Carsharing is an exciting and new alternative transportation mode that is gaining popularity throughout the United States and the world. It allows member of the program to have access to a car without owning one. Carsharing is becoming increasingly popular because it ties directly into the transit system by providing an alternative to car ownership for trips that cannot be made easily using mass transit.
In general, carsharing in the United States has been implemented in large cities in the United States such as San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Washington DC, among others. Much of the current research regarding carsharing in the United States focuses on analyzing and supporting these large programs. Few attempts have been made to introduce carsharing in smaller cities; however, as carsharing continues to grow in popularity more and more small cities will be interested its implementation.
Small cities are defined in this thesis as cities with populations between 50,000 and 150,000. These cities present unique situations for carsharing due to their limited transit networks, lower population densities, and varied demographics. An analysis of US carsharing organizations, with a focus on small city programs, will be conducted in this thesis and will provide both the basis for an implementation framework and the steps for program analysis.
Various studies have been conducted on carsharing in the United States, but only a few have tried to quantify the relationship between characteristics of a city, in terms of form and function, and the size and scope of a carsharing program. Census data will be analyzed in a regression analysis in attempt to determine relationships between the membership size of a carsharing program and the demographic, social, and economic characteristics of a city and the size of the carsharing program in terms of membership.
In addition to census data, an examination of Boulder CarShare, a small-city program, will provide an insight into the characteristics of a program in a small city regarding placement of vehicles, membership base, and operational strategies. Combining a member survey, an analysis of vehicle use and location, and a regression analysis will help to develop an implementation strategy for small city start-up carsharing organizations.
Small city local governments, grassroots efforts, and transit agencies can use these analyses and recommendations to help guide their own implementation efforts. The analyses and recommendations will present a series of steps that will enable start-up carsharing organizations to reach their full potential.