The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) is partnering with the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and Carma, a real-time ridesharing vendor to test the use of real-time ridesharing technology to verify the occupancy of a vehicle, and to evaluate the effects of toll discounts
What's the Problem?
In many metropolitan areas such as Austin, Texas, road congestion costs drivers time and money. Because urban development has limited the possibility of road expansion, transportation agencies are tasked with expanding the existing infrastructure’s capacity, without utilizing more space. Solutions such as ridesharing, or carpooling, could help mitigate these issues. However, a small portion of the population – only 10 percent – carpools. Finding ways to implement carpooling as a solution requires further understanding of driver behavior and motivations.
What's the Solution?
With Federal Highway Administration sponsorship, the Texas Department of Transportation, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute partnered with Carma, a carpooling smart phone application, to test the benefits of real-time ridesharing technology.
The Carma app allows people to find a ride at any time and schedule rides outside of their regular schedules. This eliminates some of the inconveniences drivers face when deciding whether or not to carpool. The app allows riders to rate drivers, and drivers receive a 50 percent toll reimbursement through their TxTag account if they have one passenger and a 100 percent rebate if they have two or more passengers.
The TTI research team is surveying Carma app users in Austin, Texas. As of November 2014, there have been 1,600 Carma app downloads, and 200 of those have been active users of the app. The survey’s objectives are to determine attitudes toward ridesharing, how it can improve and how it can expand. The project is scheduled to end in March 2015.
At the conclusion of the study, researchers will gain better insight about the motivations behind ridesharing, how it can be improved, and how pricing incentives through toll discounts might encourage increased ridesharing. These findings will potentially help TxDOT, CTRMA and FHWA provide a solution for road congestion, and in turn, save drivers time and money.
Related Articles and Resources
- Carpool Ridesharing App Project Underway
- Carma’s research project website
- Need a Ride? There’s an App for That!
Project TitleReal-time Ridesharing Technology to Support Differential Tolling by Occupancy
Federal Highway Administration
Economics & Policy, Mobility
For More Information
Greg Phillip GriffinAssistant Research Scientist
Public Engagement Planning
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
The Texas A&M University System
505 E Huntland Dr., Suite 455
Austin, TX 78752
Ph. (512) 407-1111