Have you ever wondered how effective ridesharing actually is? Does it help the environment or is it just a pragmatic choice for people who can’t afford a car? According to a new study of Car2go, every shared car the company puts on the road means 7 to 11 cars are taken off the road.
Time Magazine reports that Berkeley professor Susan Shaheen, who specializes in transportation studies, is the wonk who led the study of nearly 10,000 Car2go customers. Transportation startups like Car2go give Shaheen access to their data so she can determine their environmental impact. Though Shaheen’s study on Uber and Lyft is in the works, she will be publishing her assessment of Car2Go next week.
“We had access to an unprecedented data set where we were really able to ask all the questions we wanted to ask,” she told Time. Her team had the chance to learn how Car2go customers got around before they began using the service and how their behavior has since changed.
Overall, Shaheen found that Car2go gets cars off the road, a result that will ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the ridesharing trend continues. According to a Time story published in June, one of the biggest modern transportation challenges is the large number of people who drive alone.
So how does Car2go work? The simplest way to explain it is that it’s a floating model rather than a round-trip one. What that means is that Car2go customers can pick up a car anywhere and drop it off anywhere within a specified zone. Customers pay by the minute.
Shaheen’s study found that between two and five percent of customers even sold a car because they found Car2go an effective replacement. Seven to ten percent of surveyed customers did not buy a new car because of Car2go filled their need for one. Car2go therefore took an estimated 28,000 cars off the road. When thousands and thousands of cars are taken off the road like that, communities witness lower congestion and lower parking demand. It also means that people are wasting less gas.
Ridesharing may not be perfect, but it looks like it has some serious environmental potential.
(H/T Time Magazine)