Casual Carpooling in the San Francisco Bay Area: Understanding User Characteristics, Behaviors, and Motivations

Authors: Susan Shaheen, PhD, Nelson Chan, Theresa Gaynor Date: October 2016 Abstract: Casual carpooling is an informal form of commuter ridesharing operating in Washington, D.C.; Houston, Texas; and San Francisco, California. In contrast to new forms of shared-use mobility, casual carpooling has been in existence for over 30 years and uses no information communication technology, and is entirely run informally by its users. Researchers have been fascinated by this phenomenon and have conducted studies in the past, but there remains a lack of up-to-date quantitative data. This study examines the motivations and behaviors of casual carpoolers in the San Francisco Bay Area to understand user characteristics and motivations. In Winter 2014, the authors observed and counted participants and vehicles at four casual carpooling locations, interviewed participants riding in carpooling vehicles (N=16), and conducted intercept surveys (N=503) at ten East Bay pickup locations. The results indicate that the motivations for casual carpooling participation include convenience, time savings, and monetary savings, while environmental and community-based motivations ranked low. Casual carpooling is an efficient transportation option for these commuters, while environmental sustainability benefits are a positive byproduct. Seventy-five percent of casual carpool users were previously public transit riders, and over 10% formerly drove alone. Logit modeling found that casual carpool role (i.e., always a rider or sometimes a driver), age, and employment status were key drivers in modal choice. Further research on a larger scale is needed to identify the elements needed for system replication in different areas. View...

The Benefits of Carpooling

Authors: Susan Shaheen, PhD, Adam Cohen, Alexandre Bayen, PhD Date: October 2018 Abstract: Carpooling allows travelers to share a ride to a common destination and can include several forms of sharing a ride, such as casual carpooling and real-time carpooling. Because carpooling reduces the number of automobiles needed by travelers, it is often associated with numerous societal benefitsincluding: 1) reductions in energy consumption and emissions, 2) congestion mitigation, and 3) reduced parking infrastructure demand. In recent years, economic, environmental, and social forces coupled with technological innovations are encouraging shared and pooled services. Shared mobility is changing how people travel and is having a transformative impact on mobility. This chapter reviews key trends impacting the mobility marketplace including the growth of shared mobility and key demographic indicators, such as an aging population and Millennials entering the workforce. For decades, carpooling has been used as a strategy by numerous public agencies and employers as a strategy to address a range of climate, environmental, and congestion mitigation goals, while simultaneously increasing roadway and parking capacity. This chapter discusses how employers and public agencies can support carpooling. This chapter concludes with a summary of key findings from the report. View...

Planning for Shared Mobility

Authors: Susan Shaheen, PhD, Adam Cohen Date: July 26, 2016 Abstract: In recent years, economic, environmental, and social forces have quickly given rise to the “sharing economy,” a collective of entrepreneurs and consumers leveraging technology to share resources, save money, and generate capital. Homesharing services, such as Airbnb, and peer-to-peer carsharing services, such as Getaround, have become part of a sociodemographic trend that has pushed the sharing economy from the fringe and more to the mainstream. The role of shared mobility in the broader landscape of urban mobility has become a frequent topic of discussion. Major shared transportation modes—such as bikesharing, carsharing, ridesourcing, and alternative transit services—are changing how people travel and are having a transformative effect on mobility and local planning. View Report...

Shared Mobility: Current Practices and Guiding Principles

Authors: Susan Shaheen, Phd, Adam Cohen Date: April 1, 2016 Abstract: This primer provides an introduction and background to shared mobility; discusses the government’s role; reviews success stories; examines challenges, lessons learned, and proposed solutions; and concludes with guiding principles for public agencies. The primer provides an overview of current practices in this emerging field, and it also looks toward the future in the evolution and development of shared mobility. View...
Mobile Apps and Transportation: A Review of Smartphone Apps and a Study of User Response to Multimodal Traveler Information

Mobile Apps and Transportation: A Review of Smartphone Apps and a Study of User Response to Multimodal Traveler Information

In recent years, technological and social forces have pushed smartphone applications (apps) from the fringe to the mainstream. Understanding the role of transportation apps in urban mobility is important for policy development and transportation planners. This study evaluates the role and impact of multimodal aggregators from a variety of perspectives, including a literature review; a review of the most innovative, disruptive, and highest-rated transportation apps; interviews with experts in the industry, and a user survey of former multimodal aggregator RideScout users. Between February and April 2016, researchers conducted interviews with experts to gain a stronger understanding about challenges and benefits of data sharing between private companies and public agencies. Key findings from the expert interviews include the critical need to protect user privacy; the potential to use data sharing to address integrated corridor and congestion management as well as various pricing strategies during peak hours; along with the potential benefits for improving coordination between the public and private sectors. In March 2016, researchers surveyed 130 people who had downloaded the RideScout app to evaluate attitudes and perceptions toward mobile apps, travel behavior, and modal shift. The goal was to enhance understanding of how the multimodal apps were impacting the transportation behavior. The survey did found that respondents used multimodal apps in ways that yielded travel that was less energy intensive and more supportive of public transit. Looking to the future, smartphone applications and more specifically multimodal aggregators, may offer the potential for transportation planners and policymakers to enhance their understanding of multimodal travel behavior, share data, enhance collaboration, and identify opportunities for public-private partnerships....