45% of shared transport users think the quality of services is poor

Published on 13/12/2022 by Andrew Blair

The arrival of shared transport services in Australia impressed many by yielding various environmental, social, and economic benefits. This innovative model unlocks underused resources and provides users with access through sharing platforms. What do shared transport services look like in Australia, and why don’t they continue to impress users?  

A user seeking customer support on a shared transport platform

‘Shared transport’ or ‘shared mobility’ refers to various transportation modes that include ride-sharing, car-sharing, e-scooter sharing, and bicycle-sharing systems, to name a few. Shared vehicles, in particular, are expected to reach 19 million users by 2026. This segment's popularity and fast-growing nature in Australia may highlight potential opportunities in the market. However, the technology for this variant of traditional transport systems may be evolving too rapidly for some. Consumers may not know how to navigate these platforms, usually accessed via an app, or how to reach out for help when experiencing issues. As a result, transport-sharing platforms may be missing the mark with a significant portion of the market. 

In part one of this two-part series on the sharing economy, we discovered the crucial role reviews play in guiding consumers on these platforms. This article focuses on shared transport, the area of the sharing economy with the highest share of users (80%) among our survey participants. Where might there be room for improvement, and what are the opportunities in this growing sector? 

We surveyed 1,008 Australians to learn more about how they use shared transport services and what they like and don’t like about this transport model. We will evaluate customer experiences and explore possible opportunities to improve the quality of these services. You can find the full methodology at the end of the article. 

Accessibility of shared transport services in Australia

Population demographics in Australia indicate that private vehicles may be necessary in many cases to get from A to B, as most Australians live in suburban areas. Therefore, not surprisingly, 85% of survey-takers said they own a vehicle. Interestingly, the majority (37%) of vehicle owners expressed a neutral view as to whether the negative impacts of car ownership have resulted in an increased interest in shared transport services. 

Shared transport, an alternative source of transportation, focuses on shifting ownership to ‘usership’. However, for a successful transition, these services need to be accessible to consumers. Therefore, we asked our survey participants which shared mobility services are available to them. The majority (72%) said that ride-sharing services were the most accessible in their area, which coincides with the majority (62%) of participants living in the suburbs. 

Bar graph showing the accessibility of shared mobility services

The range of accessible shared transport services on offer may reflect the population distribution between urban, suburban, and rural areas. Urban dwellers may note that bicycle-sharing services are more accessible where the distances to get from A o B are smaller. A key aspect the Australian government focuses on in this sector is combining public, private, and shared transport modes by offering mobility as a service (MaaS) to increase user access to all these transport services.

What is mobility as a service (MaaS)?

MaaS aims to provide a total mobility solution to out-compete conventional car transport options by combining multiple transport modes. It is evolving from service models that provide transport without the cost of ownership. The service intends to offer a sleek user experience with dynamic journey planning and streamlined payment processes. 

However, to understand the effect accessibility has on consumers regardless of population distribution, we wanted to know why consumers use shared transport services and how often they use them. The following section focuses on those consumers who have access to and use shared transport services in their area.

80% of Aussies with access to shared mobility services use ride-sharing 

Ride-sharing services, being the most accessible, are also used by most respondents. Keeping in mind that most survey-takers live in suburban areas, these results may go hand in hand. However, understanding the reasons for using shared mobility services can give insight into why ride-sharing services are the most accessible and used by a survey sample consisting mostly of suburban dwellers.

Bar graph showing the primary use of shared transport services

Notably, only 11% of respondents who use shared mobility services indicated commuting as the main reason they use them. However, only 1% of users use them daily, which may include reasons other than commuting. Of those respondents that use shared transport to commute, most (68%) use only one service to get from their home straight to their place of work. 

On the other hand, 73% of users said their main reason for using a form of shared transportation is to move around the city for leisure or social purposes. Half of the shared mobility users (51%) indicated a usage, for any motive, of less than once per month, which is surprisingly infrequent considering that most respondents mark transportation as the sector they most use in the sharing economy. 

To gain further insight, we asked respondents why they choose to use shared transportation. We wanted to evaluate what benefits the model offers over traditional transport methods and also to consider possible pitfalls that may highlight the reason for their infrequent use. 

Many users perceive shared transport to be better than public transport 

When asked to select up to three advantages of using shared mobility services, half (51%) the users said they think this mode is better than public transport. Despite the infrequent use of shared transport, this suggests many users opt for these services instead of public transport, which also suggests the inconvenience of limited public transport services in suburban areas. 

Bar graph showing the advantages of using shared mobility services

Additionally, 35% of users think shared transport is more convenient than having their own vehicle. A quarter (25%) of vehicle owners somewhat agreed that negative impacts of car ownership, such as traffic, lack of parking spaces, and fuel costs, have increased their interest in shared transport services. However, of the 15% of respondents who do not own a vehicle, a third (31%) said they want to buy one despite the wide range of shared mobility services available. This suggests little hope for transitioning some consumers from ownership to ‘usership’, as mentioned previously. 

The benefits of shared transport promote sustainability and mitigate environmental impacts. However, this sentiment ranks as the least popular advantage; only 18% of respondents marked sustainability as an advantage. Therefore, the perceived advantages of shared transport don’t seem to be aligned with the model that set out to impress consumers or to out-compete conventional car transport options. There may be an underlying factor that is leaving consumers disheartened with shared transport services.

Lack of help and support on sharing economy platforms

Advancements in technology have enabled the rise and growth of the sharing economy, but have some elements trailed behind along the way? Sharing economy services are usually facilitated by online platforms that depend on user interaction. However, issues can arise that need to be dealt with by the platform owner, and how effectively they deal with those issues can impact the quality of services on the platform.

When asked to select up to three disadvantages of using shared mobility services, 45% of users felt the quality of service was not always good. Considering this level of dissatisfaction, platforms that can improve service quality can leverage this to attract customers. 

Bar graph showing the disadvantages of using shared mobility services

Over half (54%) of the respondents participating in sharing economy practices in general cited complications in getting help or support when encountering a problem as a disadvantage compared to traditional ways of consumption. In addition, the second-most-cited disadvantage, marked by 34% of respondents that specifically use shared transport services, is not knowing who to address in case of claims or issues. Occurrences of road incidents, for example, can involve insurance claims and users may be unsure about platform procedures and processes if not clearly outlined. 

In general, sharing economy platforms function via apps, and 20% of those respondents who participate in sharing economy practices said that sometimes navigation in the software or apps isn’t clear and could lead to confusion. An untapped 60% of potential users said they are unfamiliar with the technology needed to use these services and, as a result, haven’t participated in sharing economy practices yet. 

Improving customer support to increase service quality 

Most (79%) of our survey field agree that consumers will increasingly use shared transport services, highlighting an opportunity for platforms to increase their market share. Platform providers should pay close attention to user feedback and online reviews regarding customer support. It’s important to monitor the customer experience and regularly review customer service processes to look for ways to improve the overall quality of services. 

Customer support is essential to guide users, provide comfort that platform services are safe, and help resolve their navigational doubts. Our survey found 16% of respondents who have stopped participating in sharing economy services did so because they had a bad experience with customer support. Effective customer support can therefore give platforms an edge to attract a growing number of new users or win over users from their competition.  

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To collect this data, we conducted an online survey in September 2022 in Australia (1,008 participants) that had to fulfil the following criteria:

  • Resident in Australia
  • Above the age of 18
  • Must have identified the generation they belong to
  • Understands the concept of a sharing economy (after being shown a definition, respondents were able to select the correct definition of the sharing economy from a choice of four)

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About the author

Andrew is a Content Analyst for Software Advice, giving SMEs insights into tech, software and business trends. Interest in entrepreneurship, furthering projects and startups.

Andrew is a Content Analyst for Software Advice, giving SMEs insights into tech, software and business trends. Interest in entrepreneurship, furthering projects and startups.