Tracking the economic, social, and environmental impact of shared mobility – Oliver Wyman study

Jan 9, 2024

Two people on Bolt electric bicycles

The key to people-centric cities is a mix of walking, public transport, and shared mobility. And as a shared mobility solutions provider, we must understand its impact.

That’s why we took the trillions of bytes of data our services generate and approached an international consulting firm, Oliver Wyman, to, among other things, find out if shared mobility:

  • Creates economic opportunities;
  • Delivers an accessible transport system; 
  • Plays a role in reducing emissions.

And this blog post has all the answers. 

Direct economic effects of shared mobility — income opportunities

A key takeaway from the study is that shared mobility has direct and indirect positive economic impacts

With a growing population and people increasingly settling in cities, the demand for mobility is high. And where there’s demand, there should be supply.

In 2023, over 9 million people earned an income through shared mobility. This number’s forecast to grow to 16 million in 2030, with 95% of these opportunities in ride-hailing.

And when looking at why people opt to earn via shared mobility, we see their primary motivation is the desire for a flexible income. 

Ademola, a driver based in Lagos, enjoys the flexibility and financial benefit of ride-hailing. 

He claims he can take breaks whenever he wants or needs, lessening the toll the driving hours take on him.

He can also see his family most days, has gained flexibility, and is much better off financially — all of which benefit his family.

With flexibility comes significant monetary gains. Our data shows that drivers earn significantly above the minimum wage in Europe (+37% in Berlin and +91% in Tallinn) and above comparable wages in Africa (up to +130% in South Africa and Nigeria).

Indirect economic effects — commuting, tourism, leisure

When talking about the indirect effects of shared mobility, we must look at key areas of the economy, including commuting, retail, leisure, and tourism. 

Oliver Wyman’s analysis found that shared mobility strongly affects these areas. Here’s how:

  • Commuting. When shared mobility is integrated into a high-functioning commuting ecosystem, it makes the workforce more flexible and, thus, has the strongest potential indirect impact on the economy.
  • Retail and leisure. The case for shared mobility to play a crucial role in promoting leisure spending in city centres has emerged strongly in recent years.
  • Tourism. Shared mobility apps such as Bolt (which operate across borders) are used by travellers to save money and have become essential parts of tourist infrastructure in many cities.

Additionally, shared mobility has the potential to reduce the space cities dedicate to cars. We’ve already seen Zaragoza repurpose 1,000 car parking spots into bike and scooter parking areas to reduce the space devoted to cars.

Car parking space converted into a dedicated space for micromobility, Zaragoza, Spain, March 2023

Another important finding from the analysis is that shared mobility services can reduce serious accidents and car-related deaths. This is because they can help reduce drunk and distracted driving, speeding, and potentially the overall distance travelled by private cars.

Social impact of shared mobility

Affordability of shared mobility vs. car ownership

Private cars have long been a popular transport choice. Luckily, the tides are changing, and fewer people see cars as a status symbol

Oliver Wyman’s report suggests that younger Europeans (40% of those aged 18–34) are more likely to abandon personal cars: 12% say they would. Similarly, 32% of European car owners can imagine not having a personal car in the future.

This is where shared mobility options such as car-sharing can provide affordable alternatives. And because of the lower upfront costs, shared mobility’s particularly beneficial for those with lower incomes.

The report suggests that even if a driver covers as much as 15,000 km a year, transitioning from private car ownership to shared mobility can yield substantial cost savings

And this applies to more and more vehicles — the current annual average driven per car in Europe is 10,000 km.

Accessibility of shared mobility for underserved customers

Access to transport is a fundamental human right, and certain groups (e.g., people with disabilities and older people) can benefit from shared mobility services.

Oliver Wyman’s report suggests that shared mobility can improve economic accessibility for those in areas with limited public transport options, i.e. through improved access to employment opportunities.

🔍 CASE STUDY on first-last mile connectivity in Germany

Bolt partnered with TH Wildau to investigate micromobility usage on the outskirts of three German cities: Berlin-Lichtenrade, Berlin-Zehlendorf, and Erkner (Brandenburg) from summer 2022 to May 2023. 

Between 24% and 35% of people used shared e-bikes and scooters several times a week to reach the S-Bahn (a rail station), primarily due to the absence of bus services in the early morning and late evening.

Sharing services were cited as an alternative to bus services by 70–90% of participants, with the key reasons being bus delays and cancellations, an absence of bus routes, and congestion.

Shared mobility’s environmental impact

Lastly, we wanted to know whether shared mobility helps reduce emissions. Our previous 2022 study showed just that, but we needed a second opinion. And here’s what Oliver Wyman’s report reveals.

E-scooter usage patterns indicate that roughly 10% of rides directly replace car journeys. 

And delivering better micromobility infrastructure has the potential to create a 20% reduction in personal car use in cities like Berlin, with a 40% emissions reduction.

Taking the conversation forward

Oliver Wyman’s study shows that shared mobility’s already playing an increasing role in urban transport and is set to make up 7% of all journeys by 2030.

But achieving its potential requires a collaborative approach between operators like Bolt, policymakers, regulators, and customers.

To take this conversation forward, we recently hosted events in Brussels and Lagos, bringing together stakeholders to discuss the study’s findings and their implications.

If you want to learn more, read the full study here and share your insights with us.

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