Ridesharing can be made into more attractive cost-saver, study shows

January 5, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The benefits of ridesharing - aka car-pooling - are well known: less traffic, less wear on roads and less fuel consumed, and the ability to engage in pre-office-hours water-cooler talk that can be accomplished without the water cooler.

But, just as with all forms of energy conservation, the benefits don’t come without a cost. If, for example, it’s Jane’s turn to drive and she has to run around town picking up colleagues, it not only costs her and her riders extra time, it also runs up the amount of gasoline they use.

Two University of Illinois researchers have examined these issues in a new study accepted for publication in the journal Transportation Research Part D (Transport and Environment) and posted on its Web site.

Computer science professor Sheldon H. Jacobson and doctoral student Douglas King concluded that while the potential for fuel savings theoretically is substantial, that savings is offset by the time and fuel needed to round up the car-poolers.

“If no additional travel were required for this,” Jacobson said, “the effect of adding one additional passenger in every 100 vehicles would lead to an annual savings of about 800 million gallons of gasoline in the U.S.” If one extra person rode in every 10 vehicles, the savings would increase substantially, to about 7.5 billion gallons of fuel - 5.4 percent of the fuel consumed by these vehicles annually.

The researchers said they calculated that the value of time for travelers must fall below $4.24 per hour for car passengers and $4.68 per hour for light-truck passengers for ridesharing to be an attractive alternative on average. “Ridesharing becomes much more attractive when the amount of travel time required to add passengers makes up a small part of the trip,” Jacobson said.

Ridesharing also could be made more attractive if parking fees and road tolls were increased, Jacobson and King concluded. If, for example, a $1 cost of fees and tolls is added to each vehicle trip, the value of travel time nearly doubles, to $9.05 per hour for cars and $8.68 for light trucks.

“More substantial increases in parking fees and road-toll costs can make ridesharing the most rational economic choice for many travelers,” Jacobson said.

Provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Explore further: Hardened steels for more efficient engines

Related Stories

Hardened steels for more efficient engines

November 20, 2015

Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are working on the development of a new process for hardening steel: With the help of methylamine, they enrich low-alloy steels with carbon and nitrogen. Low-pressure ...

Membrane “nano-fasteners” key to next-generation fuel cells

November 9, 2015

Scientists at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a new way of making fuel cell membranes using nanoscale fasteners, paving the way for lower-cost, higher-efficiency and more easily manufactured ...

Cameroon start-up offers clean streets, cleaner fuel

November 18, 2015

The streets and marketplaces of Cameroon's economic capital Douala are strewn with fruit and vegetable debris of all sorts: banana peels, corncobs, coffee grounds, mashed sugarcane... you name it.

Increasing production of seed oils

November 9, 2015

Plant-derived oils are widely used all over the world both for food and for industrial purposes. In recent years they have also attracted attention as raw materials for potential bio-fuels and bio-plastics that are friendly ...

Recommended for you

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...

Tandem solar cells are more efficient

November 23, 2015

Stacking two solar cells one over the other has advantages: Because the energy is "harvested" in two stages, and overall the sunlight can be converted to electricity more efficiently. Empa researchers have come up with a ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.