“I need a ride and not a car”

How the sharing economy reshapes urban mobility.

The sharing economy has rapidly gained in importance over the last few years, affecting traditional market sectors including mobility and logistics, retail and consumer merchandise, tourism and leisure. SocialCar, a European research project funded by Horizon 2020, pursues the mission to kick-start business models in the passengers’ mobility sector capitalising on the sharing economy. The project develops a user-oriented platform for planning, booking and integrat­ed payment combining carpooling and other on-demand services with regular collective transport, in an effort to mainstream the concept of a public-private co-modal urban transport. Business analysts devise concepts for viable and bankable service models, which can ripple out across Europe.


SocialCar brought together a number of sharing economy practitioners and theorists in an open debate that took place in Brussels on 22nd November involving also representatives of the EU Commission. The experts identified three fields which require further attention when shaping the future of the shared mobility paradigm: the empowerment of small and medium-sized businesses, user-centred innovation and the need for data sharing.

Mobility is not a market privilege but the right of citizens. This is the axiom advocated by carpooling operators such as the Belgian Mpact and UK’s Liftshare. Yet, a number of small-scale operations across Europe acquiesce in the market dominance of big multinational players. The lack of a clear regulatory framework adds additional uncertainty. With the business and investment advice for start-ups and SMEs, SocialCar seeks to prepare the local business climate for the paradigm shift in urban mobility.

The user experience becomes a market driver as Barbara Covili of MyTaxi explains. With 10 million users and 45.000 taxis, the taxi app has been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds thanks to its user-centred features such as driver rating.

Reshaping cities based on openness, collaboration and sharing – this is the mission of QuiShare, a global network of entrepreneurs and social innovators, non-profit and business leaders, grassroots activists and public officials. The access to information is the backbone of the sharing economy. Sharing data, however, is a sensitive issue for many, projecting concerns over privacy, market competition, safety and security over all types of data. With no clear regulatory framework, a number of local players remain reluctant to share their data, leaving more room for maneuver for the big multinationals and less space for co-shaping, co-ownership and collaborative living. “Passengers know more than planners”, was the recent verdict of millennials assessing mobility patterns in Brussels. With such messages in mind, OuiShare and SocialCar seek to unlock access to non-sensitive data benefitting the grassroots efforts to reshape urban mobility for the better.