Shared mobility experts gathered in Gothenburg to discuss the future of eHUBS and shared mobility services

In the framework of the POLIS 2021 annual Conference in Gothenburg – Sweden, the eHUBS project gathered representatives of shared mobility and mobility-hub-related projects, local and regional authorities, and other relevant shared mobility experts to discuss the current and future challenges in the roll-out of these services, as well as their potential contribution to the UN sustainable development goals and sustainable urban mobility policy.

The three-hour event was organized by eHUBS’ project partners, Mpact, and POLIS in a world café format, featuring four interactive roundtable discussions covering the following topics:

  • Integration of shared mobility with mass transit: public[1]private partnerships, business models, regulatory frameworks, subsidies.
  • Digital integration of shared mobility and eHUBS: data sharing, MaaS.
  • Infrastructure: physical integration for intermodality - interchanges, eHUBS and public space management.
  • eHUBS and its impact on sustainable urban mobility policy goals (reduction of GHGs, car ownership, congestion, road safety, air pollution, etc.) and SDG’s.

In the first roundtable discussion, the topics focused on the different business models, legal frameworks, and possibilities to foster integration between shared mobility services and mass transit. Discussions centered on the different types of services (shared cargobikes, carsharing services, etc.), and the different target groups envisioned by service providers, transport operators, and local authorities. As different stakeholders have varied business and policy goals, determination on the type of service to be offered, target groups to be served, and the location of the services (bigger/smaller cities, rural areas, etc.) influences the business model and ultimately, plays an important role on how e-HUBS are planned and executed.

In this regard, cargobike operators stated that “Location-wise, bigger cities are better for the business model, and even in bigger cities, not every location works well. For cargobike sharing for example, we prefer micro-hubs every 150m. In rural areas, so far, it’s hard to convince shared mobility operators to start even when they’re financially compensated”.

Other topics discussed in this roundtable included different types of funding models, public-private partnerships, and the legal frameworks to which shared mobility and eHUBS are subject. As to the funding opportunities, it was mentioned the importance of public funding for shared mobility services in its first years, since their offer could be aligned with urban-mobility policy goals, e.g., by fostering modal shift towards more sustainable means of transport. In a second stage, alternative funding is looked for, e.g., via a coffee shop at the hub, via a service charge for the residents, via volunteers, etc. Finally, some operators present in the discussion expressed their experiences dealing with legal frameworks for shared mobility and eHUBS, stating that “ it’s very time consuming to find good locations and go through the administrative process. There is no flexibility, you can’t change locations easily. Administrative processes cost time and money”.

In the second roundtable discussion, it was stressed the importance of data sharing and data integration for shared mobility and eHUBS to understand its operation and maximize the impact of the services offered. Relevant data-sharing standards were discussed such us, CDS-M, the TOMP-API, and MDS*. Experts coincided in the relevance of implementing a strong data sharing strategy to be used by local authorities, transport operators, and service providers in the rolling out of eHUBS and shared mobility projects.

For the third roundtable discussion, the emphasis was made on how physical integration of eHUBS and shared mobility services can be fundamental to improve intermodality in transport, as well as achieving public space management goals. The discussion revolved around three aspects to take into account when designing physical infrastructure: Service determination, Location, and design. Discussions around these three dimensions led to the analysis of multiple variables that need to be considered when building the infrastructure, among them, user needs, local authorities policy goals, density, income, new urban developments, etc. Some experts stated the importance of data sharing for determining locations where building infrastructure could foster intermodality between different means of transport. Other aspects discussed included determining the function of the hub as an important factor in building infrastructure. Functions for the hub are the community function, transport function, and the feeder function, and can be classified in Primary hubs: centered on the community; secondary hubs: only a transport function; tertiary hubs: feeder function for the secondary/primary hubs.

Finally, transport authorities present in the discussion highlighted the importance of finding the needs of the users and planning the use cases for deciding the design of the hub and its services.

For the last roundtable discussion, the aim was to discuss eHUBS and shared mobility services’ impact on sustainable urban mobility policy goals and sustainable development goals. Participants highlighted the importance of mobility hubs and the different types of shared services as initiatives that can serve many goals such as, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in cities by reducing car ownership and congestion in cities, on a social level increase accessibility (targeting age, gender, equality, social inclusion, mobility poverty), increasing mental health, etc. Setting different goals can contribute to the success of these services and may also increase the chances for funding.

Some of the main takeaways from this discussion table were:

“We all agree on the added value of eHUBS, we want to create a solution in the city, but also in rural areas, to offer a reliable alternative to car ownership. However,  we are still lacking proof/evidence of the positive effects. We need to find more ways to collect data, to measure the impact, to see how behavior changes by installing mobility hubs”.

“ There is also a need for cross-data, e.g., we know that carsharing users are making more use of public transport, but if there is more bike-sharing, how does that impact car ownership? Are e-scooters solving a problem, e.g., lowering the bar for other shared mobility modes?”.

Finally, all experts in the discussion, from local authorities to transport operators and services providers, expressed their actions and plans to make eHUBS and shared mobility services agents of change in the pursuit of sustainable mobility goals  

As the workshop reached the end of the roundtable discussion session, all tables summarized the main ideas and concepts discussed by our invited experts, sharing the takeaways with all participants. The event was the perfect opportunity to start a fruitful and enriching exchange between shared mobility and mobility hub-related projects and experts, which contributed to exploring and increasing the knowledge on the impact of these services on societal goals such as, social inclusion, climate, public health, congestion, etc., all of them of the utmost importance for building more livable and resilient cities.


*(click here for more information) 

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