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Shared Mobility Definitions

The following definitions are used in the FTA's Shared Mobility frequently asked questions (FAQs). Many are based on TCRP Research Report #188: Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit.

TermMeaningAlternative Terms
BikesharingShort-term bike rental, usually for individual periods of an hour or less over the course of a membership (periods which can range from a single ride, to several days, to an annual membership). Information technology-enabled public bikesharing provides real-time information about the location and demand for bikes at docking stations throughout a community. [TCRP Research Report 188] 
CarsharingA service that provides members with access to an automobile for intervals of less than a day. Major carsharing business models include traditional or round-trip, which requires users to borrow and return vehicles at the same location; one-way or free-floating, which allows users to pick up a vehicle at one location and drop it off at another; and peer-to-peer (p2p), which allows car owners to earn money at times when they are not using their vehicles by making them available for rental to other carshare members. [TCRP Research Report 188] 
Demand Responsive SystemA system of transporting individuals (other than by aircraft), including the provision of designated public transportation service by public entities and the provision of transportation service by private entities, including, but not limited to, specified transportation service, which is not a fixed route system. [49 CFR 37.3]Demand-response System
Fixed-route systemA system of transporting individuals (other than by aircraft), including the provision of designated public transportation service by public entities and the provision of transportation service by private entities, including, but not limited to, specific public transportation service, on which a vehicle is operated along a prescribed route according to a fixed schedule. [49 CFR 37.3] 
MicrotransitIT-enabled private multi-passenger transportation services, such as Bridj, Chariot, Split, and Via, that serve passengers using dynamically generated routes, and may expect passengers to make their way to and from common pick-up or drop-off points. Vehicles can range from large SUVs to vans to shuttle buses. Because they provide transit-like service but on a smaller, more flexible scale, these new services have been referred to as microtransit. [TCRP Research Report 188] 
Mobility on DemandAn integrated and connected multi-modal network of safe, affordable, and reliable transportation options that are available and accessible to all travelers. [FTA Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation] 
ParatransitComparable transit service required by the Americans with Disabilities Act for individuals with disabilities who are unable to use fixed route transportation systems. [49 CFR 37.3] 
Private shuttlesCorporate, regional, and local shuttles that make limited stops, often only picking up specified riders. [TCRP Research Report 188]Employer shuttle, tech buses
Public transportationRegular, continuing shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to the general public or open to a segment of the general public defined by age, disability, or low income.  Public transportation does not include: intercity passenger rail transportation (provide by Amtrak, or any successor); intercity bus service; charter bus service; school bus service; sightseeing service; courtesy shuttle service for patrons of one or more specific establishments; or intra-terminal or intra-facility shuttle services. [49 USC 5302] 
RidesharingRidesharing involves adding passengers to a private trip in which driver and passengers share a destination. Such an arrangement provides additional transportation options for riders while allowing drivers to fill otherwise empty seats in their vehicles. Traditional forms of ridesharing include carpooling and vanpooling. This term is sometimes used to refer to ridesourcing. [TCRP Research Report 188]Carpooling, vanpooling, slugging, ridesourcing
RidesourcingUse of online platforms to connect passengers with drivers and automate reservations, payments, and customer feedback. Riders can choose from a variety of service classes, including drivers who use personal, non-commercial, vehicles; traditional taxicabs dispatched via the providers’ apps, and premium services with professional livery drivers and vehicles. Ridesourcing has become one of the most ubiquitous forms of shared mobility. [TCRP Research Report 188]Transportation network company (TNC0, ridesharing, e-hailing
Ride-splittingA type of ridesourcing that allow customers requesting a ride for one or two passengers to be paired in real time with others traveling along a similar route. [TCRP Research Report 188]Dynamic carpooling
Shared-Use MobilityTransportation services that are shared among users, including public transit; taxis and limos; bikesharing; carsharing (round-trip, one-way, and personal vehicle sharing); ridesharing (car-pooling, van-pooling); ridesourcing; scooter sharing; shuttle services; neighborhood jitneys; and commercial delivery vehicles providing flexible goods movement. [TCRP Research Report 188]Shared mobility
Specified public transportationTransportation by bus, rail, or any other conveyance (other than aircraft) provided by a private entity to the general public, with general or special service (including charter service) on a regular and continuing basis. [49 CFR 37.3] 
Last updated: Friday, February 28, 2020