Ridesharing in the Columbia Basin - Exploring the Opporutnities

Based on input provided at Climate Action Program (CAP) community meetings over the last year, there is evident interest in expanding and enhancing ridesharing in the Columbia Basin. In response to this interest, this paper provides a current snapshot of ridesharing trends, technologies and services to spark thoughtful dialogue and action among rideshare-interested Basin leaders, organizations, residents and businesses at the May 2 and 4th, 2018 rideshare meetings and beyond. The paper gives consideration to opportunities for ridesharing, carpooling, and load-sharing.

In the Columbia Basin, in 2012, transportation contributed approximately 0.72 Mt CO2e or 17% of total GHG emissions. Meanwhile, 73% of Basin residents drive to work in a single occupancy vehicle.1 Ridesharing can reduce these emissions by increasing the number of passengers per vehicle, thereby eliminating the need for some individuals to drive their own cars.

Due to advances in GPS and smartphone technology, growing momentum of the sharing economy, the proliferation of ride hailing services around the world, and the continuing decline of B.C. intercity bus service, the time may be right for a shift-change in ridesharing in the Columbia Basin region. BlaBlaCar’s 60 million members (largely in Europe) indicate that wide-spread ridesharing is possible.

Ridesharing is defined as an arrangement between two or more people to travel together in a single vehicle to a common or proximate destination(s). The driver’s intent is to travel primarily for personal purposes and not to profit from passengers. In contrast, ride hailing, e.g. services like Lyft and Uber, is an on-demand, for-profit service where a vehicle and driver is hired for a fee to transport passengers between locations of their choice.
Common motivating factors for ridesharing can include: cost savings, social aspects, environmental reasons, and saving time. Common barriers to ridesharing include: availability, inconvenience, lack of flexibility, trust or safety concerns, and privacy concerns. Studies have found that people are much less willing to share a ride with strangers than with direct or indirect friends and acquaintances.

The Columbia Basin has one main active rideshare platform—the Rideshare Network—and three additional rideshare platforms that cover the geographic region but do not appear to be used actively within the Basin. In addition, there is a regional and several local ridesharing Facebook groups.

A review of 20 ridesharing platforms identified features that could make ridesharing more viable and attractive in the Basin by enabling real-time ridesharing, increasing security and privacy, promoting convenience, and covering the costs of platform providers.

This paper’s discussion section poses questions to stimulate dialogue on the how to support and enhance ridesharing in the Basin such as:
▪ How to achieve and sustain a sufficient critical mass of rideshare drivers and riders in the Basin?
▪ How to attract more rideshare users, including non-traditional users such as seniors?
▪ What rideshare service features are most important to current and prospective rideshare users in the Basin?
▪ Is social media integration desirable?
▪ Are mobile apps the future of ridesharing?
▪ Can ridesharing services also serve demand for carpooling, load-sharing and event-based ridesharing?
▪ How can local and provincial government support ridesharing?
▪ How may the regulation of ride hailing in BC impact ridesharing?

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