Carsharing in Greater Forest Lawn

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Carsharing in Greater Forest Lawn

  1. 1. SUMMARY CARSHARING IN GREATER FOREST LAWN Peter Schryvers A component of the research projectAutomobile Dependence and the City: Travel Behaviour and Housing Choice in Calgary: A Qualitative Inquiry, 2010 1
  2. 2. Executive SummaryCarsharing is a service that allows members access to a vehicle without owning anautomobile. Members pay a monthly membership fee as well as paying for individualuse of vehicles provided, either on a per-kilometre or per time basis, or a combinationof the both. In general, carsharing allows access to a vehicle at a fraction of the costof ownership and is generally cheaper and less of a hassle than renting a car,depending on the usage. For some of those who make use of the service, carsharingcan provide a critical piece of their economic and social stability.Carsharing provides an essential alternative between not owning and owning a car. Itprovides access to an automobile, while not placing the full cost burdens ofautomobile ownership on the household. For those people who do not need to use acar on a daily basis, but still require a car for occasional, but necessary trips,carsharing provides a level of accessibility that is currently not available.There are numerous benefits for those who use carsharing services, including: • Reduced costs of owning and operating a vehicle, freeing up money for other costs • Increased access to amenities than with transit, cycling or walking • Reduced trip times and thus creating more time for other activities • Less reliance on transit schedules and thus more flexibility in activity planningThese benefits, however, are not without their challenges. Carsharing programs arenot without their difficulties and potential downsides including: • Keeping user costs low, while maintaining profitability or reducing subsidies • Providing access to vehicles while avoiding automobile dependence for users • Providing adequate levels of service while avoiding overuse and scheduling conflictsCarsharing, although not without its difficulties, provides a valuable service to manyof those who, for one reason or another, do not have access to an automobile.
  3. 3. Research ContextThe research focused on how travel behaviors and associated decisions weredeveloped in households both which did or did not make use of a carsharing service.This research of carsharing in the Greater Forest Lawn area was a component of alarger research study examining travel and housing location choice behaviors ofhouseholds in Calgary. Thirteen households in total were recruited for the study,seven of which came from the Greater Forest Lawn area, two of which were users ofthe Greater Forest Lawn Carsharing service.Households participating in the study were interviewed in an open-interview format,allowing the participants to direct the conversation and identify the factors that wererelevant to them. This interview format allows participants to identify issues andcharacteristics that may not have been evident to the researcher prior to the study. Allhouseholds were prompted to discuss their daily travel behavior as well as theirchoice of where to live while the households from Forest Lawn were additionallyprompted to discuss their use of carsharing, or if they thought they would use acarsharing service if provided.Carsharing Findings Carsharing and Travel BehaviorThis research aimed to investigate how daily travel behavior differed between thosehouseholds who used a carsharing service and those who did not. Examining thesedifferences offers insight into the ways in which a carsharing service provides benefitsto those households who use it. There are several ways in which daily travel behaviorof carsharing households differed from households who do not use this service.First, in comparison to households who do not own cars, carshare users engagedmuch more in what is termed “trip chaining.” Trip chaining describes the behaviorwhen travel for more than one activity is chained together using the same mode oftransportation. An example would be shopping for groceries on the way home fromwork (the work trip and the grocery trip are “chained” together). While it was stillpossible for individuals to trip chain using transit or other forms of transportation,the opportunity is much more diminished than it is for a car.Trip chaining can change activity and travel patterns in a number of ways. Activitiesthat normally take place during the weekend may be altered to occur on weeknightsbecause of reduced travel time freeing up weekends for other activities or vice versa.Alternatively several activities that take place on separate weekends can be clusteredinto a single weekend, thus freeing up time on the other weekends. 3
  4. 4. Additionally, when trips are chained together, longer distance trips can more easily bejustified as the additional travel time is spread out amongst several activities.Traveling a longer distance may allow for cost savings for the activity undertaken, forinstance traveling to a less expensive grocery store along with a trip to the doctor’soffice.Second, carsharing service alters travel behavior and activity patterns by allowingtravel times and activity times to be better coordinated than for using transit. Forexample, by using a carshare vehicle, an individual can time their trip to correspondwith a doctor’s appointment or other time-constrained activity, whereas using transitmight entail gaps in timing (such as waiting an extra half hour either before or afterthe activity) or longer trip times because of the unreliability of transit. In some cases aconsiderable time cushion is needed when taking transit to time-constrainedactivities, because of the possibility of being late, whereas using a vehicle to accessthese activities has greater reliability in trip times.This increased ability to accurately align trip times with time-constrained activities(such as appointments) provides several benefits for car share users. First, the time anactivity takes place is less constrained, for example week night activities may be moreviable because transit may not be as reliable. In some cases activities will not beundertaken at all if using transit because of the inability to accurately time activitiesand travel times. This may include things such as night classes or appointments thatoccur during times of low transit frequency. Therefore activities that occur duringnon-peak travel periods for transit are more viable for carshare users, increasing thescope of activities that carshare users can undertake. These activities may includeclasses, appointments or recreational activities, such as children’s recreationalactivities.Finally, access to a carsharing vehicle increases the distance households can travel toaccess services. Because trip times are generally shorter for carsharing vehicles thanthey are for transit, the spatial distribution of activities for carshare users can begreater than they are for completely transit dependent households. This may meanthat carshare users are relocating existing activities to locations that are located afarther distance from their home, or they may be engaging in new activities madeavailable by the greater spatial reach of using a carsharing vehicle.These changes to the daily travel behavior of households made possible by carsharinghave several benefits for the household. BenefitsThere are many benefits that carsharing programs bring. These benefits can bedivided between carsharing users themselves, social agencies and municipalgovernments.
  5. 5. UsersFor carshare users, carsharing provides an essential alternative between not owningand owning a car. It provides access to an automobile, while not placing the full costburdens of automobile ownership on the household. For those people who do notneed to use a car on a daily basis, but still require a car for occasional, but necessarytrips, carsharing provides a level of accessibility that is current not available. Thisservice has many benefits for its users, which can be divided into costs, time andaccess.Carsharing users benefit from the carshare service by reducing overall travel costs.Reductions in cost come in several forms. First, the cost of ownership, maintenanceand operation for carsharing is much lower than it is for fully owning a car (providedthat the number of trips made is sufficiently low). For households that do not make alarge number of trips by private automobile (especially the work commute), using acarshare service means that they are not paying for a vehicle that sits in the drivewayunused for long periods of time. As well, because carsharing vehicles are used by anumber of people, maintenance and operational costs are reduced because of thehigher usage of the vehicle. Resources between users can be pooled in order toproperly maintain the vehicle, and to purchase reliable vehicles, avoiding the highmaintenance costs often associated with older vehicles.Second, carshare users save on costs by having greater access to goods and services,allowing them to purchase low cost goods in areas farther from their home. Thistypically refers to grocery shopping, where lower cost grocery stores may be locatedfurther from the household, or may be inaccessible by transit and having access to acar can result in cost savings due to the lower cost of the store. The same may applyto several other types of stores; however, grocery shopping is the most common.Finally, a carshare service allows users to graduate their car ownership. That is to saythat the capital cost of ownership may be too high initially to a household, but overtime can be achieved. However, in some cases access to a car may be a necessitybefore the household has reached a level of income that can support car ownership.In these cases car ownership becomes a financial burden, as it is done during a periodwhen the household is not financially prepared for the full costs of ownership. Thismay then delay other purchases by the household, such as home ownership, whichcan act as a financial cost to the household. Carsharing allows the household to havethe necessary access to the car during these periods while not fully having to committo ownership.The next benefit that carshare users get from using a carshare service is timebenefits. There are several benefits related to time that are offered by carsharing.First, as stated above, carsharing increases the ability to trip chain. This ability hasseveral benefits for households. By trip chaining the overall travel time for activities isreduced, as several trips are made together. This reduction in travel time frees up 5
  6. 6. time for other activities or travel to other activities. Trip chaining can have the resultof shifting activities that are normally done on weeknights to the weekend, freeing uptime for individuals to undertake more household activities or even work longerhours. This additional time can be used by households to engage in other activities,such as education, recreation, or even working longer hours in order to increaseincome.Second, carsharing reduces travel time in general because typically private automobiletrips are faster than walking and cycling trips and more direct than transit trips. Assuch, the reduction in travel time either frees up time to do other activities or makesmore activities viable because the travel time is reasonable. This decrease in traveltime allows households to make more efficient use of their time and to better allocatetime to priority activities.Finally, in terms of time, using a carsharing vehicle means less uncertainty in traveltimes. As noted in the section on household travel behavior, transit schedules may bedifficult to coordinate with activities with fixed start and end times. By using acarshare vehicle, users may be better able to coordinate their travel times with thetimes that activities take place (such as appointments, recreational activities orclasses) and as such, they reduce the amount of waiting. This better scheduling alsomeans that time constrained activities are more viable for a household. In some cases,time constrained activities may not even be undertaken by a household because ofthe potential for being late if using transit. Being able to better match travel timeswith activities means not only saving waiting time, but making more activitiesavailable to the household.The last benefit carsharing provides for its users is a greater access to more amenitiesin a city. Transit, walking and cycling can only connect a person to a limited numberof amenities viably. With access to a private automobile, carshare users can access agreater number of amenities throughout the city. This may be a greater variety ofstores, recreational activities or even educational facilities that are unable to bereached realistically using transit, walking and cycling.Carshare users gain several benefits from having access to a carshare vehicle.Financial and time savings along with greater access to amenities provides carshareusers many of the benefits of car ownership without having to take on the full costburden of complete ownership. Social Organizations/AgenciesSocial agencies and organizations also benefit from carsharing programs. Carsharingprovides a method of assisting households in accessing services and amenitieswithout bearing the full costs of ownership. For social agencies assisting householdsin need, advocating for and supporting carsharing amongst their clients is a good way
  7. 7. to provide an additional tool to assist those households. The benefits social agenciesreceive from supporting carsharing services are numerous.First, carsharing can help clients access the agency’s services, if the agency is locatedin an area that is not readily accessible by public transit and the client does not own acar. Social agencies may work with a higher number of households who do not own acar, and connecting with these populations may prove to be difficult if the householdshave lower accessibility to vehicles. Carsharing can be used as a tool to help socialagencies connect with their clients without having to visit them in their homes (ifunnecessary or too costly).Second, carsharing reduces financial burdens on households (if carsharing entails thereduction of car ownership), which may be a goal of the social agency. Reducing thecost of vehicle ownership can help households rearrange their spending priorities andbetter manage household finances. The cost savings associated with carsharing canbe redirected to other expenditures, such as food, education or housing, which mayhave been under-funded because of the costs of the vehicle.Third, carsharing increases the mobility of clients, which may be a goal of the socialagency. Increasing access to educational services, health services and other servicesin general can provide a significant benefit to carshare users and therefore can helpachieve many of the goals of the social agency.Finally, it should be understood that carsharing is not a method to increase access toemployment directly by providing a means of commuting. Carsharing would be tooexpensive to use as a regular commuting mode and should not be viewed as such.However, carsharing may indirectly increase employment outcomes by providingaccess to job-supportive amenities, such as educational opportunities. Employmentoutcomes may also be increase indirectly by carsharing because costs saved becauseof carsharing can be spent on other job-supportive costs. Municipal GovernmentsThe greatest benefit municipal governments receive from carsharing programs is animprovement in transit. Transit usage may improve because carsharing will reduce theneed for a car for non-work trips, thus increasing the attractiveness of using transit asa commute mode. Carsharing can reduce the justification for owning a car for non-work trips, and therefore the reduced need for a car can translate into an advantageof transit over automobiles when a household chooses the mode for the commute. Ifa car is needed for non-work trips, the car may be used for the commute simply as amatter of justifying a sunk cost. However, if this is not the case, there may be less ofan incentive to purchase a car solely for the commute if the commute can besufficiently served by transit. As such, municipalities should make efforts to supportcarsharing services as a matter of improving transit usage. 7
  8. 8. ChallengesWhile providing numerous benefits to its users, carsharing is not necessarilyimplemented easily. There are several challenges that must be overcome tosuccessfully implement a carshare service. Work TripsThe greatest difficulty facing carsharing programs is ensuring that work trips areserved by means other than an automobile. Although some cases may exist where avehicle is used for the commute and carsharing is viable, in the vast majority of cases,the carshare user needs to be able to get to work without a private automobile (theexception being those who are unemployed or retired). If a car is used for thecommute, there is little reason to use a carshare vehicle for non-work trips.Carsharing therefore, should focus on areas where commuting by alternative means,such as transit or walking, is viable. This way, a reduction of car ownership is a viablechoice that will not affect employment outcomes.Carsharing needs to be focused on populations who can use alternative means ofcommuting rather than a private automobile, otherwise the program will not beviable. As such, carsharing programs should work in conjunction with municipaltransit and transportation planning in order to best identify areas of need. DependenceAnother challenge that carsharing faces is the potentiality of creating dependence forautomobile use among users, which is a contradiction to the purpose of carsharing.Although it may be appropriate in some cases, carsharing should not be viewed as apath towards vehicle ownership. One of the purposes of carsharing is to ultimatelyreduce the need to own a car. If a carshare program ultimately creates a situationwhere automobile dependence increases, it has failed in its purpose.This challenge comes mostly from the increased freedom provided by using acarshare service. Households may come to rely on a vehicle and the conveniences itoffers. Locations for household activities, such as going to the pharmacy or the bank,may start to be conducted using a carshare vehicle when walking or transit is a viableoption. Although unlikely, carsharing programs do have the potential to induce cardependence. CostOne of the most significant challenges facing carsharing programs is providingservices at a cost effective price. As one of the demographics for the service is lowincome households, the price of the service must be low enough to allow householdsto use the service. The challenge of removing subsidies while remaining financially
  9. 9. viable and providing the much needed service to low income households is not aneasy task. Maintaining Level of ServiceLastly, carsharing programs face the challenge of providing a viable level of servicewhile keeping costs low. A critical mass of vehicles is needed to provide convenientservice through close proximity and adequate availability of cars to program users.However, this has to be balanced with not over extending the service so that costs tothe program itself become untenable. Carshare programs have to provide enoughcars to ensure proximity of vehicles to users and adequate availability while alsokeeping costs low. 9
  10. 10. Recommendations Carsharing Target DemographicsCarsharing can benefit many different groups. These groups may use a carsharingservice for different reasons and it is important to keep those different reasons inmind when creating a carshare program.The first demographic group for carsharing is low-income households without a car.The main reason these households would use carsharing is that it increasesaccessibility of the household to amenities throughout the city. These householdscannot afford a regular car, but will gain significant benefits from having access toone.The second group is households with two cars. The main reason this group would usecarsharing is to reduce existing costs of vehicle operation and ownership. Thesehouseholds need two cars for certain situations, such as running errands, but not forwork. These households may have one income earner working while the other stays athome with children, or the work shifts of the two income earners can be different.These households need to make use of a car when one vehicle is being used for work,but may not need it frequently.The third group of carshare users is urban residents who live in a district wherewalking and transit make up a majority of trips. These households may not need touse a vehicle very often and can do a majority of their errands by walking or transit,but may need to make use of a carshare vehicle for longer trips that they do not dovery often. Target Geographic AreasCarsharing programs should be focused in areas where they will be used most andtherefore need to locate in areas where a significant population either does not needto own cars, or cannot afford them. Generally, higher density neighbourhoods aregood candidates for carshare users. This is because the higher the residential density,the greater number of potential carshare users and generally high density areastypically are more conducive to walking, as more services are located in a smallerarea. Mixed use areas are therefore desirable because they can reduce the need for acar. Residents of these areas can do a significant amount of trips without a vehicleand are good candidates for carshare programsAlternatively, low density areas can also be good areas for carsharing, provided thatthere is a higher demand for the service, due to low levels of automobile ownership.The lack of density in these areas is made up for by an increased demand.
  11. 11. Finally, transit stations can be good candidates for areas to locate carshare vehiclesin. Although the stations themselves may not have a significant residentialpopulation nearby, they may be easily accessed through the transit system andtherefore can increase the catchment area for potential users. Furthermore, locatingnearby transit stations can allow workers who take transit to work to trip-chain, that isto use the carshare vehicle for errands on their way home from (or occasionally to)work. This allows people to use carshare services even though they do not live near acarshare vehicle. For those who use only transit for the commute (not those who parkand ride), using carshare vehicles along the transit route can provide access tocarsharing for these people, while not requiring them to live in an area wherecarsharing services exist. Social Housing OrganizationsSocial organizations that provide housing or support for housing to their clients canpromote carsharing in a number of ways. First, they can provide parking spaces forcarshare vehicles in housing projects they develop. This provides easy access to thecarshare vehicles for the residents, while also providing parking spaces for thecarshare vehicles, which may be difficult to come by. Parking spaces can also beprovided by dedicating existing parking spaces in properties the organization own tocarsharing programs.Second, social organizations can either pay for their clients to join a carshare service,provide subsidies to do so, or help them with the registration process. Carsharingprogram fees can even be worked into rental agreements, if the organization operatesin this manner. Providing support for registration and membership can removebarriers to participation for individuals unfamiliar with the process. Municipal GovernmentMunicipal governments can support carsharing services in a number of ways.First, municipal governments can provide dedicated parking spaces for carsharevehicles. This can be done at transit stations, other municipal parking lots and atmunicipally owned buildings. Providing these spaces can be done in a couple of ways.The spaces can be provided to carshare programs for free, they can simply bededicated to carshare vehicles and sold at a fixed price, or can be dedicated andauctioned to the highest bidder.Second, municipal governments can relax parking requirements for developmentsthat provide carshare services as part of the development.Third, transit agencies can coordinate with carsharing services to not only provideparking spaces at park and ride lots, but to advertise and promote carsharing ontransit brochures, route maps and wayfinding materials. Carshare logos can be put on 11
  12. 12. transit maps so customers can easily identify the locations of carshare vehiclesadjacent to transit. Signage can be put up at transit stations identifying wherecarshare vehicles are located. As well, instructions or advertisements can be placednear the carsharing vehicles explaining to transit customers how the service works.This could create a greater level of service for both carshare users and transitcustomers.

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