UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Impact of one-way carsharing on car ownership and public transit : an empirical analysis from Metro Vancouver Jamshidi, Nima


While first conceived as cooperative station-based car ownership in the 1950s, smartphones have led to a rapid growth of free-floating carsharing in urban areas in the past 15 years. Their low-barrier to entry has had strong proponents and opponents. Proponents assert that it reduces car ownership and enhances the reach of public transit into less well-served neighbourhoods. Opponents worry that carsharing leads to more congestion and competes with public transit. Countless user surveys have explored the validity of these questions, indicating positive spillovers. In contrast to these studies, this thesis uses empirical data on vehicle booking and use from one-way carsharing providers in Vancouver to assess their impacts. This analysis reveals: • Actual shared vehicles are used 5-6 times per day on average. Past surveys indicate that each free-floating carsharing vehicle leads to 2-13 fewer vehicles owned. This study estimates 4.3 and shows that the majority of the users who change their vehicle ownership plans use carsharing with low frequency (1-4 trips per month). This could suggest that the major benefit from car-shedding due to free-floating carsharing is in relieving parking pressure and less so of traffic congestion. • Empirical data show that the most popular neighbourhoods for carsharing in which 75% of carsharing trips occur, host 59% of the population, retaining 37% of the carsharing service area and 63% of direct rapid transit routes. In other words, this group of neighbourhoods have 2.5 times higher population density than the rest of the neighbourhoods. The ratio of direct rapid transit routes available between these neighbourhoods to the rest of the direct rapid transit routes is 1.7, whereas the number of carsharing trips inside this group of neighbourhoods is 3 times higher than the rest of carsharing trips recorded. Thus, carsharing is primarily competing with public transit in denser neighbourhoods rather than complementing it in less dense areas. Finally, this study identified an understudied user misbehaviour. Roughly 30% of all vehicle reservations lapse; each time rendering these vehicles inaccessible to other users for 30 minutes. This leads to over-investment in the shared vehicle fleet and higher pressure on parking in popular neighbourhoods.

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