By George John
As Greece gradually recovers from almost a decade of economic turmoil, traffic conditions in Athens appear to be returning to pre-crisis levels. At the same time, the urban public transport system is facing significant challenges and the taxi market remains strictly regulated, contributing to the creation of privileged conditions for the use of cars. The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed in this direction, In this context, innovative mobility services could serve as an effective alternative to the widespread use of cars, combined with improving the efficiency of the urban public transport system.
The emergence of new mobility services, fueled by important technological developments in the field of data and communications, as well as the ever-expanding sharing economy, has created an unprecedented reality in the field of urban road transport. A wide range of mobility services are available to commuters worldwide, including route sharing / rental, vehicle sharing and custom travel scheduling, providing flexible, comfortable and affordable options, turning to a more multimodal model sharing mobility and less use of the car.
The Department of Transportation and Transportation Infrastructure of the School of Civil Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens recently completed a socio-economic analysis for the development of real-time route sharing services for Athens. In this context, the possible financial services and social development of the city, arising from the route sharing services, were investigated and analyzed.
For this purpose, a survey of declared preferences was carried out in order to capture the preferences of Athenians traveling in relation to the introduction of route apartment services in the city. Socio-economic analysis and impact analysis is defined as 2025 and 2030 and examines two scenarios: a full licensing scenario (Scenario A) and a partial licensing (Scenario B) for adequate route procedures in Athens. Scenario A assumes that route sharing services are provided by companies that rent private vehicles with drivers, while Scenario B assumes the licensing of self-employed professions that offer these services. Both scenarios assume that only electronic route rental is allowed.
The results of the research reveal that the Athenians, as they state, would use the sharing services if they were available in Athens. Also, the results of the impact analysis show that route sharing services could attract 603,000 to 729,000 daily users by 2025, with them leaving mainly cars (4.3% -5.3%) and much less MMM (2.2% -2.7%) and taxis (0.7% -8%). Interestingly, while taxis are a substitute for the operation of route-sharing services, they do not appear to be significantly affected, which is attributed to the decline in demand for taxi use in recent years, which has reached its lowest point.
Also, the introduction of apartment services can potentially yield an additional 17,700 full-time and 35,700 part-time jobs in the metropolitan area of Athens by 2025. The travel time savings range from 5.1% to 6.5% while in the Part-time Scenario licensing the user’s cost savings can be up to 7.4% compared to the existing conditions.
The socio-economic analysis for the full development of route sharing services in Athens, has a time horizon of 10 years. For each Scenario, the cost of investment and operating costs were estimated for drivers providing route sharing services, as well as the socio-economic measures of the route, operating costs of the vehicle, political safety and the environment.
The analysis showed that the introduction of route sharing services in Athens has a significant positive impact on social welfare. Especially in the case of the Partial Licensing Scenario, the provision of these services is extremely promising, as it shows a higher EIRR index of 24% and a positive net worth of € 370 million by 2030, proving the financial viability of route sharing services over time in Athena. Also, the adoption of a route sharing model in Athens can help reduce CO2 emissions by up to 121,500 tons and save 48 million liters of fuel in a decade.
In conclusion, the introduction of route sharing services in Athens, in a sufficiently regulated way, can contribute to social well-being to a significant extent while it can only to a small extent affect other substitute urban transport models. The findings of this analysis could be useful in further discussing the development of route sharing services in Athens and other cities in Greece, in the context of creating greener, safer and smarter cities.
* Mr. George Giannis is Professor of Transportation and Transportation Infrastructure at the School of Civil Engineering of the NTUA