The Rouen metropolitan area, « the most car-shared in France », as the number of journeys recorded and the budget soar

septembre 2023

Forum Vies Mobiles

In 2022, the Rouen metropolitan area emerged as the « most car-shared metropolis in France » (excluding the Île-de-France region). In the space of just one year, the number of journeys registered on the RPC increased tenfold. Faced with this exponential increase in the number of journeys and the budget allocated to financial incentives, the Metropole is now looking for the « levers » to steer this new area of public action. The introduction of new incentives at the beginning of 2023 has helped to redirect usage towards the initial targets, but has also led to a drop in the number of journeys.

People interviewed :

Disparate levels of density and relative ease of car use within the Rouen Metropolitan Area

Bruno Tisserand, Director of Mobility and Transport Operations, describes the Rouen metropolitan area as a « territory of extremes »: the metropolitan area includes very dense areas, industrial zones and « big villages ». As a result, 45 of its 71 communes are « small » communes, i.e. with fewer than 4,500 inhabitants.

The modal share of private cars in the metropolitan area is 56%, which is high, but in line with the average for other similar areas (EMD 2017). On the other hand, it rises to 63% if we consider a wider perimeter, including the Rouen urban area and the Seine-Eure Agglo: 1.5 million journeys are made by car every day.

In the metropolitan area, « it’s easy to come by car », according to Bruno Tisserand: there are few traffic problems and, until now, easy parking. Even if the role of the car is set to diminish with the introduction of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), the private car remains the dominant mode of transport. In addition, in response to the need to catch up with the coverage of the region by public transport, the number of services has been increased by 10% in September 2022. According to the EMD, the modal share of public transport is 10% in the Rouen urban area and the Seine-Eure agglomeration, with a 2% increase between 2007 and 2017.

The administrative boundaries of the Metropole are called into question by travel practices: « The major employment areas tend to be located on the fringes of the territorial jurisdiction », explains Elsa Delabaere, Head of the Mobility Development Department at the Metropole. As a result, a significant proportion of commuter journeys are made every day, which means that the Metropole needs to cooperate more and more with neighbouring EPCIs. A Pôle Métropolitain was created in 2012 to encourage cooperation between the Rouen Normandy Metropolitan Area and the Seine-Eure Conurbation Community in the fields of the economy, tourism and mobility.

Putting two forms of car-sharing on the agenda to make them « a mode of transport in their own right ».

Historically, the Seine-Maritime département has taken up the car-sharing issue by launching the website in 2008, a free platform for drivers and passengers to get in touch with each other. At the same time, the département has developed carpooling areas throughout the region.

The Rouen conurbation, for its part, has been working on the subject of sustainable mobility with businesses since 2007 through its Mobility Plans (PDM). « We did a lot of groundwork with companies, » comments Elsa Delabaere. « So we had already developed a good base in the business parks so that the mayonnaise could take hold and achieve sufficient critical mass.

Following the LOM and the possibility for AOMs to subsidise carpooling more heavily, the Rouen Metropolitan Area has launched several carpooling policies. « Our elected representatives have expressed the wish to make this a fully-fledged mode of transport, to go beyond simple experimentation and ensure that it has an impact on everyday mobility », describes B. Tisserand. Tisserand. Car sharing is presented as the solution to two problems:

In the PDU, the aim is to achieve a 5% modal share for home-work journeys by 2025. However, this target is described as a time horizon.

The Metropole decided to launch « a very proactive policy » by subsidising carpooling for drivers and making it free for passengers. The local authority is launching two forms of carpooling that are seen as complementary, targeting journeys between home and work or between home and school. The first strand of the public policy is a partnership with Klaxit to develop planned carpooling: the experiment will be launched from September 2020 in 6 targeted employment areas, then in September 2021 the scheme will be extended to the whole of Metropolitan France, for journeys originating or terminating at least within the Metropole. Each driver will receive €2 per passenger (+ €0.10 per km between 20 and 40 km) per journey.

Since 2022, carpooling routes have also been set up in partnership with Ecov. The first Covoit’ici line between Rouen and Val-de-Reuil (Seine-Eure agglo) opened in March 2022. This is the first mobility project backed by the Pôle métropolitain. A second line between Rouen and Barentin (Communauté de communes Caux-Austreberthe) opened in September 2022. For each line, a direction and opening times correspond to the main home-work flows. On these routes, the driver is paid €0.50 for free seats, and €1.50 per passenger carried. These car-sharing routes, compared with a bus route, are justified « for economic reasons, but above all a pragmatic decision, insofar as the flow and demand are insufficient to set up a public transport route. Faced with this situation, either we set up transport on demand or we offer car sharing », explain the Metropole’s technicians.

Finally, a project for a lane reserved for carpooling and public transport was envisaged on the A150, between Barentin and Rouen, as this is a frequently congested route, but it is currently under study.

« Champion of France for carpooling », the Metropole increases its initial budget tenfold

From the end of 2021 and especially in 2022, Rouen Metropole will see a sharp increase in the number of carpooling journeys recorded by the RPC, with a tenfold increase in 2022 alone. They exceeded 100,000 journeys per month at the beginning of 2023. Throughout 2022, the Metropolis maintained its position as the « leading metropolis » for carpooling on the RPC. This growth in the number of journeys is largely due to planned carpooling, whereas « operational implementation is more complicated on the Covoit’ici lines », and the number of journeys is much lower.

Over the year 2022, per working day, carpooling recorded by the RPC represented an average of 1.1% of the km travelled for home-to-work journeys made within the extended perimeter (Rouen Metropolitan Area and Seine-Eure agglomeration) 1, these journeys being the main targets of the Metropolitan Area’s policies.

As a result of this increase, the budget allocated to the incentives has had to be increased several times by the Metropole: the planned budget was €200,000 for 2022, but this has now been increased to €2.5 million until the end of February 2023. The budget for the following period (March to September 2023) has so far been set at €1.7 million. The average cost per journey is €2.60.

On the RPC, Rouen records almost a third of journeys of less than 10 km. This is due in particular to the high proportion of journeys within the densely populated areas: Rouen/Rouen, Rouen/Saint-Etienne du Rouvray and Rouen/Mont-Saint-Aignan in particular. By taking a closer look at the journeys made using Klaxit, the local authority realised that the application was used extensively by students, particularly on the Rouen/Saint-Etienne du Rouvray route. Many journeys are made on the same route as an existing public transport line linking a university campus and the centre of Rouen. This competition with existing public transport sometimes even amounts to fraud. Indeed, some public transport users activate the application during their journeys in order to receive compensation under the car-sharing policy.

In addition, informal carpooling, as measured by the 2017 household travel survey, is almost 15 times higher than platform carpooling in 2022 in the region, and 5 times higher if only home-work carpooling is considered.

New incentives to control the budget and limit fraud

Faced with the increase in the number of journeys in 2022, the Metropole has decided to « deploy parachutes, without killing the product, to avoid the budget wall », describes B. Tisserand. Since March 2023, the incentive arrangements have been modified. Passengers continue to benefit from free travel on journeys of less than 30 km. Beyond that, they must pay the driver 10 cents per km. Driver compensation has also changed:

According to the Metropolitan Council, these new measures have been a success, as they have reduced the number of long journeys (journeys of more than 30km now represent only 6% of the total volume, compared with 28% before), and the average distance of journeys has fallen from 26km to 17km. The overall volume of journeys has fallen by 37% since the new measures were introduced, but they have made it possible to reduce the cost of incentives per journey (the average payment has fallen from €2.6 to €1.9) and to redirect practices towards the authority’s initial targets: journeys that cannot be made using active modes of transport, where public transport does not exist or is not efficient.

Towards shared governance and funding for car sharing?

For Bruno Tisserand, « It’s early days, we’re not yet in a stable situation. The local authority is determined not to subsidise on a permanent basis, and to gradually reduce incentives; otherwise the budget will be exponential. But we’re in a situation of steering with levers that we don’t know how they’re going to react. We are unable to estimate the price elasticity of car sharing at this stage.

While the long-term aim is to move away from the financial incentive model, the mobility director believes that it is still too early. Incentives allow us to « hit hard ». In his opinion, car-sharing is « the most complicated mode to develop ». He gives the example of the Covoit’ici lines, « a good concept, but with a complicated operational implementation », involving at this stage expensive facilities for the number of journeys recorded.

Similarly, while the overall financing of carpooling is currently borne entirely by the Metropole for the services mentioned above, the local authority is considering sharing the cost with other potential funders in the future: the passenger (who until now has benefited from free journeys), employers (via the FMD), neighbouring EPCIs, the Region, etc.

In addition to financial incentives, companies also seem to have a key role to play in making carpooling work: « In mobility plans, we see that when companies have a lot of parking spaces, it’s very difficult to encourage them, » reports Elsa Delabaere. The local authority also wants to encourage companies to introduce the sustainable mobility package, which is currently offered by fewer than 30 companies in the region. To develop this, the local authority has made it a condition for companies to obtain certain financial aid.

  • 1 In 2022, on average, 52,647 km were recorded by the RPC per working day. This figure was divided by the number of km travelled each day for home-to-work journeys: 4.86 million (i.e. 486,000 multiplied by the average distance of 10 km for internal and exchange car journeys (EMD 2017).


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