Citizens' inclusive and accessible urban mobility solutions
How to overcome difficulties of accessing digital mobility services for people with low incomes: the case of Eindhoven.
The UMCASE project aims to shift the attention of policy-makers and mobility experts to those who often don’t have a voice, providing cities a method to improve their transport solutions and tailoring them to individual needs.
The project partners reached out to people with a low income in Eindhoven, Netherlands. This group encompasses people who may have difficulties accessing digital (mobility) services due to low income. Similarly, to older people (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain), we cannot necessarily attribute a number to this group when defining what is low income. This can vary greatly from EU member states and even from region to region.
Like its Spanish counterpart two workshops were hosted in Eindhoven as part of the UMCASE research. This time however, two elements differed: firstly, the target group consisted of people with a relative low income and secondly it was recommended to host a different kind of workshop, deviating from the traditional approach of inviting people to classroom and going about the subjects as their attendance would probably be very low. Thus, the actual workshop was done outdoors (non-traditional) as the researchers deemed this type of execution more suitable in order of attracting people rather than mobilizing them in a conference hall. Moreover, this would give the attendees the possibility to witness, experience and get in ‘touch’ with the various modes of transportation they could be using in the near future. This creates a tangible aspect of smart mobility and may ease potential users as the vehicles seen are familiarized. Multiple sessions were conducted simultaneously, and the approach was repeated with small groups of attendees, focusing on the shared mobility they preferred.
The results of the workshop were presented through four user cases: applying for a ride (signing up), shared service, neighborhood hub locations and price transparency. Below are the results and some recommendations:
- Firstly, applying for a shared service was considered by some to be a hassle: partly due to difficult instructions or procedures, partly due to inhabitants not possessing the right documentations; for some services a credit card is required, something low-income class people do not usually have or a specific kind of ID card, which refugees do not possess either. Suggestions to tackle these issues were to provide user instructions, educate certain residents in the neighborhood so that they can aid and assist others, and finally the applicability of various ID types.
- Secondly, the shared services in general were considered not a priority to the designated target group: they prefer cycling or walking. This has to do with the fear for unknown (new) technology on one side and on the other side the financial impact; what is this service going to cost me? Once the choice has been made to make use of shared mobility, the demand for cars is mainly based upon day trips, transportation of (large) goods or commuting with several people. The current vehicles offered are usually tiny city cars with limited interior space, hence many people still rent a car at an external rental company. A problem encountered with shared bikes is that people are tempted to use them, yet the current use area is limited, while many people have a hesitant attitude towards scooters. Suggestions to counter these issues were to enlarge the car varieties (larger vehicles) and the enlargement of use areas for bikes and scooters.
- Thirdly, the issue of randomly parked vehicles was prevalent: many people have already encountered scooters and bicycles lingering about playgrounds, on sidewalks and other inappropriate places. The need for a local (neighborhood) hub to ensure correct use of public spaces and parking spots was suggested. A resident even offered to act as vocal point (SPOC) for service providers and neighbors. Hence, the neighborhood hub was suggested as solution.
- Lastly, the residents found shared mobility to be expensive and were disappointed by the lack of financial information; prices, promotions and especially the financial benefits compared to their own modes of transportation are not clear. By offering a tool for pricing that also includes the individual’s situation (budgetary or other), offering real discounts that last (not only a couple of free minutes to ride) and demonstrations on (financial) benefits many people could be tempted to make more use of share mobility.