Can carsharing reduce transport poverty?
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Business-to-consumer carsharing is a promising innovation for supporting social cohesion by improving the mobility of people experiencing transport poverty. This potential is however neglected, as carsharing vehicles are under-proportionally supplied to transport-poor neighbourhoods. This paper aims to find reasons for this and analyses the potential for introducing carsharing in transport-poor neighbourhoods, covering the perspectives of multiple stakeholders. Roger’s barriers to adoption are applied to understand what stops individuals in transport-poor neighbourhoods from adopting carsharing. Additionally, the mobility practices of households in these neighbourhoods are observed through the lens of social practice theory, which sees practices as reoccurring actions that emerge at the interplay of systems of provision and lifestyles. Regression analysis is applied to a sample of Dutch municipalities, evaluating the relationship between the supply of shared cars and socio-economic and geographic factors linked to transport poverty. Subsequently, interviews are conducted with representatives of providers, municipalities, and social housing associations to identify mobility practices and needs, barriers, and promising strategies to increase carsharing adoption. Lastly, a user survey is evaluated to analyse the mobility practices of transport-poor households that already use carsharing. The regression analysis confirms the negative correlation between carsharing supply and factors linked to transport poverty. It also shows that some municipalities perform better than others and that there are outlier neighbourhoods, where carsharing is performing over-proportionally well. The interviews show that while mobility practices are often conducive to carsharing with multiple intervention framings applicable, there are still barriers in place, such as a lack of financial literacy, status issues, and unawareness, leading to reduced adoption and profitability concerns for providers. Strategies to deal with these barriers are diverse, including policy approaches, cooperation, and marketing efforts. The survey results show that where available carsharing can be a beneficial mobility alternative for some transport-poor households when integrated into a transport mix. This research helps to understand the unused potential for social equity impact when it comes to introducing carsharing in transport-poor neighbourhoods. While emphasizing that carsharing is not a solution for all mobility needs and all individuals affected by transport poverty, it is shown that it can mean an improvement for many, offering financial savings to those who previously owned a car and a larger mobility radius to those who did not. More support from municipalities as well as knowledge exchange and cooperation between stakeholders are however necessary to realise this potential.