Travel Effects of a Suburban Commuter Carsharing Service: CarLink Case Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - station, infrastructure - vehicle, planning - surveys, ridership - commuting, ridership - demand, ridership - attitudes, policy - parking, place - europe, place - urban, place - low density, mode - rail, mode - car


Vehicle miles of travel, United States, Travel time, Travel behavior, Surveys, Suburbs, Stress (Psychology), Stress (Human), Station cars (Car sharing), SOVs, Single occupant vehicles, San Francisco Bay Area, Ridership, Rail transit, Patronage (Transit ridership), Parking demand, Mental stress, Mental attitudes, Journey time, Interviewing, Focus groups, Europe, Demographics, Commuting, Case studies, CarLink, Car sharing, Automobile ownership, Attitudes


Since 1998, carsharing organizations in the United States have experienced exponential membership growth, but to date there have been only a few evaluations of their effects on travel. Using the results of focus groups, interviews, and surveys, this paper examines the change in travel among members of CarLink—a carsharing model in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, with explicit links to transit and suburban employment—after approximately 1 year of participation. The demographic and attitudinal analyses of CarLink members indicated that the typical member (a) was more likely than an average Bay Area resident to be highly educated, in an upper income bracket, and professionally employed and (b) displayed sensitivity to congestion, willingness to try new experiences, and environmental concern. Some of the more important commuter travel effects of the CarLink programs included an increase in rail transit use by 23 percentage points in CarLink I and II; a reduction in driving without passengers by 44 and 23 percentage points in CarLink I and II, respectively; a reduction in average vehicle miles traveled by 23 mi in CarLink II and by 18 mi in CarLink I; an increase in travel time and a reduction in travel stress; a reduction in vehicle ownership by almost 6% in CarLink II; and reduced parking demand at participating train stations and among member businesses. The CarLink travel results are compared with those of neighborhood carsharing models in the United States and Europe.