”Shareability Networks” – A New Way to Model the Taxi-sharing Problem

SIAM News is the news journal of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). They wrote 3.11.2014:

”The burgeoning “sharing economy” phenomenon––the collaborative consumption of shared resources made possible by the pervasiveness of information technologies and Internet connectivity––is rapidly taking hold in the context of urban transportation. Business is booming for vehicle-sharing companies, such as Zipcar and Car2Go, and for companies that offer ride-sharing services, such as Bandwagon and Uber, which recently launched the new UberPool application. New sharing services/companies are popping up in cities worldwide.

What are the reasons for this boom? First, urban traffic congestion is a worldwide problem, and it is predicted to become even worse, with an expected tripling in the number of urban trips by 2050. Second, it is well known that mobility resources are highly underutilized. For instance, most private vehicles lie unused most of the time and typically carry only the driver when in use; in the vast majority of taxi rides, a single passenger is on board. Hence, sharing is considered an effective way of increasing the utilization of mobility resources and, consequently, the efficiency of urban traffic: The higher the vehicle-utilization factor, the lower the number of circulating vehicles, which implies less congestion and pollution.”

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