Ali Clabburn is the Founder and CEO of Liftshare, Mobilityways and C-Lab, who is pioneering a global sharing economy, through new mobility solutions that will make our cities more efficient and less polluting.
So Ali, being the Founder and CEO of Liftshare and, more recently, Mobilityways, how has car-sharing developed from both a consumer and business standpoint?
Car sharing is not a niche, it’s mainstream. We’ve all car-shared. Sometimes with family, with friends, with colleagues and perhaps with total strangers. At a macro level, the biggest influencing factor in the number of people sharing cars is the price of fuel. Historically as fuel prices have dropped so have car occupancy levels and visa versa.
Liftshare’s core business connects employees travelling the same way to work at our client sites so they can share their commutes, saving them money, reducing emissions, congestion, parking challenges and helping them to travel happy.
Last year we celebrated our millionth Liftshare member joining and in January this year we saved our billionth car mile. Our growth in membership has been fairly equally balanced between members of the public joining liftshare.com and commuters joining one of over 700 Liftshare schemes that we run for many of the UKs largest employers and councils. The success of our client scheme’s has not only funded the huge investments we’ve made into R&D, CX and UX but also enabled us to provide the public scheme at liftshare.com.
2020 was on track to be a record year of growth and then a bat in China decided to change the path we were all treading.
Pre COVID, I’d not imagined a situation where sharing cars to work could be seen as anything other than a win-win. As the rules and regulations started emerging from PHE, what became very clear was that the Government had no idea that 2.5 million people previously shared lifts to work and if they were told they could not share then many of them, including lots of our NHS and key worker members, would not be able to get to work.
We successfully lobbied PHE to clarify the guidance around car-sharing being allowed and we could see from our data the individuals were still sharing. Whilst nearly all our current clients have been happy to keep their schemes running they’ve not been promoting them. Having seen new member numbers drop 80% in April numbers have been going up every month but we don’t expect the demand for our lift-sharing services to be back on track until next summer.
The negative impacts of Government advice to avoid public transport and sharing if possible can now be seen across the country as many more people are driving alone to work. Traffic on many roads is back to February levels and as more and more offices start opening up there is a real danger that there will be more cars on the road than ever before, our roads will be gridlocked and transport emissions rise once again.
Is it fair to say that your new company, Mobilityways, is an extension of Liftshare? If so, what’s the idea behind it?
I set Liftshare up as an eco-warrior student way back in 1998 and helping the environment has driven me ever since. Liftshare’s vision was to save the world through sharing. COVID highlighted that there are some things that are even more sustainable than sharing, for example working from home.
Alongside Liftshare we’ve had a continuous stream of R&D into new products and services to help improve mobility. Amidst many failures (including Carloco (P2P car rental), Teppo (Business Miles Tool), BikeBUDi (Bike Sharing Service), we’ve invented some market-leading mobility services. The key ones are myPTP – the leading Maas tool for employers, Scoping Smart Mobility – the tool that enables a client to see every commuting mode available to every employee, and more recently ACEL – the world’s first commuting emissions calculator and benchmarking tool for employers and councils.
With the sudden increase in business interest in setting and hitting Net Zero Goals we needed to pull all our services together into a clear offering for helping clients achieve Zero Carbon Commuting and that brand is Mobilityways.
Liftshare has been around for over 20 years, probably being the oldest ‘mobility’ company around. How do you develop a company over multiple decades alongside rapid industry growth?
Stay true to your vision. Employ amazing people. Always put the customer at the centre of all your decisions, assume nothing, ask lots, learn faster than your competition and keep innovating. When you find you’re comfortable – invest in disrupting yourself before anyone else does.
Finally, as a self-confessed ‘commutologist,’ how can the UK hit zero-carbon commuting by 2040?
Every employer needs to track their commuting emissions and use data to develop a strategy to achieve an Average Commuter Emissions Level of 0 by 2040. We are now working with some amazing companies and forward-thinking councils to do just that. We then bring in a wide range of expert mobility partners to deliver targeted solutions to meet the client’s strategic goals using the data to drive the strategy. These partners include consultants, operators, vehicle providers, and even internet providers to support home working.
Typically the plans are focussing for the next 5 years on implementing working from home plans, doubling cycling levels, introducing e scooters, doubling levels of lift sharing, introducing vanpooling and shuttle buses and planning the shift to more EVs in the subsequent years. However, the strategy will vary depending on the client’s situation and goals can be influenced by the insights of what travel options are possible with data from their Scoping Smart Mobility report.
Individuals need to travel less, work from home more, bike more, and if you are travelling too far to walk, bike or E scooter, then share journeys in EVs, Vanpools or E buses. We and our partners can help them with that too!
Travel happy! Travel Safe! And please help us make Zero Carbon Commuting a reality.