This article continues with the frontierCities grantee MVMANT’s smart mobility journey from Stuttgart to Ragusa in Sicily.
A full diary (in Italian) of the MVMANT journey and photo gallery is available on the following site: www.germania-sicilia.it
MVMANT takes the Smart Mobility Agenda to the Italian Parliament (Chamber of Deputies)
Following milestone stops in Sindelfingen (Mercedes-Benz factory), Venice and Milan, the MVMANT team continued its smart mobility odyssey southward! Next stop – Rome! Key agenda point – bringing the smart mobility agenda to national policy discussion, specifically to the national parliament (Camera dei Deputati).
Here the MVMANT team, hosted by Member of Parliament Diego De Lorenzis, contributed to a press conference designed to update on the work of the Chamber’s Commission IX - Transport, Post and Telecommunications which is drafting new legislation on incentives for electric cars and for carpooling schemes for public and private companies.
“This was a really valuable opportunity to promote the wide range of innovation that smart mobility can bring to addressing the transport and mobility challenges that cities across Italy and beyond face”, reflected MVMANT’s Cuius afterwards - “talking about MVMANT also helped provide another example how private solutions can be highly complementary with existing public transport solutions and infrastructure”.
Onward and Southward – Final Stop Ragusa!
Onwards from Rome to Ragusa, and on 8 April 2016 the MVMANT team finally reached its end destination - Ragusa (Sicily), location for the pilot trial that is an obligatory part of all frontierCities-supported grants. The journey had taken 2,000 Kilometres, and involved discussions with municipal leaders and transport and mobility actors - ranging from the City of Milan’s Council to the Taxi Cooperative of Venice and Mestre – as well as contributing to mobility policy fora at the national parliament. And all that before the really hard work – the frontierCities MVMANT pilot – had event started…
The Pilot begins – and MVMANT secures rapid endorsement from Ragusa’s citizens
Like all pilots, the MVMANT one threw up some valuable learning – and surprises – for MVMANT’s innovative ride-sharing service solution. A first learning point was the speed at which the pilot gained visibility and engagement from Ragusa’s population - within the first few days of testing MVMANT’s platform already had 1,300 subscribers and 1,000 app downloads, with 250 active users and over 600 trial rides provided (at end of the pilot the subscribers will be more than 2.200 with over 2400 trips completed).
“Not only were we really positively surprised at the scale of take-up of MVANT’s ride-sharing offer”, comments Cuius, “but also by the proportion of respondents that stated they would be willing to give up their second or third family car and use a ride-share service such as MVMANT”. Other user feedback also showed appreciation of the societal and mobility benefits of the ride-share solution, such as reduced pollution and CO2 emissions and increased contact with other citizens and travellers through the shared ride experience. One local resident who tested the MVMANT ride-share service, provided very positive feedback on the experience, commenting "I hope one day to be able to give up my car and that the resulting savings in direct and indirect costs will be able to finance my children's parks and gardens”.
But these weren’t the only surprises. “Another surprise – not just for the MVMANT team but also for our counterparts in Ragusa’s municipal administration – was the average age of the ride-share users”, muses Cuius; “the average age or users was 40 years, well above what both we and Ragusa city hall staff would have imagined”. And of course a higher average user age also reflected many more senior citizens using the ride-share, with the oldest user being 76 years of age.
The trial and the related monitoring work by the MVMANT Trial Team has also been showing up some other benefits, such as the social contact benefit, often between complete strangers. Anecdotes from MVMANT drivers included childhood friends who had not seen each other for decades meeting again on a shared ride home, or one ride-share user giving “impromptu lessons in Portuguese” to another passenger. Another user commented upon finishing his ride-share, "we got in (the car) as 5 strangers and we left as 5 friends".
For the daily vlogs, blog posts and photos, please visit the MVMANT Facebook page.