Published March 16, 1998
Volume 6, Number 3

Researchers Seek Participants for First U.S. Smart Car Linking Study

Researchers from the University of California at Davis are seeking people who work in the Tri-Valley area to participate in the first smart car linking demonstration study in North America. 

The study will assess people's responses to the idea of vehicles that can be shared for short-term trips by several users a day. Participants will be chosen who live or work in the Tri-Valley area. The UC Davis researchers are currently looking for people who are willing to learn about the concept, test some possible rental systems, and explain whether the smart car linking idea makes sense for their lives. 

This study is being conducted by U.C. Davis, in conjunction with several partners: the American Honda Motor Company; the Bay Area Rapid Transit District; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; and Teletrac, Inc.

Smart Car Linking Defined
"Smart car linking" is the use of short-term rental vehicles at a neighborhood, workplace, or transit station to make local trips. A smart car link transportation service offers its members the mobility of a personal automobile and flexibility in their choice of vehicles, as well as advanced reservations or instant rentals at any time of the day at many key activity centers. 

For instance, a member might rent the car at a transit station and then drive to work, using the vehicle for errands during the day. When finished, the vehicle would be returned to the smart car link lot. 

What makes car linking "smart" are advancements in communication and computer technologies that allow drivers to make their own reservations and for the system to know where all its vehicles are located and their rental status. Also, since smart car sharing services may provide a wide variety of vehicles, such services may also rent new, lower emitting vehicles such as natural gas and electric vehicles.

Smart car linking systems offer their members:

  • mobility and convenience of a personal car at a competitive cost;
  • choice of a variety of types of vehicles; and
  • connections with pedestrian, bicycle, and transit links.

A Two-Phase Study
There will be two main phases of the study. The first phase consists of a number of activities. Participants begin with a review of explanatory materials presented in brochures and videos. A demonstration of car linking in the Dublin-Pleasanton area will allow them to view examples of reservation systems and drive examples of smart car sharing vehicles. Finally, participants will complete a home survey from the drive clinic to answer questions about their own travel and whether they would use any form of smart car sharing. 

Some households from this group will also meet one month after the test drive to discuss with researchers and other participants how their views of smart car sharing have changed. Participants will be given moderate compensation for their efforts.

In the second phase, six-month field tests of the smart car linking service will be run. Individuals participating in this phase would be enrolled in a demonstration smart car link system for six months.

Signing Up
If you are interested in participating in either or both of these studies, please contact Tom Turrentine of the Institute of Transportation Studies at (408) 685-3635, Fax: (408) 688-0545, or via e-mail at tomtur@scruznet.com, before April 1, 1998. 


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