Evaluating the Deployment of an Affordable Electric Carsharing Service in the City of Richmond

Research Team: Caroline Rodier (lead), Brian Harold, and Yunwan Zhang

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Transportation access is a significant issue in the U.S., with few consistent and reliable alternatives to car ownership. Simply put, cars are necessary for satisfying basic needs and accessing opportunities like employment, education, and health. Past studies have found that involuntarily carless households are lower-income on average, and live in areas with significantly worse transit and walking access. More specifically, low-income, carless Black individuals face an extremely high commuting burden leading to job and income insecurity. Over the past 50 years, carless households’ incomes have significantly decreased, both in absolute terms and relative to households with cars. Carsharing is one way to improve access among involuntary carless households; however, to date, commercial car-sharing services have concentrated services in affluent, high density neighborhoods that also have transit access. Not surprisingly, usage is dominated by middle-income, white male populations. Recent research especially focused on carsharing equity, finds significant disparities based on race/ethnicity and income.

Project Description: The project aims to better understand the requirements for scaling a non-profit, low-cost electric vehicle carsharing service, particularly in terms of government subsidies, when compared to traditional transit options. The researchers will replicate an affordable electric carsharing service that was previously deployed in underserved rural communities in the southern San Joaquin Valley. This service effectively addressed unmet travel needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The new pilot will expand the same service in underserved urban areas in the City of Richmond in California. Researchers will conduct member surveys and open-ended interviews and integrate survey and usage to measure accessibility benefits, transportation mode shifts, and greenhouse gas reductions. Furthermore, the project will analyze revenue and cost data from the Richmond, rural south San Joaquin Valley, and Stockton pilot programs.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $100,000