Car sharing and carpooling are two of the most visible and rapidly evolving areas in the shift towards sustainable mobility and could support Central Asian countries’ sustainable post-pandemic recovery, according to a new UNECE study. Shared mobility initiatives can contribute to more efficient use of available resources, generally reducing the number of cars in cities and traffic congestion, thereby reducing the potential for road crashes and cutting air pollution.
In Kazakhstan, there are only two car sharing services and in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, no car-sharing or carpooling initiatives have so far been developed. However, the countries’ larger cities, such as Bishkek and Dushanbe, show promise for successful shared mobility initiatives. To help these countries unlock this potential in their post-pandemic recovery, the study offers practical insight and recommendations drawing on case studies from Western Europe, Asia, and North America.
Learning from international approaches
The study found from the experience of selected car sharing and carpooling operators that successful projects, including those that started exclusively as part of a private initiative, needed to be implemented with the support and assistance of the public authorities and must be created based on a robust regulatory framework. Furthermore, a key success factor is a well-chosen sustainable business model and the availability of investment opportunities.
As an example, Italy provides a tax credit of up to €10,000 per year for those directly managing the carpooling business, within the maximum total turnover of €1 million per year.
France, on the other hand, passed the Law on Mobility, under which local authorities will be able to create grant programs and develop dedicated carpooling lanes for the least polluting vehicles on major roads.
Eight cities and one province in China implemented car sales restrictions to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, leading to an increase in shared mobility solutions. Car sharing and carpooling in China is expected to grow annually at a rate of 45% by 2025.
The Russian Federation as a key example
Among the many cases, the Russian Federation’s car sharing and carpooling initiatives were identified as a key example for Central Asian countries, due to the similarities in their approach to transportation regulation and transport systems, lifestyle and culture.
JPMorgan considers the Moscow B2C car sharing market as one of the most dynamic and promising in the world. The fleet has grown significantly in recent years to an estimated 30,000 cars, making Moscow the megacity with the largest car sharing fleet. One of the reasons for this is the support of local authorities: in the autumn of 2015, the “Moscow Car sharing” project was launched, under which operators were able to acquire preferential parking permits. This experience shows that this system can be an effective measure to support the development of car sharing initiatives in Central Asian countries.
Challenges remain for implementation in Central Asia
Despite their growing popularity in the region, shared mobility services are still very limited and niche when compared to public transport and the use of personal cars. Local car-owning traditions, lack of institutional awareness of the benefits of shared mobility, the need for significant investment, competition from traditional modes of mobility, and the low income of populations are among some of the challenges facing shared mobility initiatives in Central Asia.
Additionally, achieving effective integration of car sharing and carpooling within the existing legal framework is complicated by the fact that in Central Asian countries, the responsibility for regulating public transport and road safety is often assigned to multiple authorities.
As international experience shows, car sharing and carpooling have great potential for improving the quality of life of the population and traffic conditions in Central Asian cities.
The study outlines 5 steps with specific recommendations for Central Asian countries to overcome these challenges and ensure the effective development of car sharing and carpooling initiatives:
- Step 1: Develop or update a sustainable urban mobility plan
- Step 2: Shape the required regulatory framework:
- Step 3: Establish administrative procedures for issuing permits for car sharing activities
- Step 4: Introduce economic incentives for shared mobility operators
- Step 5: Monitor results
The study is available at: https://www.unece.org/index.php?id=55247