Shared Mobility: Ridesharing, Carpooling, Group Riding, and Vehicle Sharing/Rentals

Objective

Perform research evaluating the costs, fiscal savings, and environmental or ecological footprint of several types of group riding, or vehicle sharing services, as compared to personal motor vehicle use. Make recommendations for optimizing use of such services in selected urban environments. 

Background

We have recently seen the introduction of sharing economy trends that include ridesharing services such as Uber-X, Lyft, Sidecar, Wingz, and other services that use smartphone applications to dispatch cars, make calls, and arrange for group rides.  This new phenomenon or movement could—if executed correctly and legally—reduce the use of personal motor vehicles and make for-hire ground transportation vehicles more efficient and sustainable. 

Other forms of group riding include for-hire shuttle services, carpooling incentives, and services such as ZipCar or vehicle rental/ car sharing services. All of these group riding solutions, working together efficiently, could serve as a viable inter-modal connection service by and between subways, light rail, buses, biking, and walking. However, finding the right mix of services and predicting the future of group riding and car sharing can be difficult. 

This project will begin by analyzing the history of all group riding incentives and services in the United States. We will weigh and compare the economics of each type of service, as well as calculate the carbon footprint reduction of each service in comparison with the traditional use of personal motor vehicles. Finally, the study will focus on one or more cities as test cases, and for each will propose specific group riding services, as inter-modal links, to supplement other forms of mass or private transportation.

Suggested Approaches

  1. Conduct research: Conduct extensive research on various group riding and vehicle sharing services.  Gather cost and price data from various services, and analyze the data in order to identify incentives or disincentives for use of such services.  Calculate and compare carbon footprint data.
     
  2. Identify policy issues: Identify and analyze the major policy and program administration issues for each type of service. This will involve assessments of environmental benefits, social equity concerns, and inter-modal effects.
     
  3. Develop recommendations: Focusing on one or more cities, assess which group riding services have been most effective, and make recommendations as to how such services—in what combinations—could most effectively be deployed.