Mobility as a service still fails to keep women safe

UK roads are among the main culprits of its greenhouse gas emissions. And in 2020, 92% passenger-kilometres traveled in the UK were made by cars, vans and taxis. This means that traveling in a private vehicle has a disproportionate negative impact on the environment.

Moreover, only 5.8% vehicles on UK roads are very low emission. Same electric vehicles, while they pollute less while driving, have a significant environmental impact thanks to the materials they are made of. Their disposal also has an environmental cost. And in some areas, the number of car owners is increasing – the county of Hertfordshire is expected to house 20.9% more passenger cars by 2031.

If durability and mobility are equally important concerns, how do you ensure that they are both taken into account? One solution is to encourage people to share transport through a system known as “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS).

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MaaS is essentially a personalized travel management platform that aggregates the transportation modes available in an area to create a unified journey for its users. For example, the Finnish MaaS company Whim allows people to use shared cars, bikes and public transport to create a trip that suits them.

In some cases, this has been very successful in reducing the number of passenger cars on the roads. In several cities in Finland, for example, MaaS has reduced private car use from 40% to 20%. However, there is something that has been overlooked by transport designers (who, at least in Europe, are predominantly male): the fact that the transport needs of women are different from those of men.

MaaS and gender

Women, who across the world generally have less access to private cars, are more at risk than men when moving from place to place. In Europe, an average of 37% of women (compared to 72% of men) own their own car, while 51% (81% of men) have a driving licence. Yet despite this, women are still less likely than men to use MaaS. In EU countries, including Norway, Finland, Germany and Denmark, it has been tried by 40% women compared to 49% of men.

The reasons for these disparities are partly related to gender roles. Women are more likely to be the main goalkeeper of their household, which means they have multiple errands to run, often requiring multiple trips within a shorter radius.

safety for women