Where Does Carsharing Work? Using Geographic Information Systems to Assess Market Potential

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - station, planning - signage/information, ridership - commuting, technology - geographic information systems, mode - mass transit, mode - car


Transit, Station cars (Car sharing), Public transit, Neighborhoods, Mass transit, Market research, Market assessment, Local transit, GIS, Geographic information systems, Geocoding, Demographics, Commuters, Car sharing, Automobile ownership, Austin (Texas)


A tool to assess the market potential for new carsharing operations in urban communities is examined and applied. The research is based on the analysis conducted for TCRP Report 108: Carsharing: Where and How It Succeeds. Geographic market segments in urban areas are analyzed. A geographic information system (GIS)–based analysis of 13 U.S. regions finds that neighborhood and transportation characteristics are more important indicators for carsharing success than the individual demographics of carsharing members. Results indicate that low vehicle ownership has the strongest, most consistent correlation to the amount of carsharing service in a neighborhood. Thresholds based on analysis results are outlined for low service (i.e., carsharing may be viable but limited growth can be expected) and high service (i.e., carsharing is likely to flourish). This tool to identify neighborhoods that can support carsharing is applied to a community seeking to establish a carsharing program: Austin, Texas. The analysis finds that several Austin neighborhoods have the characteristics to support carsharing (e.g., low vehicle ownership rates and high percentages of one-person households), but few Austin neighborhoods could support a high level of carsharing service.