Shared Mobility: Current Practices and Guiding Principles
CHAPTER 4. The Role Of Public Agencies In Shared Mobility
Local and regional governments are the most common public partners of shared mobility operators because of their role in transportation planning, public transportation, and parking policy. Congestion mitigation, air quality improvement, and parking management have been long-time goals of local governments. In recent years, climate action planning has further raised the awareness of local governments about shared mobility. Nine common areas that impact local and regional governments and shared mobility include:
Source: Susan Shaheen
Key opportunities and challenges for government include increased competition among operators and modes, determining the legality of new service models, defining innovative service models, and developing policies that address these issues. The following sections provide examples of supportive and unsupportive policies, success stories, opportunities, and challenges that highlight the role of government in shared mobility.
Health, Safety, and Consumer Protection
Public agencies and local and state governments have established recommended guidelines, administrative regulations, ordinances, and laws that both impact and regulate shared mobility service providers. Health and safety includes laws and ordinances meant to protect the safety and welfare of shared mobility users. In addition to health and safety laws, consumer protection laws defend consumer interests and ensure fair trade practices, open competition, and the accuracy of information in the marketplace. Broadly speaking, the purpose of consumer protection laws is to prevent fraudulent or unfair business practices. Some key examples of health, safety, and consumer protection laws impacting shared mobility include the following.
Unclear definitions and service models among shared mobility services, such as carsharing, ridesourcing, taxis, and rental cars, have led to confusion among state and local governments about taxing these mobility services. Rental car taxes have been particularly popular among politicians because the taxes were believed to target visitors, not voters. Taxes commonly applied to shared mobility services include rental car excise taxes, sales taxes, convention center surcharges, and transaction fees. As of 2009, there were a total of 115 car rental excise taxes that had been enacted in 43 states and the District of Columbia, many of which were being applied to carsharing (Bieszczat, 2011).
A DePaul University study by Bieszczat et al. (2011) compared carsharing reservation prices in 12 of 13 major metropolitan markets with 50 or more carsharing vehicles to assess the overall impact of carsharing taxes. The study documented the extensive impact of carsharing taxes on end-user pricing and found that carsharing is being taxed between 1.7 to 2.2 times the rate of general goods and services. Using population-based weighted averages, Bieszczat et al. found that one-hour carsharing reservations were taxed at 17.93 percent and 24-hour reservations were taxed at 14.08 percent compared to 8.06 percent for general goods and services, at the time of the study. In one example, carsharing taxes in Hartford, CT increased the end-user price by 21.5 percent, compared to only 10.5 percent for a 24-hour reservation. For the first hour, the original $8 user fee increased to $9.72 after $0.48 was added for the 6-percent state sales tax, $0.24 was added for a 3-percent state motor vehicle rental surcharge, and a $1-per-day state motor vehicle rental surcharge was included. Table 1, from Bieszczat et al., presents the total and component costs of a one-hour carsharing reservation in their sampled locations that applied the highest tax rates to carsharing.
Source: Reprinted from Bieszczat et al., 2011
This section discusses insurance for carsharing, P2P carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing, and for-hire vehicle services.
Insurance emerged as a key issue following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the area of roundtrip carsharing. At that time, North American carsharing operators confronted substantially higher premiums, which often exceeded $2,500 per vehicle annually, as insurance companies became far more risk adverse (Shaheen, Cohen, & Roberts, 2006). The average cost of insuring a carsharing vehicle has since dropped to an average of $789 per a carsharing vehicle, according to an insurance study of six carsharing operators from 2008 through 2015 (Shaheen, Shen, & Martin, 2016). Although insurance has become increasingly available and more affordable for carsharing, insurance challenges have emerged with the advent of many innovative shared modes.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Carsharing
Insurance also reemerged as a key issue in the late-2000s with peer-to-peer (P2P) vehicle services. Most state insurance laws have not kept pace with the introduction of P2P models. At issue is defining when the vehicle owner’s policy ends and when the P2P carsharing operator’s commercial policy begins. In California, Oregon, and Washington, P2P vehicle insurance legislation was ratified as part of AB 1871, HB 3149, and HB 2384, respectively (Shaheen, Mallery, & Kingsley, 2012).
California’s AB 1871, which represents the first P2P insurance legislation, has been a key model for personal vehicle sharing legislation in other states. All three of these laws classify personal vehicle sharing as non-commercial use and limit “the circumstances under which the vehicle owner’s automobile liability insurance can be subject to liability” to prevent cancellation of primary automobile insurance policies (AB 1871, 2010). Personal vehicle sharing programs assume liability when the vehicle is rented in a shared capacity, and the owner’s insurance policy resumes coverage once it is returned (Shaheen, Mallery, & Kingsley, 2012). In turn, vehicle owners are indemnified for any loss or injury that occurs through shared use not resulting from their negligence. Time of use, along with initial and final locations of vehicle usage must be clearly delineated through “verifiable electronic records identifying” when it is being used as part of a personal vehicle sharing program (AB 1871, 2010). This prevents premium spikes for primary insurance policies resulting from unverified shared use. Vehicle owners who share their autos in states lacking personal vehicle sharing legislation risk non-renewal of primary insurance policies, as well as premium spikes resulting from increased use (Shaheen, Mallery, & Kingsley, 2012).
In addition to carsharing and P2P carsharing insurance, owners and operators of bikesharing programs can be sued if one of their bicycles is involved in a serious collision resulting in injuries, fatalities, or property damage. Like carsharing, bikesharing owners and operators can manage risk and limit their liability by signing waivers or indemnification clauses, keeping equipment well maintained, and educating users about bicycle and roadway safety. Unlike rental cars (and now carsharing), bikesharing programs do not have statutory protections against vicarious liability. Also unlike rental cars, bikesharing users do not have the ability to purchase insurance at the time of a mobility transaction. As such, the user and the bikesharing operator may be held responsible for the conduct and damages associated with their program’s equipment. In the case of user liability, home owner and rental policies would often cover this. General commercial liability insurance can protect bikesharing operators from public and product liability risks that may include bodily injury or property damage caused by direct or indirect actions of the insured. Liability insurance is designed to offer protection against third-party insurance claims (e.g., someone who suffers a loss either from using a bikesharing system or a loss of a non-user resulting from the use of a bikesharing bicycle). Generally, unless self-insured by a sponsor or local government entity, most North American bikesharing programs carry some form of liability coverage. Although most bikesharing operators maintain insurance to protect against litigation, most policies do not protect riders against medical bills and lost wages associated with bicycle collisions (Glover, 2013).
Ridesharing programs, which include carpooling and vanpooling, can present a variety of risk scenarios depending on the program operation. Typically, employer-based vanpool programs are operated using one of three models: 1) employer owns the vehicle and operates the program; 2) employees own and operate the program with or without employer subsidies; or 3) a third-party contractor owns the vehicles and administers the vanpool program (Business Insurance, 2008).
For-Hire Driver Laws
Safety and insurance risks related to for-hire vehicle services have long been a topic of discussion. A comprehensive study of taxicab crashes in New York City completed in 2006 found that taxi drivers were involved in at-fault crashes 30 percent less than the general public when compared on a VMT/VKT basis. However, the study also noted that when crashes did occur, the bodily injuries of those involved were much higher than the accident severity associated with drivers of non-commercial vehicles (Schaller Consulting, 2006). Many insurance companies charge premiums based both on driver experience and safe operations (Fraker, 2014). However, a review of safety-related incidents suggests that established screening methods contain gaps that may negatively impact driver and passenger safety. Driver safety from theft and violent crime also represents an insurance risk to for-hire vehicle services. For-hire services that employ a social networking component (i.e., rating systems) may mitigate some of this risk to the extent that social networking profiles can be verified for a person.
In January 2014, a driver, alleged to be distracted, was operating an Uber app when involved in an accident that killed a six-year-old child. This incident raised national awareness to the issues of distracted driving, safety, and insurance periods for ridesourcing. In 2014, CPUC adopted enhanced TNC regulations requiring that drivers maintain $1 million in liability coverage along with other requirements, such as background checks and vehicle inspections to operate. See below for more information on CPUC’s current regulatory requirements for ridesourcing. Three coverage periods are included in many ridesourcing policies governing insurance: 1) when a driver is signed-in to an app and available to drive; 2) when a driver accepts a ride and is en route for pick-up; and 3) when a rider is being transported from an origin to a destination. See Figure 4 for a review of these coverage periods.
Source: Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC)
In 2015, a number of private sector insurance providers began offering ridesourcing insurance in select markets that require coverage while a driver has the app on and is awaiting a ridematch. For example, United Services Automobile Association (USAA) initiated a pilot program in Colorado extending members’ existing auto policy coverage and deductibles from the moment a driver’s app is turned on until they are matched with a passenger for approximately $6 to $8 per month (Hirsch, 2015). Metromile has partnered with Uber, offering a pay-as-you-go insurance option by plugging a “dongle” into the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic (OBD) system (Cecil, 2015). By tracking driving and pairing it with Uber’s app, Metromile can subtract business miles from personal miles, only charging the driver for non-Uber trips. Metromile is currently available in California, Illinois, and Washington. Finally, Allstate, Erie, Farmers, Geico Commercial, and Progressive all have insurance offerings in select markets for ridesourcing drivers (Cecil, 2015).
Parking and Rights-of-Way
The allocation of parking and rights-of-way remain a key issue. In the early years of shared mobility, on-street carsharing parking was a priority. Philadelphia, Portland (Oregon), Vancouver (British Columbia), and the State of California represent some of the early pioneers of policies related to parking and rights-of-way. Increased competition among operators and modes for on-street and public space, coupled with the expansion of shared mobility into innovative service models, such as carsharing, public bikesharing, and high-tech company shuttles, has created the need for new policies to address a different set of challenges.
In roundtrip carsharing, there are numerous examples of parking policies. For instance, Portland, OR, developed the “Option Zone,” which is a carsharing parking space designated by an orange pole and attached bicycle rack that can be mounted to parking meter heads and curbs. Philadelphia, PA, developed its own on-street parking policy for carsharing, initially granting on-street parking to non-profit operators only. Philadelphia was the first jurisdiction to distinguish between for-profit and non-profit carsharing operators. Vancouver, British Columbia, developed one of the earliest universal parking permits, dedicating a permit for carsharing vehicles (in contrast to a parking spot). The universal permit enabled carsharing members to park a carsharing vehicle in all 19 of the city’s parking zones. Although designed for roundtrip carsharing, Vancouver’s policy set the stage for similar universal parking permit policies enabling free-floating one-way carsharing. Finally, California has amended its vehicle code under AB 2154 to allow local governments to designate on-street parking for carsharing and ridesharing vehicle use. Previously, the designation of on-street parking for these functions had been prohibited by the state’s motor vehicle code.
Recent public policy amendments and pilot projects have attempted to address competition among operators and to provide flexibility for free-floating one-way service models. A pilot project currently underway in San Francisco established a policy for allocating up to 450 parking spaces among multiple roundtrip and P2P carsharing providers.
An 18-month parking pilot similar to the San Francisco’s pilot commenced in Boston in September 2015. In Seattle, the city council has expanded a prior pilot program permitting up to four carsharing operators to compete for on-street parking. Unlike San Francisco’s policy, Seattle’s policy permits carsharing vehicles to “float,” allowing parking for one-way service models. A number of other areas, such as Washington, DC; Austin, TX; and Columbus, OH, have implemented similar policies allowing for free-floating carsharing parking (Segraves, 2014) (City of Austin, 2009) (Rouan, 2014).
In North America, the majority of public bikesharing kiosks are located on public land (typically on-street in a former parking space or on curbs). Generally, stations are placed on public rights-of-way either through a municipal request for proposal (RFP) process granting use of the land in cases of public agency program operation, sponsorship, or operator request through informal agreements, real estate licenses to use, easements, or memoranda of understanding/agreement (Shaheen S. A., Martin, Cohen, & Finson, 2012).
High-Tech Company Shuttles
In addition to on-street parking, loading zones have also become a public policy concern for some jurisdictions. In San Francisco, SFMTA was having difficulty with high-tech company shuttles interfering with its bus options. In January 2014, SFMTA announced a program enabling these shuttle services to pay for access to loading zones, if certain guidelines are followed, such as yielding to public buses and pulling to the front of the loading zone to make room for other vehicles (San Francisco Muncipal Transportation Agency, 2014). State law limits the fee to the cost of operating the program. In October 2015, the cost was $3.67 per shuttle, per each stop made (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, 2015).
Signage and Advertising
Local authorities play a key role in setting policies associated with the signage and advertising of shared modes. This role can range from permitting street and curbside markings, signs, street fixtures, and wayfinding signs and regulating private sector signage and advertising. For example, in the early-2000s, the City of Portland established “Option Zones,” tall orange poles where a bike rack could be attached to parking meter heads to denote carsharing availability (see Figure 5). Other jurisdictions have established curb and street markings to identify carsharing parking and high-tech company shuttle pick-up and drop-off locations.
Source: Reprinted from Millard-Ball et al., 2005
In addition to providing signage and street fixtures to identify shared modes, local governments and public agencies have also been instrumental in regulating advertising on public bikesharing hubs. With bikesharing in particular, operating costs are typically funded through a combination of user fees, advertising, and sponsorships (including naming rights, which can include exclusive equipment branding). In a 2012 study of bikesharing, sponsorships and advertising ranked as two of the top three funding and revenue sources for operators (Shaheen S. A., Martin, Cohen, & Finson, 2012). At its start, Washington, DC, faced a number of challenges in siting its bikesharing stations in light of sponsor advertising. The city had an ordinance that prohibited advertising on District-owned property, and special legislation had to be enacted to allow bikesharing advertising on public bus shelters (Kaplan, 2010). Amending local ordinances to permit advertising can assist shared mobility operators, including bikesharing programs, in maximizing cost recovery through various advertising mediums.
Public transit agencies can play a notable role in advancing multimodal integration with shared modes. Public transit agencies can provide policy guidance and technical assistance with information technology, joint marketing, fare integration, and public transit discounts. These policies can play a critical role in mitigating obstacles, such as technological barriers and lack of integration within existing transportation systems, and in addressing skepticism regarding multimodality.
Historically, most shared modes, such as carsharing and bikesharing, successfully co-located shared services on site or adjacent to public transportation. While many airports have adopted ridesourcing regulations in the U.S., many have not yet done so. Ridesourcing vehicles often are prohibited from operating at airport locations either adjacent to or alongside taxi services. In October 2014, the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) amended its ground transportation regulations to permit three large ridesourcing service providers to operate on site (Soper, 2014). In February 2015, SFO authorities again amended their regulations to permit e-Hail taxi services to operate at the airport (Soper, 2015). In March 2015, Orange County California’s John Wayne International Airport also amended its policy to permit ridesourcing to pick up and drop off airport passengers (Fleischman, 2015).
While co-locating shared modes at or near public transportation is a common practice, fare and information integration remain notable challenges. Chicago’s joint fare card between the Chicago Transit Authority and IGO (now Enterprise CarShare) represented the first integrated shared mobility-public transportation fare card in North America. More recent innovations include fare integration between HOURCAR and Metro Transit in the Twin Cities and a partnership between BCycle and RideScout and its mobile payment subsidiary GlobeSherpa. See Table 2 for more information on these and other recent developments.
Shifts in technological trends may speed the transition to integration. As of 2014, it was estimated that more than 90 percent of public transit fare payments were made by “closed loop” fare cards administered by public transit agencies (Shaheen & Christensen, 2015). It is forecast that by 2023, public transit agency administered fare cards will account for less than 10 percent of public transportation fare payments, and the remaining 90 percent of fare payments will be split between bank cards and mobile payment systems (Shaheen & Christensen, 2015). Emerging technologies, such as Bluetooth low energy and near field communications, coupled with smartphone apps and mobile payments, may provide consumers with the ability to access and pay for shared mobility services and public transportation using a single electronic device, such as a mobile phone (Bender, 2013). While both real-time and open data are becoming increasingly available, incorporating public transportation trip planning with private sector modes, notably shared modes, remains a challenge in many jurisdictions. The lack of available real-time data and access to APIs2, as well as reluctance of the public and private sector to collaborate, can provide institutional challenges to digital multimodal integration.
A number of carsharing operators, such as Modo, offer open data on vehicle location, vehicle type, current and future availability, and pricing as part of their API. Public transit agencies can also be instrumental in joint planning processes to integrate shared modes and lease and sub-lease rights-of-way to shared modes for carsharing parking, bikesharing kiosks, for-hire vehicle service loading zones, and other uses. Table 2, on the following page, provides a few of the many examples of public agencies encouraging multimodal integration. Shared mobility operators can also encourage multimodal integration in conjunction with and independently of public agencies. For example, car2go recently installed bicycle racks on its Portland carsharing fleet to encourage bicycle-carsharing trip chaining (see Figure 6).
Local and regional governments have multiple goals in incorporating shared mobility into their transportation networks. These goals may include mitigating en-route and parking congestion, reducing VMT/VKT and vehicle ownership, improving air quality, achieving climate action targets, and providing vehicle access to underserved populations (e.g., low-income communities). Incorporating shared mobility into municipal and regional planning processes, such as land use and transportation plans, may require data to assist in forecasting the impact of shared mobility on public infrastructure. Integrating shared planning into municipal general plans and sketch planning tools can help to identify opportunities and gaps within the transportation system. Sketch planning can be used to estimate the general order-of-magnitude impacts of bikesharing, carsharing, ridesourcing, and other shared modes. Some states have ratified legislation that requires transportation land-use coordination to meet air quality and climate mitigation initiatives, such as California’s SB 375 (the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008). Additionally, planning processes offer public agencies and local governments opportunities to solicit feedback from residents, businesses, actual and prospective users, and others impacted by shared mobility.
Public involvement is important when incorporating shared mobility into the urban environment. Public involvement can reduce opposition to shared mobility services (e.g., when converting parking spaces to carsharing or bikesharing uses) and can address concerns of impacted stakeholders (e.g., storefronts adjacent to a bikesharing kiosk or taxi drivers affected by ridesourcing). The particular method of public involvement should reflect the unique institutions and policy procedures established in each jurisdiction. Some examples of public involvement could include endorsement by neighborhood councils; a public comment, hearing, and approval process; or an appointed/elected body to develop, comment, or approve public policies. Some jurisdictions have provided city councils, public transit agencies, public utilities commissions, and parking authorities with varying degrees of authority over shared mobility. Public involvement, through regular meetings and public comment periods, has been important in exercising such authority. For example, when Washington, DC initiated its carsharing parking policy in 2005, the district adopted a policy where new carsharing parking spaces were requested by Advisory Neighborhood Councils and approved by the District’s Department of Transportation (DDOT) (Shaheen, Rodier, Murray , Cohen, & Martin, 2010). In New York City, the Department of Transportation (DOT) held 159 public presentations and demonstrations, coupled with an additional 230 meetings with elected officials, property owners, and other stakeholders to solicit public input on the design and operation of the city’s bikesharing program (New York City Department of Transportation, n.d.). As part of its outreach effort, the DOT established an online portal for the public to make station suggestions and to support already suggested kiosk locations. Finally, more than 250 organizations, community groups, and elected officials participated in 14 planning workshops for the planning and design of the Citi Bike system (New York City Department of Transportation, n.d.).
Data Sharing, Privacy, and Standardization
Public and private partnerships to standardize data, share data, and protect sensitive data can be key to understanding shared mobility’s impact on the transportation network and encourage innovation. Shared mobility operators typically track several important data points—the origin and destination of shared services (e.g., the pickup and return location for a carsharing or bikesharing vehicle or ridesourcing passenger), travel time, and trip duration. A number of shared mobility service providers have shared data with public agencies either voluntarily or as part of a regulatory mandate. For example, as part of Washington, DC’s carsharing parking initiative adopted in 2005, carsharing operators seeking on-street parking are required to provide the DDOT with quarterly data to assess the impacts of their parking program. In 2012, City CarShare voluntarily shared data with the SFMTA during the city’s SFpark pilot to assist planners and policymakers with the development of the carsharing parking policy.
In addition to this data sharing with public agencies, a number of shared mobility service providers make data publicly available for download. Bay Area Bike Share, Capital Bikeshare, and Citi Bike are a few of the operators that provide some of the most expansive publicly available data including information on trip origin and destination (location and time); rider type (e.g., the type of user pass); home zip code for annual members; the bicycle number; weather information; and bicycle/dock availability at each station. Real-time data on service availability are becoming increasingly available. Operators are making these data available on their websites and apps for users and non-users to locate services, such as available bikesharing bikes, open docks, and idle carsharing vehicles. In addition to providing these data on operator websites, the use of APIs is increasingly creating an open data infrastructure with third parties, such as aggregator and trip planning websites and smartphone apps. Uber has established an API that allows third-party app integration with other services including OpenTable, Trip Advisor, and United Airlines. In January 2015, uberX announced that it would share anonymized trip data with the City of Boston on a quarterly basis as part of the company’s new national data-sharing policy (Badger, 2015 ).
In addition to data sharing, data privacy and security remain key concerns among many shared mobility consumers. Shared mobility operators maintain highly sensitive data on their users, employees, and independent contractors, such as personally identifiable information, trip information, and financial information. In 2013, a Citi Bike software glitch mistakenly exposed sensitive personal and financial information, including credit card numbers of nearly 1,200 bikesharing users (Mann, 2013). From 2014 to 2015, a series of privacy scandals involving Uber raised awareness of data sensitivity and the importance of privacy and security among shared mobility service providers (Canedo, 2014) (Covert, 2015). In 2014, two former Uber employees leaked to the media that its corporate employees had wide access to track drivers and customers using an internal company tool known as “God View” (Canedo, 2014). In February 2015, Uber announced that a hacker had obtained names and driver’s license numbers of approximately 50,000 current and former drivers in a data breach that occurred in May 2014. Uber took responsive measures including notifying the impacted drivers and providing affected individuals with a one-year free membership in a credit monitoring service (Covert, 2015). The company views data security very seriously and has since implemented measures to ensure tighter data security, along with others in the shared mobility industry.
Finally, data standardization is critical to ensuring compatibility for a variety of uses and platforms. In November 2015, the North American Bikeshare Association announced the adoption of an open data standard, pledging to make real-time data feeds available in a standardized format so these data can be readily incorporated into smartphone applications (Fried, 2015). More industry-wide standards, either through trade associations or governmental regulation, could aid in the development of clear and consistent data formats, data sharing protocols, and privacy protections to ensure open data, interoperability, and comparability across a wide array of platforms.
Accessibility and Equity Issues
Some of the key challenges pertaining to accessibility issues are the varying requirements and what local governments, public agencies, and shared mobility providers measure. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that: "No person... shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Over the years, this definition has been expanded to include additional protected classes, such as religion, age, gender, pregnancy, citizenship, familial status, disability, and veteran status. In addition to these groups, equity issues may involve a number of other groups, such as low-income individuals and neighborhoods. Title VI was amended in 1987, extending non-discrimination requirements for recipients of federal aid to all of their programs and activities, not just programs and activities funded with federal funds. Because many shared mobility operators receive either direct monetary and non-monetary support from federally funded agencies (e.g., free or reduced cost parking from public transit agencies), the non-discrimination requirements could extend to shared mobility operators receiving such support.
As previously discussed in Chapter 3, multiple North American studies of carsharing and bikesharing users have shown that carsharing members and both long-term and short-term bikesharing users are more likely to be Caucasian, male, between the ages of 20 and 35, and well educated compared to the general population (Shaheen S. , Martin, Chan, Cohen, & Pogodzinski, 2014) (Dill, Mathez, Nathan, & Howland, 2014). In many cases, shared mobility has previously struggled to gain traction among all populations within urban service areas despite the findings of several studies that suggest that shared mobility can often enhance the mobility of disadvantaged communities through improved job access and cheaper, faster, and more available mobility.
Access to credit and debit cards by low-income users has been and continues to be a challenge for bikesharing use. In Washington, DC, Capital Bikeshare has partnered with financial institutions that allow users to establish accounts, obtain debit cards, and receive promotional gift cards to offset the cost of a bikesharing membership.
In Boston, as part of a grant to expand the city’s Hubway bikesharing system, city council members have asked city staff to create a written plan for the expansion of the system into underserved areas. In the San Francisco Bay Area, City CarShare provides a formal low-income carsharing program that includes subsidies for membership and usage fees for low- to moderate-income users. To apply for the subsidy, prospective users must be referred by one of six project partners that serve low- and moderate-income residents and clients (City CarShare, 2015).
Older Adult Mobility
City CarShare is also one of the few shared mobility providers offering services geared directly toward older adults through its partnership with NextVillage, a San Francisco-based non-profit working to enhance the mobility of older adults. NextVillage pays for a complimentary one-year carsharing membership for volunteers who donate 12 hours on a quarterly basis to drive senior citizens to appointments and errands (City CarShare, 2014).
Disability access is a challenge impacting shared modes. In October 2014, the Austin City Council adopted an ordinance regulating ridesourcing, which among other things mandated that ridesourcing drivers cannot refuse service or charge higher fees to disabled passengers. In Berkeley, CA, non-profit City CarShare introduced the nation’s first wheelchair accessible carsharing vehicles in 2008, known as AccessMobile. City CarShare has expanded the program to include wheelchair-accessible vans in San Francisco. In 2015, Buffalo CarShare (now Zipcar) became the second carsharing operator with a wheelchair-accessible van, after acquiring it from City CarShare (Susan Shaheen, unpublished data, 2015).
Local and regional governments play a number of roles that can impact shared mobility services-ranging from transportation policy, planning, network operations, congestion mitigation, parking management, and compliance with air quality and climate action standards. Areas that involve public policy and shared mobility include:
Public-private partnerships with local governments, public transit agencies, developers, employers, universities, and transportation management associations are crucial to the growth and success of shared mobility. Public-private partnerships can include an array of assistance ranging from financial and marketing support to providing rights-of-way and integrating shared mobility into planning processes, local ordinances, and public transit. As such, public-private partnerships can play a key role in addressing a number of policy challenges that could help to evolve shared mobility to maximize its social and environmental benefits.
AB 1871, Reg. Sess. (CA. 2010)
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