Modern concepts such as car sharing, ridehailing, ridepooling and ridesharing play a key role in the mobility transition. They are among the latest trends in new mobility and will have a lasting impact on mobility in cities as well as in rural areas. These new forms of mobility all aim to make transport more efficient, save resources and relieve traffic congestion in cities.
How do these new forms of mobility differ and when and for whom are they best suited? An overview of the individual concepts, their differences and characteristics.
Car sharing refers to the use of shared cars. Users of car sharing services share the available cars. The vehicle owner is usually a private or public car sharing provider. Customers register via the provider app or a mobility super app and conclude a framework agreement with the provider. They can use a vehicle for a short-term rental, i.e. rent the car by the minute, hour or day. Fuel or electricity costs are included in the car sharing provider's tariff.
Car sharing comes in two different forms: Station-based car sharing and station-independent car sharing, so-called "free-floating car sharing". With station-based car sharing, users rent the vehicle at dedicated parking spaces for the duration of the rental period and return it there at the end of the rental period. With station-independent car sharing, users can pick up and return the vehicle at all authorised parking spaces on public streets as well as at explicitly defined additional parking spaces within the business area.
While "free-floating car sharing" is particularly widespread in densely populated cities, station-based car sharing services are not only available in urban areas, but also in smaller towns and in the countryside, where it is particularly suitable for enabling a smaller local population to travel without owning a car. In cities, car sharing is seen as a promising means of reducing the number of vehicles or at least making it attractive to do without a second car.
When and for whom is car sharing suitable?
Car sharing offers users the flexibility to use a car when they need it, without the ongoing costs and obligations associated with owning a car. This makes car sharing ideal for people who only need or want to drive a car occasionally. For example, it is particularly suitable for large shopping trips, weekend excursions or spontaneous journeys within the city.
It can also be particularly worthwhile if you are not travelling alone, but in a small group, as car sharing is not charged per passenger, but per minute or kilometre. This means that the more passengers you have, the cheaper it is. Hourly or daily rates are particularly suitable for group excursions or journeys where public transport connections at the destination are not optimal.
It should be noted that although car sharing generally offers a high degree of flexibility, availability can be severely limited during peak times such as rush hour or holiday periods.
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Carpooling describes the creation and use of private carpools and basically refers to what is known in German as "Mitfahrgelegenheit". These arrangements can be organised privately or via carpooling agencies or commuter agencies. In contrast to car sharing, in car pooling several people use the car at the same time, which is offered and driven by a driver. The driver offers other people a lift for a fee or free of charge.
This not only splits the cost of the journey between several people, but also utilises the car more efficiently. Carpooling does not offer the same availability and flexibility as the other services mentioned here, but it can be the most cost-effective option. Many carpooling offers are journeys between two cities.
When and for whom is carpooling suitable?
Carpooling is currently particularly popular for long-distance journeys between major cities, as it is a cost-effective alternative to travelling by train or plane. Carpooling is particularly interesting for routes without suitable public transport connections at the start or destination. However, it is usually difficult to use these journeys at short notice, so they require more planning and flexibility. Many offers are regular journeys for commuters or people who live in another city during the week and travel home at the weekend.
Ridesharing is an umbrella term for the shared use of a vehicle to transport people from one place to another. Ridesharing therefore includes both classic carpooling (see above) and ridepooling (see below), in which a vehicle is used by several passengers who are travelling independently of each other but have a similar destination or need to go in the same direction.
When and for whom is ridesharing suitable?
The aim of ridesharing is to achieve a higher utilisation of the vehicles and thus reduce the traffic load and emissions. Depending on the service, it can also be a faster, easier and cheaper alternative to travelling by public transport or supplement local public transport in regions where public transport with a frequent timetable is not worthwhile.
Ridehailing literally means "hailing a ride" and therefore refers to taxi-type journeys that are booked by the user via an app. Commercial ridehailing platforms connect the passenger with a nearby driver. The journey goes directly from the pick-up point to the desired destination. There are no detours and the journey is not shared with other passengers. Ridehailing service providers want to offer users a private, convenient and often cheaper alternative to conventional taxis.
When and for whom is ridehailing suitable?
Ridehailing is particularly suitable for short-term and targeted journeys, for example in the evening after a visit to a restaurant or for quick transport to the airport. This is because, unlike driving your own car, ridehailing does not require you to look for a parking space and takes you directly to your destination. This makes the service particularly attractive for people in large cities who do not own a car and occasionally need a quick, direct journey. Last but not least, ridehailing is mainly used for short journeys. Over longer distances, the service can quickly become very expensive.
On the other hand, as ridehailing is charged per journey and not per passenger, it is particularly suitable for group journeys. Providers generally also offer journeys with larger vehicles, making ridehailing suitable for larger small groups.
Ridehailing is also suitable for business travellers or visitors to a foreign city, because on the one hand you can find your way around the foreign city faster by booking via app than you can with a taxi, and on the other hand you are shown the fare directly when booking, which makes it easier to adjust to the costs.
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While ridehailing involves one passenger (or a group of passengers) travelling alone, ridepooling involves several people booking the same vehicle independently of each other via an app and sharing part of the journey. Ridepooling services are also known as on-demand shuttles, as they are basically local public transport but are used "on demand". Although the individual passengers have different starting and destination points, the intelligent algorithms used to plan the journeys ensure that an efficient route is created and that the route adapts dynamically to the needs of the passengers, thus guaranteeing fast and comfortable transport.
The bundled journey reduces the costs for individual passengers, which means that ridepooling journeys are generally cheaper than journeys via ridehailing. However, this also requires a certain degree of flexibility on the part of passengers with regard to departure times and route planning. Compared to taxis or ridehailing, fewer vehicles are required, which reduces both traffic and environmental impact.
When and for whom is ridepooling suitable?
Like ridehailing, ridepooling is suitable for spontaneous journeys during leisure time or commuter journeys. The advantage over ridehailing is that the fare is usually cheaper and that ridepooling reduces traffic on the route by bundling journeys. However, this also means that passengers may have to allow a little more time, as there may be small detours to pick up or drop off other passengers. Similar to ridehailing, distance is not the main factor in ridepooling, but rather the convenience of transfer-free transport.
To date, ridepooling services have mainly been available in urban areas. For these services to be profitable, a high demand and supply density is required. This is often a challenge in rural areas, where demand is usually lower. This leads to more empty journeys and a lower ratio between passenger and transport kilometres. This makes ridepooling less efficient.
The new forms of mobility - car sharing, ridehailing, ridepooling, ridesharing and carpooling - are very similar in terms of language, but they differ in terms of utilisation, costs, flexibility and sustainability. It is therefore worth knowing and understanding these differences so that you can weigh up which option best suits your needs. Nevertheless, these various new forms of mobility have one thing in common: they all manage mobility and transport in line with demand and therefore more efficiently than other forms of mobility. They therefore make a sustainable contribution to the mobility transition.
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