The National Academies

Transit IDEA J-04/IDEA 14 [Completed (IDEA)]

Market Study and Operational Test Results for the Instant Rent-A-Car (IRAC) Station Field Tests
[ TCRP J-04 (Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis--The Transit IDEA Program) ]

  Project Data
Staff Responsibility: Harvey Berlin

This IDEA project employed ITS technology for short-term rentals of electric or compact vehicles to and from transit stations for increasing transit ridership, and was cost-shared with the ITSIDEA program. As illustrated below, the Instant Rent-a-Car (IRAC) fleet management technology uses radio communications between the rental vehicle and a central processor to trace the status of a fleet vehicle. Rental transactions are possible by personal computer reservation or through a “walk-in” process. The user can then drive the vehicle and leave it parked on the street when finished. After the user exits the vehicle, the door is locked and a message is sent to the central processor containing billing data, rental availability, and other fleet management information, which may be used by other potential vehicle renters.
The project focused on integrating IRAC into transit practice by feeding rail rapid transit stations. The IDEA project included a limited-scale operational pilot project using up to 10 IRAC electric vehicles feeding a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station to confirm predicted usage and ridership projections and patterns. Preliminary projections show that in a transit operation such as BART, ridership can be significantly increased with IRAC use by increasing the ridership on currently underused trains. IRACs are also applicable to express buses and car pools and could provide a new market for the auto rental industry.
A large-scale operational test and evaluation using IRAC-configured vehicles was done as a follow-up after this Transit IDEA project to establish the viability for a national implementation of the IRAC technology. BART has subsequently undertaken a large-scale demonstration of a similar system. This provided information that was useful in subsequent implementation of car-sharing systems, many of which serve transit stations.
The project cost was shared between the Transit-IDEA and ITS-IDEA programs, under ITSIDEA Projects 3 and 48, and Transit IDEA Project 14.

The final report for this IDEA project can be found at: 

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