An article by Olga Nevska, Managing Director of Telekom MobilitySolutions.
The era of COVID-19 has caused dramatic changes in our mobility and travel behavior overnight. Many of us are working from home and are not making any business trips; the use of all means of transportation has decreased significantly. The biggest losers have been public transportation, but there has been a sharp decline in the use of all sharing services as well. Owing to our fears of contracting the disease, we suddenly felt safest in our car, on a bicycle, or at home.
But not every job can be done from home. The main question my team and I asked ourselves was this: What mobility services can we use to ensure that our employees make it safely through the pandemic?
At the beginning of this year, everything was just fine. As Deutsche Telekom’s mobility provider and operator of the second-largest corporate fleet in Germany, we were well poised for the coming decade. We had successfully continued the diversification of our vehicle fleet in the direction of electric and micro-mobility and added new digital services that gave us steadily rising flexibility in responding to the needs of our customers. Today, our portfolio is highly diversified, ranging as it does from classic company cars or service vehicles to sharing concepts and various types of on-demand mobility. All well and good.
Then along came the coronavirus, and the nature of corporate mobility changed completely. The focus was now on issues of hygiene and safety, with individual transportation becoming the belle of the ball. The number of passengers using our shuttle services declined, and there was no longer any prospect of profitable capacity utilization. The primary concern had shifted to the health of our employees, and we quickly established a series of ad hoc solutions to ensure that our service technicians as well as many sales and technical staff could continue to travel and commute safely.
Well equipped with flexible mobility solutions
For example, we modified our shuttle service, which had previously run on a fixed schedule. Since May, an app that can be used to book on-demand shuttles has been available; passengers can request a vehicle that will pick them up from a specific location (e.g., from the train station or airport) and take them directly to the office. We are now in a position to respond to individual mobility needs, eliminating the need to travel the final leg of the journey in overcrowded public transportation. For safety reasons, only four passengers instead of the usual eight are allowed per shuttle trip. The interior is disinfected between rides, masks are compulsory, and a plexiglass shield separates the driver’s cab from the passenger area. During the coming months, the shuttles will no longer run just to the airport, to the nearest train station, or from one office building to another. The on-demand service at the Bonn location is also technically capable of picking up passengers directly at their place of residence on request. Riders simply enter their location in the app, the shuttle goes directly to the desired pickup spot, and then takes them to the company premises. While digital solutions such as these enable us to manage more effectively the utilization of capacity, they also offer a means for tracking contacts and possible chains of infection.
Another coronavirus special service is the option to borrow one of the corporate car-sharing vehicles for a longer period of time and to use it for trips to the office. In addition, we have set up hubs for 250 rental bikes at several locations in Bonn, and they can also be booked via app. These and several other measures will hopefully enable us to navigate safely through the coronavirus winter.
Coronavirus and then? We won’t stop!
But what will happen when COVID-19 is finally a thing of the past? Will we have to adapt our mobility strategy or even rethink it completely? I say no! The New Normal will not be in individual transportation — the mobility transition that started long before the coronavirus appeared is irreversible. That is why we are holding fast to our strategic goal: From the car to mobility. For me, this means that we will continue to work with determination on three areas: first, on the diversification of our portfolio through electric and micro-mobility; second, on the introduction of digital services such as sharing and pooling; and third, on interconnected and demand-oriented mobility for all.
Mobility is for #sharing
We want to make mobility sustainable and demand-oriented. Deutsche Telekom is determined to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent in comparison with 2017 by 2030, and mobility is one of the levers for achieving this goal. How will we do this?
- We will continue to increase the proportion of e-vehicles; since February, it has been possible to choose from a portfolio of 22 e-models. Their share of all company cars ordered is now 15 percent, and we expect this figure to rise to 30 percent in the coming year.
- We will improve the utilization of the capacity of the company car portfolio and, in the long run, reduce it through pooling and sharing services.
- We will use a mobility-as-a-service platform to provide an app that offers to all employees exactly the form of mobility they need at any given time. Regardless of the means of transportation or the transportation provider, users will book their travel via app — simply, individually, and as appropriate to their travel needs.
We have a social responsibility to devote our attention to the mobility of our colleagues. We take this issue very seriously and are proud to offer one of the most diversified and innovative portfolios of mobility services. Before the pandemic, during the pandemic, and even afterwards. Because next summer is sure to come.