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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Good Practices for Advancing Urban Mobility Innovation: A Case Study of One-Way Carsharing


Transforming urban mobility requires integrating public with private services into a single transportation system. Local governments and private companies face the challenge of how to coordinate themselves. An emblematic example is one-way carsharing (shared use of a fleet of vehicles that are typically free-floating throughout an urban area). Surprisingly, good practices for public and private players driving this change remain relatively undocumented. This paper proposes a systematic and balanced public-private approach to foster transportation innovation management. We review both public policy and business management literature and build a framework to help local governments and companies innovate together (organizational structures, project management processes, and profitability assessment tools). We use this framework to examine both public and private experiences through a case study analysis with five one-way carsharing services in Europe (Paris, Munich) and the United-States (San Francisco, Portland, Seattle). For each we conducted expert interviews with the local government and the private operator. This paper provides recommendations for both sectors. First, public and private players should have specific organizations, separated from the core business. Second, they should co-manage innovation since pilot projects lack certainty and require risk management. Third, a new approach that emphasizes value in the role of pilot project learning and capability building.

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