A mobility strategy is enabling Milan, which has one of the highest car ownership rates in Europe, rise to its congestion challenge.
Milan created a sustainable urban plan for reducing traffic in the city centre and freeing spaces for walking and shared mobility. The initiative targets the city’s high level of private car ownership and aims to improve local air quality. Uniting public institutions, transport companies and civil society in decision making, the plan features new service delivery models and a number of interconnected elements. These include sharing mobility schemes, a congestion charge and pedestrianisation.
The congestion charge scheme ‘Area C’ has reduced traffic in the city centre by nearly 30%, or by around 40,000 cars a day. This has freed up parts of the city for new uses, including a 150,000m2 pedestrian zone which is also open to cyclists. Shared mobility is the third phase of the initiative. Currently, Milan operates successful bike and car sharing services, with some 10,000 bikes being used each day. In 2015, the city of Milan also introduced a scooter sharing scheme.
Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/CitiesInAction_MilanSharingMobility_Nov15.pdf
This project was awarded the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2015 in the following category: Innovation. Learn more about the award.
Background and objectives
Like all cities, Milan is facing an unprecedented rise in traffic volume as a result of population and economic growth. On top of this, its urban area is one of Europe’s largest, with over four million people. It also has exceptionally high car ownership, 51 for every 100 inhabitants, and air pollution.
To significantly reduce congestion and emissions, a comprehensive policy was needed that would not only offer attractive sustainable transport options but also promote new behaviour patterns.
The first of three privately managed ‘free-floating’ car sharing schemes was introduced in August 2013 following research to identify the fastest route to widespread adoption. Unlike the city’s existing schemes, whose cars can only be collected and returned to specific stations, the free-floating alternative gives 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 easily located by mobile app.
Unusually for free-floating schemes, Milan’s 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 city’s network of 27 outdoor ‘digital islands’. The smart thinking 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.
Going green Bike sharing schemes first introduced in 2008 have transformed this mode of transport from a leisure activity to an important means of travel in Milan. And growth in cycling continues to be encouraged through advances such as the 2014 launch of an electric bike scheme. As batteries are automatically recharged when and where necessary by the provider, this scheme operates seamlessly alongside traditional bike schemes.
The 2015 launch of a scooter sharing scheme represents another first for Milan and 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.
The extended congestion charge scheme Milan introduced in 2012 came about as a result of a referendum demonstrating popular demand. The scheme’s restricted traffic zone is home to almost 25% of Milan’s businesses and around 500,000 people come into the area every day. In another example of the purposeful interconnection of all elements of Milan’s mobility strategy, the €5 daily congestion charge does not have to be paid by those driving electric cars.
Financing and resources
Valentino Sevino, director of mobility planning department at the Mobility, Environment and Urban Development Agency explains: "Our car sharing schemes are very good for the city, taking thousands of cars off the roads while requiring no investment from the municipality and generating payments of over €2 million a year from scheme providers."
Results and impacts
Milan’s comprehensive shared mobility strategy has created rapid change in just a few years, with citizens changing their habits faster and in greater numbers than in other cities.
In the first year alone, it reduced the number of private cars on the road by 13,000. Today, the city’s car sharing schemes have 200,000 subscribers. Bike schemes have 37,000 subscribers who rent 10,000 bikes a day.
The impact of the congestion charge has also been very visible. As well as reducing road congestion by 28%, income has been reinvested to expand public transport and reuse spaces once reserved for traffic as cultural and creative pedestrian areas.
Lessons learned and transferability
The consultative and comprehensive approach taken by Milan has achieved significant results. These have been recognised by awards such as the National Award for Innovation 2014 and also by other cities. Rome, Florence and Turin are developing similar sharing schemes and delegations from Moscow and Minsk have visited Milan to see its strategy in action. The project won the EUROCITIES award for innovation in November 2015.
Cities in action - Sharing mobility strategy in Milan, Shared-use mobility schemes - EUROCITIES, November 2015.