Forecasting Demand for a New Car Club for London

Forecasting Demand for a New Car Club for London


Nana Offe, SYSTRA, Paul Le Masurier, SYSTRA


The abstract presents an overview of the key drivers and issues considered in the research undertaken by SYSTRA (for TfL) aimed at forecasting the demand for a new type of car club in London under a series of different car club and parking policies.


Despite dominating the car club market in the UK (with more than 85% of the UK’s membership), London lags behind many other major cities in Europe and the US (5% of the population of Boston are registered car club members compared with just under 2% of Londoners. So London may not be realising its full potential in terms of the operation, coverage and use of car clubs in the capital, and Transport for London (TfL) wanted to better understand the nature of current and potential use of car clubs to help it develop strategies to tackle the challenges facing London’s streets and roads.

The purpose of the research study, undertaken by SYSTRA, was (simply) to predict the demand for a new type of car club in London under a series of different car club and parking policies. From a demand modelling perspective, there were four unusual confounding factors that needed to be resolved:

• first, the model needs to reflect car ownership decisions at the household level, in the context of a new car club being available (and, potentially, escalated residential parking charges for each additional car in household) which could lead to some households choosing to reduce the number of vehicles owned;
• second, the complicating negative influence on demand of having to make a subscription commitment to join a car club, along with the subsequent positive influence on usage once joined (i.e. the already considerable ‘buy-in’ from a would-be hirer);
• third, availability of supply - given that the likelihood of a cycle being available for hiring at a particular parking bay is governed by the destination(s) of earlier hires; and
• fourth, the potential for new trips to be generated – through the availability of a new transport option vs. the potential for an overall reduction in trips if car ownership is reduced.
Key to gaining support, or not, within TfL would be whether the positive and negative influences on the use of car clubs would, ultimately, lead to an increase in car usage on London’s roads. That is, whether the upwards pressure on car movements - caused by people switching from public transport to Car (club) – is greater or less than the downwards pressure on car movements - caused by reduced numbers of cars being owned and, hence, used.

In the Paper, we will describe our approach to addressing these, and other, issues unique to car club demand modelling, including: predicting car ownership levels in London in future years; estimating the population ‘in-scope’ and ‘interested’ in hiring through a combination of primary and secondary data analyses; establishing the key parameters influencing mode choice through a multi-modal choice SP survey; and a separate Stated Intention exercise to understand likelihood of car club membership under different circumstances.

We will also report and interpret, in the Paper, the main findings of the research in terms of how the demand varies according to the:

• type of car club – point-to-point (like cycle-hire) or traditional (return vehicle to where picked-up from;
• choice of vehicles available;
• tariff structure (varying membership and usage rates);
• boroughs where car club in operation;
• TfL- sponsored/logo or private operator; and
• other policies (including parking charges, congestion charges, public transport fares and priority measures for car club vehicles).
In our conclusions, we will consider the suitability of our approach to developing the demand model, the chance of further model validation and the possible implications for policy-makers in London.


Association for European Transport