This session addressed the challenges and opportunities that the sharing economy creates for society. Sharing transport is disrupting traditional business models – including transport. Its fast growth is rooted in three things: an ability to leverage spare capacity and expand systems without large investment requirements, the exponential effect of collaborative experimentation and learning, and the ubiquitous nature of distributed capacity. The coordination in real time of all these elements has been enabled by the rapid expansion of mobile internet technology.
The presence of spare capacity is a reality in the transport sector. A typical car lies unused for approximately 23 hours a day. This represents a tremendous investment in overcapacity – both for car owners and for the public authorities that provide and maintain public infrastructure. Over-capacity is not confined to cars – there are many other private goods that remain unused most of the time; second homes, office space, Wi-Fi bandwidth, etc. This unused potential is at the heart of the emerging “sharing economy” which uses network technologies to enable individuals or companies to monetise the spare capacity inherent in many material goods.
The transport market has seen the emergence of new types of services that complement those of today and offer new ways to tackle the externalities of growing urban populations. All players in the system may need to adjust to provide citizens affordable mobility. With around 2 million users worldwide, car and ride-sharing are still marginal but the arrival of major car manufacturers in the market and the rapid growth of new service providers signals the growing importance of these services. The influx of new, well-capitalised entrants, may signal a fundamental change in the mobility ecosystem.
While sharing improves resource allocation and meets consumer demand, it also raises questions about service standards, risk allocation and the regulatory framework in general. Many institutions and incumbent urban transport providers stress that all players in the system should comply with existing regulation, intended to protect customers and society. Legislation may need to be improved to meet the new challenges and societal changes but incumbents maintain it should not be circumvented.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs in the sharing economy state that society evolves at a speed that regulation is not able to meet. This can be asignificant obstacle to innovation, to which existing legislation is oblivious. An intense dialog between stakeholders and regulators is going to be required to resolve all the issues raised in relatin to the sustainability of the transport sector, efficiency, equity of access and ensuring the protection of customer privacy and safety.
"Uber and other services like Zipcar and Blablacar are part of a new mobility ecosystem" David Plouffe
"Cars are today one of the least used assets in our society, being averagely used 50 minutes per day. A huge CO2 reduction might be obtained from a wiser and more efficient use of these resources" David Plouffe
"Everyone must follow the rules. We may need to discuss them, but we have to respect them first" de Pretto
"The shared economy is based on three miracles: the ability to leverage spare capacity, the exponential effect of shared learning and the omnipresence of resources" Robin Chase
"The Blablacar system has saved about 1 million tons of CO2 emissions in two years" Frédéric Mazzella