Monday, April 12, 2021

Carshare is Dead; Long Live Carsharing

 As you can see I've been away from my blog for quite a while.  Retirement is great.  Please indulge me while I share a bit of history about the early days of carsharing — the birth of my start up company, CarSharing Portland Inc., in 1998; and the launch of Flexcar and Zipcar two years later.  It's here in the first installment of a history of carsharing by Tyler Phillipi.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Carsharing Papers at the 2019 Transportation Research Board Meeting

Carsharing has come a long way since the 1990s.  This year there don't appear to be any presentations about carsharing, although a number of papers about one-way, round trip were accepted for publication. (see the end for how to read the full papers.)  

Several of the papers deal with providing incentives for carsharing users to achieve various goals, for example relocation, increase utilization.  Here are several that look interesting and a section of the abstract that caught my eye.  

Free-Floating Carsharing Users Willingness to Pay/Accept for Logistics Management Mechanisms 
Chenyang Wu, Imperial College London
Scott Le Vine, SUNY New Paltz
Sandra Philips, movmi Shared Transportation Services
William Tang, EcoService
John Polak, Imperial College London

...The objective of this study is to establish FFCS customers’ preferences for each of four incentivisation mechanisms: 1) vehicle delivery, 2) paid relocation, and 3-4) incentivisation for alternate vehicle pick-up and drop-off locations. Survey data from FFCS users in Vancouver and Washington D.C. are employed to quantify willingness-to-pay/accept (WTP/WTA) for these mechanisms. We find that a majority of respondents report positive attitudes toward each of the four incentivisation mechanisms. Regression analysis shows that user experiences using FFCS are generally stronger predictors of WTP/WTA than socio-demographic features, with (intuitively) the frequency of FFCS unavailability the strongest predictor.

An Incentive-Based Approach to Control Demands for the Operation of a One-Way Carsharing System 
Lei Wang, Tongji University
Yong Jin, Global Car Sharing & Rental Co., Ltd.
Wanjing Ma, Tongji University
Ting Li, Global Car Sharing & Rental Co.
Ling Wang, Tongji University

...The reward policy and the ranking method were tested in real operating environment of an electric vehicle sharing system in two districts of Shanghai. The result suggests that the reward policy with ranking method could shorten the vehicle idle time and increase the number of transactions per vehicle and per station, and also resulted in increments on profits.

Car Sharing: Impact on Mobility and Travel Choices and the Role of Life Events and Attitudes 
Taru Jain, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Geoff Rose, Monash University
Marilyn Johnson, Monash University

...Car sharers were classified into five categories: car dependents, car avoiders, second car avoiders, car aspirers and car sellers. Key findings suggest that car sharing motives and impacts vary greatly for all categories. Car aspirers and car sellers report the greatest changes in mobility choices (car ownership) and travel choices (use of a car, public transport and active modes).

Here's the poster session:

Operational Considerations for Shared Mobility
Monday 8:00 AM- 9:45 AM 
Carol Schweiger, Schweiger Consulting LLC, presiding

...Shared mobility, particularly sharing rides, cars, bikes and scooters, is having a transformative effect on cities. Understanding what operational considerations affect the implementation of shared mobility services is critical to their success. This poster session explores several factors for consideration in the implementation of shared mobility in the transportation ecosystem.

All the sessions involving carsharing and shared mobility are listed ere:

To read the papers, you can go to an academic library and get a copy, or become a member of TRB, or pay TRB to access each paper separately.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Comparison of the Cost of Car Ownership with Car2Go and Zipcar

Arlington,Virginia, one of the most progressive cities in terms of promoting carsharing options as part of their TDM (Transportation Demand Management) program, last year released a very useful analysis comparing the cost of car ownership with one way (Car2Go) and round trip (Zipcar) carsharing at the rates current in 2017,

The comparison (PDF) not only used cost of a new car, which most comparison use, but additional scenarios of 5 year and 13 year old used vehicles.  The study compared driving

  • 1,000 miles annually (19 miles per week)
  • 3,000 miles annually (38.5 miles per week) 
  • 6,000 miles annually (115 miles per week)

Comparisons were made for both one-way and round trip services.  Possible costs of parking a private car were not included in the cost of ownership.

The results won't surprise those familiar with carsharing economics:
  • 1,000 miles per year - All car-share options are less expensive than even owning a new car
  • 3,000 miles per year - Car-sharing is equal or less expensive than most car-ownership scenarios
  • 6,000 miles over year - Car-share is less expensive than owning a new car but not 5 and 13 year old used cars
Of course, the consumer decision to own a vehicle is more complicated than simply annual VMT - convenience perhaps being the biggest factor in many peoples' minds.   The city's summary of the report says it this way:
  • Under 2,000 VMT annually, car-share appears the most economically efficient on a household level.
  • Over 6,000 VMT annually, car ownership is, in almost all cases, economically more efficient than car-share.
  • Car-share services are best used as regular first-last-mile connectors and for infrequent trip taking.
  • Arlington residents owning more than one vehicle or considering buying their first vehicle are most likely to realize considerable savings by using car-share.
The county's main carsharing web page describes the partnerships with carsharing companies and has links to additional details of the study, including the cost assumptions that were used in the comparisons.

The county's TDM website, CommuterPage describes carsharing options like this,

Friday, April 06, 2018

Carsharing Portland Timeline

This is a short chronology of CarSharing Portland and the start of carsharing in the US, based on announcements in CSP member newsletters and other documents.

Pre 1996
1985 - Russell Martin works for the Short Term Auto Rental (STAR) project, an UMTA funded
demonstration program at Park Merced housing complex in San Francisco
1994 - Benoit Robert starts nonprofit carshare in Quebec City which became CommunAuto in
1995, a for profit company based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Rain Magazine (Eugene) publishes extended interview with Carsten Petersen and
Markus Petersen, founders of StattAuto Berlin; another article describes the
formation of the Eugene Carshare Cooperative (which apparently only had 1 old
VW Beetle);  these articles had significant influence on Dave Brook.
Various articles appear in US newspapers about carsharing in Europe during the decade.

Richard Katzev arranges for trip to US by Conrad Wagner of Switzerland
December – Proposal to DEQ by BTA, Research Into Action and Scott Engineering:
        Feasibility and Business Planning for Car Sharing/Mobility Services in Portland, Oregon
Conrad Wagner, Switzerland speaks at public meetings in Portland
Cooperative Auto Network (coop) launched in Vancouver, BC, Canada
April – Research Into Action, Scott Engineering and Rex Burkholder submit
        Focus Group Summary Report Car Sharing in Portland, Oregon
July – Research Into Action, Scott Engineering and Rex Burkholder submit 2 reports to COP/DEQ:
        Market Feasibility Study: Car Sharing in Portland, Oregon
        Business Planning Study: Car Sharing in Portland, Oregon
August - CSP submits proposal to DEQ for Implementation and Evaluation of a Pilot Car
Sharing/Mobility Service in Portland, Oregon
September – CSP Business Plan to Oregon DEQ regarding Car Share Pilot Project
        First brainstorming of slogans from Hucksters
December - DEQ issues RFP for Carsharing/Mobility Service; 2 week response deadline
Hiring Russell Martin
Other activities during the year: Securing insurance via VPSI, from Dreyfuss Ney

January - Membership recruitment events; TV coverage
February 28, 1998 official launch of CarSharing Portland Inc.
16 members, 2 Dodge Neons,
Rates: $1.50 per hour + 30¢ per mile; $500 security deposit;
No hourly fee from midnight to 6 am (only mileage charges)
June – Buckman Heights partnership
Conrad Wagner speaks in Portland again
Vehicle reservations shifted to telephone answering service
July – Toyota Tacoma pickup truck added to Buckman Heights location
(forced relocation of lockboxes outside of the cars)
August – Rate adjustment: $1.50 ;per hour + 40¢ per mile (first 40 miles, then 15¢ per mile)
First downtown location – PSU, SW 3rd & Harrison
October – 79 members; 6 vehicles at 5 locations
November - 88 members
Overnight (no hourly fee) extended 11 pm to 7 am
December – Security deposit lowered to $250
Daily rate introduced: $45/day (including gas)

January – shorter Trip Ticket format introduced; customer feedback questions removed
$10 per month membership fee introduced
100 members
February – Dr. Richard Katzev delivers interim report on CSP activity
Status Report of Carsharing Portland (CSP): The First Nine Months
Carsharing exempted from Multnomah County Rental Car Tax
March – CARS phone reservation system introduced; originally developed by Ron Wilder,
Wilder Engineering, Campbell, Calif. for flying clubs to schedule plane rental
April – Fleet gas cards introduced
First yellow Hucksters marketing brochures
July – Richard Katzev presents first year evaluation study showing significant reductions in member car ownership, car usage
September – 200 members
First Dodge Neons replaced
October – Hired car cleaner
Five trips in the same car in one day - a new record

January – Honda Insight added to fleet; first hybrid in carsharing fleet (Pearl District location)
February – first 2 cars in Pearl District; partnership with Hoyt Street Properties
March – PSU student evaluation: Carsharing: The Missing Link
First Saturn cars added to the fleet
17 locations, 18 vehicles
New brochures released
April – Flexcar, Seattle, and Zipcar, Boston, launched
July – Single phone number for office and CARS reservations instituted 872-9882
300 members
October – Dodge Caravan, first minivan added to the fleet

January – rate increase from $1.50 to $2.00 per hour; distance same at 40¢/mile
Daily Rate Camp ended; members encouraged to use Enterprise 15% discount
Vehicle “stolen” and recovered 2 weeks later; was actually “misplaced” by a member
March – 500 members
Original Toyota Tacoma pickup replaced with Mazda B2500
July – first announcement to members about future Flexcar merger
August – Amtrak Cascades 10% discount
September - Maren announces her departure

October – CSP rebranded as Flexcar; first Honda Civics introduced

Scenes from the 20th Anniversary of Carsharing in the US Party

Many of the founders and supporters of the first commercial carsharing company in the US - CarSharing Portland Inc. - celebrated the 20th anniversary of its launch at the Lucky Lab Brewpub on
April 2nd.  Carsharing has come a long way since then.

I'll be posting a timeline of CarSharing Portland (CSP) soon and am planning a series of posts describing the founding and activities of CSP.  To get notified when they appear, subscribe to this blog (link in the righthand column).

Nina DeConcini, Oregon DEQ tells a story about getting carsharing through the state bureaucracy. Others in the picture include (from left: Russell Martin, first General Manager, Jerry Zelada taking pictures, Maren Souders, Outreach and Customer Service, Dave Brook, Founder of CSP; Rex Burkholder, then with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and co-author of the feasibility study about carsharing; Nina DeConcini, then (and now) with Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality; Steven Scott, MetaResource Group, a co author of a bausiness planning study; Chris Hagerbaumer, Oregon Environmental Council; Francie Royce, then with the Portland Dept. of Transporation.

Rex Burkholder and Dave Brook

Dave, Maren Souders and Russell Martin - the CarSharing Portland crew.

Maren, Dave & Russell.

Nina DeConcini tells another story.  Steven Scott, Francie Royce & Ed Mcnamera are also visible

Long time carshare advocate, Steve Gutmann, shows one of the signs from the original carsharing office.

Todd Boulanger, then with the City of Vancouver, Washington's transportation department, shows two no parking signs from the first on-street parking space reserved for carsharing vehicles.
Not able to attend the party but mentioned by many was Dr. Richard Katzev, Reed College psychology professor at the time, who inspired us and conducted the first independing evaluation documenting the benefits of carsharing to US cities.

Russell, Maren, Dave 

Dave getting nostalgic after a beer at the Lucky Lab brewpub.

And a final photo of one key person from the early days of carsharing (who wasn't located before the meeting) - Clive Bullian, whose started out cleaning cars and quickly became an invaluable all around fleet person.  His easy going attitude boosted everyone's spirits and got the job done.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of CarSharing Portland

March 28, 1998 was the launch date of Carsharing Portland, the first commercial carsharing company in the United States.  Although the 2 original Dodge Neons did not get donated to the Smithsonian

Come celebrate the launch of CarSharing Portland on April 2, from 5 to 7 pm at one of our original member appreciation and recruitment venues - the Lucky Lab Brewpub, 915 SE Hawthorne.  I'm digging out some historic documents and artifacts from the early days of carsharing to display at the event.
If you have some photos, artifacts or memories of the early days of CSP or Flexcar send them to me and I'll post them here.  And if you're in Portland on April 2, come to a little party at one of our original member appreciation and recruitment venues - the Lucky Lab Brewpub, 915 SE Hawthorne, between 5 - 7 pm.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Some Resources About Reserved On-Street Parking for Carsharing

Parking is a hot button issue in cities.  
Cities have been providing free (and underpriced) on-street parking since the advent of the automobile, and, no surprise, people like FREE, even when it's a scarce resource and they have to cruise for it!  

Making it even harder, is the perception that politicians are "taking away" public parking and "giving" (or even selling) it to private carshare companies, especially when the parking space is in front of your home or business — even though the private company is serving the residents of the area!  

Consequently, it can be hard to get a city to designate on-street parking for carsharing. (In this posting I'm talking about reserved on-street parking for "round trip" carsharing services.  One-way/free floating carshaing is a related but different issue.)  The way these policies are implemented in each city depends on specific verbiage in the city's legal code framework.  

Here are some resources:

On-Street Parking Spaces for Shared Cars, 
Access Magazine, University of California, 2010
Good general overview of reserved on-street parking for carsharing.

Best practices in CS parking: Carsharing and Public Parking Policies: Assessing Benefits, Costs, and Best Practices in North America
Susan A. Shaheen, Ph.D. et al., Mineta Transportation Institute, March 2010
This paper outlines 3 strategies a city might take: 
 - Support CS with "free" parking because it's a public good (this is often done in the "pilot" stage)
 - Charge either the market price for reserved parking spaces or charge the "lost revenue from parking meters" (this is the most common)
 - Same as above but build in some sort of revenue-sharing mechanism when the operator meets some threshold.

Three Ways Cities Are Using On-Street Parking Pilots to Expand Carsharing
Shared Use Mobility Center, 2015
Basically, a brief summary of how San Francisco and Seattle are handling the allocation on-street parking in their cities. (The 3rd city, Boston, was in the RFP stage at the time the article was written.)

Car Sharing at a Mile High
International Parking Institute, November 2013
A detailed discussion of how Denver is implementing carsharing parking.

Build Your Own Mobility Hub: 7 Lessons for Cities from Bremen, Germany
By Tim Frisbie, Shared Use Mobility Center, June 16, 2017
The "Mobility Hub" concept places carsharing vehicles at/near other transit services, such as bikesharing, subway stations and major bus interchanges.  This describes the efforts by the City of Bremen, Germany in integrating carsharing in the overall transportation network of the city.

Carsharing: Establishing its Role in the Parking Demand Management Toolbox
Masters thesis submitted by Gina Filosa, Tufts University, 2006
A detailed discussion of where carsharing fits into the overall parking management strategy.

Hope these are useful.  Let me know if there are other articles or website you've found useful.