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At first glance, there could be no more irresponsible image than this demonstration of ridesharing. Know that the jeep was stopped and the people got on to pose for the humor of it. We show it for another reason: vehicles and mobility are precious commodities, like timber and fisheries. People in affluent countries tend to take their cars for granted and casually use them for small details and errands. We put this image here to show how valuable mobility is and how we need to share resources if we are to have resources.

In 2015, the Oxford English Dictionary added ride-share to its pages. Ridesharing is the act of filling empty seats by pairing drivers and riders who share common origins, destinations, or stops en route. When trips are pooled, people split costs, ease traffic, and lighten the load on infrastructure, while curtailing emissions per person.

A wave of technologies has accelerated ridesharing’s popularity:

  • Smartphones allow people to share real-time information about where they are and where they are going.
  • The algorithms that match them with others and map the best routes are improving daily.
  • Social networks are buoying trust, so individuals are more likely to hop in with someone they have not met.

Getting people to double or triple up in their cars is not always easy. When fuel is cheap, carpooling declines. An abundance of free or cheap parking also steers people to journey solo. So does the desire for autonomy, privacy, and expedience.

For many, cars have seemed indispensable to day-to-day life. But, increasingly, mobility is seen as a service to access. When cars are used collaboratively, you can catch a glimpse of the future—one with fewer cars overall.

Technical summaries for each solution will be available May 1, 2017.

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