Hely: No pilots, no experiments, just do it
Syra Vlaanderen & Rochelle Balmer
Marketing & Brand Manager
Read more by Syra Vlaanderen & Rochelle Balmer
Shared transportation is becoming an increasingly normal part of mobility in the Netherlands. Nowadays there are even shared cargo bikes! Hely is a hub solution that offers these cargo bikes, as well as regular shared electric bicycles and shared cars in six Dutch cities. All integrated into one app. Tarik Fawzi is one of four people who has been involved with Hely since the beginning, as co-founder, he is responsible for setting up partnerships.
Hely supplies various shared vehicles from its 20 Hely Hubs in ten cities and is an initiative of the NS (Dutch Railways). The NS wanted to see if and how they could contribute to the infamous first and last mile and how they could “play a role in the value chain of mobility,” says Fawzi. Although the NS is a major shareholder (together with Pon), Hely is a self-contained and operating company. Its goal is to make sharing smarter, more fun, and more sustainable.
Based on his expertise in the field of shared transportation, Fawzi shares his vision on mobility and multimodal travel.
This interview is part of a series of interviews with mobility experts from our report Vision on Mobility: on the way to 2050.
Supply creates demand
Fawzi notices a shift from ownership to use, although it’s still progressing very slowly and is still in a relatively early stage: “The world won’t change overnight,” he says. He sees that there are many national and international providers of shared vehicles. Fawzi thinks this is because the amount of space – mostly in cities – is rapidly decreasing and that governments are more concerned with reaching the climate goals and efficiently using public space. Therefore, cities have become very restrictive when it comes to parking. And although this is very inconvenient for car owners, it’s the ideal breeding ground for shared-transport initiatives, such as Hely. Fawzi states that technology is also a factor: “[That] makes it increasingly easier to find, reserve, unlock and pay for a vehicle via your cell phone, which also makes it easier to use different kinds of shared transportation.”
Additionally, he thinks that supply creates demand: “Ten years ago, nobody was asking for an electric cargo bike, but now that they are available, people want them.” This will also happen for multimodality; if it’s offered, people will use it.
New neighborhoods, new forms of transportation
If it were up to Fawzi, each new housing development project will be outfitted with a Hely Hub, which will make it easier for residents to book different types of mobility that suit their current needs through a single app. He did notice, however, that municipalities often would like to do “something with [mobility] hubs”, but aren’t really sure where to start and how to connect all the parties. And that’s exactly the kind of thing that Hely excels at. Additionally, real estate parties can be quite conservative and assume that residents want to have their car parked in front of their homes. Hely was able to show them that there’s a lot to gain from adding shared transportation into the mix. Hely has an advisory role and Fawzi knows exactly what a hub should have, to meet the demands of the new neighborhood.
In the future, Fawzi thinks it could very well be that they will use the data generated by their vehicles to also give travel advice, but for that to happen, they first have to be able to create “a free float system”, he explains.
“Crowded cities are the ideal breeding ground for shared-transport initiatives”
Shared transportation becomes the norm
Aside from his own dreams for Hely, Fawzi also has some ideas about future mobility in general. He thinks, for example, that in five years, there will be several big international providers that will offer different multimodalities. “This will foster a real change,” he predicts. He also thinks that public and shared transportation will be a lot more integrated in the next five years. In new housing developments, shared transportation will become the norm: “Partly because it’s being imposed by the municipalities and developers, but also because there will hardly be any parking spaces.”
Mobility connected through IoT
When asked how he thinks transportation and mobility will look like in 30 years, he predicts that “we will have many different types of vehicles”, such as electric drones. “This will have a huge impact on the spatial designs of cities,” he says. According to him, municipalities are already setting up public spaces in such a way that they are also suitable for other vehicles in the long term. He also thinks that it will be much easier then because of Internet of Things (IoT) to have an electric or self-driving car appear at your door using an app on your mobile phone. “If we still have those,” he laughs, “maybe apps will be hopelessly outdated by then.” He thinks that by 2050 everything will be equipped with IoT: “By that time, we will have 8G, the processing power of chips will doubled, while the price will decrease and [that means] that refrigerators, coffee cups, clothes, and books will all […] be able to communicate with each other, without human interference. The same goes for vehicles.”
Stop launching pilots and experimenting
And who will be responsible for this mobility transition? Fawzi calls it “obvious”, but he thinks that it’s society as a whole, everyone in the value chain. He also thinks that not speaking of pilots and experiments will also help: “We have to stop using the word experiment. This doesn’t give it enough value and gives the impression of temporality, which makes it seem like you can just quit or give up.”
Finally, Fawzi feels that the government should invest a larger percentage of the money they are now spending on public transportation on shared transportation: “If you spend 1% of the money that is spent on public transportation on shared transportation, you can change the world. Put your money where your mouth is! Or leave it to the market.”
Not technology, but mentality is the problem
We will no longer have mobility problems in 2050. By then, with all the technological developments and the ever-increasing supply of alternatives, “there’s really no reason to still have mobility problems”. The only obstacle could be our
mentality. Take, for instance, our mentality towards working from home. Fawzi was already working like this 20 years ago and only now – with corona – it’s gaining a foothold: “This will foster a big change and that’s not just because of the technological possibilities, but also because of a change in mentality,” he concludes.
“If you spend 1% of the money that is spent on public transportation on shared mobility, you can change the world.”
2020 If we offer shared transportation, people will use it and the shift from ownership to use will develop even further
2025 We should stop experimenting, but just do it, and the government should invest (much) more in shared transportation
2050 The means of transportation that we will have in 30 years will be connected by IoT and have a major impact on spatial planning
Read the complete report
Mobility is a comprehensive topic, not easy to oversee or predict. In order to understand how mobility will develop towards 2050, we decided to ask eleven experts from mobility providers, the government and academics about their vision on future mobility. Participants in this report are KiM, ANWB, Hely, 9292, Ministry of Infrastructure and Watermanagement, Parkbee, the Municipality of Utrecht, De Verkeersonderneming, TU Delft, Lightyear and NS.
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