Framework for Testing Innovative Transportation Solutions: Case Study of CarLink, a Commuter Carsharing Program

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - station, planning - surveys, ridership - commuting, mode - car


Surveys, Station cars (Car sharing), Recommendations, Pilot studies, Longitudinal studies, Lessons learned, Innovation, In situ tests, Field tests, Commuter programs, Case studies, CarLink, Car sharing


Transit accounts for just 2% of total travel in the United States. One reason for low ridership is limited access; many individuals either live or work too far from a transit station to make its use practical. In developing transit connectivity solutions, researchers often employ a range of study instruments, such as stated-preference surveys, focus groups, and pilot programs. To gain better understanding of response to one innovative transit solution, several research tools were applied, including a longitudinal survey, a field test, and a pilot program. The innovation examined was a commuter carsharing model, called CarLink, which linked short-term rental vehicles to transit and employment centers. Over several years, researchers explored user response to the CarLink concept, a field operational test (CarLink I), a pilot program (CarLink II), and a commercial operation (the pilot was turned over to Flexcar in summer 2002). This multistage approach provided an opportunity for researchers to learn and adapt as each phase progressed. In this paper, the authors outline the CarLink model, technology, and early lessons learned; describe CarLink II operational understanding; provide a synopsis of the pilot program transition; and offer recommendations for future model development.