Can Sharing Economy Platforms Increase Social Equity for Vulnerable Populations in Disaster Response and Relief? A Case Study of the 2017 and 2018 California Wildfires

Authors: Stephen Wong, Jacquelyn Broader, and Susan Shaheen Date: June 2020 Abstract:  Ensuring social equity in evacuations and disasters remains a critical challenge for many emergency management and transportation agencies. Recent sharing economy advances – including transportation network companies (TNCs, also known as ridehailing and ridesourcing), carsharing, and homesharing – may supplement public resources and ensure more equitable evacuations. To explore the social equity implications of the sharing economy in disasters, we conducted four focus groups (n=37) of vulnerable populations impacted by California wildfires in 2017 or 2018. To structure these data, we employed the Spatial Temporal Economic Physiological Social (STEPS) equity framework in an evacuation context. We contribute to the literature by: 1) summarizing the focus groups and their opinions on the sharing economy in evacuations; 2) capturing wildfire evacuation obstacles through the STEPS transportation equity framework; and 3) linking STEPS and focus group results to explore the future potential of shared resources. Using STEPS, we also expand our shared resource exploration to 18 vulnerable groups. We found that all focus groups were highly concerned with driver availability and reliability and the ability of vehicles to reach evacuation zones, not necessarily safety and security. Each group also expressed specific limitations related to their vulnerability. For example, individuals with disabilities were most concerned with inaccessible vehicles and homes. Using the STEPS framework, we found that while multiple vulnerable groups could gain considerable benefits from shared resources, 10 of the 18 groups experience three or more key challenges to implementation. We offer several policy recommendations to address equity-driven planning and shared resource limitations. View...

CarLink—A Smart Carsharing System

Authors: Susan Shaheen Date: September 1999 Editor’s Note: The author of this piece is today intensely involved in the second stage of her professional interest in carsharing. Starting several years ago, she began to look into as part of her doctoral research in transportation studies at an American university. Several years later, here she is as entrepreneur and manager behind an ambitious carsharing project. This is a report on the first months of their experience and goals for the future. View PDF....

Carsharing Continues to Gain Momentum

Authors: Susan Shaheen, PhD Date: July 2006 Abstract:  With auto ownership and fuel costs rising, people everywhere are seeking alternatives to private vehicle ownership. Carsharing (or short-term vehicle rentals) provides such an alternative through hourly rates and subscription-access plans, especially for individuals and businesses in major cities with good access to other transportation modes, such as transit and carpooling. The principle of carsharing is simple: individuals gain the benefits of private vehicle use without the costs and responsibilities of ownership. People involved in this typically join an organization that maintains a fleet of cars and light trucks in a network of locations, such as lots at transit stations or in neighborhoods or businesses. Most carsharing operators manage their services with some degree of modern computer-based technologies, which can include automated reservations, smart card vehicle access, and real-time vehicle tracking. For nearly 20 years, there has been growing worldwide participation in carsharing. Some 330,000 individuals—nearly two thirds of whom are in Europe—now share at least 10,500 vehicles as part of organized carsharing services (See Table 1 and Figure 1). Many of these operations began in Switzerland and Germany in the late 1980s and later spread to 12 other countries on the continent and to the United Kingdom. In the 1990s, North America and Asia also started professional carsharing activities. More recently, three carsharing initiatives were launched in Australia starting in 2003. View...

Carsharing Parking Policy: Review of North American Practices and San Francisco, California, Bay Area Case Study

Authors: Susan Shaheen, PhD, Adam Cohen, and Elliot Martin, PhD Date: December 2010 Abstract:  Carsharing provides users access to a shared vehicle fleet for short-term use throughout the day, reducing the need for private vehicles. The provision of on-street and public off-street parking dedicated to carsharing is an important policy area confronting public agencies. As of July 2009, approximately 377,600 individuals were carsharing members in North America in about 57 metropolitan areas. Seventeen jurisdictions, one state (California), and eight public transit operators in North America have formal and informal carsharing parking policies, pilot projects, and proposed legislation. These policies, projects, and proposals are reviewed in this paper, along with a framework for carsharing parking policy that reflects three levels of government support. In addition, the authors examine carsharing parking policies in three jurisdictions in the San Francisco Bay Area in California that account for an estimated 50,000 carsharing members and 1,100 shared-use vehicles. Supporting this examination is an intercept survey on carsharing parking (n425) conducted in the Bay Area. Most people supported the conversion of some type of spaces for carsharing use, and 48% thought that carsharing organizations should compensate the city for on-street spaces. At the same time, converting most types of spaces was opposed by at least 20% of respondents. Neighborhood residents were generally more in favor of parking conversion for carsharing than people visiting the area for work or errands. Finally, a majority (61%) thought that nonprofits should have priority over for-profit organizations for carsharing spaces and should pay less than for-profit organizations. View...