RT12 – Dr Taru Jain – The role of car share in the mobility ecosystem

RT12 – Dr Taru Jain – The role of car share in the mobility ecosystem

Researching Transit – Episode 12

Published: September 2020

Keywords: Car share, shared mobility, public transport, transit, travel behaviour, theory of planned behaviour, social norms

Car share is a subscription service for cars. It allows users to drive a car, without owning a car. The city of Melbourne, Australia, plays host to over 1,500 shared vehicles which operate as part of commercial fleets or peer-to-peer (privately owned) vehicles. But the benefits of car share go beyond those to the individual (flexibility and cost savings from registration, fuel and the capital cost of cars). At a societal level, car share also benefits cities by reducing parking demand and congestion.

But what is the role of car share in the transport system? How does it serve the mobility needs of its users and provide an alternative to car ownership?

Taru’s research aimed to help different levels of Government in Victoria understand how car share was affecting mobility choices and thus its role in supporting the State’s transport and sustainability objectives.

“Public transport is great, but not having a car on weekends when you want to travel different places can be frustrating, and that’s what the role of car share was.”

To gain this understanding, Taru’s project pursued three objectives: exploring trends in usage and availability of care share, understanding car share impacts on travel behaviour; and gaining an understanding of the psycho-social motives and barriers for care share use.

Interviews of car share users also revealed five types of users. Importantly, two of the user groups – the car aspirers and car sellers – were characterised by changes in their car usage and ownership over the course of their car share membership. Taru emphasises the importance of major life events – a detail that often goes overlooked in purely quantitative studies. By limiting unnecessary trips, and limiting the acquisition of new cars, car share also contributes to a more efficient transport network.

Taru’s research also identified an important role for Local Government in maximising uptake, retention of car share subscribers and stemming car ownership. Dr Jain emphasises the need for clear regulation and supportive policies so that operators can ensure widespread availability of car share vehicles, emphasising the importance of providing car share proximity to public transport. In doing so, governments will help maximise retention of car share subscribers and stem car ownership. Her work suggests that rather than being seen as a silver bullet to private car related problems, car share should be seen as part of a mobility ecosystem which encourages sustainable travel practices.

This research has introduced Dr Jain to some useful frameworks for understanding behavioural motivations and enablers, which she explains with reference to the developing Corona virus pandemic and the behavioural responses seen in its midst.

Taru’s publications can be accessed at the links below

Jain, T., Johnson, M., & Rose, G. (2020). Exploring the process of travel behaviour change and mobility trajectories associated with car share adoption. Travel Behaviour and Society18, 117–131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tbs.2019.10.006

Jain, T., Wang, X., Rose, G., & Johnson, M. (2018). Does the role of a bicycle share system in a city change over time? A longitudinal analysis of casual users and long-term subscribers. Journal of Transport Geography71, 45–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2018.06.023

Music from this episode is from https://www.purple-planet.com

  • Date August 30, 2020
  • Tags Attitudes, Australasia, Car, carshare, Demand Responsive Transit, Mobility as a Service, Podcast, Sustainable, Taru Jain, Technology, Urban