About the MIT “Real-Time” Rideshare Research Project

Posted by admin on January 24th, 2009

The purported benefits from increased ridesharing, also known as carpooling and liftsharing, are substantial. A successful rideshare scheme could, from a societal perspective, reduce fuel consumption and emissions, reduce congestion during peak travel periods, reduce parking costs for travelers and employers, and promote greater equity in transportation by ensuring that mobility is maintained for lower income travelers. For commuters, major rideshare benefits include travel time savings, cost savings (namely fuel and parking) and increased mode choices. For employers, reduction in the cost of providing parking and improvements in worker productivity brought about by less stressful commutes are two of the primary potential benefits. Yet even with such a substantial number of benefits to a variety of transportation stakeholders, interest in ridesharing among travelers has remained relatively low. The MIT “Real-Time” Rideshare Research team aims to identify and categorize the existing challenges associated with ridesharing, through numerous interviews and through discussions at the 2009 Real-Time Rides Workshop.

In recent years, an innovative rideshare service relying heavily on mobile phone technologies known as “real-time” ridesharing, or “dynamic” ridesharing has gained in popularity. Traditionally, rideshare arrangements between two or more unrelated individuals for commuting purposes have been relatively inflexible, long-term arrangements. The increasing complexity of work and social schedules and the related increase in vehicle trip complexity, such as trip chaining, is assumed to have made this type of commuting arrangement less desirable. Real-time ridesharing attempts to provide added flexibility to rideshare arrangements by allowing drivers and passengers to arrange occasional or long-term shared rides ahead of time or on short notice. The MIT “Real-Time” Rideshare Research team believes that the addition of this service innovation presents a number of opportunities to overcome existing rideshare challenges (including greater trip type flexibility and safety enhancements), but also exacerbates certain rideshare challenges (namely travel reliability & privacy concerns).

The MIT “Real-Time” Rideshare Research team firmly believes that rideshare initiatives should focus on large employers, provide participants with information on multiple forms of travel, provide various incentives to encourage greater participation & should incorporate advanced mobile technologies. The Team strongly believes that further “real-time” rideshare trials are needed in a variety of locations across the country. To advance this effort, the Team will be taking preliminary steps to design a “real-time” rideshare trial for the MIT community.

If you are interested in sharing your thoughts on ridesharing, please contact the research team at RealTimeRides@mit.edu.