Mineta Transportation Institute a Report on Benefits, Costs, and Best Practices Related to Carsharing and Public Parking

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Researchers assess the benefits, costs, and best practices in North America while analyzing the barriers to broader acceptance and growth.
September 10, 2010
San José, CA

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has released its newest research report, Carsharing and Public Parking Policies: Assessing Benefits, Costs, and Best Practices in North America, which documents the state of carsharing policy, offering insight to cities that already have policies and to those cities that wish to learn more. Susan Shaheen, PhD was the principal investigator.

Carsharing is the short-term access to vehicles through services such as ZipCar. The study begins by providing background evidence of carsharing benefits and an overview of carsharing and parking policy internationally. Then the authors provide a detailed description of carsharing parking policies in North America that highlights key policy attributes, including parking allocation, caps, fees and permits, signage, enforcement, public involvement processes, and impact studies. Next, the authors present in-depth case studies of more advanced carsharing parking policies in the US, including Philadelphia PA, Portland OR, Washington DC, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The authors also include the results of a survey exploring people’s opinions about providing on-street parking for carsharing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Finally, key results are summarized to provide policy guidance to local governmental agencies considering carsharing parking policies.

“North American carsharing growth was on a near-exponential trajectory from the late 1990s to 2004,” said Dr. Shaheen. “A large body of empirical evidence documents carsharing’s effectiveness in reducing auto ownership, vehicle miles traveled, and vehicle emissions; increasing public transit use; and allowing more efficient use of roadways and parking facilities. Despite the significant benefits of carsharing, membership and vehicle growth rates among carsharing organizations have slowed from 2005-2008, but they continue at a healthy moderate pace in the US and Canada.”

At present, local jurisdictions across North America are evaluating how best to provide parking spaces to carsharing vehicles fairly and equitably. Some have initiated carsharing parking policies, and many continue to evolve as the demand and need for carsharing grows. Many others are seeking guidance on carsharing parking, based on the fledgling experience of other cities.

Based on four case studies and expert interviews, the authors have identified three policy tracks that local governments and public transit operators might use as a model for developing their carsharing parking policies. These policy approaches include a sample policy framework for parking allocation, caps, fees/permits, signage/installation, impact studies, enforcement, and public involvement based on varying degrees of governmental support.

In addition to Dr. Shaheen, other research associates on this project included Caroline Rodier, Ph.D., Gail Murray, Elliot Martin, Ph.D., and Adam P. Cohen


SUSAN SHAHEEN, PH.D. holds a joint research faculty appointment at the University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, and at California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH), headquartered at the University of California, Berkeley. In August 2003, Dr. Shaheen became the Policy & Behavioral Research Program Leader at California PATH. In November 2000, she was honored as the first Honda Distinguished Scholar in Transportation at UC Davis. She earned a Ph.D. in ecology, focusing on technology management and the energy and environmental aspects of transportation. She has served on the ITS World Congress program committee since 2002 and is chair of the New Public Transportation Systems and Technology Committee of the Transportation Research Board.


The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and was reauthorized under TEA-21 and again under SAFETEA-LU. The institute is funded by Congress through the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through the Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and by other public and private grants and donations, including grants from the US Department of Homeland Security. DOT selected MTI as a National Center of Excellence following competitions in 2002 and 2006. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI’s focus on policy and management resulted from the Board’s assessment of the transportation industry’s unmet needs. That led directly to choosing the San José State University College of Business as the Institute’s home. MTI conducts research, education, and information and technology transfer, focusing on multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues.



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