More protection, less congestion

The role of car sharing in the Corona pandemic

The corona pandemic has a major impact on our mobility behavior. Risk perception is becoming a decisive factor in an individual’s mode choice. Now that many passengers have returned to public transport after the summer, flexibility will again be of great importance in response to rising case numbers and increasing uncertainty.

In Beyond the immediate crisis: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and public transport strategy, we argue that as infection rates rise, customers may switch to modes of transport that they perceive to have lower risk. The study therefore recommends the expansion of multimodal services. Car sharing is an important part of such broad-based, multimodal transport systems. Together with the car sharing service SHARE NOW, we have investigated usage and booking behavior in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic to learn how mobility has changed.

Our key findings are:

  • During the coronavirus pandemic, car sharing helps to solve the dilemma between individual risk prevention and social congestion pressure. People have short-term access to a mobility option perceived as low-risk – the car – without having to commit to owning a private car in the long term. This makes it easier for them to return to public transport.
  • Demand for car sharing was less affected by the initial crisis than was demand for public transport. Measured in terms of minutes booked, it recovered quickly and exceeded pre-crisis demand already in the beginning of June.
  • The use of car sharing shifted to the urban periphery and fell sharply in the early morning and evening hours. From late morning until early evening, it remained relatively stable.

Read the full paper here

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