The initiative was taken by the Territoire Saône Mont d’Or local authority in partnership with the municipalities. To find financial support, it applied for funds through the EC’s Do the Right Mix campaign, which supported the creation of communication tools. Lyon has promoted inter-enterprise travel for some time, with Stop Covoiturage a new take on the well-tested carpooling formula. Particularly with this format, the issues of safety and security are very important. By addressing these, the service is able to be flexible and spontaneous.
Only those who register can take advantage of the service. Upon signing a commitment charter, residents are issued with a membership card, a car sticker for drivers and a network map. To receive this kit, the registration – available online to all residents - must be done with the Syndicat de communes Saône Mont d'Or (the association of municipalities). In practice, if a pedestrian member hails a registered motorist or if a motorist offers a lift to a pedestrian waiting at a carpooling stop, both members need to show their membership details. Each party has the opportunity to decline, as well as accept, the offered lift.
Launched only six months ago with five carpooling stops, Stop Covoiturage now consists of 10 stops and 50 members. A number of non-car users have tested the scheme and reported positively on the experience. The typically short waiting time of under three minutes was deemed to be particularly attractive to users. A broader evaluation of the scheme is planned during 2014, the goal of which is to calculate the average waiting time for each stop. This evaluation will help galvanize the scheme by giving more information to users.
Each stop will also have a timetable so that users know how long they should wait (depending on whether it is during peak or off-peak hours) and in which direction they are going. Conventional carpooling is very popular in the Greater Lyon region, particularly for commuting to work. Besides the new Stop Covoiturage scheme, another organised carpool system is being experimented in Greater Lyon’s eight territories. It includes over 370 companies and about 20,000 employees.
Thanks to the success and efficiency of the existing carpooling programs, many more agencies are in the process of considering becoming part of the wider system. In 2007 new territories within the region applied to be involved, such as the industrial zone of Vallée de la Chimie (through the French Petroleum Institute) representing 27 companies and 7,700 employees. Shops in Central Lyon, the Techlid area in western Lyon, and several other trade associations in the region also have become part of the carpooling system.
A European and national carpooling scheme, BlaBlaCar, is also growing in popularity: it already has about two million users. It is anticipated the popularity of carpooling in the region will be mirrored with Stop Covoiturage.
Continued financial and material support is also required to further develop the service and promote travel planning for commuters. Ensuring consistency and the acceptability of actions by all stakeholders across the territories in the Lyon region is also of prime importance.