Driver Attitudes

Driver attitudes do not (currently) appear to be well disposed toward sharing rides. Most drivers--Baby Boomers and GenX--see few advantages to ride sharing (environmental friendliness), and many deterrents including inconvenience (booking), loss of freedom, flexibility, solitude and privacy. The younger Millennial Generation is reputed to be more promising.

Safety is often raised when one suggests riding with strangers. Hitchhiking, common in the US in 1950, almost disappeared as the violent crime rate increased in the 1960s and 1970s. The precipitous drop of crime in the 1990s may improve attitudes over time.

Through the use of technology dynamic ride sharing aims to lower the perceived deterrents. However, only some of the perceived inhibitions can be addressed by technical solutions, such as flexibility and convenience. Other inhibitions remain. For instance, the perceived loss of solitude, the loss of privacy and some inconvenience remain inherent in the act of sharing a ride (whether in a private car or public transport).

It is often said by people [reference?] in the transport industry that “Single occupancy vehicles is not a technology problem, it is a people problem ”

Existing operators of static or casual ride sharing systems find that only a very small proportion of drivers are willing to share because their environmental sensibility of ‘doing the right thing’ outweighs the perceived deterrents. Without constant promotion and community building effort, their experience has shown [reference?] that the number of these drivers choosing to share will naturally return to a negligible level.

For the most part, drivers will only share their ride when there are substantial additional advantages to doing so. These might include reduced and consistent travel time in the case of car pool lanes, or reduced tolls, or ride sponsorship.

"The basic incentive from the driver’s viewpoint is reduced transit time, and for passengers it is some mixture of reduced transit time and the savings associated with not having to drive. When access to an HOV lane is not available as an incentive, if an alternative incentive (such as cash or awards) were provided, it would free casual carpooling from its dependence on HOV lanes thereby greatly extending the environments in which casual carpooling could be effective." [reference]

For ride sharing to take place, both the passenger and the driver must each receive an incentive greater than the deterrent they each perceive. By sharing, the passenger will avoid the cost of fuel, in the order of 10c per km today [reference]. This alone is insufficient motivation, particularly when it is shared with the driver. An additional incentive is needed, therefore. Estimates from previous projects put the required incentive value to be in the order of $2 per trip, per person. That is at least $5 of value must be provided by the market when shared journeys take place.

“Estimates of what it would cost to induce someone to commute using alternative transportation (other than an SOV) can be made using historic trip reduction tables (Victoria Transport Policy Institute 2005) projected to the current year as well as reports from actual employer-based programs (Clean Air Campaign 2004; National Transportation Library 1993; Victoria Transport Policy Institute 2006). The tables distinguish environments that differ by degree of transit infrastructure present as well as costs for parking, but the financial incentive needed to cause significant shifts from SOVs to alternative modalities is not large. Given the persistence of carpooling behavior once started, a program might start with relatively large incentives that are reduced over time. Endless opportunities exist for experimentation by a program manager, and data as to the relationship between amount of incentive and participation would accumulate over time.”

In summary, the perceived deterrent to sharing rides account in large measure for the need for incentives. Put simply, the vast majority of drivers will need to be paid some value to ride share, as compared to SOV. The value they are paid can be in the form of time saving, parking convenience or fuel saving, but they must both be paid. While dynamic ride sharing reduces the deterrents, as compared to static or casual ride sharing, some value is still required to entice users from SOVs.

Inhibitor: to date, dynamic ride sharing services have failed to provide sufficient value, such as time saving or cost avoided, to users that would overcome the perceived deterrents.