Innovative Congestion Relief Program Bridges Transportation Divide

CarLink II's Public-Private Partnership is a Key Step in Reaching
Critical Inter-Agency State Mobility and Environmental Goals

9/10/2001 11:40:31 PM

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), American Honda Motor Company and other transportation agencies today launched a new carsharing research program that could radically alter the way employees in the future travel to and from their jobs in heavily populated urban centers.

CarLink II goes beyond boundaries of traditional carsharing programs as it includes a connection to public transit. In the research program, participants have access to a fleet of vehicles to provide a seamless link to Caltrain from their home or workplace in Palo Alto. The same vehicle that is used by a Palo Alto resident nightly or on weekends who commutes on Caltrain is available during the day to Stanford Research Park employees who commute in on Caltrain. Participating companies include Genencor, SAP and Motorola. Currently, there are 70 participants in the program.

CarLink II--a partnership between Caltrans, American Honda Motor Co., Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH), the Institute for Transportation Studies-University of California, Davis (ITS) and Caltrain--brings together the commuting efficiency of public transit with the convenience and flexibility of automobile ownership.

"CarLink II demonstrates to California commuters that the state will continue to pursue partnerships like this in order to bridge the transportation divide, making rail and transit a more viable travel option in more communities," said Caltrans Director Jeff Morales. Caltrans has contributed $750,000 to the research program.

Program participants in Palo Alto will share the use of 27 ultra-low emission Honda Civics to and from the Caltrain station and their workplace or home. Shared vehicles will minimize the amount of space needed to be reserved for parking and increase access to mass transit without the hassles of car ownership. The vehicles will use advanced telematics technologies including global positioning satellite systems.

The pilot program will continue until June 2002 and includes a continuation strategy to expand to an ongoing commuter carsharing service in outlying areas.

"One of the biggest obstacles for commuters to use transit is availability, accessibility or the lack of flexibility when a car is needed on demand," said Dr. Susan A. Shaheen, CarLink II program director and evaluator. "CarLink II addresses this with reserved parking at the train station and at office parks where the vehicles are also available during the day for meetings and personal use."

Honda is providing the vehicles and technology for the Web-based advance scheduling, access and tracking technology that are key to this research program.

"Integrating Honda's advanced technologies with carsharing can play a important role in consumer acceptance of the concept," said Robert Bienenfeld, senior manager of product planning and alternative fuel vehicles at Honda. "CarLink II will have the capability to collect important demographic, economic and vehicle use data in order to assess the feasibility, costs and benefits of implementing similar programs elsewhere."

"Congestion relief is our highest transportation priority and reducing demand on the highway system is one way we can achieve that goal," said Morales. "Programs like CarLink II will add to the effectiveness of other investments the public is making in transportation through Governor Davis' $6.8 billion Transportation Congestion Relief Program."

Caltrans also announced that the Department is developing a partnership with the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission on further inter-agency efforts to sponsor more programs like CarLink II, which contribute to promoting mobility and reducing overall emissions in the state.


Homebased Users:
On weekday mornings, homebased users in the Palo Alto area drive to the California Avenue Caltrain Station in a CarLink II vehicle and take the train to work.

In the evening, homebased users return to Caltrain, pick up a CarLink II vehicle and drive home. Users have access to these vehicles on evenings and weekends.

Workbased Users:
On weekday mornings, workbased users at participating companies in the Stanford Research Park take Caltrain from home to the California Avenue Station, then carpool with a colleague in a CarLink II vehicle to work. During the day, vehicles are available to employees at participating businesses.

In the evening, workbased users carpool back to the Caltrain station, park the CarLink II vehicle in a designated space and take Caltrain home.