Shared ride services in North America: definitions, impacts, and the future of pooling

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Authors: Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen

Date: July 11, 2018


Shared ride services allow riders to share a ride to a common destination. They include ridesharing (carpooling and vanpooling); ridesplitting (a pooled version of ridesourcing/transportation network companies); taxi sharing; and microtransit. In recent years, growth of Internet-enabled wireless technologies, global satellite systems, and cloud computing – coupled with data sharing – are causing people to increase their use of mobile applications to share a ride. Some shared ride services, such as carpooling and vanpooling, can provide transportation, infrastructure, environmental, and social benefits. This paper reviews common shared ride service models, definitions, and summarises existing North American impact studies. Additionally, we explore the convergence of shared mobility; electrification; and automation, including the potential impacts of shared automated vehicle (SAV) systems. While SAV impacts remain uncertain, many practitioners and academic research predict higher efficiency, affordability, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The impacts of SAVs will likely depend on the number of personally owned automated vehicles; types of sharing (concurrent or sequential); and the future modal split among public transit, shared fleets, and pooled rides. We conclude the paper with recommendations for local governments and public agencies to help in managing the transition to highly automated vehicles and encouraging higher occupancy modes.

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November 2, 2020