Retrospective User Survey for a Rural Electric Vehicle Carsharing Pilot in California’s Central Valley
Research Team: Caroline Rodier (lead), Brian Harold, and Yunwan Zhang
UC Campus(es): UC Davis
Problem Statement: The San Joaquin Valley (SJV) has some of the country’s worst air quality and high rates of childhood asthma. Rural areas in California present unique transportation challenges associated with long travel distances, infrequent transit service, the cost of car ownership, and limited access to app-based rideshare services that are common to more populated urban centers. California has implemented new policies and incentives to encourage the use of cleaner, more fuel-efficient, and zero-emission cars, like electric vehicles, to reduce emissions and improve air quality. CARB has granted nearly $1.6 billion for the Low Carbon Transportation Program, which has funded equity projects in low-income and disadvantaged communities, including an electric vehicle (EV) carsharing pilot program located at affordable housing complexes in several small, rural SJV communities. This pilot project seeks to provide more reliable, affordable, and convenient travel alternatives to residents in areas not well served by transit. The pilot project offers a promising alternative to meet SB 375 goals in the SJV; however, solid research is needed to verify that that the pilot service increases the mobility of residents while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This research will help to guide future cap-and-trade investments for scaled operations.
Project Description: Researchers at the University of California, Davis, partnered with the eight San Joaquin Valley Metropolitan Planning Organizations to identify and support the development of innovative regional mobility pilot concepts, including an electric vehicle carsharing service known as Míocar. Míocar launched in August 2019 with roundtrip EV carsharing hubs in affordable housing complexes in the southern San Joaquin Valley. This study summarizes the data collected through a telephone survey with current Míocar users from January 2022 through March 2022. The survey asks users to reflect on their use of the service since they enrolled, and it builds upon past data collection efforts for this program by gathering detailed information on member characteristics, transportation needs and capabilities, and Míocar’s role as a transportation option for the users’ households. The results provide qualitative insights into members’ mobility challenges and considerations and the service’s impacts on user travel. Comparisons to existing carsharing programs suggest that Míocar is achieving similar impacts as other programs in some areas, such as reducing personal vehicle use, ownership, and associated greenhouse gas emissions. However, respondents emphasize its role in improving mobility within the rural region. The evaluation provides information for researchers to enhance future evaluations of rural carsharing, and findings may inform member recruitment, training, program design, and other efforts conducted by rural carsharing operators.