By Susan A. Shaheen, Ph.D. and Apaar Bansal, E.I.T. 2015-04-25 02:26:11
Peer-to-peer carsharing is an example of the growing "sharing economy," in which owners of vehicles can use a third-party smartphone application (app) to rent out their idle cars to users for a fee. Major advancements in smartphone apps and location-based features have facilitated tremendous growth of "collaborative consumption"–the sharing of resources and services by a group of people. An innovative approach to collaborative consumption are peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing services, such as home sharing (e.g., Airbnb), equipment sharing (e.g., JustShareIt), ridesharing (e.g., Zimride), and finally, carsharing (e.g., RelayRides). Carsharing differs from on-demand ride services, also known as transportation network companies (TNCs) or "ridesourcing," which use apps to connect community drivers with passengers. With ridesourcing, a passenger is driven in a privately owned vehicle by the owner of that vehicle. Carsharing offers the mobility and flexibility of driving independently without the cost or hassle of private vehicle ownership. With traditional carsharing, a third-party entity owns a fleet of vehicles and shares it across a user-base for a fee. The advent of technology has allowed for P2P carsharing to emerge in a significant way; as of March 2015, there were an estimated 30 active P2P operators in 13 countries worldwide, of which eight operators were in North America. While P2P carsharing has the potential for greater cost savings due to the elimination of the need for a third-party vehicle fleet, it poses concerns for owners renting out their personal vehicles to strangers, as well as apprehensions for renters using a stranger's car. Since a barrier to the widespread adoption of P2P services has been trust, it is important to understand user perceptions relating to sharing through peer-to-peer arrangements. Dr. Susan Shaheen, the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) at University of California–Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and students from her graduate class on transportation sustainability conducted a study on the awareness and perception of P2P carsharing in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA between March and July 2013. A verbal intercept survey of 300 respondents was conducted in both San Francisco and Oakland. Respondents were asked if they were aware of P2P carsharing as a concept; if they were willing to rent or rent out vehicles through the service; and what concerns they would have while doing so. It is important to note that San Francisco has more mobility options for its residents than Oakland does, and this is a key factor to consider when interpreting the results. Awareness The survey showed that while more than half of the respondents in both San Francisco and Oakland had heard of classic carsharing roundtrip services, in which vehicles are provided by a third-party (84 percent and 62 percent for San Francisco and Oakland, respectively), awareness of P2P carsharing was considerably lower (47 percent and 24 percent in the two cities, respectively). Interestingly, awareness of P2P carsharing was even lower among those who did not have access to a vehicle (40 percent and 13 percent for the two respective cities). The data show that San Francisco survey respondents demonstrated greater awareness of both classic as well as P2P carsharing than Oakland respondents, which may reflect that carsharing services have been present in San Francisco for a longer period than in Oakland. Vehicle Ownership and Travel Behavior The study examined user openness toward using P2P carsharing in relation to vehicle ownership and travel behavior. Respondents were also asked about their attitude toward a P2P home sharing service like Airbnb, and it was found that people were more favorable to it than they were toward P2P carsharing. It was found that San Francisco residents were equally likely to consider renting a P2P vehicle whether or not they were primary users (i.e., vehicle owners) or non-primary users (i.e., not vehicle owners). In Oakland, however, 72 percent of non-primary users would consider using P2P carsharing as opposed to 43 percent of the city's primary user respondents. While a large discrepancy exists between San Francisco and Oakland respondents in their willingness to rent a P2P vehicle, 27 percent of primary users of both cities would consider renting out their own vehicle through a P2P operator. This could suggest that an individual's openness to sharing their vehicle may not be a function of their location. Age also played a role; in both San Francisco and Oakland, respondents under 40 years old were more willing to rent a P2P vehicle than older respondents (60 percent as opposed to 48 percent in San Francisco; 53 percent versus 44 percent in Oakland). Respondents were also asked how often they drive or take public transit to identify if a correlation exists between usual mode choice and willingness to use P2P carsharing. The results show that in general, higher driving frequency yields less interest in trying P2P carsharing, while respondents who use public transit more are more likely to be interested in trying P2P. The results differ slightly between San Francisco and Oakland due to greater vehicle ownership among Oakland residents and greater public transit use among San Francisco residents. Perceptions Survey respondents were asked to state any positive or negative perceptions they have about the concept of P2P carsharing. Both San Francisco and Oakland residents cited liability, vehicle reliability, and preference for renting from a known carsharing provider as key potential negatives while renting vehicles through a P2P service. San Francisco potential renters more often cited convenience and cost savings as a positive, and Oakland potential renters more often noted expanded mobility as a positive. This could mean that P2P carsharing is more valued for economic reasons in places like San Francisco where many transportation options already exist but valued more as another way to get around in places like Oakland where mobility options have been more limited. Vehicle owners cited liability, trust issues, and aversion to interacting with a stranger as negatives of renting out their personal vehicle. Conclusion In summary, this UC Berkeley study conducted in 2013 produced several key findings. There was generally low awareness about P2P carsharing, even in the San Francisco Bay Area where many shared-use services exist. This is especially true among residents who do not have access to a vehicle. Across the two cities, however, there was a willingness by many to consider P2P carsharing in the future, indicating that location may not be that large a factor in their consideration of using the service. Over one quarter of owners would consider renting out their vehicle through P2P operators, indicating notable potential for expanding fleet sizes among P2P operators. Thus, a key recommendation for P2P companies as a result of this survey is to expand marketing and advertising because potential users exist but general awareness of P2P carsharing among the population is low. The results also show that people who drive more are less likely to be drawn to P2P carsharing, while people who use public transit more are more likely to consider using it. Potential renters and owners share similar concerns regarding liability and trust. To mitigate this P2P carsharing barrier in user minds, efforts should be made to foster more trust among users. This includes a more comprehensive insurance and liability policy approach, as well as use of existing networks on social media. The P2P carsharing industry has been innovating in recent years with the addition of automated access to vehicles for some operators, as is already the case with roundtrip carsharing. This would enable a more seamless transaction between the renters and vehicle providers. More research is needed on specific social, environmental, and behavioral impacts of P2P carsharing on users, as well as impacts of innovations, such as automated access, on usage. Some of these research questions are currently being undertaken by the TSRC and results are expected soon. References 1. Shaheen, Susan, Mark Mallery, and Karla Kingsley. "Personal Vehicle Sharing Services in North America." Research in Transportation Business & Management, DOI: 10.10.16/j.rtbm.2012.04.005, 2012. 2. Ballus, Ingrid, Susan Shaheen, Kelly Clonts, and David Weinzimmer. "Peer-to- Peer Carsharing: Exploring Public Perception and Market Characteristics in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, " Transportation Research Record, No. 2416, pp. 27–36, 2014. Susan A. Shaheen, Ph.D. is a co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. She is also an adjunct professor in civil and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley. She was the first Honda Distinguished Scholar in Transportation at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC, Davis from 2000 to 2012. She served as the policy and behavioral research program leader at California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways from 2003 to 2007 and as a special assistant to the Director's Office of the California Department of Transportation from 2001 to 2004. Susan has a doctorate of philosophy in ecology, focusing on the energy and environmental aspects of transportation, from UC Davis and a master of science in public policy analysis from the University of Rochester. After completing her master's degree, she worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC, USA. Susan has authored 53 journal articles, more than 100 reports and proceedings articles, four book chapters, and co-edited one book. She has also served as a guest editor for Energies and the International Journal of Sustainable Transportation (IJST). Her research projects on carsharing, smart parking, and older mobility have received national awards. She has served on the ITS World Congress program committee since 2002 and was the chair of the Emerging and Innovative Public Transport and Technologies Committee of the Transportation Research Board from 2004 to 2011. She is on the editorial board of IJST (2011 to present), a member of the National Academies' Transit Research Analysis Committee (2011 to present), and member of the ITS Program Advisory Committee to the US DOT Secretary, and chair of the subcommittee for Shared-Use Vehicle Public Transport Systems of TRB (2013 to present). Apaar Bansal, E.I.T. is a research associate at the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. He has worked on various shared-use mobility projects relating to topics such as bikesharing, one-way (point-to-point) carsharing, peer-to-peer carsharing, and many more. He has a bachelor's degree in civil and environmental engineering from UC Berkeley, where he was also vice president of the ITE student chapter. He is a member of ITE. About the Transportation Sustainability Research Center The Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) was formed to study the economic, social, environmental, and technological aspects of sustainable transportation. It is housed at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. TSRC uses a wide range of analysis and evaluation tools to collect, analyze, and interpret data. The center develops impartial findings and recommendations for key issues of interest to industry and policy makers to aid in decision making. TSRC has assisted in developing and implementing major California and federal regulations and initiatives regarding sustainable transportation including; zero emission vehicle credits for carsharing vehicles as part of the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate in California. Others include the California Global Warming Solutions Act, the Low Emission Vehicle Program, the California Clean Cars Program, Low Carbon Fuel Standards policies, Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, and the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. For more information, visit http://tsrc.berkeley.edu/.
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