Joanna Moody, Ph.D.

Research Program Manager, Mobility Systems Center

MIT Energy Initiative

Valuing Mobility-as-a-Service vs. Private Car Ownership

Ongoing Research

Can Mobility-as-a-Service really disrupt the private car ownership model?

Despite the negative societal consequences, high costs to individuals, and low utilization of privately-owned vehicles, the vast majority of Americans own a car. The dominant explanation for this paradox has been that consumers systematically underestimate the true cost of car ownership. We use a stated preference survey in Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX and Seattle, WA metro areas to identify how much compensation people would need to be paid to give up access to their privately-owned vehicle for one year. We find that on average, people value access to their car at $11,197, which exceeds the cost of car ownership. More than half of that value comes from owning the car, rather than using it. We also identify household, sociodemographic, travel behavior, built environment, and employee benefit variables that impact the likelihood that someone is willing to give up their personal vehicle at a given compensation amount. Our findings clarify that people value owning and using a personal vehicle highly, and that policies will need to make owning a car less valuable or make alternative mobility options more valuable than this benchmark in order to dethrone the privately-owned vehicle as the dominant mode of transportation in US cities.

This project is funded by the Mobility Systems Center, an MIT Energy Inititaive Low Carbon Energy Center.