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Open Access Publications from the University of California

San Francisco City CarShare: Travel-Demand Trends and Second-Year Impacts


An innovative and potentially resourceful urban transportation initiative, the sharing of motorized cars through cooperative arrangements is a market-based strategy that, proponents maintain, is suited to urban settings where parking is in short supply and good public transit and easy walking access make car ownership less imperative.

Two years after the introduction of the City CarShare program in San Francisco, nearly 30 percent of program members have gotten rid of one or more cars and two-thirds stated they opted not to purchase another car. By City CarShare’s second anniversary, 6.5 percent of members’ trips and 10 percent of their vehicle miles traveled were in carshare vehicles. Matched-pair comparisons with a statistical control group suggest that, over time, members have reduced their total vehicular travel.

Because carshare vehicles tended to be small and fuel-efficient, per capita gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions among members also appeared to go down. Suppressed travel likely reflected a combination of influences: reduced car ownership, more judicious and selective use of cars for particular trip purposes, and carpooling among trips made using car-share vehicles.

Carsharing, however, has also enhanced mobility, allowing members to conveniently reach more destinations in and around San Francisco and to do so more quickly. Because it widens mobility choices and offers a resourceful form of automobility, carsharing is a welcome addition to the urban transportation sector in cities like San Francisco.

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