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Activate a bike share with your phone or, if it’s raining, use the same system to grab a car.

2011-11-02

Co.Exist

One Transportation App To Rule Them All

Mo, a new startup in Munich, is trying to combine the city’s bike shares, car shares, and public transportation system. Pay a yearly fee, use your phone to take whatever kind of transportation you need.

It’s one thing to create a bike or car sharing system, but how do you get people to actually use them? One answer, according to Roman Gebhard, is to reward them. Gebhard, head of the Lunar Europe design agency, in Munich, has helped develop the “Mo System”--the world’s first incentivization scheme for green transport.

Rather than city folk paying separately for car, bike, and public transit, with the Mo System they pay a single fee, and then get rewards, called Mo Miles, when they take more sustainable options. So, for example, users who cycle get miles they can use for subway or bus trips, or for car shares.

“If the weather is good, you use your smartphone to locate the nearest bike spot. If it is not good, you go on another means of transportation, such as car sharing. The more you use public transportation, the more miles you earn, which you can then deduct from the yearly cost,” says Gebhard, who is working with the group Greencity and the University of Wuppertal.

The Mo System has yet to be approved by Munich authorities, and has yet to persuade car and bike schemes to take part. But Gebhard says the idea would be for Mo members to pay about 350 euros ($483)--the same as an annual public transport pass--and get more options. If users are not part of official bike share schemes, they can install a device on their bikes to measure how far they go.

“What we found out from our research is that even though people like to use bikes and sustainable transport, their needs are very different depending on what they have to do, or what the weather is like. That’s the biggest obstacle for people to go on one system. You have to offer them different options. By combining the systems, you hopefully get people to use bikes and public transport more often,” Gebhard says.

The biggest obstacle to rolling out Mo is to persuade the operators to collaborate, and making sure they are not hurt financially. But Gebhard is confident Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company that already runs Munich’s bike sharing scheme, wants to see Mo get off the ground.

“Their problem at the moment is that the public transport system is filled out. In rush hour, they don’t want additional customers. So they are hoping to get some people to hop on to bikes,” he says. Here’s to Mo-mentum.

Mo-Mentum

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2 Comments

  • Ian Dalton

    I don't know how the device you can put on your own bike works (GPS, wheel revolutions), but I wonder if it could be exploited to read an artificially high mileage. I'm sure bike rental companies have systems in place to prevent such manipulation. What do they do?

  • Sean Bender

    Genius! I would love to see an app (and the program itself) replicated here in Boston, and the United States more broadly...