Ride Sharing

The concept of ride sharing is not new, but there is great disparity between the way schemes have been developed in different countries. The disparity includes differences in terminology. Ride sharing can be loosely defined as any process which facilitates a car driver giving a lift to another person. This can range from informal lift giving between friends and family to a formally organised workplace scheme for journeys to and from work. Ride sharing (a European term) is variously known as lift giving, car pooling (in North America) and car sharing (in the UK). In the UK, a car pool is the term used to describe the situation where a company owns one or more vehicles for use by its employees on company business as and when needed.

Ride sharing differs from a car club in that the former requires drivers to possess their own vehicles. Where as members of a car club do not need to possess their own vehicles. Drivers become members of a club from which they can hire a vehicle for short periods. The passengers who participate in ride sharing can be other car owners or non-car owners.

There are many ways of managing demand for car travel. One group of measures that seek to do this are those designed to reduce the demand by facilitating new ways of travelling by car and/or providing alternatives. Ride sharing falls within this category.

Demand impacts may not always be in terms of a reduction in car use, and impacts can fluctuate over time as individuals' arrangements change.

Terminology

Car picture The concepts of ride sharing is not new, but there is great disparity between the way schemes have been developed in different countries. The disparity includes differences in terminology. Ride sharing can be loosely defined as any process which facilitates a car driver giving a lift to another person. This can range from informal lift giving between friends and family to a formally organised workplace scheme for journeys to and from work. Ride sharing (a European term) is variously known as lift giving, car pooling (in North America) and car sharing (in the UK). In the UK, a car pool is the term used to describe the situation where a company owns one or more vehicles for use by its employees on company business as and when needed.

Women and childRide sharing differs from a car club in that the former requires drivers to possess their own vehicles. Where as members of a car club do not need to possess their own vehicles. Drivers become members of a club from which they can hire a vehicle for short periods. The passengers who participate in ride sharing can be other car owners or non-car owners.

Family pictureStyles of Ride Sharing

Informal lift giving between family and friends. This includes parents driving children around, e.g. to school, a neighbour giving an elderly person who cannot drive a lift to the supermarket when they go, or one person driving a group of friends to the cinema for example. The role of informal lift giving in meeting transport objectives consequently varies tremendously. Parents driving their children to school contributes significantly to peak hour congestion, hence efforts are being made to reduce this type of escort journey. One parent driving several children from different households could contribute to reducing car use, where alternatives are impractical. Such measures to tackle the school run form part of school travel plans and are dealt with under that measure. A neighbour giving an elderly person a lift to a supermarket when they themselves would travel regardless probably has little impact on the car use. However, it could reduce the burden on social services if the elderly person were otherwise unable to shop independently. On the other hand, informal lift giving for social activities can reduce road traffic relative to the situation that would occur if four individuals drove to the same destination independently.

Ride sharing for work. This can also be an informal arrangement within a household, between colleagues or neighbours, or it can be a formal arrangement through the workplace. Formal workplace schemes are promoted as a means of reducing peak hour congestion, and other negative impacts of car travel, frequently promoted through company travel plans. Ride sharing can also reduce demand for expensive long stay city centre parking spaces and/or on site parking at a business location, both of which can be in short supply. This is probably the most common form of organised ride sharing.

Ride sharing through matching services. Ride sharing can be organised through services designed to match drivers and their journeys to passengers wishing to undertake particular journeys. These services usually operate through a database of drivers and passengers. Such services can start as small community initiatives operated on a paper basis, but increasingly, they are accessed via the Internet and serve a wider area. However, such advances have also brought concerns about security, both personal and of data, so up take can be very low.

The ride sharing outlined above is designed to reduce car use. Ride sharing can also be promoted to increase accessibility for potentially disadvantaged groups. In addition to the mechanisms outlined above, ride sharing to increase accessibility could be facilitated by community groups, especially in rural areas or by government bodies established to increase access to jobs, education and healthcare.

Charges

Charges for ride sharing are generally low, but vary depending on the mechanism by which the matching service is accessed. For work based schemes designed to facilitate ride sharing for the journey to and from work, access for individual users is generally free and the cost of setting up the matching service is absorbed by the company. Alternatively, organisations (not solely employers) can become corporate members of independent matching services - i.e. the organisation pays the service provider to administer their matching service. Some service providers then charge a registration fee per participant, which the organisation could pass onto the individuals. Further details of ride sharing schemes for the journey to and from work can be found in the Company Travel Plan section.

Ride sharing

Where individuals wish to become members of an independent ride-matching service, there is usually a small annual membership and/or registration fee, plus a charge per journey. Groups of individuals who are known to each other and wish to join as a private group can also become corporate members. Some UK examples are:

  • National CarShare (http://www.nationalcarshare.co.uk): 
    • £29.95 ($42.55) registration fee (incl VAT and first year's membership) 
    • £12.50 ($17.76) annual subscription after the first year (incl VAT)
    • £1 ($1.42) pick up fee per journey
    • £0.10 ($0.14) per mile petrol money.
  • Shareajourney (http://www.shareajourney.com):
    • £9.99 ($14.19) annual membership fee
    • Cost per journey at discretion of driver and passenger

Figures correct at time of preparation (28/02/02).

All of these are internet based, national matching services. Others are area based, such as londoncarshare (http://www.londoncarshare.co.uk), which has no registration or membership fee and journey costs are at the discretion of drivers and passengers. In contrast to the local area based sites, others are developing with continent wide catchment areas. Examples are EuroLift (http://www.eurolift.com) for Europe and eRideShare (http://www.erideshare.com) for North America. For informal sharing between friends, colleagues or relatives charges can range from zero, or payment in kind, e.g. a lift in return where journeys are short and or lifts are regularly shared. Alternatively, the petrol costs for longer, one-off ride-shares may be split 50/50.

Technology

The technology needed to facilitate ride sharing is minimal. At the informal level, ride sharing can be facilitated through personal contact. However, it is usual to make use of a database and some form of telecommunications to initiate contact between ride sharers who may not know each other. Workplace matching systems and independent services usually rely on a database. The independent services are usually accessed via the internet and/or telephone. Workplace schemes are often based around a database built using an organisation's existing software, or a purpose designed system is bought in. More detail on this can be found in the Company Travel Plan section.

Which database is used to set up an independent matching service or which service provider is used, is largely a matter of personal choice. The criteria included in the database are more important. Matching should not be based purely on where ride sharers are travelling to and from. Some individuals may not want to travel with a smoker, some may not want to travel with somebody who listens to rock music first thing in the morning, some people may wish to travel with somebody of the same sex. Nevertheless, the location matching criteria need to be more detailed than the a postcode or zip code. Sharing with somebody on the other side of the same postcode or zip code district may not be feasible, but would be with somebody living in the next street. Alternatively, a regular driver could pick up a passenger from a completely different area along route. It is likely that a database including start and destination street, plus an indication of route would be most appropriate. However, most internet based matching services do not provide this level of detail. The journey start point and destination are usually expressed in terms of area, it is then down to potential sharers to make contact and establish whether there is a suitable meeting and drop off point. For one-off journeys this is likely to require planning well in advance to allow time for making alternative arrangements if a suitable ride share is not available.

Why introduce ride sharing?

A major cause of congestion and the associated negative impacts is solo driving. Approximately 66% of commute journeys in Great Britain were made by solo drivers in the period 1998/2000 (DTLR, 2001.

There are many ways of managing demand for car travel. One group of measures that seek to do this are those designed to reduce the demand by facilitating new ways of travelling by car and/or providing alternatives. Ride sharing falls within this category. Whilst the participation rates for independent ride sharing schemes tend to be low, ride sharing is attractive as it still allows those unwilling to use alternatives to continue experiencing the benefits of car travel.

Demand impacts

The impacts resulting from ride sharing are mainly on the demand for car travel and changing some of that demand from solo car driver to car passenger. This will therefore contribute to transport policy objectives seeking to reduce congestion and the associated negative impacts. The demand response currently varies depending on the mechanism by which ride sharing is facilitated. Demand response will be greater for the more successful mechanisms such as workplace based schemes. The long term demand response to ride sharing projects to increase accessibility is currently unknown. Thus, it is only possible to speculate what they might be.

Responses and situations outlines potential responses to ride sharing schemes and the situations in which particular responses are encountered. It should be noted that as ride sharing is voluntary, the impacts are likely to be less than those resulting from measures which are imposed. Thus, impacts may be less than those resulting from urban road charging, for example. However, impacts could be increased if ride sharing becomes more wide spread. Greater up take through workplace schemes could result from increased legislative pressure to implement company travel plans, and/or as a method of decreasing the impact of urban road charging on individuals. As ride sharing becomes more commonplace, the effect on uptake could become cumulative. A further cause of comparatively low demand response impacts is the fact that saving money may appear less attractive than avoiding increased outlay - the result of many responses to urban road charging.

Responses and situations
Response Reduction in road traffic Expected in situations
Ride sharers may set out slightly earlier or later to enable them to meet up with their ride share partner.
A driver may make a diversion to meet a passenger.
-

Where two plus solo driver journeys are replaced by one shared journey.

 

Where the passenger previously travelled by public transport, walked or cycled.


Where the ride share partnership is between two or more people who previously drove alone.

 

Where the passenger previously travelled by public transport, walked or cycled.

Where one person in a ride share group or partnership decides they no longer need a car of their own. Most likley in terms of a second household car.
-
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

Short and long run demand responses

It is unlikely that there will be significant change in demand response over time. Small changes to existing arrangements may be made to facilitate a ride share, but the principle is that matches are found to allow existing journeys to be shared, but otherwise continue relatively unchanged. The greatest changes may be in terms of mode if the number of people taking part in ride sharing increases sufficiently for a significant number of journeys to be shared. If this were to happen, some individuals may sell their car and hence use of public transport, walking and/or cycling may increase. These responses are most likely where the motivation to ride share is given added impetus by integration with other measures such as urban road charging. However, if too many people sold their cars, the very long term response will be a decrease in ride sharing and significantly increased public transport use, walking and/or cycling. Consequently, ride sharing is sometimes seen as a way of easing people out of their cars. It should also be noted that public transport would need a step change in improvement for the above to happen in some areas.

Demand responses
Response - 1st year 2-4 years 5 years 10+ years
-
  -
  Change job location
- Shop elsewhere
  Compress working week
- Trip chain
- Work from home
- Shop from home
  Ride share
- Public transport
- Walk/cycle
  -
  -
= Weakest possible response = Strongest possible positive response
= Weakest possible negative response = Strongest possible negative response
= No response

The long term demand response in terms of an individual selling their car, mode change and some aspects of reducing journey numbers is somewhat speculative. Even where a ride sharing scheme has been in existence for any length of time, monitoring has not been undertaken at the level needed to establish whether ride sharing can have an impact on car ownership levels. If an individual with initially low car use were to ride share to the extent that they could no longer justify owning a vehicle out right and they could continue to ride share as a passenger only, they may sell their car. If this happens, then there is likely to be an increase in ride sharing as a passenger, public transport use, walking and/or cycling. There may also be an increase in working and shopping from home. All of these demand responses will increase cumulatively over time.

Level of response

As with other measures, the price elasticity of demand varies with context. The calculation of price elasticity for ride sharing is particularly complicated by the fact that payment is not always monetary. For example, two car owning drivers who regularly share a journey may alternate driving rather than exchange any form of payment - this would be a reduction in journey costs for each individual. Alternatively, a driver who regularly gives a lift on a journey they would be making regardless may not accept monetary payment from the passenger - this may be a reduction in journey costs for the passenger if they no longer pay for public transport, but no change for the driver. As with other calculations of price elasticity, the type of trip, type of traveller, price elasticity of related goods and services and whether the elasticity accounts for short term or long term demand responses are important influential factors in the calculation and interpretation.

The economics would suggest that a reduction in costs would result in increased travel. Where this is increased travel by a mode other than the car, such an increase would not be contrary to transport policy aiming to reduce car travel. However, where drivers make more journeys by car, which given the current preference for car travel is more likely, such an increase would be contrary. Such an increase may not happen where there is no time for additional journeys, but destinations may change to alternatives that require car travel without the purpose changing. This suggests that measures to increase ride sharing should be part of a package to avoid a net increase in car use. Were the promotion of ride sharing to be combined with the introduction of urban road charging for example, the potential for increased car use is likely to be reduced, whilst the ride sharing will also help to mitigate negative reactions to the urban road charging. Where ride sharing is introduced to increase accessibility, such a package may be inappropriate. Alternative non-car measures to increase accessibility may be more suitable.

A further justification for using means other than ride sharing to increase accessibility is the danger of abstraction from public transport. The introduction of ride sharing is likely to result in abstraction from public transport for existing journeys and car use for new journeys. Consequently, public transport revenues will fall, potentially making services unviable and result in a reduction in service levels. This risk is greater where there is already a very low revenue level or the service relies on a subsidy. This will disadvantage those who are unable to travel by car. Additionally, those who are only able to ride share as passengers may have their choice of destinations and times of travel constrained by the choices of drivers.

Supply impacts

There will be no increase in the supply of road space, thus for many there will be no increase in supply, merely a change in the way the existing supply is used. If ride sharing is introduced in deprived areas to increase accessibility, there may be some increase in the choice of modes so long as this is not negated by reductions in public transport service levels as a result of abstraction.

Financing requirements

Ride sharing is one of the cheapest measures to introduce in its most basic form. An off the shelf matching database for use with the internet may cost approximately £400 ($570) at 2002 prices. However, should the organisation or individual promoting the ride sharing already have appropriate programming skills, the system can be developed for a lot less. Where high profile advertising is thought necessary, the outlay can be significantly greater. Such outlay is likely to be necessary to promote informal car sharing. It may also be necessary where ride sharing is introduced to a population who generally do not perceive it as part of their choice set. There will also be staff costs. These will vary depending on the level of service. At the most basic level - an internet matching service that is free to users - the site will need maintaining; out of date journey adverts and requests need to be removed, information on the site needs to be kept up to date and usage needs to be monitored. Where membership fees are charged, these need to be administered and where the service is backed up by a telephone enquiry line, this needs to be staffed.

Expected impact on key policy objectives

Promotion of car sharing can encourage people to increase or decrease their car use depending on how and why it is promoted. Workplace schemes and those combined with other measures such as urban road charging or HOV lanes are designed to encourage reductions in car use. However, the promotion of ride sharing in deprived areas where a high proportion of residents suffer some form of social exclusion may well increase car use as a means of increasing accessibility to meet social inclusion objectives. Contribution to objectives assesses ride sharings scale of contribution to the six key objectives of transport policy.

Contribution to objectives

Objective

Scale of contribution

Comment

  By reducing delays and improving reliability. Contribution may be greater where promotion is accompanied by an HOV lane.
  By reducing community severance.
  By reducing air and noise pollution and pressures on green space and environmentally sensitive sites.
  By improving public transport conditions, although this is dependent on service levels being maintained, not reduced as a result of abstraction.
  By reducing traffic levels and evening out traffic speeds in HOV lanes.
  By freeing up potentially productive time currently lost in congestion.
  Through need for initial investment in public transport, parking cash out and communication initiatives.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

The impacts on policy objectives outlined above will all be greater if the increased access to cars encourages people to purchase vehicles of their own, especially where the increased access to transport has resulted in access to a higher income. Impacts may be further increased where abstraction from public transport results from increased car use and marginal service are no longer operated, thus, forcing further increases in car use.

Expected impact on problems

As with the contribution to transport policy objectives, the impact on alleviating key problems varies according to whether ride sharing is promoted to reduce car use or increase accessibility.

Contribution to alleviation of key problems

Problem

Scale of contribution

Comment

Congestion-related delay

Contribution may be greater where combined with other measures such as urban road chargingor HOV lanes.

Congestion-related unreliability

Contribution may be greater where combined with other measures such as urban road charging or HOV lanes.

Community severence

By reducing traffic volumes.

Visual intrusion

By reducing traffic volumes.

Lack of amenity

If existing journeys become shared there will be no change.

Global warming

By reducing traffic-related CO2 emissions.

Local air pollution

By reducing emissions of NOx, particulates and other local pollutants.

Noise

By reducing traffic volumes.

Reduction of green space

By reducing pressure for new road building and city expansion.

Damage to environmentally sensitive sites

By reducing traffic volumes.

Poor accessibility for those without a car and those with mobility impairments

By enhancing the reliability of public transport and subsidising services that may otherwise be taken out as a result of abstraction.

Disproportionate disadvantaging of particular social or geographic groups

By enhancing the reliability of public transport and subsidising services that may otherwise be taken out as a result of abstraction.

Number, severity and risk of accidents

By reducing traffic volumes.

Suppression of the potential for economic activity in the area

By improving the efficiency of the local road network, especially where combined with other measures.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

*If promotion of ride sharing were combined with much improved public transport to the extent that some people were able to sell their cars, these impacts would be greater.

The contribution to key problems outlined above will all be greater if the increased access to cars encourages people to purchase vehicles of their own, especially where the increased access to transport has resulted in access to a higher income. Impacts may be further enhanced where abstraction from public transport results from increased car use and marginal service are no longer operated, thus, forcing further increases in car use.

It should also be noted that increased accessibility may be better provided through public transport. Many of those facing problems travelling are more conscious of the value of independence and would prefer not to rely on lifts. Thus, some journeys may not be undertaken if the only option is a ride share. This is particularly true where the individual concerned wishes to avoid others knowing their destination. This can be a particular problem in terms of access to sensitive health care facilities. Additionally, where the promotion of ride sharing results in abstraction from marginal public transport services, the cessation of these services where subsidy is not possible could actually reduce accessibility. Whilst increased ride sharing may compensate for some journeys, there may be destinations where a ride share is not available and/or shortage of supply. Shortage of supply may cause particular problems for those unable to drive (the young, elderly and disabled) who then have no choice but to rely on scarce lifts.

Expected winners and losers

One would not expect everybody to benefit equally from any transport measures. Indeed, with a measure such as ride sharing, which can be promoted for very specific objectives, there can be many loosers if mitigating measures are not included as part of a package.

Winners and losers

Group

Winners/Losers

Comment

Large scale freight and commercial traffic

High value journeys – less time spent in congestion the greater the vehicle utilization – relatively small proportion of journey distance in urban conditions.

Small businesses

Where these are local and reduced car use encourages use of local amenities.

High income car-users

High income associated with high value of time - sharing is more likely to be reciprocal with others with an equally high value of time.

People with a low income Benefit from shared journey costs.

People with poor access to public transport

Where public transport provision is improved, accessibility will be increased.

All existing public transport users

Reduced car use will reduce congestion and improve public transport reliability, plus benefits from increased provision.

People living adjacent to the area targeted

They may benefit from reduced congestion and improved or increased public transport supply.

People making high value, important journeys

These journeys may still be made as solo drivers, but reduced congestion will result in valuable time savings.

The average car user Where they are able to travel more efficiently, saving time and money.
= Weakest possible benefit = Strongest possible positive benefit
= Weakest possible negative benefit = Strongest possible negative benefit
= Neither wins nor loses

Barriers to implementation

There are a variety of barriers to the implementation of ride sharing outlined below.

Scale of barriers
Barrier Scale Comment
Legal In some countries the legal and insurance status of those offering rides needs to be clarified.
Finance Support for ride sharing is relatively inexpensive, but does need to be sustained.
Governance Cities may need to interact with private operators of such schemes.
Political acceptability There may be concerns that ride sharing encourages car use at the expense of public transport.
Public and stakeholder acceptability The main barrier is drivers’ and passengers’ resistance to sharing cars, and to sustaining such arrangements.
Technical feasibility  
= Minimal barrier = Most significant barrier

A key problem with independent car share schemes is concern regarding personal safety. Whilst service providers make varying efforts to counter this, some workplace schemes have been very successful, as detailed in Company Travel Plans. Ride sharers tend to feel some affinity to their colleagues and therefore feel safer. Additionally, it is easier to meet in advance of starting out on a ride share. Where people have positive experiences of such schemes they may be more likely to try ride sharing outside of work. Nevertheless, they may be more likely to set up informal arrangements with people known to them and these are particularly hard to measure. However, at least one of the UK service providers (liftshare) allow a group of individuals to form a private group. Unfortunately, many car drivers and prospective car drivers are probably unaware of the existence of these service providers and the fact that private groups can be established.

The UK nationalcarshare scheme provides members with an ID card, which drivers and passengers can use to check that the individual they are meeting is the person they are expecting. Nationalcarshare also suggest both parties leave travel details and the details of the person they are meeting with a friend, colleague or family member who can check they have reached their destination. Liftshare offer similar advice, but suggest using passports and/or drivers licences for ID.

Massachusetts' Ride-Sharing Programmes

Context

Collura (1994) reports the results of ride-sharing promotion in Massachusetts, USA. CARAVAN for Commuters Inc were contracted by Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD) to provide ride-sharing orientated services in 1979. MHD sought to promote ride-sharing as a result of national concerns with "meeting suburb-to-suburb commuting patterns with conventional transit, the increasing levels of urban traffic congestion, and the concern for satisfying the air quality standards in the Clean Air Act" (Collura, 1994). The services provided by CARAVAN included:

  • Administering vanpools with groups of individuals and corporations
  • Matching individuals with potential car pools and existing vanpools
  • Providing information on public and private buses, commuter boats and rail services
  • Working with companies in the Boston Metropolitan area to establish commuter ride-sharing schemes that disseminate ride-sharing information, promote car and van pooling, and other types of commuting
  • Community outreach programmes to promote and distribute information about ride-sharing options
    (Collura, 1994)

CARAVAN is a non-profit making organisation, which provides services under contract to the MHD. The annual contract is worth $700,000 from federal aid and state highway funds. Additional funding is received from the Executive Office of Energy Research ($69,052) and other sources ($36,425) (Collura, 1994). Figures cited here are at c1992 prices.

Impacts on demand

An employee carpool survey was undertaken with a representative sample of companies along one route (Route 128). Four companies were surveyed, three of which worked with CARAVAN. Of 577 respondents, only 3.6% carpooled to and from work. Additionally, the difference in level of carpooling between the companies working with CARAVAN and the control was small, 3.7% and 3% respectively. 60% of those who carpooled did so with family members, suggesting that attempts to promote carpooling were not having a significant impact. Further more the number of car poolers in the four companies decreased by 18.4% during the 10 years prior to c1991 (in the three organisations working with CARAVAN the decrease was 17%). Of those who previously carpooled, 59% organised their pool with employer assistance, compared to 5% using assistance from CARAVAN (Collura, 1994).

These findings suggest that demand for road space will have increased over the 10 years prior to the survey as the number of ride-sharers decreased. The demand for public transport may also have increased where previous ride-sharers did not have access to a car.

The decrease in carpooling was in line with regional and national trends (Udansky and Stone, 1992 in Collura, 1994). Possible causes of this trend are cited as; increases in income and car ownership, relatively inexpensive and stable fuel prices, and increases in unemployment. In light of these incentives to solo commuting, lack of disincentive (such as parking charges) or incentive to ride-share (such as priority parking and/or reduced parking charge) could also be reasons for the decrease.

CARAVAN used RideSource - a computerised matching service - to match individuals with potential car and vanpools. RideSource had approximately 2000 subscribers annually. 192 of these were contacted by telephone in c1990 to assess their response to RideSource. 158 were provided with ride-sharing options by CARAVAN, but only 18% were using one of the options provided (Collura, 1994). Collura (1994) describes this as a "relatively low degree of success". When compared to the ride-sharing rates achieved by recent company travel plans, 18% appears relatively successful (Collura, 1994). One reason for this may be that the RideSource database can match people from different companies, thus increasing the number of potential matches beyond that possible with an in house company database. However, the fact that the majority of ride-sharers in the carpool survey cited above either shared with family members of a carpool organised in house, suggests that people are unwilling to share with complete strangers. This may explain the "relatively low degree of success" (Collura, 1994) attributed to RideSource. The difficulties common to all means of changing habitual travel behaviour may also be a factor. These findings suggest that ride-sharing can work, but incentives and a means of being introduced to potential ride-share partners in advance of actually ride-sharing could increase success rates.

Impacts on supply

The ride-sharing will not have changed the supply of road space, merely the way it is used.

Other Impacts

Bernard (1998) in Katzev et al (2001) lists six deterrents to the use of car clubs:

  • "a user has to plan their trips in advance. So in most cases spontaneity if lost;
  • the user has to remember and take the time to make a reservation;
  • the car is probably parked further from the user's residence than their personal car would be;
  • the user has to leave it clean, every time, even if they are in a hurry;
  • the user has to deal with some form of paper work, pin numbers, lock boxes, etc. every trip; and 
  • the user has to worry about getting the car back on time - another loss of spontaneity."

Katzev et al (2001) reports - from the end of year survey - that, "these 'negatives' did not deter the members of CSP from joining the organisation. Nor did they find them terribly burdensome after experiencing the service." Whilst trip planning and returning the car on time were deemed "somewhat inconvenient" by some CSP members, almost as many members did not find these issues inconvenient. Prior concerns about the 'negatives' did not develop into notable problems and, "however burdensome they may have felt them, most did not let that interfere with the satisfaction they derived from the car sharing experience" (Katzev, 2001).

Contribution to Objectives

The specific objectives of ride-sharing in Massachusetts are outlined above. Contribution to objectives below is completed on the basis of contribution to overall transport policy objectives relative to the do nothing scenario. It should be noted that the contribution to objectives will decline in line with reductions in ride-sharing.

Contribution to objectives
Objective Comment
  Ride sharing will have reduced congestion and hence enhanced efficiency.
  Ride sharing will have reduced congestion and hence enhanced liveability.
  Ride sharing will have reduced congestion and hence the volume of air and noise pollution generated. As well as reducing the other negative impacts of car use, such as pressure to increase land take.
  Positive equity impacts will have been achieved through design to improve accessibility where there is no conventional public transport.
  Ride sharing will have improved safety assuming there was no significant increase in speeds.
  The reduction in congestion will have reduced associated costs to the economy.
  Funding for CARAVAN is significant but it is not solely for the operation of ride sharing and is not cited as problematic.
  The wide geographical area over which CARAVAN works, the breadth of objectives and the small staff number (10 professionals plus administrative assistants) suggests that what CARAVAN was trying to achieve at the time was beyond the scope of its resources. A narrowing of objectives and geographical focus may have been useful. As CARAVAN is still in existence and operating ride sharing, these issues may well have been addressed.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Casual Carpooling in the San Francisco Bay Area

Context

San Franciso BayBeroldo (1990) estimates that 8000 commuters form casual carpools to cross the San Francisco Bay Bridge - a toll bridge - every morning. Litman (2002) suggests that this number could now be as many as 10,000. This is significantly more than the 3000 and 5000 estimated in 1985 and 1987 respectively.

"Drivers and riders meet near BART stations and Almeda-Contra Costa Transit (AC Transit) bus stops where three-person, one-way carpools are formed spontaneously. Drivers and passengers generally do not know each other; carpool members change daily. Passengers are dropped off near the Transbay bus terminal (where all AC Transit buses terminate) in downtown San Francisco; two BART stations are also located in this vicinity. No money is exchanged between drivers and passengers. Drivers benefit by using the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) bypass lanes at the Bay Bridge toll plaza saving 10 to 20 minutes and $1.00 toll [c1990 prices] to cross the bridge. The obvious benefit to passengers is a free, relatively fast commute to San Francisco" (Beroldo, 1990).

Casual carpooling began in the 1970's, probably as a result of various transit disruptions and fare increases. Drivers are primarily motivated by a faster journey (they can use the HOV lane), whilst passengers are primarily motivated by a cheaper (compared to solo driver and paying the bridge toll and transit) journey. Until 1999, the carpooling only operated inbound in the morning as outbound pooling was logistically more difficult - there was no suitable, central area for drivers to pick up riders when heading out of San Francisco (dispersed pick up points would eradicate potential time savings) - and there was no outbound HOV lane, meaning that drivers would not benefit from a significant time saving and passengers would not benefit from a significantly cheaper journey. In 1999 a 20km outbound HOV lane was constructed, and casual carpooling has started to develop (Litman, 2002). Thus, the conditions for casual carpooling in San Francisco are defined as:

  • Time savings for drivers that are sufficient to off set the time needed to pick up and drop off passengers.
  • Pick up locations offering easy access to drivers and riders - near freeway on-ramps, within walking distance of a large number of residents, ample parking or along well served local transit routes.
  • A common drop off point - downtown San Francisco employees 375,000 [c1990] people, in addition to being near a major transit hub, which allows some riders to continue their journey by transit.
  • Good public transit as a back up to carpooling - especially for the journey home.

Beroldo (1990) reports that there is only one other large scale casual carpool in the US [at the time of writing], where similar conditions apply. This is between Springfield, Virginia and Washington D.C. In this case the carpooling is two way as HOV lanes operate in both directions and the morning pick-up points are not as dispersed as those in San Francisco. Approximately two-thirds of participants carpool in both directions. Additionally, more than one morning destination is offered, but each is part of a substantial employment cluster.

In San Francisco it was noted that the number of pick up points was increasing and dispersing over time, with simultaneous reduction in carpools originating from a few high volume points. Initial growth in participants made dispersal possible, whilst that in turn made carpooling feasible for more individuals. The potential for growth is greatest at pick up points with a feeder transit service - points relying on a supply of walk-up passengers from residential areas had necessarily limited growth potential. 97% of car poolers learnt about it through word of mouth or seeing it happen. However, there is now a website dedicated to supporting the casual carpooling in San Francisco (http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?ContentID=1362).

Impacts on demand

Surveys undertaken in 1985 and 1987 reported by Beroldo (1990) indicate abstraction from public transit as a result of casual car pooling for both riders and drivers. This suggests that casual car pooling adds to the number of vehicles on the road. However, given the background of increasing car ownership and solo driving, the existence of the carpool may be reducing the increase in car use.

Commute Mode Before Casual Carpooling

1985 survey

Mode

Riders

Drivers

Drove alone

6%

44%

Drove with one other

3%

12%

BART

30%

10%

AC Transit

55%

16%

Formal carpool

5%

18%

1987 survey

Drove alone

5%

49%

Drove with one other

2%

4%

BART

37%

25%

AC Transit

39%

8%

Formal carpool

4%

4%

Always casual carpooled

12%

10%

Beroldo (1990) calculated the overall impact on traffic, concluding that the San Francisco casual carpool had the potential to remove 89 vehicles from the road under the best case scenario, or add 565 under the worst case scenario. Given the survey results above, it is reasonable to assume that reality is nearer to Beroldo's worst case scenario. However, Beroldo (1990) concluded that the overall impact would be negligible given that there are 73,000 person trips between 7am and 10am in the Bay Bridge corridor.

These findings suggest that ride sharing has most potential to contribute to transport objectives where there is not already a public transport alternative. Whilst the casual operation outlined here relies on public transport as a back up, abstraction from public transport can be problematic in terms of equity and congestion. Abstraction from public transport can lead to more cars on the road and, where public transport is required to make a profit, lead to a reduction in service levels as a result of lower demand.

Impacts on supply

The casual carpooling will not alter the supply of road space, merely the way it is used if a HOV lane were to be provided as a result of increased demand. Abstraction from public transport may cause a reduction in the supply of services.

Contribution to Objectives

Due to the casual nature of carpooling to cross the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, the objectives are not transport policy related. However, those working to reduce car use may wish to consider encouraging casual car pooling in certain circumstances. Given the potential problems of extraction from public transport, casual car pooling could be beneficial in commuter settlements where there is poor public transport and insufficient demand to warrant supply. However, a guaranteed ride would be necessary to ensure nobody was left stranded and unable to get to work. Evidence from Company Travel Plans suggests that guaranteed rides are necessary to give people the confidence to ride-share, but are in reality, rarely used.

Contribution to objectives below is completed on the basis of contribution to overall transport policy objectives.

Contribution to objectives
Objective Comment
  The increase in vehicles on the road will have had a negative impact on efficiency, but it is not thought to be significant.
  The increase in vehicles on the road will have had a negative impact on liveability, but it is not thought to be significant.
  The increase in vehicles on the road will have had a negative impact on the environment, but it is not thought to be significant.
  If public transport services are reduced as a result of abstraction, then there will be a negative impact on equity. There is no evidence that accessibility has been improved.
  An increase in traffic may have increased the potential for accidents.
  Increased congestion will have delayed high value journeys with negative economic impacts, but it is not thought to be significant.
  The casual carpooling will have reduced potential income from the bridge toll and public transport operators revenue.
  The informal nature of casual carpooling makes it difficult to promote and control.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

SCHOOLPOOL - Carpool to School Program, Contra Costa, California

Context

Most Contra Costa districts do not provide a school bus service, thus the SchoolPool carpool ridematching services was developed to reduce the congestion and other logistical difficulties stemming from the need to drive children to school. Carpooling for the journey to school is promoted for children in public and private schools from Kindergarten through to college. There are two programmes coordinating activities - TRANSPAC/TRANSPLAN TDM in western, central and eastern Contra Costa, and SWAT in the southwest. All activities are promoted under the Contra Costa Commute Alternatives Network logo. (Osborn, c2000).

Ridematching brochures are distributed in school registration packs at the start of each year, articles are written for parent teacher association newsletters and staff promoting the ridematching work closely with school staff. Parents who submit requests receive a list of potential matches within five days, and an average of three updated lists over the next six weeks, as more parents join the programme. (Osborn, c2000)

Impacts on demand

Osborn (c2000) reports that the private schools participating in the schemes have a higher take up rate amongst parents due to drawing students from larger geographic areas. The results of both programmes for the year 1998/99 is reported in SchoolPool Trip Reduction.

SchoolPool Trip Reduction - 1998/99

 

TRANSPAC/TRANSPLAN

SWAT

Number of schools participating

136

19

Ridematch lists distributed

150,000

10,575

Ridematch requests processed

1451

180

Number of participants (non-siblings in carpools)

1204

-

Average one-way miles

5.5

5.5

Days of effectiveness

180

180

Vehicle trips reduced per day

3612

-

Approximate vehicle kms reduced by project

5,721,408*

285,120

* The reduced trips produced almost two round trips per day per non-sibling-student. Unlike regular carpools, parents generally drive back-and-forth to school both in the morning and afternoon, resulting in two round trips. Since some trip linking may have occurred dropping students off on the way to or from work, only three one-way trip segments were credited.
Source: Osborn, c2000.

The reduction in trip numbers and vehicle kilometres achieved by the SchoolPool project suggests that there will have been a reduction in the demand for road space during peak hours. This in turn should have resulted in a reduction in the magnitude of the negative impacts resulting from car use. However, it should be noted that nothing is known about the volume of suppressed demand realised as road space is freed up.

Impacts on supply

The SchoolPool project will not have changed the supply of road space, infrastructure for other modes or public transport services.

Contribution to Objectives

The SchoolPool project was implemented to tackle, "congestion and difficulties associated with getting children to and from school" (Osborn, c2000). The impacts on demand above suggest that these objectives may be being met. However, it is difficult to gauge the extent to which they are met without background data on traffic volumes.

Contribution to objectives below is completed on the basis of contribution to overall transport policy objectives.

Contribution to objectives
Objective Comment
  The reduction in congestion will have increased efficiency.
  The reduction in congestion will have improved liveability.
  The reduction in congestion will have reduced air and noise pollution as well as other negative environmental impacts.
  There is no evidence of any impact on equity, but the ridematching may have increased accessibility for some.
  The reduction in congestion will have improved safety.
  The reduction in congestion levels will reduce costs to the economy, but time savings experienced by parents may not be filled with productive activities.
  There is no evidence regarding costs, but it is thought that they are minimal and shared throughout the County.
  There are no significant practicability issues.
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Puget Sound Regional Vanpool Market

Context

Vanpools typically take five to fifteen commuters in one vehicle. Mc Bryan et al (2000) report that, in 1999 Puget Sound had 1,250 public vanpools operated by six local transport agencies - the largest public vanpool fleet in North America. McBryan et al estimate that there is a further 200 private vanpools operated by individuals. Public vanpooling started in 1979 in response to the fuel crisis. Even before this, Puget Sound employers offered vanpools, although most transferred to the public sector during the 1980's. The number of vanpools in Puget Sound continues to grow (60%+ since 1995, with an average annual rate of 13%), whilst the number has dropped from 23,000 in the mid-1980's to less than 10,000 in 1999 elsewhere in the US. The growth is despite a turnover of 40% to 50% of vanpools and ridership as a result of changes in work patterns per annum. In May 1999, demand exceeded supply, resulting in 200 groups awaiting delivery of new vans. 14% of drive alone and carpool commuters considered vanpooling during the past year - 7% of all commuters. However, the impact of legislation (Initiative 695) which drastically cut transportation funding in November 1999, is not known.

Despite the growth, vanpooling only accounts for 2% of the overall commute market, compared to a 9% market share achieved by carpooling. When summed, this is almost equal to the public transport market share - 13%, one of the highest market shares in the US. Amongst commuters travelling 32km or more each way, vanpooling has reached a 7% market share.

A high and positive awareness of vanpooling is reported, especially amongst those travelling 8 or more kilometres to work. Nevertheless, there is "substantial market confusion" (McBryan et al, 2000) about service providers, support services and out-of-pocket costs.

Washington State has created a supportive policy environment, including incentives. Vanpool legislation was established in 1979 and the state offers tax incentives and rideshare license plates to operators, tax incentives for employers who subsidise fares, and long and short term van rental programmes for public transport operators. Additionally, vanpools receive preferential boarding and exemption from the daily vehicle fare on Washington State Ferries (11% of public and 60% of private vanpools commute on the ferries). Company Travel Plans (CTP) also support vanpooling - 93% of the public vanpools commute to employers with a CTP.

Impacts on demand

McBryan et al (2000) report that the public vanpools in Puget Sound eliminate more than 11,000 vehicles and 22,000 trips per day. Vanpools overall reduce the annual kilometres travelled as a solo driver by 4.3 million kilometres. 2,312 solo driver vehicles are removed from ferry sailings every day; 11 additional sailings would be needed during the am and pm peaks to accommodate these vehicles. The public vanpools recover a large proportion of their costs, limiting the need for public subsidy.

Impacts on supply

There are no changes to the supply of road space, although pressure to expand may be constrained. The supply of ferry services is held lower than demand would require if all vanpoolers travelled as solo drivers.

Contribution to Objectives

Contribution to objectives below is completed on the basis of contribution to overall transport policy objectives.

Contribution to objectives
Objective Comment
  The reduction in congestion will have increased efficiency.
  The reduction in congestion will have improved liveability.
  The reduction in congestion will have reduced air and noise pollution as well as other negative environmental impacts.
  The public provision of vanpools suggests that they could be making a notable contribution to accessibility where conventional public transport does not operate, however, there is no concrete evidence of this.
  The reduction in congestion will have improved safety, assuming that speeds have not increased significantly.
  The reduction in congestion levels will reduce costs to the economy.
  The public services recoup much of their costs from fare box revenues, nevertheless, transit agencies face difficulties securing the capital funds needed to expand their vanpool vehicle fleets (McBryan et al, 2000).
  Once in operation, there appear to be no significant practical issues, but a key barrier to growth is the unavailability of vehicles for new groups (McBryan et al, 2000).
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Gaps and weaknesses

Long established ride sharing programmes with monitoring and analysis appear to be most common in North America. Elsewhere, ride sharing has been subsumed by company travel plans, or is implemented through independent internet based matching services. The impact of these internet services has not been sufficiently monitored so far. However, the number of matches visible on the websites themselves and the lack of common usage suggests minimal up take and impact. The ride sharing schemes cited above imply that whilst the idea of ride sharing is popular, it does not happen without some need that is perceived by potential ride shares. Further to this, it appears that local authority support and backing is also necessary in some cases. This could explain the lack of up take experienced by independent internet based matching services. Access to technology and awareness of the services are also likely to be contributory factors. The over all result is a lack of up to date knowledge relating to ride sharing as a stand alone project, outside of North America.

Contribution to objectives and problems
Objective Massachusetts San Francisco SCHOOLPOOL Puget Sound
Vanpools
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

 

Summary of each case study's contribution to alleviation of key problems
Objective Massachusetts San Francisco SCHOOLPOOL Puget Sound
Vanpools
Congestion-related delay
Congestion-related unreliability
Community severance
Visual intrusion
Lack of amenity
Global warming
Local air pollution
Noise
Reduction of green space
Damage to environmentally sensitive sites
Poor accessibility for those without a car and those with mobility impairments
Disproportionate disadvantaging of particular social or geographic groups
Number, severity and risk of accidents
Suppression of the potential for economic activity in the area
= Weakest possible positive contribution = Strongest possible positive contribution
= Weakest possible negative contribution = Strongest possible negative contribution
= No contribution

Appropriate contexts

Appropriate area-types
Area type Suitability
City centre
Dense inner suburb
Medium density outer suburb
Less dense outer suburb
District centre
Corridor
Small town
Tourist town
= Least suitable area type = Most suitable area type

Adverse side-effects

The key adverse side effect resulting from ride sharing is likely to be abstraction from public transport services. In a commercial environment, any substantial reduction in fare box revenues is likely to cause a reduction in service levels. A reduction in service levels is likely to have negative impacts on equity and accessibility. Additionally, if increased car use results from the reduction in public transport services, the negative impacts of car use will increase, and for low income households forced to purchase a car, poverty will become a more serious issue.

Bonsall P et al, 2002, Car sharing and Car clubs: potential and impacts, report to Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the Motorists Forumm, unpublished.

Britton E (Ed), 2000, Carsharing 2000 Sustainable Transport's Missing Link, The Journal of world Transport Policy and Practice, Vol 5, No 3. at

http://ecoplan.org/wtpp/wt_index.htm (as at 28/02/02).

Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, 2001, Focus on Personal Travel: 2001 Edition, The Stationary Office, London, UK

Also at http://www.transtat.dtlr.gov.uk/tables/2001/fperson/fpers01.htm (as at 28/02/02).

Litman T, Ride Sharing, Car and Van Pooling in Online TDM Encyclopaedia at

http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/ (as at 28/02/02).