Shared-Use Vehicle Systems: A Framework for Classifying Carsharing, Station Cars, and Combined Approaches

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Authors: Matt Barth and Susan Shaheen

Date: October 01, 2002

Abstract: In recent years, shared-use vehicle systems have garnered a great deal of interest and activity internationally as an innovative mobility solution. In general, shared-use vehicle systems consist of a fleet of vehicles that are used by several different individuals throughout the day. Shared-use vehicles offer the convenience of a private automobile and more flexibility than public transportation alone. These systems are attractive since they offer the potential to lower a user’s transportation costs; reduce the need for parking spaces in a community; improve overall air quality; and facilitate access to and encourage use of other modes such as rail transit. Shared-use vehicle systems take many forms, ranging from neighborhood carsharing to classic station car models. Given the recent proliferation in system approaches, it is useful to establish a classification system or framework for characterizing these programs. The classification system presented here outlines key program elements that can help policy makers and practitioners characterize and evaluate various aspects of this rapidly evolving field. Further, it helps researchers analyze and compare the various models, including their similarities, differences, and benefits. A shared-use vehicle classification system is provided that describes existing and evolving models; examples are provided of each. It is argued that carsharing and station car concepts can be viewed as two ends of a continuum, sharing many similarities, rather than as separate concepts. Indeed, many existing shared-use vehicle systems can be viewed as hybrid systems, exhibiting characteristics of both.

 

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October 1, 2002

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