Funding Mobility Management
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Dear reader,

Smartphones are conquering the hearts of the European citizens. More than half of mobile phones in the EU countries are smartphones and a stunning 75% of devices sold are smartphones (December 2012). These small devices can hold an entire life: our work, our play, our friends, our family,… and our mobility. And as we grow accustomed to this pocket-size world of personalised information, we increasingly expect our travel options to show the same level of flexibility and comfort. Meanwhile, the average European spends almost seven hours a month on social media sites, creating a digital identity for themselves and sharing little pieces of their lives with others.

EPOMM is convinced that this mobile age presents golden opportunities for mobility management. In a recent German study (DE), three quarters of young adults said they would rather live without their cars than without their smartphones. Information technology and gamification of mobility management will be one of the lead themes of the ECOMM 2013. Consider this e-update as an appetizer.

Special thanks goes to the community on LinkedIn for providing their input for this issue.
And do feel free to tweet about this e-update if you like it… ;-)


Really real-time information


Imagine this: in Lyon, Julie is leaving with the high-speed train to go and live in Brussels for half a year. Her boyfriend Olivier has promised to meet her on the platform to say goodbye. Olivier checks the internet before leaving and sees that there is too much traffic to go by car. He takes the bus instead, but because of a blocked road, he doesn’t make it to the station in time and sees Julie’s train leave before his eyes…

If Olivier had a smartphone… he would have had 10 lovely minutes with his girl before she boarded the train, as you can see in this video.

Probably the single-most important asset of smartphones is their ability to make real-time information available at any time and any place during trips. In the Lyon agglomeration, public, private and academic stakeholders have joined forces in the Optimod’Lyon project. It aims to centralise all urban mobility data, including bike sharing, car sharing and car pooling, on a unique platform. The app predicts traffic over the next hour and guides the smartphone user through traffic, avoiding interruptions that come along the way. At ECOMM 2013, Bernhard Rüdiger from ivm in Germany will present a similar initiative for the Frankfurt region, called VIELMOBIL. These projects embody the seamless mobility vision expressed by the SYNAPTIC project in their S-MAP 2030.

Good apps start from real-life user needs: and in Rome. has a simple tick box where you can indicate in which of the three basic starting possibilities you are when planning a trip online: already on the way; at home or in the office and you want to leave in 5 minutes; or you want to look up an itinerary for later.


The perfect match between personal and public information


A smartphone is more than a carry-on internet reader. It has a built-in GPS and accelerometer; and it cleverly combines public and personal information. If information you need becomes available, it alerts you with a “push”-message that simply pops up. It knows your agenda and can wake you early when there was snow fall overnight (Winter Wake-up App). It can alert you when you need to leave early because of traffic or suggest to take the bus rather than cycle when it is going to rain (e.g. ALDO in France or FileAlarm in the Netherlands). Some of the best apps are extremely concise, intuitive and visual, like the Dutch mobile website Filewissel (Congestion Switch). It allows car drivers to check in a split second if current travel times by train are shorter than those by car. Quite the opposite, the Italian myCicero app (IT) goes for comprehensiveness. It combines real-time travel information with information on local events places of interest, municipal services and online shopping.

The built-in GPS is used by many apps to give location-relevant information. In the Netherlands the app Uitchecken (NL – “Checking out”) reminds bus and train users to check out their travel cards when they have reached their destination. Specialised cycling apps allow cyclists to find safe and comfortable cycling routes (e.g. Ride the City, BikeCityGuide), locate the nearest cycle hire point (e.g. Cycle Hire Widget) or station-less public bikes (e.g. Social Bicycles, Call a Bike) or shared cars (e.g. car2go), or show them how to fix their bikes in case of a break-down (e.g. Bike Doctor, Bike Repair HD). The VeloComputer app not only displays speed from the GPS, but when cyclists strap their phones on their thighs they get the cadence (pedalling rate) from the accelerometer.

And by 2014, one in five smartphones will have built-in Nearfield Communication (NFC) chips, enabling the user to unlock metro gates, public bikes or shared cars by simply holding the phone over a reader (e.g. autopartage@Toulouse).


From Facebook event to real-life event in one swipe

Source: PictureYouth / CC BY 2.0

Imagine this: Emma was invited to her friend Maria’s party, but then her driver, aka mum, says she needs the car to go somewhere else. Emma settles behind the desktop, as she has quite some work to do to solve this. She starts by typing in her home address and her friend’s address into the bus planner, as well as the address for the local shopping mall where she will buy a gift for Maria. She compares routes and ticket options and prints several back-up itineraries. She logs into Facebook to let Maria know that she will be somewhat later and tells her boyfriend Lucas, who was going to car-pool with her, which bus to take.She goes out to buy a 10-trip travel card in the local store. When Emma and Lucas finally get off the bus, they have a hard time figuring out which direction to go to reach Maria’s home.

If Emma had a smartphone, she would take care of all of this in five minutes from her lazy couch. And she would wonder how people ever got anywhere before the internet…(And the gift then? Well, you can’t do any harm with some iTunes credit.)

In Flanders (Belgium), Emma would use her Facebook account to login to, the bus route planner for youngsters. She would click the event her friend invited her to on Facebook and would plot a route without having to type a single address, as she has previously entered her home address as one of her favourite places and the route planner knows the address for the shopping mall. And with one click, she would share the route with her car-pool friend. Read this Eltis article for more details, or watch the promotional video (in Dutch).

In the Netherlands 9292-app journey planner. does even better as it allows to check the route on the go provides detailed walking instructions at the destination.

If she were living in the Rhine-Neckar region in Germany, she would not have had to figure out what the cheapest fare formula was. After registering on Touch&Travel, passengers of Deutsche Bahn simply swipe their smartphones at touch points to check in at their starting point and check out at their destination. The cheapest fare for their trip will be calculated automatically. Similarly, the Get Me To Class app for university students in Victoria, Australia, has pre-listed all university campuses and buildings and gives detailed public transport itineraries so students can always reach the right building in time for class.


Track and win – the gamification of mobility management


Many mobility management campaigns have been built around the logging of sustainable trips and calculating the environmental, financial and health impact of sustainable trips. As Marianne Weinreich from VEKSO will explain at the ECOMM 2013, self-tracking is a trend in the social media. “I just went on a 2.7 miles run with Nike” or “Was out cycling 12.5 km with Endomondo” are updates that you find regularly on Facebook and twitter. By giving users the feeling of leading an active and “good” life, and by inducing some friendly competition, self-tracking motivates people to move. Moreover, self-tracking provides a goldmine of information for companies or mobility planners in cities about their employees or citizens’ mobility behaviour.

Often, campaigns and apps add a contest-like feature to the self-tracking activity. This use of game dynamics in a non-game context in order to engage users, is called gamification. At the ECOMM 2013, several examples of such ‘gamificated’ self-tracking apps will be presented, for instance: ONtheMOVE (Marianne Weinreich, VEKSO), Commute greener (Henrik Willford, VOLVO) and From 5 to 4 (Sander Buningh, DTV Consultants). Other examples include Mission Atlantis (Belgium), Positive Drive (The Netherlands), BTrackB (Europe-wide) and BikeMyMoney (world-wide).

In the Netherlands, mobility management has not only focused on modal shift, but also on making car drivers avoid peak hours or telework. The app ‘Winnen van de file’ (Beating congestion) was launched to mitigate the impact of major road works. The app gives real-time traffic information and awards peak avoiders with points and prizes. The app also registers the actual travel times of participants, thus contributing to more reliable traffic information. Similarly, the tripzoom app developed by the European project SUNSET (watch the video) aimed to combine information, gamification and campaigning functions.


Tweet and share if you like us


Smartphones bring the social media to passengers’ pockets. The mobility management community is gradually discovering social media as low-cost and high-impact campaigning platforms. With a fun and visual message and the right communications strategy, your message can go “viral” as people share it with their friends. In Belgium, the viral campaign “Don’t choose auto-matically” reached 7,000 people on YouTube in half a year with a total budget of EUR 7,500, staff costs included. Another example is the introduction of art bikes into the bike sharing fleet in Valonia, Finland, where people were asked to report their experiences with the bikes on Facebook. But communication can go both ways. In the Netherlands, NLAgency (now Rijkswaterstaat) collected more than 300 ideas from an active community of travellers recruited through the social media. Find out more about the Belgian, Finnish and Dutch projects at the ECOMM 2013 (Elke Van Os, BE, Paula Väisänen, FI, and Rick Lindeman, NL).

For just EUR 250, Facebook ads doubled the number of participants in the Belgian My Short Trips campaign compared to the year before. Special Facebook apps can be designed to run within the Facebook platform, like recently the Do the Right Mix Facebook game. Of course there are other social media besides Facebook. Users of Foursquare, a social medium where members let their friends know where they are, can earn a Velocipede badge by checking in 10 times at a bike shop. An increasing number of transport operators use Twitter to keep their passengers updated on the status of services and to collect passenger feedback. Even “classical” websites take up features from the social media, as they allow users to create a personalised home page with so-called widgets, which are short-cuts to their favourite information, like arrival times for the nearest bus stop or a route planner to the railway station near their workplace (e.g. Scotty (NL) in Belgium or Traffikken in Aalborg, Denmark).


Find a ride, right now

Photo: courtesy of Kutsuplus

Imagine this: Finn carpools to work and home with a co-worker every day, but today he receives a phone call in the afternoon from his son’s school to let him know that his son is ill and he should come and fetch him. There is no regular bus service near the office, so he has no choice, but to wait another hour or hire an expensive taxi.

If Finn had a smartphone and lived in Helsinki, he could catch a mini-bus in five minutes at a very reasonable price.

The Kutsuplus demand-responsive service, which was piloted in Helsinki, calculates routes and fares in real-time based on last-minute requests (using Ajelo Ride). Where traditional on-demand services have a minimum of booking one hour in advance, for Kutsuplus this is the maximum. First tests seem to indicate that people start using their cars less thanks to this service. Indeed, Finn’s colleague’s car would have been no match for Kutsuplus’s vehicles with their large, fully padded seats, their laptop connectors and air conditioning...

Smartphones have also caused a boom in car-pool matching tools. They come with all kinds of creative features, such as profiles of drivers (e.g. are they talkative or not – see BlaBlaCar), back-up drivers in case someone cancels their offer (e.g. Wedrive), sharing of rides on Facebook (e.g. Toogethr), user ratings of drivers (e.g. Avego), or integration of public transport timetables. In Bergen, Norway, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration is is testing the development of a Public Ridesharing Portal that connects different ridesharing applications, along with real-time public transportation and taxi information. The taxi industry has so far been positive to bring their empty seats into the mix and allow the passengers to split the cost of the ride.

These apps have brought many people together and saved a lot of fuel and emissions, but we are yet to see the first car-pool service that succeeds in establishing the critical mass of users necessary for guaranteeing a ride for every trip, both planned and unplanned (last-minute). As long as users are not 100 percent sure the service is reliable, the potential will not be used. Recently, carpool stakeholders from all over Europe have initiated the CHUMS initiative to greatly improve the take-up and efficiency of car pooling as a main transport mode.


The challenge does not lie in technology

“Without having to” seems to be the key phrase of this e-update. Indeed, smartphones have a huge potential to take the hassle and uncertainties out of intermodal, car-independent travel. One obstacle are the different operating systems of different smartphones. Android and iPhone cover about 70%, to cover 97% of the smartphone users, five different app versions are needed. More and more cities leave the developing to the creative community of app-builders, by making real-time transport data publicly available for developers. See for instance the Open Data services in London or Rotterdam (NL).

As we have seen in this issue, amazing technology already exists today to turn car-free mobility into care-free mobility. Cities and public transport operators have started converting their static mobility information into real-time, dynamic and reliable information covering all available transport modes. It seems that the main challenge for mobility management will be to get people to keep pace with the innovation rollercoaster and embrace the new travel options that are now just one swipe away.


Upcoming events

  • ECOMM 2013 - the yearly European Conference on Mobility Management
    29. - 31. May 2013 in Gävle, Sweden
    Conference website:
    Registration page here
    Download programme here
  • 9th ITS European Congress
    4. - 7. June 2013 - Dublin, Ireland

For more events, please visit the EPOMM Calendar.

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