Carshare in the Bay Area has gone from zero to sixty in the last few years.
Peer-to-peer carsharing like Getaround, Turo (formerly RelayRides), and JustShareIt give people a convenient way to loan out their own cars. Point-to-point models like car2go allow members to use cars for short trips and park anywhere within a service area. With no monthly or annual fees, we think these new options hold tremendous promise to expand the reach of carshare to communities that are currently underserved by shared mobility choices. In this way, City CarShare has been an innovator with their program that offers reduced fees and driving rates for lower income residents in affordable housing complexes.
Shared mobility can dramatically reduce the number of cars on the road and the number of miles people drive. That results in lower transportation costs, less greenhouse gas pollution, safer streets for walking and biking, and less traffic. But this business is not necessarily far-reaching: it tends to thrive in specific parts of the Bay Area, namely, affluent communities in dense urban centers with good public transportation. Carsharing typically requires a credit card, bank account, and internet access to participate. Add on membership costs and hourly rates and there are more barriers to participation for many low-income and rural communities. Without more accessible ways for people of all incomes and geographies to participate, shared mobility simply does not work.
At TransForm we are intensively focused on meeting both climate and social equity goals, which is why we are focused on ensuring that this new mobility option reduces costs of transportation and increases access to opportunities for low-income communities.
We need to make sure that all our communities can afford, have access to, and benefit from tools that make it easier to get around and stay connected.
These two maps show the void of carsharing services in East Oakland.
Making carsharing affordable and inclusive
To address the inequality of current carsharing opportunities in certain communities,TransForm has teamed up with the City of Oakland to create a pilot program to expand carsharing to East Oakland. This pilot program has the potential to be replicated in other places and with other modes of shared mobility.
With funding from Plan Bay Area’s Initiatives Program, TransForm will bring these new transportation options, including a form of peer-to-peer carshare, to East Oakland residents. Most importantly, we will conduct dedicated outreach to help educate neighbors and business owners on how they can use, and benefit from, carsharing.
Through dedicated outreach with local partners like EBALDC, The Unity Council, and Oakland Business Development Corporation, we’ll register a critical mass of people living in affordable housing complexes and working in small businesses along International Boulevard. This will also coincide perfectly with the rollout of the East Bay Bus Rapid Transit project.
Our pilot will help overcome some of the barriers low-income residents face in using peer-to-peer carsharing (proximity, trust, and limited vehicle availability). Residents who own vehicles can generate new income by sharing their cars when not in use. This will complement our efforts to make carpooling easier, increase access to ridesharing, and give residents accurate public transit information. The combination of these strategies can increase peoples’ access to opportunity, reduce their car ownership and household costs, and increase their freedom of mobility.
Beyond this, there is exciting potential to expand this equity-centered model to impact more shared mobility options, such as rideshare and bikeshare.
U.C. Berkeley researcher Susan Shaheen and her colleagues at the Transportation Sustainability Research Center will evaluate our project, and ensure that we maximize the benefits of equitable and reliable transportation carsharing for East Oakland residents.
Share your car, make your community more affordable
As costs of transportation and housing continue to rise, carsharing has the potential to save families thousands of dollars per year on transportation costs.
For people living in East Oakland who have to own a car, peer-to-peer carshare offers them a way to earn money (up to hundreds of dollars a month) by lending their car to neighbors when they’re not driving it. Additionally, with peer-to-peer carshare, people will have more options to choose how they get around, increasing their ability to reliably get to jobs, school, and other critical needs. Along with Bus Rapid Transit and bikeshare, adding carsharing into the mix makes East Oakland a place where people will truly have many affordable and reliable choices of how to get around.
And when people have lots of great transportation options to choose from, they also have more freedom...freedom to go where they want, when they want, no matter where they’re coming from or how they get there. Carsharing can be a part of this, but only if we bring all of our communities along for the ride.