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Accelerating and Democratizing Carsharing: The Role of Public Administration

In this article, we explore the crucial role that public administration can play in accelerating and democratizing carsharing, drawing on concrete measures and relevant examples. This article is inspired by one of the themes discussed at the second edition of the
National Carsharing Day, March 27, 2024
in which Openfleet took part.

The testimonies heard at the event showed just how effective carsharing is as a sustainable urban mobility solution for reducing urban congestion, carbon emissions and the costs associated with individual transport. However, despite its many advantages, its expansion is not reaching its full potential in many regions, and France is still lagging behind other countries such as Germany. What are the possible courses of action and improvements?

Facilitating car-sharing licensing and regulation

To encourage the growth of carsharing, the authorities need to simplify administrative procedures and regulations for service operators. In France, various measures have been taken in this directionThis will be particularly important with the enactment of the Mobility Orientation Act (LOM) at the end of 2019. This legislation aims to facilitate operators’ access to urban areas and standardize rules across the country, thus promoting the harmonious expansion of carsharing. The French Transport Code, as amended by the LOM, gives mobility organizing authorities (AOMs) the power to regulate carsharing on their territory. These authorities can award a car-sharing label to vehicles that meet predefined criteria, including environmental aspects and service standards such as reservation systems and vehicle maintenance. This label enables the vehicles concerned to benefit from reserved parking spaces, facilitating their use in urban areas.

Promoting car-sharing infrastructure

Investing in dedicated infrastructure is another essential measure to support carsharing. Concrete examples in France include the cities of Paris and Lyon, which have set up parking zones reserved for shared vehicles. These initiatives are supported by subsidy programs and public funding to encourage operators to invest in clean vehicle fleets and provide quality services to users.

Financial Support and Incentives

Financial support and tax incentives play a crucial role in the growth of carsharing. In France, measures such as the ecological bonus and superbonus for electric vehicles also benefit car-sharing operators who choose clean vehicles for their fleets.

Leading by example

Local authorities can encourage the further development of carsharing by setting an example themselves – either by integrating carsharing into their own organization, or by offering a service to the general public.

Take the example of the Lyon metropolitan area, which has launched its own car-sharing service for the general public. The aim is to have 1,000 vehicles in 2026, all with a Crit’Air 1 or 0 rating, and up to 3,400 in 2030. The service will target less densely populated areas of the metropolitan area, where private initiatives are hampered by lack of profitability.

communities have adopted car-sharing
as a solution for their employees’ business travel. This is the case, for example, with Calvados Department. By offering carsharing in a professional context, local authorities are helping to raise awareness of carsharing in all its forms, and of the benefits of this mobility practice.

Car-sharing education and awareness-raising

Raising public awareness is key to democratizing carsharing. In France, campaigns such as

Defi j’y vais!

were launched to inform citizens about the advantages of soft mobility – including car-sharing – in terms of cost, convenience and environmental impact.

The “J’y vais!” challenge, for example, is designed to raise awareness of the environmental impact of transport in eastern France, and to encourage people to adopt more sustainable modes of transport. Transport is responsible for a significant proportion of France’s greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.

By encouraging students and employees to choose alternative modes of transport such as walking, cycling, taking the train, bus or carpooling, the “I’m going!” Challenge aims to reduce the carbon footprint associated with daily travel.

By encouraging participants to try out new ways of getting around for three weeks, the challenge also aims to promote more sustainable travel habits in the long term. Indeed, once people have had a chance to try out these modes of transport and see their benefits in terms of health, cost and environmental impact, they are more likely to incorporate them into their daily lives even after the challenge is over.

The 2024 Olympic Games could also provide an opportunity for carsharing campaigns and incentives, with 5 million users expected over this period not counting the tourists who will be visiting.

Encouraging Public-Private Partnerships

Public-private partnerships play a crucial role in the development of carsharing. In France. These partnerships can also help integrate carsharing into existing public transport systems, offering citizens a full range of mobility options.

Governments and carsharing service providers share a common goal: to make cities more livable through sustainable mobility. This objective calls for close collaboration between the two parties. It is also crucial that carsharing providers are seen as partners of municipalities and local authorities.

A case in point is Madrid, Spain. Residents are now encouraged to participate in car-sharing programs rather than owning their own car, thus promoting more environmentally-friendly mobility. As a result, every Madrid resident who gets rid of his or her old car (over 10 years old) receives a bonus of over €1,000, specifically earmarked for the use of car-sharing services over the following two years. Madrid has set up parking spaces dedicated to free-floating car-sharing in strategic locations around the city. This measure aims to promote multimodal mobility, which is particularly beneficial for people living on the outskirts of Madrid. At the same time, market players have undertaken to supplement this incentive with special offers tailored to their needs. By recognizing the environmental benefits of carsharing, this government initiative sends a clear message: the need to reduce the number of vehicles on the road to improve the quality of life of city dwellers.

In conclusion, public administration plays a central role in the acceleration and democratization of carsharing in France. By simplifying regulations, investing in suitable infrastructure, offering financial incentives, raising public awareness and encouraging public-private partnerships, authorities can help make carsharing a more widespread and accessible practice for all, to the benefit of the environment, the economy and society as a whole. We also remind you that in November 2021, the Association des Acteurs de l’autopartage published a
a guide for local authorities wishing to develop carsharing on their territory