Innovative Mobility

Innovative mobility research focuses on understanding and developing new business models and services that integrate advanced technologies, including electronic and wireless communication systems and alternative fuels, to develop new transportation choices and services. TSRC’s research in this area includes carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing, and smart parking management.


  • In recent years, technological and social forces have pushed smartphone applications (apps) from the fringe to the mainstream. Understanding the role of transportation apps in urban mobility is important for policy development and transportation planners. This study evaluates the role and impact of multimodal aggregators from a variety of perspectives, including a literature review; a review of the most innovative, disruptive, and highest-rated transportation apps; interviews with experts in the industry, and a user survey of former multimodal aggregator RideScout users. Between February and April 2016, researchers conducted interviews with experts to gain a stronger understanding about challenges and benefits of data sharing between private companies and public agencies. Key findings from the expert interviews include the critical need to protect user privacy; the potential to use data sharing to address integrated corridor and congestion management as well as various pricing strategies during peak hours; along with the potential benefits for improving coordination between the public and private sectors. In March 2016, researchers surveyed 130 people who had downloaded the RideScout app to evaluate attitudes and perceptions toward mobile apps, travel behavior, and modal shift. The goal was to enhance understanding of how the multimodal apps were impacting the transportation behavior. The survey did found that respondents used multimodal apps in ways that yielded travel that was less energy intensive and more supportive of public transit. Looking to the future, smartphone applications and more specifically multimodal aggregators, may offer the potential for transportation planners and policymakers to enhance their understanding of multimodal travel behavior, share data, enhance collaboration, and identify opportunities for public-private partnerships.
  • TSRC corresponds with North American and many worldwide carsharing organizations and carsharing experts. The purpose of this research is to track industry trends and developments in North America and worldwide. By keeping a pulse on the international shared-use vehicle community, TSRC seeks to provide valuable information to service providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders (i.e., public transit providers, community groups, automobile manufacturers, electronic and cellular industries, and insurance companies).
  • TSRC is conducting research on personal vehicle sharing, short-term access to privately-owned personal vehicles, also known as peer-to-peer (P2P) carsharing or personal carsharing. This research explores how the next generation of shared-use vehicle services could overcome expansion barriers, such as capital costs and land use, by incorporating new concepts like personal vehicle sharing. A key question motivating this research is whether or not personal vehicle sharing can operate as a viable innovative mobility solution that offers more individuals an alternative to vehicle ownership.
  • Increasingly, public transit authorities are harnessing advances in sensor, payment, and enforcement technologies to operate parking facilities more efficiently. TSRC in conjunction with the California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT) is leading the VPP implementation and evaluation with the assistance of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the North County Transit District (NCTD), and ParkingCarma™. The objective of this project is to develop a regional toolkit and implementation plan that draws on the qualitative experience and quantitative evaluation of the COASTER smart parking pilot (as well as the larger available evidence in the literature) to assist SANDAG, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and public transit agencies as they consider the application of smart parking pricing at transit stations in the regional context. In the short term, smart parking innovations promise to enhance customer parking experiences, increase the effective supply of existing parking with minimal investment, and increase ridership and overall revenue. Over the longer term, these systems could further expand ridership by generating revenue to add parking capacity and improve access.


  • Bikesharing, shared fleet of bicycles, is one strategy to improve the environment, air quality, and community health. This project explored the feasibility of an employee bikesharing program and its ability to connect between public transit and travel destinations. A pilot program was launched with Caltrans District 4 in downtown Oakland to provide their employees access to an alternative mode of transportation during the workday to run errands and attend off-site work meetings. Participants of this bikesharing program used an electronic “BikeLink” card to access the hybrid bicycles stored in electronic lockers. This project was a pilot and model for a larger-scale employee bikesharing program to offer better connectivity and to provide an alternative way to commute to work. 
  • This project studied individuals' experience and perception of the world's largest bikesharing system in Hangzhou, China. The research also explored the Chinese government's involvement during the planning, designing, and operation of this bikesharing system. Information gathered through intercept surveys was used to test the ideas that most people in Hangzhou will: 1) have a more favorable perception of bikesharing and 2) be more willing to adopt bikesharing, if it is supported by the government. Research findings may provide useful lessons to potential bikesharing programs in the world, especially in other Chinese cities.
  • CarLink I and II were commuter-based carsharing research programs led by Dr. Susan Shaheen, who has evaluated and studied carsharing since the concept first gained foothold in North America. Launched in January 1999, CarLink I was a 10-month research project based at the Dublin/Pleasanton Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. CarLink I was developed in conjunction with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS-Davis), California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (California PATH), American Honda, BART District, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Employees at LLNL had access to 12 compressed natural gas Honda Civics to drive between the BART station and their work location and for use during the day. Other members could pick up the same cars at the BART station at the end of the day and use the vehicles during the evenings and weekends. Advanced technologies employed included the COCOS smart carsharing and Teletrac vehicle tracking systems. CarLink I resulted in a net commute reduction of approximately 20 vehicle miles per commuter per day. CarLink II, a one-year project launched in July 2001, introduced more advanced vehicle access, reservation, and tracking technologies. This second phase was a partnership among California PATH, ITS-Davis, Caltrans, American Honda, and Caltrain. CarLink II employed 18 ultra-low emission 2001 Honda Civics and included 100 members. The program served commuters using the California Avenue Caltrain station in Palo Alto and employees working for companies at or near the Stanford Research Park. At the close of the research on July 1, 2002, the pilot project transitioned to carsharing provider Flexcar to manager as an ongoing commercial enterprise.
  • Carsharing, or more broadly, shared-use vehicles, is one of the innovative strategies that could be integrated into smart growth policies to reduce vehicle miles traveled, congestion, and degrading air quality. Carfree housing is another mobility option being examined to reduce the negative effects of travel. Carfree housing refers to residential developments that have restrictions on the number of cars that residents can own, limited parking availability, or increased parking costs. Researchers examined the predicted travel, emission, and economic benefits of carsharing and carfree housing. They simulated three innovative mobility scenarios forecast to 2025 using an advanced regional travel demand model. This model approximated the effects of transit-based carsharing (short-term vehicle access linked to transit), real-time transit information services (providing travelers with real-time information through telephone, television, Internet, kiosks, changeable message signs, handheld electronic devices, pagers and cell phones), and carfree housing (residential developments designed with limited parking provisions) in the Sacramento region. The results of this study indicated that there were relatively modest reductions in vehicle travel and emissions, in part, due to limited transit service availability in the region. Despite the modest travel effects of the scenarios, the economic analysis showed a net benefit for all three of the innovative mobility scenarios. The total per-trip benefit ranges from $0.01 to $0.05. The yearly total benefit for all scenarios would be significant, particularly if there were a combination of services and policies in place.
  • This study evaluated the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission changes that result from individuals participating in a carsharing organization. The principle of carsharing is simple: individuals gain the benefits of private vehicle use without the costs and responsibilities of ownership. Carsharing is most common in major urban areas where transportation alternatives are easily accessible. Individuals typically access vehicles by joining an organization that maintains a fleet of cars and light trucks deployed in lots located within neighborhoods, public transit stations, employment centers, and colleges/universities. In this study, the authors conducted a survey of carsharing members across the North American continent to develop a robust estimate of GHG emission impacts resulting from carsharing. The results illustrate the annualized change in GHG emissions among members within the largest carsharing organizations across Canada and the United States. GHG emissions from transportation are lower due to carsharing. The average change in emissions across all respondents is -0.58 t GHG per household per year for the observed impact, and -0.84 t GHG per household per year for the full impact. However, it is important that this result is understood in the context of the broad diversity of carsharing impacts. While carsharing does facilitate lower emissions, the reduction is not generalizable across all members or even a majority of members. Rather, carsharing as a system facilitates large reductions in the annual emissions of some households, which compensate for the collective small emission increases of other households. The results also show that respondent households exhibit significant reductions in vehicle ownership after joining carsharing.
  • At present, local jurisdictions across North America are evaluating how best to provide parking spaces to carsharing vehicles in a fair and equitable manner. Some have initiated implementation of carsharing parking policies, and many continue to evolve as the demand and need for carsharing grows. Many others are seeking guidance on carsharing parking, based on the fledgling experience of other cities. This study documented the state of the practice with respect to carsharing and parking policies in North America. The study provided a background on the evidence of carsharing benefits and an overview of carsharing and parking policy internationally. This was followed by a more detailed description of carsharing parking policies in North America that highlights key policy attributes, including parking allocation, caps, fees and permits, signage, enforcement, public involvement processes, and impact studies. The study also presented an in-depth case studies for more advanced carsharing parking policies in the United States, including Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; and the San Francisco Bay Area and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District. Finally, the results of a survey exploring the public’s opinion about the provision of on-street parking for carsharing in the San Francisco Bay Area is presented. The key results were summarized to provide policy guidance to local governmental agencies considering the implementation of carsharing parking policies.
  • TSRC managed a two-year carsharing research and outreach effort in conjunction with Caltrans' Division of Mass Transportation (DMT). TSRC tracked and analyzed the status of carsharing in the United States by keeping tabs on the successes and challenges facing current carsharing organizations and those planning to implement services. By systematically tracking industry trends, TSRC's research has contributed to carsharing policies developed in the state and nation.
  • The rapid motorization of China in conjunction with the success of carsharing in Europe and North America raises questions about the prospects of carsharing in cities, such as Shanghai. While motor vehicle demand is increasing rapidly, there are many aspects of urban transportation in Shanghai (and China more broadly) that separate it from the urban environments in which carsharing has traditionally thrived. For example, the taxi plays a much more prominent role in the transportation system of Shanghai and Beijing than it does in most North American and European cities. Carsharing has also traditionally thrived in environments in which the broader population has experience with both driving and automotive ownership, which is relatively lacking in Shanghai. To evaluate these issues in the context of carsharing, this study comparatively analyzed the size and competitiveness of the taxi systems of key carsharing cities in Europe, North America, and Asia and highlights some core distinctions between Shanghai and other major cities where carsharing has thrived. To further explore the potential response of citizens to carsharing, TSRC conducted a survey (N=271) of a subpopulation in Shanghai, China. The survey analysis showed that those interested in carsharing are generally more educated, have longer commutes, are younger, and own fewer cars than those not interested in carsharing. Following analysis of the survey data, the study examined the development of carsharing as an industry in Shanghai. 
  • Access from transit stations to employment and home locations can be a significant barrier to transit use in many urban regions, which is also commonly known as the “first and last mile” problem. The EasyConnect field test was introduced at the Pleasant Hill Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) District stations to evaluate the effectiveness of shared-use low-speed modes vehicles service at bridging the “last mile” from a transit station to the workplace. The project enabled businesses within a four mile radius of the Pleasant Hill BART station to rent shared-use bicycles, electric bicycles, and Segway Human Transporters (HTs) for their employees to use for commute and day-time travel. Approximately 15 companies and more than 34 employees signed up to participate in the project. The EasyConnect field trial is a partnership of the University of California, Berkeley; the California Department of Transportation; the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District; the Metropolitan Transportation Commission; the Bay Area Quality Management District, the Contra Costa Centre, Contra Costa County, 511 Contra Costa, Segway, Inc., and Giant Bicycles. The next phase of EasyConnect will be to combine the project at the Pleasant Hill BART station with other successful transportation technologies, such as the smart parking reservation services, real-time freeway and transit information signage, carsharing (short-term auto use), and power supplied by a hydrogen fuel cell to support a small electric vehicle and Segway HTs.
  • Since the late-1990s, numerous ridematching programs have integrated the Internet, mobile phones, and social networking into their services. TSRC researched ridesharing systems from the past, present, and future, and categorized ridesharing’s evolution into five phases: 1) World War II car-sharing (or carpooling) clubs; 2) major responses to the 1970s energy crises; 3) early organized ridesharing schemes; 4) reliable ridesharing systems; and 5) technology-enabled ridematching. While ridesharing’s future growth and direction are uncertain, the next decade is likely to include greater interoperability among services, technology integration, and stronger policy support. In light of growing concerns about climate change, congestion, and oil dependency, more research is needed to better understand ridesharing’s impacts on infrastructure, congestion, and energy/emissions.
  • TSRC is supporting Axiom xCell by providing an assessment of needs for a real-time ridesharing system by identifying and documenting the needs of the potential users. The needs assessment supports the concept of operations that demonstrates the viability and interoperability of automated real-time ride matching. TSRC assessed the needs of potential users by conducting two focus groups and evaluating the technical feasibility of the concept of operations. The focus groups were drawn from the targeted market of ridesharing commuters within the San Diego region.
  • To examine smart parking as a potential solution to alleviate BART’s parking issues, in December 2004, California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) researchers in conjunction with Caltrans, the BART District, ParkingCarma™, and the Quixote Corporation launched a field test of a smart parking system at the Rockridge BART station in Oakland, where parking demand is very high. The smart parking system included underground traffic sensors that counted the vehicles entering and exiting the station's reserved lot. The sensors relayed the information to a central system, which in turn, relayed the real-time information to two changeable message signs (CMS) on an adjacent highway to alert drivers to the availability of parking spaces. The system also allowed travelers to check availability and reserve spaces by phone, the Internet, and other electronic communication devices. Major findings from this research included the following: 1) smart parking systems implemented worldwide reduce delays and improve parking convenience, 2) commuters may be receptive to a system that permits pre-trip or en-route BART parking reservations, 3) smart parking sensory technology is capable of accurate parking counts (within one percent) when properly placed, and 4) a potential market for a daily paid parking service exists among new riders with relatively high incomes, high auto availability, and variable work schedules and/or locations. The final phase of the field test includes the completion of the user evaluation, economic and institutional assessments, and scoping the expansion of the smart parking pilot project along a transit corridor in the Bay Area.




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