Servicing the needs of major inner-urban trip generators

RP2021e: greening inner-urban travel with sharing economy mobility services
Transport Ride sharing services Bike-share systems sharing economy Public transport Adelaide

This report explores the role of commercial shared mobility services in supporting the needs of major trip generators, using the inner urban Adelaide as a case study. The commercial shared mobility services covered in this report are characterised by carshare (such as GoGet), rideshare (UBER), bicycle share (dockless within the context of Adelaide provided by OfO and OBike) and shared e-scooters (such as provided by Lime, Beam and Ride). Major trip generators described in this report are characterised by festivals, sporting events or public facilities (such as hospitals, universities and transport interchanges) that attract relatively high numbers of participants and workers.

During the preparation of this report, shared mobility services underwent cataclysmic upheaval in late 2018, with the effective collapse of the dockless share bike business model locally and the withdrawal of dockless bikeshare systems in many cities internationally. However, car share and ride share schemes continue, and dockless share micro-mobility options continue in Adelaide in the form of e-scooters (currently provided by Beam and Ride).

During the research phase of this project, OfO had just commenced trial operations of a dockless share bike scheme in Adelaide in 2017, but a year later had effectively ceased to operate as a business locally, and exited in controversial circumstances in Australian cities with dockless bikeshare being discredited because of the clutter they created in city streets. When the travel behaviour survey of over 400 participants for this study was conducted in early 2018, it was within the context of dockless bikeshare just having been introduced in Adelaide, with bright prospects for universal uptake across metropolitan Adelaide and as an enduring ‘active transport’ micro-mobility option, particularly suited to short urban trips and solving the ‘first mile-last mile’ conundrum of urban travel. Hence, interpretation of the survey results needs to be viewed within the context of shared mobility being seen as a viable transport choice.

This project focused on the role of major trip generators in supporting shared mobility services and vice versa, because successful transport services are most viable where there are large numbers of trips generated. For the sake of simplicity in the research design, the choice of major trip generators (and conversely, trip attractors), was determined by areas of the City of Adelaide that create the largest flows of participants (specifically Rundle Mall, Adelaide Oval, the Royal Adelaide Hospital, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide Central Railway Station and the Adelaide Central Markets) rather than districts or zones of high density commercial and residential developments. It should also be noted that at the time the survey was conducted, the North Terrace tram extension was not yet complete and its opening was delayed by more than 6 months into 2018 which may have influenced survey respondents’ perceptions regarding public transport accessibility to and from the University of Adelaide. The remainder of this Executive Summary describes the content of the 5 Chapters contained within the report.

Chapter 1 provides a rationale for the choice of Adelaide as a case study for investigating shared mobility, reviewing the policy environment, its socio-economic background and contemporary travel behaviour. The inner suburban areas of Adelaide and its CBD are shown to present a jurisdiction with considerable potential for innovative shared micro-mobility solutions to succeed because of its concentrated dense population within a compact CBD, its younger and well educated demographic, its wealth, its abundance of amenity of metropolitan-wide significance, the concentration of varied employment opportunities, and its high density of public transport provisioning.

Chapter 2 provides a comprehensive literature review covering the concept of shared mobility in urban settings, the evolution of bike share systems, car and ride share systems, the emergence of autonomous vehicles and electric cars, culminating in discourse on modal shift towards sharing mobility services.

Chapter 3 provides an overview and comparison of international and local data on the rapidly emerging phenomenon of sharing-mobility. Bike-sharing and other forms of mobility sharing are not a particularly new phenomenon, however, what is new is the incredible computing processing power, high data handling capacity and the geo-positioning capability afforded by today’s smart devices (such as smart phones), which has enabled complicated customised apps with powerful ‘on the fly’ processing power that can manage commercial transactions in real-time.

Chapter 3 also provides an international perspective of the rise and rise of the bike-share phenomenon and provides international case studies of bike share, such as London’s ‘Cycle Hire’, Chicago’s ‘Divvy’ and Budapest’s MOL Bubi. Bikeshare is a global phenomenon, however, 2019 has proven to be a watershed year for shared micro-mobility with many dockless bikeshare companies withdrawing from many cities both in Australia and internationally or switching their business focus to micro e-mobility services, predominantly in the form of e-scooters, and in some cases e-bikes. The dockless bike share phenomenon survives in Sydney (Mobike and Lime e-bikes), but it is a shadow of its former self when it was launched with much fanfare in 2017. The failure of dockless share bike schemes may be due to problems with the business model, however, vandalism in all of the Australian city markets and community hostility to the random parking of share bikes created a challenging operation environment. It is probably too early to say whether the bikeshare phenomenon can survive in the longer term or whether micro e-mobility in the form of e-scooters and e-bikes (which are much more easily controlled by the share mobility operator), will be the way forward for dockless share micro-mobility in Australian cities. Chapter 3 provides an overview of the types of users and usage patterns for dockless share bikes based on international experience. Chapter 3 then concludes with an overview of carshare and its current state of operation in Adelaide. Service provider GoGet’s penetration and acceptance in the Adelaide market is relatively limited compared to what has been achieved in Sydney and Melbourne. However, with the legalisation of UBERX in the Adelaide market, ride share has achieved significant success to the extent that it is challenging aspects of the local taxi industry.

Chapter 4 examines six major trip generators within the Adelaide Central Business District in the context of shared mobility services: Adelaide’s Rundle Mall; Adelaide’s Central Market; Adelaide Oval; the new Royal Adelaide Hospital; the Adelaide Railway Station; and the University of Adelaide. The analysis undertaken includes: a network analysis (employing Hillier’s space-syntax analysis); a pedshed analysis; a participant questionnaire survey; a survey of potential users’ visitations to these major trip generators, their origins, travel behaviours, travel attitudes and travel preferences; a survey of Bikeshare System (BSS) users; and a survey of carshare users exploring current attitudes to carshare, preferences and interest in shifting to carshare away from private car usage.

Chapter 5, the final chapter in this report, presents the discussion and conclusion. The key challenge for dockless bikeshare services in Adelaide is that it did not appear to achieve any greater community acceptance as a modal choice than was the case for conventional commuter cycling (at around 2 percent) (ABS, 2017). The collapse of dockless bikeshare services suggests that the brief experiment in Adelaide has at the very least been a commercial failure, and to a lesser extent a transport failure. The current trial of e-scooters which is proposed to end in October 2019, may present a more popular and commercially successful pathway for micro-mobility services going into the future, and based on international experience with micro e-mobility this mode appears to have a better chance of achieving success than was the case for dockless bikeshare schemes. The Chapter presents findings for carshare and rideshare schemes, which suggests that UBER is succeeding, however, Adelaide’s low density urban environment and plentiful parking has yet to present a convincing case for GoGet to provide a substantial share of mobility needs. This may change as residential development in Adelaide’s CBD becomes denser and parking becomes scarcer and more expensive. The Chapter concludes with discussion on the likely policy implications, particularly with regard to planning changes, infrastructure improvements and facilitating modal shifts to more environmentally sustainable travel modes.

By itself, shared mobility in the context of Australian cities may not attract sufficient market share to provide significant carbon emissions reduction, however, when combined with medium to long term changes in urban form (particularly the creation of transit oriented developments), shared mobility in denser, space constrained cities may begin to make a lot of sense as an efficient, practical and affordable way to satisfy mobility needs for major trip generators.

Publication Details
Publication place:
Sydney, Australia
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