By John David von Oertzen, CEO of Mobimeo

Ever-warmer temperatures around the globe, rising sea levels, growing populations, energy shortage – we are finding ourselves in the middle of an environmental crisis. Government officials, corporations, and private citizens alike are looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions to slow down the effects of climate change.

According to a study conducted by the European Environment Agency, in 2019, road transport makes up 72 percent of overall transport emissions, internationally and in Europe. Reducing road traffic seems to be a viable solution and one in which many people could easily take an active part in. How best to go about it?

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Mobimeo GmbH (Mobimeo) develops a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform for the mobility of tomorrow. As a partner of transport companies, transport associations and other mobility providers, Mobimeo connects existing public transport systems, sharing and on-demand options. For mobility providers, Mobimeo offers high-performance technical products: apps built on Mobimeo’s platform impress with their elegant design, their intuitive route search, booking and payment functions and continuous journey progress information. They offer users multimodal, personalised and event-driven suggestions to find the best possible route to their destination. The result is a relaxed and enjoyable travel experience for millions of public transport users – without dependence on private cars

95 percent inactive

As the rate of private car ownership in cities has risen over the last decades, studies show that the distance people travel on average has declined. More astonishing is the fact that 95 percent of the time, those cars are parked, inactive. Reducing private car ownership seems the obvious choice for saving energy and resources. Less congestion, less CO2 emissions, fewer resources needed – a win-win from many angles.

But what’s the alternative? Public transportation is a clear option. It’s ideal for carting people short distances, especially in congested areas. Many cities in Europe have well-built and well-connected networks that extend from the city centre outwards. Especially convenient is that many of these networks congregate in one central point – the train station.

Seven million around the world

There are an estimated seven million train stations in the world. 36,000 of them are in Europe, and 5,000 in Germany. More than two centuries have passed since the first train station in the world in Wales opened its doors in 1807. With the advent of cars, train stations began losing prominence. It’s high time to give them a second look.

Centres of movement

A quick glance at the Gare du Nord in Paris or Paddington Station in London is enough to remind us about how vital train stations were, and still are, to the life of a city. Many are mainstays of their towns. Housing banks, shops, pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants, and cafes, they are abuzz with activity.

Stations are easy to reach. They are often the nuclei of well-connected and efficient transportation networks that give access to many modalities – from long-distance high-speed trains to the regional lines to subways, from buses to taxis to car sharing designed to move a large number of travellers. Navigation systems, whether embedded or mobile, often use them as common starting and destination points. Shared micro- mobility services such as mopeds, e-scooters, and bicycles position themselves in and around stations to serve and make the most of the traffic that flows around and through them. Most people know how to get to and from their city’s train stations, from the first to the last mile. Train stations are centres of movement that can be leveraged to boost sustainable mobility.

Removing hurdles

Having recognized the potential of train stations to ease inner-city travel, the S-Bahn Stuttgart train operator, together with e-scooter company Voi and Mobility-as-a-Service provider Mobimeo, began a pilot project at the Bad Cannstatt station in late 2020. They were looking for insight into possible synergies between micro- mobility and public transport. Results show that an offering that integrates travel infrastructure at all levels – the physical, digital and commercial – can impact mobility behaviour. Voi users who stopped at the Bad Cannstatt station and had integrated access to the multimodal Mobility Stuttgart app bought 35 percent more S-Bahn Stuttgart tickets than users in the rest of Stuttgart. What’s more, after parking racks were installed on site, last-mile Voi trips jumped by more than 250 percent. It’s important to note that such effort is most effective at mobility hubs that offer access to multiple modes of transport – such as the trusty train station.

Natural mobility hub

With some modifications and upgrades, and with the aid of Mobility-as-a-Service solutions, we can turn train stations into a thriving travel centre for today’s dwellers and travellers. The added convenience of having access to meeting rooms, co-working possibilities, medical facilities, and stores, combined with access to a vast transportation network, might persuade new adopters to move away from full private car ownership to a shared model at the very least.

The current climate crisis can be seen as an opportunity to modify our behaviour and rethink our priorities. Let’s seize this opportunity to help reach carbon neutrality by reclaiming the train station and transforming it into the 21st-century natural mobility hub that it is made to be.