Sunday, January 07, 2007

At TRB this year: Worldwide Carsharing Strategies and Evaluation

(The agenda of special carsharing meeting on Tuesday, January 23, 2007; 7:30PM to 9:00PM in the Hilton Dupont Room is in the first comment at the end of the posting.)

This year session 334 at the 86th annual meeting of federally-sponsored Transportation Research Board meeting will have several interesting paper about carsharing. The papers will be delivered on Monday, January 22, 2007, 1:30 PM - 3:15 PM, Hilton Washington Hotel, 1919 Connecticut Ave., Washington, DC.

The presentations are sponsored by the New Public Transportation Systems and Technology Committee of TRB(AP020) chaired by Matt Barth, University of California, Riverside. I was a reviewer of several of the papers and each one contributes some idea or understanding of value to any carsharing organization. Oftentimes, I've found the value of reading the papers is as much seeing how someone else approaches a problem as the actual solution or information.

Following are the abstracts and authors for the papers which were approved. (This does not necessarily mean that all (over even any) authors will be at the conference). The papers will be available on the annual CD-rom of TRB conference as well.

City CarShare: Longer-Term Travel-Demand and Car Ownership Impacts (07-0210)
Robert Cervero, University of California, Berkeley
Aaron Golub, University of California, Berkeley
Brendan Nee, University of California, Berkeley

Four years into the introduction of City CarShare in the San Francisco Bay Area, 29% of members had gotten rid of one or more cars. By City CarShare ís fourth anniversary, 4.8% of membersí trips and 5.4% of their vehicle miles traveled were in carshare vehicles. Matched-pair comparisons with a statistical control group suggest that, over time, members have reduced total vehicular travel. Most of the declines, however, occurred during the first 1-2 years of the program; 3-4 years after City CarShareís inauguration, earlier declined had leveled off. Because carshare vehicles tend to be small, fuel-efficient, and carry several people, per capita levels of gasoline consumption and accordingly greenhouse gas emissions have also trended downwards. Mindful of the cumulative costs of driving, carshare members appear to have become more judicious and selective when deciding whether to use a car, take public transit, walk, bike, or even forego a trip. These factors, coupled with reduced personal car ownership, have given rise to a more resourceful form of automobility in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Where Does Carsharing Work? Using GIS to Assess Market Potential (07-0152)
Christine Celsor, City of Fremont
Adam Millard-Ball, Stanford University

This paper examines and applies a tool to assess the market potential for new car-sharing operations in urban communities. The research reported in this paper is based the analysis conducted for TCRP Report 108: Car-Sharing: Where and How it Succeeds. The paper analyzes geographic market segments in urban areas. A GIS-based analysis of 13 US regions finds that neighborhood and transportation characteristics are more important indicators for car-sharing success than individual demographics of car-sharing members. The results indicate that vehicle ownership has the strongest, most consistent correlation to the amount of car-sharing service in a neighborhood. Based on the results from this analysis, thresholds are outlined for low service, where car-sharing may be viable but where limited growth can be expected; and high service, where car-sharing is likely to flourish. This tool to identify neighborhoods that can support car-sharing is applied to a new community seeking to establish a car-sharing program: Austin, Texas. The analysis finds that several neighborhoods in Austin have the characteristics to support car-sharing operations (such as low vehicle ownership rates, high percentages of one-person households, and relatively high percentages of commuters who walk to work). However, there are few Austin neighborhoods that could support a high level of car-sharing service.

Decision Support Tool for Vehicle Relocation Operations in Carsharing Systems (07-0021)
Alvina G. H. Kek, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd
Ruey Long Cheu, University of Texas, El Paso
Qiang Meng, National University of Singapore
Chau Ha Fung, National Univeristy of Singapore

This paper presents a novel three-phase Optimization-Trend-Simulation (OTS) decision support tool for carsharing operators with flexible return time and stations. The tool assists the operators to find a set of near-optimal manpower and relocation parameters for their vehicle relocation systems. Phase one of the OTS is a mixed integer linear programming model, which minimizes the total generalized cost of vehicle movements, staff time, penalty of unfulfilled customer demand and returns. This model takes input from historical trip patterns, fleet size, station capacity and etc to solve the optimal vehicle relocation problem without the specification of any relocation threshold at any station. Phase two of the OTS tool is a trend filter which takes the output from the optimization model to heuristically deduce the manpower needs, staff shift hour, relocation logic and vehicle inventory thresholds values at each station that will trigger a relocation move. The last phase of the OTS tool employs a time-stepping simulation model, using a set of historical customer usage data, combined with the operating parameters inferred from the trend filter, to evaluate the Level of Service (LOS) provided by the carsharing operator to its customers. Two LOS indicators, namely Full-Port Time (FPT) and Zero-Vehicle Time (ZVT) are used. Tested on a set of commercially operational data from a carsharing company in Singapore, the simulation results suggest that the parameters recommended by the OTS tool leads to a reduction in staff cost of 50%, reduction in ZVT ranging between 4.6% and 13.0%, a maintenance of the already low FPT and a reduction in Number of Relocations (NR) ranging between 37.1% and 41.1%.

Worldwide Carsharing Growth: International Comparison (07-2571)
Susan A. Shaheen, University of California, Berkeley
Adam Cohen, University of California, Berkeley

Carsharing (or short-term auto use) provides a flexible alternative that meets diverse transportation needs across the globe, while reducing the negative impacts of private vehicle ownership. Although carsharing appeared in Europe between the 1940s and 1980s, it did not become popularized until the early 1990s. For nearly 20 years, there has been growing worldwide participation in carsharing. Today, carsharing operates in approximately 600 cities around the world, in 18 nations, and on four continents. Malaysia is operating a carsharing pilot, with a planned launch in mid- to late-2006. Another eight countries are exploring carsharing. This paper is based on 32 carsharing expert surveys collected internationally. Cost savings, convenient locations, and guaranteed parking were identified as the most common motivations for carsharing use worldwide. The authors provide an international comparison of carsharing operations, including similarities and differences. In the future, continued growth is forecast, particularly among new and emerging market segments, such as businesses and universities. Growth-oriented operators will continue to account for the largest number of members and fleets deployed worldwide. In addition, higher energy costs; limited and expensive parking; ongoing diffusion of operational knowledge, benefits, and supportive technologies; and greater demand for personal vehicle access in developing nations will impact carsharingís future growth and expansion.

Assessing Early Market Potential for Carsharing in China: Case Study of Beijing (07-2583)
Susan A. Shaheen, University of California, Berkeley
Elliot Martin, University of California, Berkeley

Chinaís economic expansion is fueling an accelerated demand for private vehicles. While China ís growing motorization is similar to that of other developing nations, the scale of this growth is unprecedented. Personal motorization provides numerous benefits to individuals and society; however, roadway congestion, parking inefficiencies, and environmental challenges typically accompany widespread auto use in urban areas. Carsharing is an innovative transportation demand management strategy, which can offer its members the convenience and flexibility of vehicle ownership at lower cost. It has also demonstrated environmental and social benefits. In Spring 2006, the authors implemented an 840-person intercept survey within Beijing to explore carsharing familiarity and response. The questionnaire assessed respondents travel patterns and needs, vehicle purchase intentions, and carsharing interest. The results indicate a potential demand for carsharing services. Over 25% of respondents expressed a high level of interest in carsharing. Interestingly, only 40% of this group was previously familiar with the concept. Those interested in carsharing are more inclined to take transit, bicycle, and walk and have slightly higher income and education levels. While respondents interested in carsharing are less auto-reliant than those who are uninterested (18% vs. 21% drive alone), a higher proportion of the former (30% vs. 15%) indicated a planned vehicle purchase/lease. Since only 21% of respondents reported that they are able to drive, driver education may be critical to future carsharing adoption. Despite this finding, survey results indicate a notable interest in carsharing as an alternative to vehicle ownership among urban residents in China.

TRB is the pre-eminent national conference on all aspects of transportation - highways, rail, public transit, etc. - and registration reflects it - $510 on site (student discounts available). Membership in TRB reduces registration costs considerably. Details of the TRB conference are available at the main conference website the LINK below.