Shared mobility rebooted

Explore • Pulse #6 • 5 min

We’ve seen a radical shift in travel habits in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown that ensued. Cities around the world have been exploring new avenues in response to stricter hygiene requirements and the need to rebuild passenger confidence. Here’s a look at five inspiring trends that have shaped up.

1. A helping hand

Transport networks of every type and size pulled out all the stops to lend a helping hand to key workers and vulnerable members of the community, adding a new dimension to the public service they provide.

“Society of care”:
an idea that emerged in the United States in the 1980s to promote mutual aid and caring for others – values rekindled by the pandemic.
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Get up and walk!

8 min

  United States

Bike-share operator Lyft offered free and discounted passes in New York City, Boston and Chicago for frontline workers.


Under the impetus of critical care doctors, medically equipped TGV high-speed trains transferred more than 200 Covid-19 patients in March and April.

  South Africa

After criss-crossing the country for the past 25 years to bring primary health services to remote rural communities, the Phelophepa trains have been re-purposed as part of South Africa’s fight against the coronavirus. The so-called “trains of hope” are now dedicated to Covid-19 screening, testing and awareness.

At the height of the outbreak, critical care doctors in the Pays-de-la-Loire region (west of France) came up with the idea of equipping highspeed trains to transport patients critically ill with the coronavirus from Paris to cities in that region with more capacity. The idea was rapidly approved by all parties and implemented in March and April.

  United States

In a suburb of Los Angeles, Keolis bus drivers delivered food parcels every day to people who couldn’t leave home to go shopping.


STM converted six buses into mobile walk-in screening facilities in May for deployment around the city, which was hit hard by the virus. Stopped after the first wave of Covid-19, the service may be restarted if necessary.

this is the hashtag launched by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) to spotlight initiatives taken by the sector during the crisis.

2. Sobriety

The pandemic and ensuing lockdown have changed people’s way of life and their aspirations for the future. Cities, businesses and networks have pulled together to alleviate urban saturation and manage changes in flows.

“Before lockdown, all-out mobility was the watchword. [...] We must now rethink the city as the focus shifts to all-out local [...]. The future lies in sensible, sustainable urban ecosystems that prioritise quality of life and housing diversity.” Emmanuel Grégoire, First Deputy Mayor of the City of Paris, IUTP webinar


53% of people in France are in favour of transport rationing to help tackle the climate crisis.
Source: Obsoco/Forum Vies Mobiles survey, April 2020.
Source: Forum Vies Mobiles study, 1,500 people, April 2020.

18% of people in France who’d planned to buy a new car before lockdown now say they’re less likely to.
Source : Ipsos study – “Impact of Covid-19 on the automotive industry”, May 2020.


“Since lockdown measures were eased on 11 May, it’s not the morning rush hour that’s the busiest but the evening peak. Calls for people to work from home and the introduction of staggered work patterns have clearly been effective.” Pascal Jacquesson, Managing Director, Keolis Lyon, Lyon Capital, 5 June 2020
“Instead of defining cities in terms of mobility, a more effective approach is to ask what type of mobility is actually required to develop the communities we want to live in.” Bruno Marzloff, sociologist, Décideurs magazine, June 2020.


“No restrictions on operating hours will be imposed on retailers who see peaks in customer numbers at certain times of the day.” Virginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome, on the topic of changes to shop opening hours, which were in place until 30 June 2020.

3. Technology

In a frenzy to safeguard passengers, public transport operators have rolled out a host of innovative, tech-driven hygiene, health and safety solutions. Spawned by the coronavirus crisis, many of these best practices are likely to be retained in the future.

  Hong kong

To avoid exposing cleaning staff to the virus, ‘vaporised hydrogen peroxide’ robots have been deployed to disinfect trains. It now takes just seven minutes to clean each carriage!


In June, Transport for Greater Manchester and Humanising Autonomy, a predictive AI startup, began analysing passenger behaviour on public transport to measure the effectiveness of physical distancing and improve passenger safety.


10 minutes is the time slot passengers had to book in advance online to be able to use the Beijing metro (system trialled at two stations in March).

  Paris region

STIVO: this is the text message passengers can send to the 93100 hotline to purchase a bus ticket in the Greater Paris region, helping reduce contact between drivers and passengers.

  New York City

To fight Covid-19, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority piloted new ­cleaning techniques based on anti­microbial biostats, innovative air ­filters, ultraviolet light and electrostatic sprays to disinfect its subway carriages.


Is a basic thermal camera the key to detecting people with Covid-19 symptoms? A full-scale trial was conducted at the Alexanderplatz station in the Berlin metro in March.

4. Frugal innovation

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. The transport sector has also been inspired by “common sense” innovation to improve passenger safety.


To avoid passengers having to touch door handles or buttons, all tram, train and bus doors in the TMB network open automatically at every stop.


Many taxis and ride-hailing operators have installed protective screens in their vehicles. CaoCao, a newcomer to the Paris ride-hailing market, has kept the original plexiglass dividers in its vehicles, which are all former London black cabs.

this Hindi word describes an improvised or makeshift solution using scarce resources. It reflects India’s ingenious and resilient approach to life, but it’s also a way of overcoming constraints through creative thinking – a concept increasingly being taken up by transport networks worldwide.
a visual technique to influence people’s behaviour. Many have been deployed since the onset of the crisis, such as floor markings in the Paris metro, similar to those used on motorways, to encourage passengers to take the safest route.


Since 10 May, bus and taxi lanes on the A1 and A6a motorways in the north and south of Paris can be used by people car sharing (with the passenger required to sit in the rear).

5. Cycling

Following the long lockdown period, people are continuing to work from home. City authorities and employers have put their heads together to help spread commuter peaks, while public transport operators are focusing on reducing network saturation.


80 km is the total length of pop-up cycle lanes created by the city. The emergency bike routes help curb congestion, ease the strain on public transport and allow people to commute while socially distancing.


(like the sound of the bicycle bell!) is how locals refer to Seoul Bike, the city’s bike-sharing system, which saw a 67% hike in usage in spring 2020 (compared with the same period the previous year).
“Corona-pistes” are pop-up cycle lanes introduced in cities around France in response to the Covid crisis. Some of them are set to become permanent fixtures.


Intelligence artificielle : comment réinventer la mobilité partagée ?

Artificial Intelligence : making shared mobility smarter

Booming computing power, big data and deep-learning technologies facilitate so much the development of Artificial Intelligence that we can expect to see a vastly different transportation landscape. The transformation will include driverless buses routinely shuttling people safely to their destinations and smart, sustainable vehicles performing tasks such as ploughing snow, collecting garbage or delivering food and mail. Here are a few of the ways in which AI will enrich our daily commuting lives.

Pulse #3
De la voiture individuelle à la mobilité partagée, redessiner le modèle de Los Angeles

From car dependency to shared mobility redefining Los Angeles

Los Angeles was designed around unfettered use of the car. Streets are congested. Air quality is poor for one quarter of the year. Traffic deaths are the number one cause of death for kids in Los Angeles. And for every new resident that moves to Los Angeles, they bring one car with them, which now means we have a city with four times the rate of vehicles than in the 1990s. If these trends continue, how can we expect our city to thrive? As the General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, these challenges fall squarely on my shoulders.

Pulse #3 4 min