Abstract for: The Market Economy of Trips

One-way vehicle sharing systems are distributed urban mobility networks of vehicles and parking stations that allow users to conveniently pick up a vehicle from any station and drop it off to any other station. Popular examples are bike sharing programs however this trend is rapidly entering automobile markets too. Asymmetric demand patterns cause vehicles to end at the stations with no demand, decreasing throughput performance. Existing policies to deal with this problem redistribute manually vehicles using employees, which is a complex, inefficient, and highly unsustainable solution. We explore a new strategy to create autonomous self-balancing vehicle sharing systems that uses market price mechanisms to incentivize users to pick up vehicles from origins with inventory surplus to destinations with inventory deficit. In this ongoing research we explain decision-making in dynamically priced vehicle sharing systems, explore the conditions under which a stable equilibrium state may exist, and if so, whether local price competition between the stations is sufficient to bring it. To address these questions we develop and conduct a game experiment to empirically evaluate usersí visual perception of payoffs, and a computational framework using System Dynamics and Urban Economics, to explore the limits of efficiency under different demand patterns, pricing policies and populationís income distribution.