The news about Getaround’s recent launch in Washington, D.C. is only the latest sign that peer-to-peer carsharing – which allows owners to rent their vehicles to others at an hourly rate – is on the rise.

P2P carsharing, often described as “Airbnb for cars,” has a number of benefits for both owners and renters. According to a recent study, however, one group may stand to benefit most of all: low-income residents.

A study released by New York University’s Samuel Fraiberger and Arun Sundararajan this year on Peer-to-Peer Rental Markets in the Sharing Economy modeled the market potential for peer-to-peer carsharing, and found that below median-income residents have the potential to experience disproportionately positive effects from participating in P2P carsharing.

The finding comes as transit agencies and local governments across the country are searching for new tools to help chip away at equity issues and improve access to transportation – and to jobs, health care, education and opportunity – in underserved communities.

NYU’s study, which developed a complex mathematical model to illustrate the effects of this emerging marketplace and also analyzed two years of data from P2P carsharing provider Getaround, found that below-median income residents who participated in P2P carsharing:

Were Most Likely to Switch from Owning to Renting

The study modeled prospective market behavior, and when comparing to national socio-economic datasets hypothesized that below-median income consumers would be almost twice as likely to give up car ownership (30 percent, compared with 18 percent among above-median income users), driven in part by the economic impetus to avoid the cost of owning a car when an effective alternative exists.

Offered Better Rental Supply in Below-Median Income Neighborhoods

In an analysis of Getaround activity in San Francisco, neighborhoods with lower average income levels were the ones with the greatest overall P2P rental activity. NYU’s model projected that below-median income consumers were three to five times more likely to provide newer vehicles for rent than those making above the median income. Demand was also higher among below-income consumers, many of who did not previously have reliable access to a vehicle.

Enjoyed Greater Economic Benefits

Residents earning below the median income also stood to benefit more economically from both renting out their cars and using others’ vehicles. A number of factors led to higher economic gains, including greater cost savings associated with switching from owning to renting and new opportunities resulting from increased access to transportation.

Coming Soon: Peer-to-Peer Carsharing for Chicagoland!

The study’s findings are especially relevant as SUMC prepares to launch a two-year pilot project to study peer-to-peer carsharing in the Chicago area. The pilot was originally initiated by IGO Carsharing and is now being operated as a partnership between SUMC, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and a private operator.

If you are a Chicago resident, please take five minutes to complete our surveys for car owners and prospective renters. Stay tuned for more information…we hope to have updates to share soon!