Cityzen Mobility: the shared taxi with a social mission
par Julien de Labaca | 12.22.11
In late October, Cityzen Mobility launched its shared taxi service in Paris dubbed “Alpha Travel.” The goal? Pool taxi rides to reduce costs for passengers. Alongside its public launch, the young company will create a service to benefit seniors: savings made from the shared rides will go to fund “Senior Mobility,” a social transportation service designed to help isolated and low income seniors get around.
According to Guillaume Mathieu, co-founder and associate director of Cityzen Mobility, nearly a third of people over 75 in Paris are dependent. Public transport is not suitable for those with limited mobility and taxis are too expensive for an often financially insecure population.
Pooling vehicles to share costs
Step One: Cityzen Mobility has partnered with Alpha Taxi, a Taxi cooperative with approximately 1,200 vehicles: “an essential step in the project,” notes the entrepreneur. In return for access to their fleet, Cityzen Mobility provides a platform for organizing and optimizing passenger transport. “This service is akin to a platform on transport à la demande (TAD).” The system is simple: for a taxi ride of 100 euros, the pairing of two passengers can increase the fare by 50% (150 euros for the driver) and decrease that of each user by 25% (75 euros per person). Taxis then share 50% of their gains with Cityzen Mobility. For now, reservations must be booked a day in advance although the company is “aiming to move towards a dynamic system.” This alternative gives taxi drivers the opportunity to fill their vehicles during off-peak hours and to pick up more people traveling along the same route in crowded places like railway stations or airports.
Development based on a comprehensive service
Today the system is available in Paris including its inner suburbs. In order to quickly reach a critical mass of users, partnerships must be forged; especially with companies in tourism, transport and ticketing that can offer shared rides to their customers. Once this critical mass is reached, the system will be able to finance “Senior Mobility.”
In this respect, the company is similar to social and public entities. Thanks to the release of “chèques mobilité”, seniors can make travel requests and be directed to the most suitable means of transport. Depending on the situation that could be a taxi, but also the association “Les Compagnons du Voyage,” which has partnered with the company. This partnership can help elderly travel using public transit.
What’s the next destination for Mobility Cityzen? “Dense cities such as Lyon, Marseille and Bordeaux, in order to quickly reach a sufficient volume.” Eventually, the company hopes to position itself as part of a larger multimodal solution, “today there are gaps in services and it is becoming increasingly necessary to study mobility with a systemic view. The idea is to aggregate existing modes with this vision and approach.” Cityzen Mobility is reconciling economic and ecological innovation using a socially responsible method.
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Translated by Genny Cortinovis