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February 7, 2016

‘Shared Use Mobility’ – Trendy or Mainstream?

Anybody who has ever carpooled to the office or given the next-door neighbor a lift to the train station is a practitioner of “shared use mobility.” But the term covers a lot more.

The app-enabled Uber car service is shared use mobility, as are corporate-sponsored bus services such as the one Microsoft runs all over Seattle to get employees to and from the corporate campus. The concept was subject of the Innovation in Mobility Public Policy Summit in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, where state and local officials and transportation entrepreneurs discussed how governments and shared use providers “can work together to create more seamless transportation systems.”

One of the speakers, Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at University of California, Berkeley, said shared use vehicles have become big business with the acquisition of Zipcar by Avis and with Enterprise Car Share acquiring several independent operators.

She also provided data on the bike-sharing boom:

  • 712 cities around the world (56 in the United States) have IT-based operating systems
  • More than 800,000 bikes
  • 47 new city programs starting up since January

A skeptic who still drives his own car to work every day might see “shared use mobility” as a chic sideshow.
But Shaheen said, “A lot of trends seem to be suggesting that people may be wanting to do other things with their time” such as connecting with their friends or doing work, rather than driving their own car to work and keeping their eyes on the road.

She said a question that the skeptic might consider is: “If we ultimately reach a platform that provides you with a range of choices for trip-making that compares cost, time, greenhouse gas emissions, calories burned – and it’s convenient, simple, and streamlined, could this offer someone more freedom and flexibility than they find in their private auto?”

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  1. Adam Smith

    June 18, 2014
    9:58 a.m.

    Certainly, if one wished to distribute others’ income in an “unfair” manner, say to friends, centralized power would also be needed.

  2. Mobility Lab

    June 18, 2014
    11:18 a.m.

    One thing I heard at the conference that was eye-opening: Taking an Uber to work every day throughout the year would actually be cheaper than owning your own car. And no worrying about a personal car’s condition. For more about Susan Shaheen’s presentation and all of co-sponsor Mobility Lab’s coverage from the summit, go here:

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