Casual Carpooling as a Strategy to Implement Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) in a Developing Country

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2019)




Hitchhiking as an Strategy to Implement Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) in a Developing Country

By presenting a shift away from the prevailing ownership-based transport systems and towards access-based ones, the concept of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) has been recently gaining ground and becoming a concrete business model opportunity. MaaS goal is to offer tailored-made on-demand mobility solutions by integrating on a single service, public and private transport modes (Hensher, 2017). However, the concept is still uncertain (Caiati et al., 2017) and its current development and applicability is centered on developed countries.
On the other hand, we advocate that MaaS is modular, adaptable and applicable to several realities. In developing countries – for instance – where public transport are mostly inefficient and insufficient, MaaS schemes could help to “balance the scale” with private transportation offerings, such as: rides (hitchhiking). In a sense that within urban mobility, there are mainly two commuters’ groups: 1) car-owners – who may or not carpool and, 2) not car-owners – who generally use public transport or some other form of mobility (e.g., carpooling – either paid or not). Thus, car owners who do not share rides (carpool) are considered one of the biggest hurdles for urban mobility today. Thereby, solutions aimed on reduce car-occupancy inefficiency while additionally complementing public transport would be a feasible MaaS alternative in developing countries that struggle with public transport offerings.
The present work sought to focus on such issues in the context a small city in a developing country (Brazil), since this city holds several universities and therefore many students, who – on their daily commute – routinely practice hitchhiking (whether as passengers or as drivers).
Given the aforementioned, this study aimed on answering the following questions: Why do car-owners offer rides or why not? Are there factors that can motivate hitchhiking practices among non-offering drivers? What are the users’ profiles (drivers and passengers)? What motivates hitchhiking and what causes people to use it or not? Thereby, our general objective was to identify the motivating factors of the hitchhiking practice from both drivers and passengers standpoints.
The survey was applied to over 300 university students in Lavras - Brazil. This city of approximately 100,000 inhabitants was chosen as an study object given its peculiar mobility features. Due to the high number of university students (who attend one of the four universities in the city), hitchhiking is common practice on their daily commute – since public transportation is insufficient and does not have enough capillarity to meet demand.
Data were analyzed using descriptive statistical techniques and as a way of understanding the socioeconomic factors associated with the habit of offering and picking up rides (hitchhiking), logistic regression models were used and adjusted via the software R (version 3.5.1.).
Among the students who drive, 78.9% offer hitchhiking rides to their peers. This may be explained due to the widespread dissemination of hitchhiking practices in the city,
with several "hitchhiking points" (similar to bus stops) spread around the city as well as the public university campus (Federal Univeristy of Lavras – UFLA). Such practice however, is more common among UFLA’s students (88.4%) rather than the other three private institutions (64.5%).
Among the drivers that offer rides, 34.4% claimed to offer them to everyone in any point of the city. Thus, approximately 44% of those who offer rides, will only let into their cars those people that are properly waiting on a “hitchhiking stop”. Furthermore, drivers that claimed to only offer rides to friends and acquaintances (44.5%), states that incentives such as: paid rides (45.7%) or taxes exemption (3.9%) would make them more susceptible to offer rides for everyone.
We observed that the motivation to offer rides are not strictly financial. This was evidenced in the similar monthly driving expenses among those who offer rides to those who do not (49€ and 48€ respectively). In addition, 91.1% offer a ride in solidarity while only 7.7% do it for financial reasons.
Among the drivers who do not offer rides, 37.5% claimed they are afraid of thefts, while 29.1% complained about the felling of “losing their freedom”. Also, the majority of those, pointed out that no kind of rewards would make them change their minds (62.5%).
Besides, the hitchhiking practices were analyzed by gender, day/night shift and age. We noticed that although there is a gender difference in ride offering, it is not significant (81.3% of men versus 76.4% of women). Among the hitchhikers, the practice is also slightly more common among men (57.5% to 53.3%). By the day/night shift, we noticed a sudden drop in n the number of hitchhiking at night (25.4% versus 74.6% during the day).
Young adults comprised the great majority of hitchhikers, with 62.5% of people aged between 17 and 25 years old adopting such practices, comparatively, 50% of respondents over 40 claimed they do not offer rides. Evidences point out that consumers, in all age groups but special the Millennials (Lasmar et al., 2018), are increasingly expecting their experiences in transport and other sectors, to be delivered “as-a-service”, and in turn, to get more value as results.
In sum, 4 distinct groups were identified in the sample: 1) supporters of solidary hitchhiking; 2) supporters of hitchhiking given some sort of incentives is provided; 3) supporters of hitchhiking for friends; 4) non hitchhiking supporters. We also infer that the city’s infrastructure (hitchhiking stops) and local culture stimulate hitchhiking practice. However, for those who need encouragements, factors such as; safety, information sharing, and practices that can compensate or facilitate access can further assist on hitchhiking dissemination. As an example we have Wazepool, a hitchhiking service recently launched in Brazil similar to the French platform CityGo.
Practical implications
Most studies on MaaS are being carried out in developed countries with efficient public transportation systems. This study aimed to contribute to initial discussions about MaaS schemes in developing countries through a redesign in private vehicles usage. We noted that hitchhiking practices have consumers’ acceptance and therefore, can be further stimulated. In this way, hitchhiking may prove to be a feasible transport mode on MaaS schemes where public transports are not efficient.
Key-words: Hitchhiking, Mobility-as-a-Service, Consumer Behavior, Developing country, Small city.

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