To Share or Not to Share: Investigating the Social Aspects of Dynamic Ridesharing

TitleTo Share or Not to Share: Investigating the Social Aspects of Dynamic Ridesharing
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJavier Morales-Sarriera, German Escovar Á lvarez, Kelly Blynn, Andrew Aylesbury, Tim Scully, Jinhua Zhao
JournalTransportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
KeywordsCarpooling, Dynamic Ridesharing, Prejudice, Social, Transportation Network Companies

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) have recently introduced shared ride versions of their ordinary services, such as UberPool or Lyft Line, in a number of cities around the world. At base, the concept is simple: passengers pay less in fares for an incremental increase in time spent picking up and dropping off other riders. Time and cost trade-offs related to mode choice in transportation have been studied extensively; however, the social and behavioral considerations of shared rides have not yet been explored as thoroughly. Previous studies have found that common negative attitudes towards traditional carpooling have included an unwillingness to interact with strangers and a desire for autonomy and convenience. The current rise of dynamic ridesharing technology, which offers the potential for greater accountability, trust building, and social connection, possesses the potential to change the perception of the social aspects of carpooling. A survey of TNC users conducted through Mechanical Turk in June and July of 2016 with 997 respondents across the United States found that: (i) users of dynamic ridesharing services report that social interactions are relevant to mode choice, although not as much as traditional factors such as time and cost; (ii) overall, the possibility of having a negative social interaction is more of a deterrent than the potential of having a positive social interaction is an incentive to using dynamic ridesharing; (iii) there is evidence that a substantial number of riders harbor feelings of prejudice towards passengers of different social class and race, and these passengers are much more likely to prefer having more information about potential future passengers; (iv) that most dynamic ridesharing users are motivated to use it due to its ease and speed compared to walking and public transportation; and (v) that safety in dynamic ridesharing is an important issue, especially for women, many of whom report feeling unsafe and prefer to be matched with passengers of the same sex.