We have for many years (since 1973 to be exact) been interested both in monitoring and supporting developments in the area of new (and better) ways of using cars, of which toward the top of the agenda is the concept of people sharing cars in various ways. About a decade ago we set up the World Carshare Consortium at http://worldcarshare.com, which has since evolved into what is perhaps the best place on the web to go to get an education in or seek allies and/or counsel in this area. The following exchange from 7 January is a case in point, followed by some comments from one of the leading authorities on the topic. I invite you to read on.
From: Alexandra Ritchie [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2005 9:53 PM
Subject: [WorldCarShare] Carsharing in Austin, Texas? (advice for graduate student)
Dear WorldCarShare Community:
I recently joined your Yahoo Group and wanted to introduce myself. My name is Alexandra Ritchie and I am a second year master's candidate at the LBJ School of Public Affairs (University of Texas at Austin) and I decided that the topic of my Professional Report would carsharing in Austin, Texas.
I think Austin, Texas would be an excellent location for carsharing services for the following reasons:
• Austin is a capital city- Decisions made in Austin could have an impact around the state.
• Austin is considered the most progressive city in Texas.
• The City of Austin recently completed its Transit Oriented Development Ordinance and is looking for ways to expand retail development and housing in the downtown area.
• Voters finally approved a light rail measure in November that could be complemented by carsharing (provide necessary transportation hubs to pick up and drop off shared vehicles)
• Austin is developing its own clean air plan so it won't be in violation of the Federal Ambient Air Quality Standards
• Austin is the location of the state's flagship university- UT-Austin, which has it own zipcode (40 acre-campus), enormous student population (between 48,000 and over 50,000 at any given time), and has its own Center for Transportation Research.
• Austin is a vibrant city that attracts many tourists interest in visiting historical buildings, the University, and attending the numerous cultural festivals held throughout the year AND parking is a huge concern year-round.
• Austin is a prominent high-tech center with a strong commuter population and convention business that could benefit from affordable carsharing services.
I know that other graduate students are asking about methodology, but my question to all of you is really about setting some parameters for my research. Given all of these factors that I have mentioned, is it worth conducting research on just one of these potential markets or clients (the University as entity, student population as a market segment, commuter population, Austin residents, etc.)? For example, if I wanted to ask, "What would it cost to establish a carsharing service in Austin?", should I narrow it down to one that would serve the students living on and near campus?
Another reason I ask that, is of course I am interested in the politics of carsharing and would like to know whether carsharing is more successful (the number of users, public support for it, funding, etc.) if it is first utilized by a company, university, government, neighborhood, or by influential citizens?
*** I will be attending the Transportation Research Board 's 84th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. this coming week and will be sure to pose the same questions, but any advice you can share with me this semester would be very much appreciated.
Thank you for your time and interest.
Alexandra Ritchie, Master's Candidate 2005
LBJ School of Public Affairs
The University of Texas at Austin
From: Dave Brook [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2005 12:33 AM
Subject: Re: [WorldCarShare] Carsharing in Austin, Texas? (advice for graduate student)
You're not the only one who thinks Austin is a good candidate for carsharing, Dana Stidham, who did her Masters Degree in Community & Regional Affairs there, did a lot of research on the subject and wrote a long paper about it several years ago. She did it when carsharing was just getting started in the US so there really were no companies for her to talk to. A version of her paper was published in Planning Forum. She's now a planner for the City of Round Rock, Texas, so you should talk to her first. I think the topic is well worth exploring in greater detail.
> I know that other graduate students are asking about methodology,
> but my question to all of you is really about setting some parameters
> for my research. Given all of these factors that I have mentioned, is it
> worth conducting research on just one of these potential markets or
> clients (the University as entity, student population as a market
> segment, commuter population, Austin residents, etc.)? For example, if
> I wanted to ask, "What would it cost to establish a carsharing service
> in Austin?", should I narrow it down to one that would serve the
> students living on and near campus?
I'd leave the question general and in your conversations with various providers, you'll have a better sense of if/how to narrow the topic.
> Another reason I ask that, is of course I am interested in the
> politics of carsharing and would like to know whether carsharing is
> more successful (the number of users, public support for it, funding,
> etc.) if it is first utilized by a company, university, government,
> neighborhood, or by influential citizens?
Currently, Adam Millard-Ball of the consulting firm of Nelson Nygard is midway thru a large project to get at some of the questions. If
you'll be at TRB be sure to attend the special carsharing meeting at the Hilton, on Tuesday, January 11, 8am to 9:45am. I'm sure you'll be
able to meet many of the players then (unfortunately, I won't be there). You may also want to visit the offices of Zipcar and Flexcar,
both of which operate there.
Carsharing: Sustainable transport's missing link!
Go to World CarShare: http://WorldCarShare.com
The broader issues behind carsharing? Check out the New Mobility Agenda at http://www.newmobility.org
Free video- and voice-conferencing: click http://newmobilitypartners.org