We broadly define shared mobility as transportation services and resources that are shared among users, either concurrently or one after another. This includes public transit; micromobility (bikesharing, scooter sharing); automobile-based modes (carsharing, rides on demand, and microtransit); and commute-based modes or ridesharing (carpooling and vanpooling).

This page provides an overview of shared mobility as well as a Shared Mobility Typology for each mode. For more information, see SUMC’s Shared-Use Mobility Reference Guide.

Use Cases

Shared transportation has grown tremendously since we began in 2014 as a result of renewed interest in urbanism and growing environmental, energy, and economic concerns intensifying the need for sustainable alternatives. Simultaneously, advances in electronic and wireless technologies made sharing assetsand dataeasier and more efficient. This led to automobile manufacturers, rental car companies, venture-backed startups, and city-sponsored programs springing up with new solutions ranging from large physical networks to mobile applications designed to alter routes, fill empty seats, and combine fare media with real-time arrival and departure information. 

Since then, change has been rapid: business models continuously evolved; some startups folded while others became multimodal services themselves; public-private partnerships have been tried, tested, and expanded; and now the COVID-19 pandemic is altering shared transportation further. 

As of March 2020, many transit operations and mobility services are suspended or working in ways that differ greatly from their standard models. We believe shared mobility services will continue to evolve and add multimodal options for different user scenarios that, as a whole, form the Mobility as a Service transportation framework.  And the benefits are many.

  • Provide more mobility choices
  • Offer last mile and first mile solutions
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Mitigate various forms of pollution
  • Reduce transportation costs
  • Create equitable access to jobs and other resources
  • Improve efficiency
  • Identify choices for those who cannot afford to buy and maintain a vehicle
  • Create accessible mobility options for those with limited physical ability

Shared Mobility Typology

New mobility services provide a continuum of choices that cover many types of personal trips, and together with a robust public transit system, allow people to get to work, run errands, and get to all the places they need to go in daily life without the need for a personal vehicle.

The Shared Mobility Typology provides an overview of the variety of mobility service models in a pre-COVID-19 environment. We will provide updates as public and private sectors make long-term changes.

Shared Mobility Typology

Public Transit

Public Transit

Public Transit – publicly owned fleets of buses, trains, ferries, facilities, and rights of way – with fixed-route local and express service is the foundation for much of shared mobility. There is great untapped potential for transit agencies to integrate with, or offer, shared modes to increase access to transportation and lower costs. Both large technology companies and emerging app entrepreneurs are working to develop integration platforms that cross these modes. For example, several mobile apps currently on the market aggregate information about various transportation options available in a given city so that users can choose from a menu of real-time transportation options to get to their destination, including transit, taxi service, carsharing, or ridesharing.

Micromobility (Bikesharing/Scootersharing)


Micromobility is a collective name for fleets of small, low-speed vehicles (primarily bikes and scooters) for personal transportation, which can be either human powered or electric. Micromobility is primarily found in urban areas and used for short trips in areas with good connectivity and a density of destinations.

 Micromobility serves as a first/last mile option that is faster than hailing a taxi, walking, or transferring to low-frequency transit. Typical micromobility trips are about 1-3 miles, but some trips can be as long as 10 miles, especially when aided by electric drive. Micromobility vehicles rarely transport more than one person at a time.


Bikesharingshared bikes available for self-service rentals of a few minutes to around an hour—comes in two major service configurations, docked and dockless. A hybrid configuration using both docks and free-floating bikes is also growing in use. Bikesharing works best in the urban core or other areas of moderately dense land use so that many users can find bikes within an easy walk. 

Docked bikeshare is a station-based system in which users unlock bikes from a fixed dock and return them to another dock at the end of a trip. Users can purchase passes via mobile app or from kiosks at docks, and use a key, code, or app to unlock bikes.

The density of stations is key to a docked system’s utility, About 4-5 stations per square mile (roughly a station every half mile) appear to be the minimum needed for a docked system to be useful as transportation. Due to the capital costs and permitting burdens involved in placing docks in the public right-of-way, private operators are unlikely to independently deploy docked systems without a public partner.

Dockless bikeshare uses GPS-enabled “smart bikes” with integrated locks that can be unlocked via mobile app. Users end a ride by locking the bike anywhere within the defined operating area. Dockless bikeshare has lower capital costs than docked bikeshare, largely by avoiding costs associated with docking infrastructure, but also partly from lower vehicle unit costs.4 Operating costs, however, may be greater due to the need for more labor-intensive rebalancing, which entails moving vehicles to match demand with where vehicles are located, and to alleviate pileups at popular destinations. 

Most dockless services in the US have been private, for-profit operations rather than public or non-profit systems, although more cities are deploying public dockless systems.


Scootersharing—electric scooters available for short-term rental—is similar to dockless bikeshare, using the same technologies to enable service but relying on motorized scooters. 

Most scootersharing relies on electric kick scooters (or powered standing scooters) with two or three wheels, a platform the rider stands on, and throttle and brake controls mounted on the handlebars. Seated electric scooters describe vehicles mechanically identical to standing scooters, but operated from a seated position, making them more useful for people with physical limitations or for longer trips. These vehicles are distinguished from larger motorized scooters (mopeds and motor-driven cycles) in that they generally stay well below statutory limits on speed and power and don’t require a driver’s license. Most services are operated by the private sector.

Automobile-based Modes (Carsharing, Rides on Demand, MIcrotransit)


Carsharing provides a network of cars available to pre-screened members for short-term use, with borrowing time generally measured in hours rather than days like traditional car rental. The service is ideal for mid-to-long range trips (5 to 20+ miles), especially when shopping or other cargo is involved. A single hourly price generally includes the costs of fuel and insurance, and often parking and tolls. Pricing may reflect variable demand for vehicles over the course of the week, with the highest demand on weekends, and overnight or midweek rentals usually seeing the lowest demand and lowest prices.

 Rentals are self-service, relying on apps and transponders that allow remote access to vehicles, and employ either a dedicated fleet owned and managed by the service provider or vehicles sourced from other community members (called peer-to-peer carsharing). The service requires nodes of moderate to high density that put many users within convenient reach of vehicles.

Round-trip or station-based carsharing was the earliest service configuration, with vehicles picked up and returned to set parking spots. One-way carsharing, in which users can pick up and leave cars anywhere within a service area, is more flexible but requires higher-density land use.

Rides on Demand: Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) and Taxis

Rides on demand are trips reserved and paid for via app, using passenger vehicles with capacities up to about 6 passengers. Also known as ridehailing or ridesourcing, the new generation of services is best exemplified by transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft.

 Trips can be exclusive to individual passengers or shared/pooled when a driver picks up two or more unconnected passengers with similar routes over the course of a trip. Pooled services had been available only in large markets with sufficient numbers of riders and vehicles. However, Uber and Lyft both suspended their pooled services in March 2020 in response to the health crisis; as of May 2020, they were both continuing to serve individual bookings, with heightened precautions.

Many transit agencies have begun relying on TNCs for first/last-mile connections at times/in areas that are difficult to serve with fixed-route transit. Because the TNC business model limits the operators’ control over which vehicles are fulfilling rides, it is generally impossible to guarantee that wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs) will be available to provide rides for users who need them.  

Though they can be used for any kind of trip, these services are most frequently employed for recreational trips and airport travel rather than for commutes, although the proportion of commutes is growing. Rides on demand are an effective choice for low-to-moderate density contexts (suburbs to semi-rural areas), especially in car-dependent landscapes with poor pedestrian connectivity and infrequent transit.


Microtransit, a technological evolution of dial-a-ride and paratransit, refers to services with flexible routes and schedules and on-demand availability, using vehicles larger than personal autos but smaller than transit buses—generally vans or cutaways carrying up to 20 passengers. Unlike other new mobility modes, these services require professional drivers who are usually employed through a purchased-transportation arrangement with a vendor or even employed directly by a transit agency.

Microtransit functions best operating within or between moderate-density environments that lack pedestrian connectivity or fixed-route transit between activity nodes, especially suburban areas with highly separated land uses and interrupted street grids. It is best suited for short-to-medium range trips (3 to 15 miles) where transit connections are needed, but fixed-route transit can’t operate productively. By its nature, microtransit rarely moves more than 3-5 passengers per vehicle revenue hour, but it may offer greater flexibility in well-defined corridors or zones of operation like commercial subdivisions or strings of office parks.

Commute-based Modes or Ridesharing (Carpooling, Vanpooling)


The most established modes on the shared mobility menu are built on efficiently moving groups of people with similar origins and destinations—the original “ridesharing.” Carpooling and vanpooling are noncommercial shared ride arrangements, carrying anywhere from two to ten passengers, where the driver is already making that trip for themselves.


Vanpooling is a subscription-based service where one driver provides prearranged rides to 3-15 passengers with whom they share an origin and destination. Generally administered by a public agency, business district, or workplace, vanpooling programs typically lease and make the vehicles (minivans or passenger vans) available and participants share a monthly fee that covers the vehicle cost, insurance, maintenance, and gas—generally much less than the cost of making the same daily trip in a personal vehicle. Many employers cover some of the cost and provide ride matching based on users’ addresses.

Vanpooling makes sense in auto-dependent, low-to-moderate density environments, and is viable for medium to long-range trips (5 to 40+ miles) unserved by transit. Though efficiencies increase and costs decrease with more participants, administrative complexity increases along with the number of riders, an effort generally borne by the program administrator.


 Carpooling refers to self-service, pooled rides in the driver’s personal vehicle, with at least one passenger, to a common destination. Traditionally this takes place on a set schedule among the same individuals. In the last decade, advances in mobile technology have encouraged the growth of new carpooling models that allow the discovery of nearby rides/riders from outside an individual’s immediate sphere.

Carpooling is suitable for the same conditions as vanpooling, though it is inherently more flexible (i.e. no dedicated vehicle, no membership requirement) and requires coordination among fewer parties.