14th to 18th March 2018, Rennes (France) hosted the first edition of the InOut Summit on Digital Mobility. This was the first of a serie of 3 conferences, to be replicated in 2019 and 2020, with the objective of reflecting upon the opportunities offered by Digitilization in the mobility sector. Rennes has been chosen as a pilot city in France to carry experimentations and foster innovation. In parallel, Rennes is also carrying out ambitious urban mobility projects, such has the development of a second metro line (to be commissioned in 2020), the test of 2 electric buses (BlueBus), the deisgn of a multimodal hub around the central railway station (with a fantastic architecture), and the development of a multimodal mobile app integrating public services.
The forum was organized around 3 days [IN], with conferences and round tables dedicated to professionals, and 2 days [OUT], wherein citizens could come and experiment new mobility solutions in real, all around the city. In total, the forum gathered around 900 participants, with 20 start-ups in the exhibition area.
CODATU was being invited by Rennes Metropolis (new member of CODATU) and participated along with Keolis Rennes and La fabrique des Mobilites. We are gathering here below the main themes and debates which happened during InOut and which drew CODATU’s attention:
Car-pooling as a remedy to single-person car driving?
This topic has been extensively discussed during the conference. Today, 90% of the home-to-work trips are made by car (partially because of an unsufficient offer of local trains toward the city-centre) and car-pooling represents an average of 4% of trips (except on itineraries with tolls). Klaxit (previously called WayzUp) developped a mobile application dedicated to daily-commute car-pooling, for which users are the most demanding, as they expect a door-to-door service, at specific times. That is why Klaxit has built more than 100 partnerships with companies to develop a reliable intra-company car-pooling community. And to improve the guarantees of for the passengers, Klaxit has signed a partnership with the insurance company “Maif” to be able to indemnify the user in case of no-show of the driver. Ultimatelty, car-pooling would be a very practicle solution to under-utilized suburban bus lines which are not profitable, and which pollute more cars when they travel empty. Car-pooling also reduces the demand in terms of parking space.
Ultimately, the objective is to improve the conditions for car-pooling users, such has introducing priority lanes at tolls. That is also the objective of the “mobility account” (similar to the french Vitale card for social security) which would gather all the information related to the user’s trips, and would reward car-pooling, car-sharing or public transport users. This initiative is currently being tested in Mulhouse (France).
All this questions the “start-up” approach, which is increasing in a context of reduction of public ressources. Apart from few isolated cases where start-up are being funded by a public entity (such as RATP and Klaxit), this proliferation of start-up created a sprinkling effect and a inequal allowance of public money; not mentioning the hi-jacking of value in the case of platforms located abroad.
Public bike-sharing system vs. Free-floating bicycles
This topic was discussed in a session chaired by Stephane Schultz, founder of “15 marches”, in which several speakers participated: Mr. Jean-Jacques Bernard, Deputy Vice-President in charge of mobility in Rennes Metropolis, Mr. Laurent Kennel, Director of Ofo company (born in Beijing) and Laurent Mercat, President of Smoove (company specialized in bike-sharing systems and world leader electrically assisted bicycles.
Jean-Jacques Bernard started with the history of bike-sharing in Rennes, which started in 1998 with a ClearChannel system, and got replaced in 2009 by the Star cycle, operated by Keolis. This year, Rennes Metropolis starts a new public service delegation, which integrates electrically assisted bicycles. Electrically assisted bicycles is a great alternative for citizens leaving in suburban areas. However, the new tender does not include the free-floating model, as the tender documents were prepared before it reached the french market. Mr. Bernard also mentioned (i) the robustness of traditional bike-sharing systems, as compared to the cycles in free-floating, and (ii) the important role that the local authority shall play to regulate those new forms of mobility, to ensure that they do not encroach the public space.
Then, Laurent Kennel explained its vision of free-floating bicycles, which he considers as complementary to the existing public bike-sharing systems, offering more flexibility to the users. Ofo company is profitable in Asia, and shall reach an global equilibrium by the end of 2018. He explains the success of Ofo by the absence of infrastructures, the robustness of the cycles (reducing the need of maintenance) and the smart usage of data to understand the mobility patterns and plan the service accordingly.
Electric bus, biogas and hydrogen: the future of urban mobility?
In the sector of electric buses, there is today an hegemony of chinese manufacturers. As a reaction, the European Union is trying to protect and favor the european battery manhufacturers, through a so-called “Airbus of batteries”. 120 000 electric buses were sold untill today in the world. Rennes has chosen the BlueBus technology (Bolloré group), manufactured in Quimper (France), for the lines 6 and 12, with a target of 100% of electric urban lines by 2035. Regarding Hydrogen, it is still at an early stage, but it starts speading in northern europe. In Paris, Hype operates hydrogen-driven taxis since 2015, with a target of 600 vehicles by 2020.
One of the speakers shared an interesting perspective on the risk represented by electric vehicles, considering that drivers would feel legitimate and proud to drive a clean-vehicle, which may increase the number of private vehicles on the road, at the expense of Public Transport. That is where the public authority has to play a crucial role, in regulating the use of private cars in urban areas, through tolls, congestion charging, and incentivizing car-pooling.
Possibilities offered by MaaS (Mobility as a Service)
The concept of MaaS is an integration of various modes of transport services (public or private) into a single mobility service. The objective is to offer to the user a wide range of solutions from public to private transport, so that he can select the best option for himself, and consider options like car-pooling. A mobile app associted to the system would calculate the cost associated to each mobility solution, and would include the overall cost of a car trip (fuel, insurance, wear, parking fees…). Google, Uber, Citymapper are currently fighting to be the only provider of such solution, to the discontent of Public Transport Authorities and local authorities, which are simultaneously trying to develop local solutions, which are more reliable but do not integrate data from various networks. The solution might reside in the collaboration of the mobility giants with local authorities, to share data and reinstaure a notion of general interest.
Moreover, the challenge of MaaS is to succeed in in making it inclusive and accessible to all strata of the population, and avoid a system reserved for the connected section of the society.
Driver-less card : for whom? for where? for when?
Autonomous cars have been at the heart of the discussions during InOut2018, which various sessions about advantages, technological progress and application to Public Transport, and the importance of using it as a tool to improve trafic conditions through a shared mobility. Adding more cars into the existing trafic, be it autonomous and connected, will not solve our mobility issues. One speaker mentioned the opportunity of autononous taxis to replace under-utilized and non-profitable suburban bus lines, or to develop further the car-sharing network. This would help in reducing parking spaces.
The last day plenary session dealt with ethical and philosophical questions on Artificial intelligence and solftware which spy on the user (as opposed to Open Source software). The two speeches of Laurence Devillers (Pairs-Sorbonne University) and Richard Stallman (Open Source activist) were very noticed. With the same philosophie, and as part of a CampOSV project, the Fabrique des Mobilites and its partners conducted a 3-day hackathon on Open Source Vehicle, or how to take back control of the technology.
Rendez-vous in 2019 for the next edition!