The 21st Century has seen the rapid rise of sharing economy mobility services. Enabled by ubiquitous ‘smart’ devices and secure electronic financial transactions, shared mobility has allowed the collective ownership and use of transport assets in new commercial ways. Share cars, share bikes, share escooters and many more transport assets have landed on our streets and footpaths providing new opportunities to meet enduser mobility demand.
This report explored the key barriers to the provision of these sharing economy mobility services to highlight the actions that can be taken by policy makers and other organisations to support their availability. The study involved two stages: a literature review investigating the current state of knowledge both domestically and internationally; and in-depth interviews with experts from organisations such as service providers, lobby groups and policymakers. The objective was to learn their perceptions on shared mobility service provision barriers and expected developments on increasing the use of shared mobility services.
The analysis found that the Australia cities have similar shared mobility issues that are evident in other places around the world, for example, the paucity of suitable parking spaces/numbers and locations for shared mobility facilities, and the need for smart technology that elicits information for meeting travel demands.
The study found a number of barriers relating to the not always smooth interaction between policy makers and commercial enterprises, suggesting opportunities for new cooperative business models, joint partnerships and shared responsibilities in the provision of shared mobility services. In particular, the lack of acknowledgement in accepting shared mobility services as merit goods, in the same way as other public transport services, prevented shared mobility from being supported by the government policy intervention.
Personal data security and legal liability are problems that may prevent or discourage people from using shared mobility services. The lack of charging infrastructure may be delaying the transition to lower carbon impact mobility services. The still-developing concept of the shared autonomous vehicle may disrupt the shared mobility service sector at a time when it is still trying to get a foothold as an industry.
The use of shared bicycles may be limited by the lack of adequate supporting infrastructure such as dedicated and separated cycling routes to support rider safety.
When looking into multi-modal shared mobility, policy support for infrastructure is lacking particularly for linking modes of travel and a platform with shared information to enable this integration possible. For Australian cities, the challenges of lower population density, relatively poor public transport quality and quantity, high private car ownership, and cheap car parking are barriers to the uptake of sharing economy mobility services.
Policy action can address some of these barriers and establish a more level playing field for new commercial enterprises. For example, Renewal SA has set up flagship development in the inner-urban South Australian suburb of Bowden where the focus is dealing with many of the aforementioned issues by providing dedicated parking locations and support to promote shared mobility services.
Sharing economy mobility services can play a role of reducing private car ownership, but supporting policies that encourage higher population density and a connected network of public transport that includes share bikes and e-scooters will be necessary to transition shared mobility from a niche service to a mainstream mobility service.
The barriers to the provision of sharing economy mobility services are mostly regulatory, legal and social in nature. This study concludes that shared mobility in low-density cities requires strong policy leadership in transport, urban planning, health, social and environment sectors. Businesses and government organisations can support environmentally sustainable transport modes such as shared mobility services through effective policies, the development of new strategies, and the delivery of action plans.