The term mobility turnaround is on everyone’s lips. Cities struggle with congestion and are increasingly being asked to initiate a net zero transport policy. But these initiatives are justified. 39% of Switzerland’s total greenhouse gas emissions comes transport and 69% of that is attributed to passenger vehicles . Transport is the largest CO2 emission contributor in most of the developed countries . Moreover, the transport sector emissions rose by more than 33% in the EU  and 79% globally  since 1990. Thus, decarbonization of transport is likely to become the fundamental economic principle of the future.
Stagnation in traffic jams
But change is rarely easy. The car has long since become a powerful symbol of our individuality, our self-determination, and even our industrial culture. For this reason, discussions about a traffic turnaround are usually debated in a particularly emotional way. Precisely for this reason, it is worth taking a look at the facts: On average, a car in Switzerland is idle for 23 hours a day . This corresponds to a utilization rate of only 4%. Furthermore, even when driving, only 1.6 seats are usually occupied , resulting in a driving utilization rate of only 32%. If we combine these two facts, we arrive at a seat utilization rate of only 1.3%. This is a catastrophic utilization rate which demonstrates a great inefficiency – and therefore a great opportunity.
For this reason, many cities have declared war on congestion and especially on private motorized transport. Some cities such as Oslo, Paris and Madrid have forced the private car out of their centers, at least partially. Some municipalities are even toying with the idea of abandoning private vehicle ownership and relying instead on vehicle fleets. “Use instead of own” is the motto. Residents no longer own the cars but share the use of readily available rental cars. The advantages for cities are obvious: rental cars reduce the need for parking spaces, cut the number of cars in city centers and, as e-cars, also reduce emissions.
Basically, the agenda for a traffic turnaround is obvious. The total Swiss fleet of 4.7 M  passenger cars may be significantly reduced. But what would make people give up their own cars? The answer is obvious. The alternative(s) to owning a car must be expanded, improved and interconnected in a user-friendly way. It is not a question of whether public transport, (e-)bikes, (e-)scooters or car sharing would be a single alternative. It is about digitally supported networking of this multimodal mobility chain with easy access for all citizens.
Mobility-as-a-Service is the term of the day. But who offers this service? We at Urban Connect think that companies and municipalities could play an important role to offer this access. Imagine a company where 600 employees work and 2/3 of them (i.e. 400) drive their own cars to work. Instead of 400 cars on the company premises, the company could provide a multimodal shared fleet consisting of 100 e-bikes, 100 shared passenger cars and a subsidized access to public transport. For the shared vehicles – both e-bikes and e-cars – there is a central parking lot, a maintenance and cleaning service, and a user-friendly app that allows the desired vehicle to be reserved at any time, unlocked, and seamlessly billed after the trip.
Mobility points as an incentive for a mobility turnaround
With such an offer, a large proportion of employees could leave their private cars at home without feeling restricted in their mobility needs. Thus, the company also saves individually assigned company cars, parking spaces and reduces scope 3 emissions at the same time. In addition, the company can also activate a mobility points system through the app. The system incentivizes the most environmentally friendly mobility option, based on need. For example, employees get the most mobility points for choosing to travel a distance by public transport, the second most points for choosing a shared e-bike, etc. Motorized individual transport could even be disincentivized. Employees will save on the cost of renting a parking space, will always have a clean and charged vehicle at their disposal, and will also be able to choose from a variety of vehicles.
And it’s good for the employer, too. It saves costs, space and emissions – and even gets its Scope 3 mobility emissions accounted for. What’s more, the company can even offset any residual emissions so that all kilometers driven via the platform are certified as climate-neutral. This mobility as a service, where vehicles are better utilized and electrified, could serve as a contribution to an economically and ecologically sustainable transport policy. Thus, perhaps the century of fossil mobility would soon be at an end.
Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Urban Connect
Chief of Staff, Urban Connect