Smarter transportation case study #10: Dynamic Ridesharing in Cork, IrelandOctober 20, 2010
By Transportation for America
Carpooling has been around for a while now, but Cork, Ireland’s Dynamic Ridesharing program brings drivers and passengers together in real time, extending the public transportation network using private automobiles.
Many communities have attempted dynamic ridesharing projects over the past 15 years, with limited success. The Avego Project at University College Cork in Ireland has got- ten real results by creating a marketplace for drivers to offer their empty seats to riders in real time, without the need to arrange drop- off or pick-up locations beforehand. Pricing seats based on mileage creates an incentive for drivers to carpool and increases options for passengers.
The Avego Project began in July 2009 as a pilot project at the University to address a lack of parking spaces and affordable commute options for the university’s 19,000 staff and students. The goal was to create a seamless transportation network in which private cars would effectively broaden the public transit system.
Drivers in the pilot program use GPS-enabled iPhones running Avego’s Shared Transport iPhone application, while riders may request rides via the iPhone application or online. The system automatically calculates the cost to the rider and manages the transaction via an electronic wallet at the end of the journey.
A driver running the iPhone app is matched in real time with anyone searching for a ride along the same route.
“You put the iPhone on the dashboard, and it records the entire trip and sends the route to our network,” Sean O’Sullivan, managing director for Avego Limited, told the New York Times. Based on the user feedback from Phase I and an examination of shortcomings of earlier dynamic ridesharing projects, Avego has identified five critical success factors for dynamic ridesharing to become a viable option for connecting communities.
- Adequate numbers of participants – Dynamic ridesharing requires a critical mass of travelers targeted within a specific corridor or in a defined catchment area (such as a college campus).
- An appropriate incentive program – Self-sustaining dynamic ridesharing requires a pricing mechanism that allows drivers to recoup commute costs. The pilot determined that pricing seats at 20 cents per kilometer is a powerful incentive for drivers, while riders receive an affordable transportation option that is less expensive than owning a car.
- Minimal complexity – Even the most non-technical travelers must be able to understand and conveniently use the system. Verification of ridesharing and distribution of incentives should be automated, minimizing the need for administrative oversight.
- Demonstrated security and privacy – Travelers must be able to filter ridematches (e.g., by gender, community, smoking, etc), authenticate travelers before they enter the vehicle, rate and report other travelers and protect the privacy of their personal and commuting information.
- Stakeholder engagement – Continuous and effective communication with project stakeholders enables key information to guide pilot implementation, overcome challenges and promote community advocacy for the project.
Preliminary results of Phase I revealed that 20 participating drivers had been matched with a total of 3,922 simulated riders on their commute to and from UCC. Of these simulated riders, 1,545 were picked-up by drivers and driven to their destination along the driver’s route. More than 500 people have now registered their interest in participating in Phase II of the pilot, providing detailed summaries of their commuting behavior.
Photo courtesy of the New York Times
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