Date of Award

8-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

College/School

College of Science and Mathematics

Department/Program

Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Rolf Sternberg

Committee Member

Gregory Pope

Committee Member

Harbans Singh

Committee Member

Joseph Mirabella

Subject(s)

Ridesharing, Transportation demand management

Abstract

Dynamic ridesharing (DRS) is an emerging transportation service based on the traditional concept of shared rides. DRS makes use of web-based real-time technologies to match drivers with riders. Enabling technologies include software platforms that operate on mobile communication devices and contain location-aware capabilities including Global Positioning Systems (Agatz, Erera, Savelsberg, & Wang, 2012). The platforms are designed to provide ride-matching services via smartphone applications differing from early systems that used non-real time services such as internet forums, or telecommunications, where responses were not immediate.

The study of DRS is important when considering its role as an emerging transportation demand management strategy. DRS reduces travel demand on singleoccupancy vehicles (SOVs) by filling vehicle seats that are typically left vacant. The most recent statistics of vehicle occupancy rates were measured in 2009 by the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation. According to the NHTS, the 2009 occupancy rate for all purposes was a meager 1.67 persons per vehicle (Federal Highway Administration, 2015). Vehicle occupancy rates examined against the total of all registered highway vehicles in the U.S. as of 2012, calculated at 253,639,386 (Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2015), reveals the magnitude of the impact of SOVs. Left unattended, the ramifications for environmental outcomes is substantial. Among the major energy consuming sectors, transportation's share is largest in terms of total CO2 emissions at 32.9% (Davis, Diegel, & Boundy, 2014, p. 11-15).

DRS offers promise to fill empty vehicle seats. Evidence indicates that specific demographic subgroups are inclined to use DRS services. For example, data suggest that the subgroup of 18 to 34-year-olds, the so-called "millennials", have negative attitudes towards private car ownership unlike previous age groups (Nelson, 2013). Data collected for this study revealed that the millennial subgroup represents half of all DRS users. Millennials also revealed they tended to use DRS more than other subgroups to replace a private vehicle. Further research is needed to determine if the trend towards DRS by 18 to 34-year-olds represents current economic factors or a fundamental cultural shift away from the SOV transportation model.

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