Framework for Testing Innovative Transit Solutions: Case Study of CarLink, A Commuter Carsharing Program

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Authors: Susan Shaheen and Linda Novick

Date: December 31, 2005

Abstract: Transit accounts for just two percent of total travel in the U.S. One reason for low ridership is limited access; many individuals either live or work too far from a transit station. In developing transit connectivity solutions, researchers often employ a range of study instruments, such as stated-preference surveys, focus groups, and pilot programs. To better understand response to one innovative transit solution, the authors employed a number of research tools, including: a longitudinal survey, field test, and pilot program. The innovation examined was a commuter carsharing model, called CarLink, which linked short-term rental vehicles to transit and employment centers. Over several years, researchers explored user response to the CarLink concept, a field operational test (CarLink I), a pilot program (CarLink II), and a commercial operation (the pilot was turned over to Flexcar in Summer 2002). This multi-staged approach provided an opportunity for researchers to learn and adapt as each phase progressed. In this paper, the authors outline the CarLink model, technology, and early lessons learned; describe CarLink II operational understanding; provide a synopsis of the pilot program transition; and offer recommendations for future model development.

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December 31, 2005

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