Between local and regional AOMs, coordinating car-sharing policies in the Pays de la Loire region

September 2023

Forum Vies Mobiles

The Pays de la Loire region was the second region to record the most carpooling journeys on the RPC in 2022. This dynamic trend is due in particular to a regional policy of financial incentives (the Pays de la Loire Carpooling scheme), complemented by policies developed locally by the region’s AOMs, including Nantes Métropole and Angers Loire Métropole. The results of these schemes highlight the need to incorporate more conditions into the incentives and to roll out policies beyond the territorial boundaries of the conurbations, demonstrating the need for coordination between the inter-municipalities and the Region.

People interviewed :

The Pays de la Loire inter-municipal authorities have taken on a whole new set of responsibilities to tackle the issue of mobility, in the most multi-motorised region in France

The Pays de la Loire region is characterised by its balanced regional planning, with three conurbations with more than 250,000 inhabitants (Nantes, Angers and Le Mans) and several medium-sized towns (Laval, La Roche-sur-Yon, Cholet, Saumur, Saint-Nazaire, La Baule), structuring a dense network of small towns (SGAR Pays de la Loire territorial file, 2016). The region has 68 urban areas (centres with more than 1,500 jobs and their suburbs), which cover 52% of the region compared with an average of just 43% nationally. However, most of the demographic growth is concentrated in the Loire-Atlantique department and Nantes metropole in particular, illustrating the phenomenon of metropolisation 1.

Despite relatively balanced regional development and the presence of a large number of medium-sized and intermediate towns, the region has the highest number of car-owning households in France. For Sébastien Bourcier, Mobility Project Manager at the Pays de la Loire Region, this can be explained in part by a phenomenon specific to the West of France: « factories in the countryside ». « As a result, we have flows in all directions, and that’s not conducive to the deployment of public transport.

Since the LOM, there has been a major change in the way mobility is organised, with almost all the communities of communes (52 out of 54) having taken on the responsibility for mobility and becoming AOMs within their territories. This is the region in France where this assumption of power has been most significant. To support this dynamic, the Region has a role to play in organising and coordinating mobility between EPCIs and at regional level.

Variation in financial incentives for carpooling and allocation procedures depending on the area concerned

Throughout the Pays de la Loire region, different car sharing policies coexist, with conditions varying according to the scheme (see table below). Certain journeys are excluded from the scheme, so that aid cannot be cumulated between the different schemes.

In early 2021, the Regional Council will vote on the regional mobility strategy. It includes support for car-pooling and car-sharing among its objectives, in addition to on-demand transport, and in partnership with local authorities. 4 million over three years has been earmarked for the development of shared mobility. « There are complex origins and destinations that can’t be dealt with effectively by public transport alone, because it won’t be able to meet all the needs, » explains S. Bourcier. Other issues are highlighted, such as congestion at peak times and the cost-effectiveness of car-sharing.

The Pays de la Loire region has developed two main ways of supporting carpooling, with a view to targeting home-work and home-study journeys:

The scheme will start in January 2021 with Blablacar Daily, then the open agreement will allow the other three operators mentioned to join. The first campaign includes open operating terms and conditions, and the level of compensation per passenger can be high: from €2 per passenger up to a maximum of €5. Subsequently, in February 2023, new terms and conditions were introduced: compensation increased to €1 per passenger and up to a maximum of €3, for a maximum monthly gain of €120 per driver. The minimum distance is raised to 5 km, with a maximum of 80 km. Finally, from the outset, the scheme excludes from compensation journeys within the territorial jurisdiction of Nantes, Angers, Le Mans and the Cholet conurbation. This exclusion is primarily in response to the desire not to cumulate aid, as some of these local authorities already have policies in place to encourage carpooling. There is also a certain commitment to car sharing in the region: a questionnaire carried out by Cerema and the Region among the AOMs in the 2nd quarter of 2022 revealed that this was a focus of work for all the départements, metropolises and conurbations, and for half of the other EPCIs surveyed 2.

The Nantes metropolitan area is characterised by a long-term commitment to car sharing, well before the LOM. As early as 2004, as part of the drive to create company travel plans (PDE), a website was set up and made available to companies wishing to offer this facility to their employees. The Metropole was one of the local authorities in Brittany and the Loire region to set up the OuestGo regional platform. Subsequently, when the public service delegation (DSP) for the public transport network was renewed for the period 2018-2025, the transport operator proposed to include a carpooling service in its overall offering. « The pitch was that we were going to offer car drivers the chance to be drivers on the public transport network. It was an attractive proposition, and one that convinced our elected representatives, » recalls Gilles Farge, from the Nantes Metropolitan Council’s Mobility Services Department. What’s more, the service can be offered immediately to subscribers to the public transport network, which means that it can be expanded very quickly.

The Covoit’Tan scheme will be rolled out from the end of 2019. The operator Klaxit has been chosen following a consultation to offer its application as a support for the Covoit’Tan offer in the Metropolis. The local authority is developing a policy of financial incentives associated with Covoit’Tan, valid only for journeys made within the Nantes metropolitan area. Passengers pay for their journeys as if they were using TAN public transport, or benefit from free travel if they have an unlimited TAN season ticket (Libertan). Drivers are paid €2 per passenger, regardless of the number of km (+ €0.10 per km over 20 km). The scheme has been extended until the end of 2023.

At the same time, the Nantes metropolitan area is also working on the introduction of a dedicated car-pooling lane.

A similar scheme to support carpoolers is being developed by Angers Loire Métropole. The operator Klaxit initially approached the local authority, which readily agreed, not least because part of the scheme was financed directly by the operator via CEE. The scheme, which will pay drivers €2 per passenger, will be rolled out from January 2021. Subsequently, the AOM entrusted the transport operator RATP Dev with the task of promoting and supporting carpooling, and the local authority allocated a lump sum of 400,000 euros for the period 2022-2023. In particular, the carpooling offer must be integrated into the Irigo journey planner. The financial incentives have been expanded. Whereas under the first scheme, there are few criteria relating to journeys that drivers must make in order to obtain the subsidy, criteria have been added to the second scheme, to which the local authority is more strongly committed:

As a result, carpooling policies coexist in the same area, with conditions varying from one AOM to another, as shown in the table below. Throughout the Pays de la Loire region, other EPCIs have entered into partnerships with car sharing operators. These operators have also signed contracts directly with major companies in the region (Puy du Fou, Pasquier, Airbus Saint-Nazaire, etc.).

Assessment of the three carpooling incentive schemes

In 2022, the Pays de la Loire region was the second region to record the most carpooling journeys on the RPC, after Île-de-France, and the second in France in terms of the number of journeys in relation to the number of jobs, after Normandy. Over the course of the year, the region made more than half a million journeys. Of these journeys, 421,142 were encouraged by the regional scheme, at an average cost per journey of €3.94 (including driver bonus and platform commission), and €0.13 per In 2023, between January and May, the new compensation arrangements reduced the average cost per journey: 339,109 journeys were encouraged, for an average cost per journey of €2.67 (or €0.09 per For Covoit’Tan, the average cost per journey was €2.22 3, or €0.24 per This difference in cost between the two systems can be explained in particular by the average distance of the journeys (30 km for Covoiturage Pays de la Loire, 9.2 km for Covoit’Tan).

The number of journeys recorded shows that usage is very low compared with the number of daily journeys. For the region, at the beginning of 2023, despite an increase in the number of journeys compared to 2022, the journeys encouraged represented around 0.4% of the km travelled to work or study in the region, excluding journeys within the 4 main conurbations not encouraged by the scheme 4 The Covoit’Tan scheme recorded an average of 155 journeys per working day between June 2022 and May 2023, or around 0.02% of the km travelled for daily home-to-work journeys. What’s more, the number of journeys per platform is much lower than the 28,000 daily home-work journeys made by informal carpooling, according to the 2015 Household Travel Survey. For Gilles Farge, « the carpooling that goes on platforms is microscopic ». In his view, these platforms still need to be offered, because « not having one means not being able to tell someone who wants to carpool that they can find passengers or a driver ». However, « if we want to encourage people to carpool, it’s not necessarily the platforms that should come first. What we need to focus on is promotion, communication, awareness-raising and perhaps restrictions. Things that are much more massive.

The second feedback is the need to target the schemes more closely to avoid competition with existing public transport. A number of journeys recorded in the region are internal to the Nantes and Angers conurbations, i.e. very short carpools. The average distance of Covoit’Tan journeys is 9.2 km, as the scheme is targeted at journeys within the Nantes metropolitan area. In addition, making journeys free only for Libertan unlimited season tickets does not target car users, but public transport users. At Angers Loire Métropole, Virginie Caballé, Director of Transport, also notes « large volumes of carpooling on routes that we manage or would be able to manage otherwise [by other means: active modes, public transport]".

Overall, however, the journeys recorded by Covoiturage Pays de la Loire reflect significant territorial coverage, particularly on journeys not covered or poorly covered by public transport. S. Bourcier notes that 60% of journeys leave the metropolises of Nantes and Angers in the morning and return to the metropolis in the evening, even though these « divergent » journeys account for only 40% of overall travel practices. According to the people we met for this case study, there are several possible explanations for this:

The challenge of inter-territorial coordination to meet the needs and relevance of car sharing

For G. Farge, the Covoit’tan scheme was above all an opportunity to reflect on the fact that it did not meet the needs and realities of travel. « When we analysed the EMD, we found that almost half of the city’s working population lives outside the city. On the RPC, we also found that out of 3 journeys, only one was within the Nantes metropolitan area, then there was one going out and one coming in. Covoit’Tan was only available for internal journeys and was only free for Libertan unlimited season tickets, and very few people who do not live in the Nantes metropolitan area have this season ticket. What’s more, we also realised that it wasn’t possible to share the scheme across the whole catchment area, with the outlying EPCIs. As a result, the Covoit’Tan offer was added to the existing public transport offer within Nantes Métropole, while non-residents of the Metropole had very little interest in using the service.

V. Caballé also notes the relevance of carpooling for people living outside the conurbation. « We’re thinking about the RD 347, which is experiencing some congestion, and we’re getting requests to widen the network to cope with this. But it would only take 200 fewer vehicles to ease the flow, and carpooling could make that possible. It’s a road that comes from outside the conurbation, and it’s within the conurbation that we have congestion. We’re looking at ways of developing car sharing with other EPCIs ».

Developing schemes to support car sharing that are limited to the perimeter of metropolises and conurbations does not seem relevant. What’s more, these different schemes make it difficult for employers or users to understand the carpooling policy, as each scheme corresponds to a specific territorial area, with its own terms and conditions of eligibility for financial incentives.

While inter-territorial coordination between EPCIs, and between EPCIs and the Region, is necessary, it remains a challenge: « The LOM provides tools, but the distribution of responsibilities and governance models are not necessarily dictated. It’s up to us to build them » according to S. Bourcier. In 2023, the region signed the first Operational Mobility Contract (COM) to coordinate mobility policies at the level of a catchment area (Centre Loire Atlantique) between a metropolis, two conurbation communities and eight communities of communes. The Loire-Atlantique department and SNCF Gares et Connexions are also signatories to the contract. One of the COM’s priority missions over the next 5 years is to experiment with car-pooling lines.

  • 1 Data taken from Dossier territorial SGAR Pays de la Loire, 2016 and CESER Pays de la Loire, 2019. Schéma régional des mobilités. Transforming mobility in Pays de la Loire.

  • 2 30 local authorities responded to this questionnaire, the results of which are taken from the presentation material for the Sustainable Mobility Forum on 14 October 2022.

  • 3 For the period from June 2022 to May 2023.

  • 4 We considered, on the one hand, the km of carpooling encouraged (4,100 journeys per working day on average and an average distance of 30 km in March 2023) and, on the other hand, the km travelled to work or study, based on the 8 million daily journeys made in interaction or outside the 4 main conurbations (corresponding to the target of the scheme). 33% of these journeys are work- or study-related. The average distance used is that of home-work journeys (12 km). These figures are taken from the Schéma régional des mobilités (Regional Mobility Plan) published by CESER Pays de la Loire (2019).


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