Milan's Comprehensive Shared Mobility Strategy

Why did we select this case?

Milan has one of the highest rates of car ownership in Europe, with over 51 cars for every 100 inhabitants, and consequently the city faces a tremendous traffic volume and congestion challenges. To address these issue, Milan has implemented one of the most comprehensive mobility plans in the world. Their Sharing Mobility Strategy won several awards including the National Award for Innovation 2014 and the EUROCITIES award for innovation in November 2015. Additionally, Milan combined its shared mobility strategy with other transportation measures like congestion charging and creating more room for walking. 

About the case

Like a lot of cities Milan faces traffic growth caused by economic and population growth. To reduce congestion and the unprecedented traffic volume, a comprehensive strategy was initiated in January 2012. With the city government and the private sector as main actors, the strategy was not only intended to offer attractive sustainable transport options but also promote new behavior patterns. Their sustainable urban strategy features new service delivery models encompassing different interconnected elements. These include a congestion charge, sharing mobility schemes and pedestrianisation. 

As a result of a referendum demonstrating a high demand to address the traffic concerns, Milan introduced a congestion charge scheme in 2012. The scheme’s restricted traffic zone is home to nearly 25% of Milan’s businesses and around 500,000 people come into the area every day.

Following research to identify the fastest route to spread adoption of car sharing, the first of three privately managed ‘free-floating’ car sharing schemes was introduced in August 2013. As opposed to the city’s existing schemes (whose cars can only be collected and returned to specific stations), the free-floating alternative gave people the flexibility to pick up and drop off cars wherever they wish. There are now 2,000 sharing cars on the streets of Milan, all can be located by mobile app.

Additionally, Milan’s free-floating car fleet now includes 100 electric cars. Batteries are monitored and recharged by the scheme provider wherever a car is parked and drivers can also choose to make use of the charging systems available at the citiy's network of 27 outdoor 'gigital islands'. The idea behind this new scheme includes free parking for electric cars to make them the most attractive option and annual parking and charging payments of €1,100 per car made to the municipality by the scheme’s provider.

Introduced in 2008, going green bike sharing schemes, have transformed this mode of transport from a leisure activity to an important means of travel in Milan. Growth in cycling continues to be encouraged through advances such as the 2014 launch of an electric bike sharing scheme. As batteries are automatically recharged when and where necessary by the provider, this scheme operates seamlessly alongside traditional bike schemes.

Public shared BikeMibicycles in Milan

In 2015 Milan also launched a scooter sharing scheme. This is another example of smart scheme integration: car sharing scheme members are automatically eligible to rent scooters and receive free driver training, benefits designed to actively promote this cheaper, greener form of transport. Another example of the purposeful interconnection of all elements of Milan’s mobility strategy is the fact that the €5 daily congestion charge does not have to be paid by those driving electric cars.

The Sharing Mobility Strategy has been implemented to reduce traffic in the city centre and to create more space for walking and shared mobility. The goal of the strategy was to reduce the city’s high level of private car ownership and to improve the air quality in the city. 

Success factors

The success is not merely caused by the ease of car sharing through the free-floating car scheme or by the strict congestion charge. The key to its success is the comprehensive strategy and collaboration. Public institutions, transport companies and civil society cooperated to implement the Sharing Mobility Strategy and managed to interconnect all elements the strategy. The smart integration of all elements allows people to easily use the different shared modes of transport interchangeably while especially stimulating the sustainable electric options. 

Impact of the idea

Currently, Milan’s car sharing schemes (5 operators; Car2Go, GuidaMI, Share 'n Go, Enjoy, E-vai) have 200,000 subscribers and bike schemes have 37,000 subscribers , renting 10,000 bicycles a day. The comprehensive strategy has created rapid change. In the first year alone, the amount of private cars on the road was reduced by 13,000. Today, traffic in the city center is reduced by nearly 30%, or by around 40,000 cars a day. 

The strategy has reduced road congestion by 28%. Additionally, spaces once reserved for traffic are now freed up for new uses including a 150,000m2 pedestrian zone which is also open to cyclists. Citizens can now enjoy more cultural and creative pedestrian sites.  

Sources and more information