Ioanna Moscholidou, Kate Pangbourne | Transport Policy
Smart mobility services, such as carsharing or ridesharing, are often promoted by their providers as the key to a sustainable transport future. However, they are also associated with risks such as increased congestion and inequality. This paper argues that state intervention is essential in order to mitigate such risks, and steer smart mobility in a way that contributes to the delivery of sustainable transport. We use London and Seattle as case studies to explore whether the regulation they have introduced can hold smart mobility providers accountable for their impacts on the urban environment, and if the accountability arrangements that are in place in each city can help local governments achieve their strategic goals for smart mobility. Our original finding is that there are three key features of regulations that are essential for shaping and steering smart mobility: regulations should be directed to specific types of smart mobility; should clearly set out providers’ responsibilities and what happens if they fail to fulfill them; and should seek to clearly align the smart mobility offer with the cities’ long-term strategies. We conclude that Seattle’s regulatory approach is more likely to help the city achieve its ambitions for smart mobility, but we also highlight that regulation is only one element of smart mobility governance and careful consideration needs to be given to the role, if any, smart mobility will play in delivering a sustainable transport future.