa Kmietowicz, Committee on Climate Change
  • Tracy Savill, Connecting Places Catapult

Banner photo credit: Christopher Burns on Unsplash