Much work has been done in Europe to address the demand for road capacity. Congestion charging and distance based road pricing schemes are demand management tools that are increasingly seen as effective tools. Mapflow is a transport technology company working in the European road pricing arena, who regard Dynamic Ride Sharing as the perfect complement to road pricing.
Whereas road pricing (the stick) addresses 'demand' for road capacity, dynamic ride sharing (the carrot) enables drivers to share the cost of driving and brings a new 'supply' of capacity into the transport system, in the form of empty seats. Dynamic Ride Sharing offers drivers the opportunity to change their behaviour and make a model shift in response to the penalty imposed by road pricing. This is particularly important in cases where public transport alternative are not available.
Mapflow has developed a reference implementation of Dynamic Ride Sharing systems, which combines GPS, wireless communications, and distributed computing technology to service ad-hoc ride sharing requests.
In the summer of 2008, Mapflow will be undertaking a pilot project in Dublin, Ireland, entitled ‘EcoShare’, where Dynamic Ride Sharing will be tested.
The purpose of the EcoShare project is to determine and then demonstrate how dynamic ride sharing technology could use price incentives to compel some proportion of drivers to ‘sell’ their empty seats. This is of strategic interest European transport authorities as they seeks to address the social, economic and environmental damage caused by escalating single occupancy traffic congestion. The assertion is that a small proportion of dynamic ride sharing would have a positive impact on congested routes, in the context of a road pricing scheme.
One goal of the EcoShare project is to determine: “can shared price incentives reduce single occupancy vehicles sustainably”?
The core work-stream of the EcoShare project will be dedicated to evaluating the extent to which consumer behaviour and attitudes can be addressed. Through the execution of well structured trials with upto 100 drivers at key sites in Dublin, the EcoShare project hopes to determine the proportion of drivers that could be encouraged to carry other passengers, for a given price incentive.
Mapflow has assembled a consortium to oversee the EcoShare, including - AA Ireland; an association representing drivers - Trinity College’s Transport Research Centre; a third party to analyse and publish results - VIPRE Ireland; a mobility expert consultancy
In broad terms, the project hopes to recruit up to 100 drivers, fit their vehicles with the in-vehicle capability - and offer incentives to encourage the driver to use it to offer their spare seats. Once sufficient drivers are offering spare seats, a population of prospective rider will also be offered incentives to participate and avail of the empty seats.
Infrastructure (hardware, software, resource, team structure and project plan) are in place and operational. Recruiting of drivers is expected to start in June 2008.