Autolib’: a competitor tolerated by Parisian taxis?

Context of the study

Whereas the ridehailing operators (locally known in France as Uber, AlloCab, SnapCar, Le Cab, etc.) have clearly picked a fight with taxi companies, Autolib’ carsharing vehicles have benefited from a less aggressive reception. Somehow, the survey conducted by 6t-bureau de recherche about the impact of the Autolib’ service shows that Autolib’ contributes to a sharp fall in weekly and monthly taxi use.

 

Key results

Before subscribing to Autolib’, the weekly use of taxis was very high among respondents. After subscribing, the use is divided by three (19% of subscribers used to use it every week and after suscribing to Autolib’ only 6% did so). Concerning the number of respondents who never take a taxi, it doubles after subscribing to Autolib’ (from 11% to 20%). Thus, 60% of Autolib’ users declare they use taxis less, this figure reaches only 22% in the case of Mobizen subscribers (round-trip carsharing in the Paris metropolitan area) and 9% in the case of other carsharing users in the rest of France.

Figure 1: A strong fall in the share of Autolib’ subscribers frequently taking a taxi 

F1Source: 6t-bureau de recherche, 2014, 484 respondents, all of them subscribed to Autolib’, as private individuals.

In order to better understand the observed decrease in the use of taxi, we have sorted the respondents in four categories, based on the frequency of taxi use both before and after joining Autolib’. The frequencies of taxi use that the respondents could choose were “once a week or more”, “two or three times a months”, “once a month”, “6 to 11 times a year”, “1 to 5 times a year”, “less often” and “never”.

  •  Respondents whose frequency of taxi use rose following their subscription to Autolib’ are sorted in the « increase » category ;
  •  Respondents whose frequency of taxi did not change following their subscription to Autolib’ are sorted in the « no change » category ;
  • Respondents whose frequency of taxi use dropped following their subscription to Autolib’ (for instance from « once a week » to « 2 or 3 times a month ») are sorted in the « small decrease » category ;
  • Respondents whose frequency of taxi use dropped  by two or more levels following their subscription to Autolib’ (for instance from « once a week» to « once a month ») are sorted in the category « large decrease ».

Figure 2 : Autolib’ subscribers distribution according to their evolution of taxi use.

F2 Source : 6t-Bureau de Recherche, 2014, 484 respondents who subscribed to Autolib’ as private individuals

The decrease in taxi use stems from the large portion of subscribers who used the service more often before joining Autolib’: we can observe a strong fallin taxi use for 40% of the subscribers who used to take a taxi at least once a week, 36 % of those who used to take it 2 or 3 times a month and 40% of those who used to take it once a month. The decrease is much lighter for users who already used taxis only rarely before joining Autolib’. These results suggest a global strong impact on taxi use.

Figure 3 : evolution of taxi use following the subscription to Autolib’, according to the frequency of taxi use before Autolib’

F3Source : 6t-Bureau de Recherche, 2014, 484 respondents who subscribed to Autolib’ as private individuals

Whereas Parisian taxis is a mode of transportation mainly used people belonging to the upper social categories (executives, CEOs, etc.), we note that these are the categories of persons which decrease their taxi use the most. Once having subscribed to Autolib’, two thirds of businessmen, CEOs, etc. reduces their taxi use.

Figure 4 : evolution of taxi use for Autolib’ subscribers, according to the professional status

F4Source : 6t-Bureau de Recherche, 2014, 484 respondents who subscribed to Autolib’ as private individuals or through a corporate subscription

The decrease in taxi use is larger among Autolib’ users living within Paris, than among users living in the suburbs: 64% of the former cut their taxi use down, while 54% of the latter do so. The impact is even more important if we keep in mind that apart from tourists and professionals trips, in the Paris Metropolitan Area, Parisians are the one using taxis the most.

Figure 5: evolution of taxi use for Autolib’ subscribers, according to the place of residence

F5Source : 6t-Bureau de Recherche, 2014, 484 respondents who subscribed to Autolib’ as private individuals or through a corporate subscription

Taxis are meant to be an efficient alternative for non motorized individuals; yet we see that they are precisely the ones abandoning taxis just after joining Autolib’: 66 % of them reduce their taxi use, whereas only 51% of people owning a car and 54% of those who own two or more cars do so.

Figure 6: evolution of taxi use for Autolib’ subscribers according to the number of cars owned by the household.

F6Source: 6t-Bureau de Recherche, 2014, 484 respondents who subscribed to Autolib’ as private individuals or through a corporate subscription

Autolib’ takes markets shares away from Parisians taxis for two main reasons. First, it addresses mainly the same types of users: individuals belonging to middle-uppers classes, non-motorized and living within Paris. Then, it offers a similar (even if there is no driver, it is a car accessible without prior reservation and compatible with one-way trips), yet cheaper and more accessible service than taxis,thanks to both the density and its 24/7 availability.

If there are almost as many Autolibs’ as ridehailing companies (around 2000 Vs. 2500), we wonder why taxi drivers seem to accept the Autolib’ system and, at the same time, completely reject the development of the latter. Do they consider it to be a different service, given the fact that there is no driver? Or is it because it is a service organized by a public agency, whereas ridehailing companies vehicles are private transportation services?

 

To go further …

 

Few days after the publication of this article (in French), l’Officiel du taxi, one of the major taxi trade magazine in France published an article on the subject. It was the occasion for Jean-Pascal Péan (head of the main Parisian taxi union) to explain that for him Autolib’ is not really a competitor for taxi because he considers that this carsharing service is “mainly used by residents, and only slightly by tourists”.

Here an extract from the article:

“Taxi ranks are impacted

According to Jean-Pascal Péan (head of the main Parisian taxi union), « Autolib’ service has affected the number of taxi trips since its launch, although the impact remains moderated because Autolib’ is mainly used by residents, and only slightly by tourists. » In his opinion, it is above all the taxi ranks that are negatively affected by the one-way carsharing service. « A lot of ranks have been removed or relocated for the benefit of Autolib’ stations. While the increase of Parisian taxi drivers could have been accompanied by a rise of taxi ranks and new locations ».

Is Paris the only global city where taxi is not consider as a service for residents ? It would be interesting to ask them …

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