Ridesharing and Carsharing
Rideshare programs help connect people to travel together to the same or similar destinations. Carsharing is a form of shared vehicle ownership to provide members with vehicles for personal use without the costs and commitment of individual car ownership. Ridesharing, also called carpooling, can reduce travel costs, traffic, and parking demand. Some local and regional governments provide incentives to encourage ridesharing, such as access to high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, discounted fees on roads or lanes, special parking privileges for vehicles with multiple passengers, or tax breaks for companies with a high level of pooling among employees.
Corporate decision makers and public transportation planners can support rideshare programs by encouraging employees and consumers to participate in employee rideshare systems. Public transit agencies are also branching out into this space and offering ridesharing opportunities in certain markets (for example, the Regional Transportation District's [RTD] FlexRide program in the Denver metro area).
Employee rideshare programs help coworkers carpool. These programs take advantage of the fact that coworkers commute to the same destination and are familiar with and accountable to one another. Rideshares can be coordinated through internal company websites, smartphone apps, social media, or informal meetings. Some employers encourage ridesharing by offering financial incentives, giving parking preference to carpoolers, providing a guaranteed ride home, or arranging and subsidizing a vanpool.
Ridematching systems help commuters coordinate their rides by identifying potential matches based on location and schedule. Ridematching websites can feature rider or driver reviews, fuel savings calculators, and options for finding back-up rides for special circumstances. Some facilitate money transfers so that riders can cover costs. Companies like Via, Scoop, and Bridj provide ridematching services by matching location and schedule needs in real time.
The following resources can provide ideas for how to support rideshare programs:
- Massport Board Moves Forward with Ground Transportation Plan – The Massachusetts Port Authority incentivizes ridesharing to reduce congestion around Boston Logan International Airport with discounted pickup and drop-off fees for shared rides.
- "Five Free Rides" Incentive Program – The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission partnered with a ride share company to offer an incentive for five free rides.
Carsharing programs provide individuals and companies with vehicles for limited use. These programs have various structures, and are typically either round-trip station-based, one-way station-based, or one-way floating. In round-trip carsharing systems, shared vehicles are co-located at central docking stations and individuals check out and return the vehicle to the same location. In one-way station-based programs, participants check out a vehicle at one central docking location and return it to another docking station in a different location. One-way floating carsharing programs allow individuals to locate a shared vehicle that is parked nearby in a publicly available parking stall, drive to their destination, and find another public stall in which to park. Modern car share programs are often app-based and use technology to locate, check availability, and even unlock and start the vehicle.
This service is popular in metropolitan areas where alternative modes of transportation are prevalent, parking is expensive, and many people need specialty vehicles only occasionally. Carsharing companies pay for insurance and in some cases fuel and parking, which provides members of carsharing programs with some of the benefits of vehicle ownership without all the costs.
Electrification of carshare vehicles can have compound benefits by eliminating tailpipe emissions and lowering vehicle operating costs. Examples of electric carshare programs in the U.S. include, but are not limited to, Blue LA (Los Angeles, California), Evie (Minneapolis – Saint Paul, Minnesota), and Good2Go (Boston, Massachusetts).