Shared Mobility: A Primer on US Policies, Practices & Principles

share-mobility-illustratoin-photo-with-smartphone-and-carWorld Streets is pleased to introduce to our 4419 international readers signed in from 149 countries from all continents, a valuable reference source for transportation and city planners, public agencies, researchers, environmentalists, students, NGOs, companies, transporters and others who are looking for new ways to get around in our daily lives, hopefully with more and better choices. The Shared Mobility Primer from the University of California, Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center offers a practical guide with resources, information, and tools for local governments and public agencies seeking to implement emerging services or to manage existing shared mobility services.

The latest report is a primer on shared mobility in the United States. It organizes the current field of shared transportation services into seven categories and offers a description and summary of proven or potential environmental, economic, and social benefits associated with each. The report provides a concise overview of the contemporary shared mobility sector, which also includes a section on trip planning apps, establishes a common ground upon which transportation researchers, urban planners, policymakers, and sharing-economy activists can build.


The Shared Mobility Primer: Introduction

Shared mobility: the shared use of a vehicle, bicycle, or other mode is an innovative transportation strategy that enables users to gain short-term access to transportation modes on an as-needed basis. The term shared mobility includes various forms of carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing (carpooling and vanpooling), and on-demand ride services. It can also include alternative transit services, such as paratransit, shuttles, and private transit services (called microtransit), which can supplement fixed-route bus and rail services.

With diverse options for mobility on the rise, smartphone apps that aggregate these options and optimize routes for travelers are also proliferating. In addition to these innovative travel modes, new ways of transporting and delivering goods are also emerging. These courier network services have the potential to change the nature of the package and food delivery industry, as well as the broader transportation network. Shared mobility is having a transformative impact on many global cities by enhancing transportation accessibility, while simultaneously reducing driving and personal vehicle ownership.

shared-mobility-primer-public-bikesIn the context of carsharing and bikesharing, vehicles and bicycles are typically unattended and concentrated in a network of locations where information and communication technology (ICT) and other technological innovations facilitate the transaction of vehicle or bicycle rental. Typically, carsharing and bikesharing operators are responsible for the costs of maintenance, storage, parking, and insurance and fuel (if applicable). With classic ridesharing (carpooling and vanpooling) and on-demand ride services, such as ridesourcing (e.g., Lyft and uberX) or “transportation network companies” or “ride-hailing” and app-enabled taxi services (e.g., Curb, Flywheel), many providers also employ ICT to facilitate the matching of riders and drivers for trips.

A number of environmental, social, and transportation-related benefits have been reported from the use of shared mobility modes.

  • Several studies have documented reduced vehicle use, ownership, and vehicle miles/kilometers traveled.
  • Cost savings and convenience are frequently cited as popular reasons for shifting to a shared mode.
  • Shared mobility can also extend the catchment area of public transit, potentially helping to bridge gaps in existing transportation networks and encouraging multimodality by addressing the first-and-last-mile issue related to public transit access.
  • Shared mobility can also provide economic benefits in the form of cost savings, increased economic activity near public transit stations and multimodal hubs, and increased access by creating connections with origin points not previously accessible via traditional public transportation.

This Shared Mobility Primer provides an introduction and background to shared mobility; discusses the government’s role; reviews success stories; examines challenges, lessons learned, and proposed solutions; and concludes with guiding principles for public agencies. The primer aims to provide an overview of this emerging field and current understanding—as in the years to come, shared mobility will continue to evolve and develop. In light of this evolution, ongoing tracking and longitudinal analysis are recommended to support sound planning and policymaking in the future.


How to Use This Document

This Shared Mobility Primer will be of value to individuals, public agencies, and communities who want to know more about shared mobility and to communities interested in incorporating shared mobility into their transportation networks. This primer is a practical guide with resources, information, and tools for local governments and public agencies seeking to implement emerging services or to manage existing shared mobility services.

The following are some suggestions for the primer’s use:

  • Access shared mobility resources. Review findings from numerous sources highlighting challenges, opportunities, lessons learned, and best practices deploying shared mobility across North America. What are key guiding principles for implementing shared mobility? Appendix A includes tables with key data that can aid in policy development, and Appendix B contains a glossary of terms. Use this primer for strategic transportation planning. How might shared mobility impact congestion, air quality, emissions, and parking? How could shared mobility enhance accessibility and mobility?
  • Reference this primer to aid public policy development. What are the risks and opportunities presented by shared mobility and how can opportunities be leveraged and risks be managed?

Shared Mobility Primer Overview

As noted above, this primer presents an overview of current practices, lessons learned, and guiding principles for public agencies to advance shared mobility in transportation planning and programs. The primer is organized into the following chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction. This chapter provides an introduction to and overview of the primer.
  • Chapter 2: Overview of Shared Mobility Services. This chapter synthesizes existing literature on the definitions and types of shared mobility services available, at present.
  • Chapter 3: Shared Mobility Impacts: Current Understanding. This chapter reviews North American shared mobility impact studies including: carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing, and ridesourcing.
  • Chapter 4: The Role of Public Agencies in Shared Mobility. This chapter presents common areas in which local and regional governments and public agencies have an impact on shared mobility. Topics include health, safety, and consumer protection; taxation; insurance; parking and rights-of-way; signage and advertising; multimodal integration; planning processes; data sharing, data privacy, and standards; and accessibility.
  • Chapter 5: Lessons Learned and Challenges in the Future. This chapter reviews common challenges, success stories, best practices, and recommendations for shared mobility. Topics include public and private sector definitions; the government’s role in the sharing economy; shared mobility as a component of transportation policy and planning; multimodal integration; developing metrics and models for measuring environmental and economic impacts; accessibility and equity issues; consumer protection; insurance; and data sharing and privacy.
  • Chapter 6: Guiding Principles for Public Agencies. This chapter concludes the primer and discusses guiding principles for public agencies seeking to incorporate shared mobility into their transportation networks.

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About the authors:

The latest report from the FHWA was authored by the University of California, Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center’s Co-Director Susan Shaheen (UC Berkeley Team leader) and Adam Cohen (UC Berkeley), along with Ismail Zohdy (formerly with Booz Allen Hamilton).

The Transportation Sustainability Research Center at UC Berkeley combines the research forces of six campus groups at UC Berkeley: the University of California Transportation Center, the University of California Energy Institute, the Institute of Transportation Studies, the Energy and Resources Group, the Center for Global Metropolitan Studies, and the Berkeley Institute of the Environment. Since The Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) was formed in 2006, it has been a leading center in conducting timely research on real-world solutions for a more sustainable transportation future. In addition to performing research informed by a diverse array of perspectives, TSRC also engages in education and outreach to promote its core values of sustainability and equity, to ensure that we are able to meet the transportation needs of the present without compromising future generations. TSRC conducts research on a wide array of transportation-related issues, addressing the needs of individuals as well as the public.

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About the sponsoring agency:

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Operations provides national leadership for the management and operation of the surface transportation system. The office is responsible for FHWA’s efforts in the areas of congestion management, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Deployment, traffic operations, emergency management, and freight management and operations.

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations (HOP)
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Technical Representative (COTR): Wayne Berman
Technical Support: Allen Greenberg

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About the editor

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as a development economist, Francis Eric Knight-Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent non-profit advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at, @ericbritton. @worldstreets and

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