This is exactly what Miami, U.S., wants to investigate using a new app called Velocia. The app works as a public-private partnership with many different mobility services, including public transit, electric scooters, bike rental, car-sharing and carpooling. All partners have agreed to run campaigns that reward people with “Velos” if choosing other modes of transport than private cars, which can later be cashed in for various mobility offerings.
For example, a ride with public transport (Metrorail or Metrobus) gets you 40 Velos, whereas renting a car through Getaround’s car-sharing platform gets you 2,000. Velocia will even reward you for walking five miles in a week!
So, what can you use those Velos for? Right now, a $5 Lyft ride-hailing credit costs you 600 Velos, and 30 minutes bike rental costs you 450. Users can pair all mobility services available with their Velocia account to catch offerings from all of them, i.e. you can choose e-scooter discounts using Velos earned from walking, etc.
The idea of Velocia came from the fact that traffic congestion has increased in Miami (and in many cities around the globe) even though there are a lot of new mobility services and innovative solutions out there. David Winterstein, Velocia CEO, wondered; “Is it another mode of transportation that’s required, or do we want to start looking at human behavior and what drives people?”. He knows that this app itself probably won’t result in everyone leaving their cars behind, but with an open ecosystem like this, where you can ride with public transport and then redeem for an e-scooter, “We think […] we’re going to start to actually move the needle when it comes to how people move in cities”.
Personally, I think this approach is extremely interesting, and it will be fun to follow whether it has any impact on the overall car usage. Many people are used to and have accepted the costs associated with owning a car and might not be as intrigued by, for example, $5 ride-hailing rewards unless those alternatives can offer the same level of convenience and flexibility. Hence, we should keep developing new mobility services, but I think all cities should, of course, try out Velos (or something similar) in parallel as a strategy to see how it affects the business ecosystem of mobility, both from a private and socio-economic perspective.
Written by Hampus Alfredsson, RISE Viktoria.