Potentials and possibilities of connecting web-based carpooling platforms for commuters



Current commuter service systems (CSS) are varied and heterogeneous, which causes numerous problems: There hasn’t been a systematic introduction of CSS taking transport planning into account, and so far CSS have only partially been integrated into other commuting systems such as public transport.

Due to numerous problem areas and the current known number of users, we can assume that the concept as it is realized at the moment isn’t being used to its full potential.

Research questions:

These problem areas constituted the starting points for the direction of the project. It particularly focused on the following:

Realistic use: To what extent can the hypothetic potential of commuter service systems actually be realised? What does the concept bring to the table regarding individual needs, transport, the environment, and economics?

Integration: How can carpooling platforms be integrated both into demand-oriented (mobility management) and into supply-oriented (transport system management) concepts?

Impediments: What are the main deficits of the current situation and the implementation of the concepts? What keeps people from using commuter service systems?

Standardisation: What are the minimum requirements of a CSS from a transport planning perspective and the users’ perspective, respectively? How can these be implemented into a certification procedure?

Connection: To what extent can the systems’ efficiency be increased by connecting them? How to define such an interface? Which system architecture is most suitable?

Project contents and structure:

The main focus of the project was carpooling in commuter traffic. In addition, trips other than those to and from work were considered in the project wherever it made sense to do so. For a possible further development, simple carpooling systems were examined as well as similar paratransit systems (e.g. hitchhiking systems, ridesharing). The project was also connected to topics such as mobility management, transport system management, and transport information systems.

The project essentially had four major aims:

  1. Defining the target group(s) of CSS and showing the full potential and use of CSS by analysing the demand depending on spatial and structural conditions.
  2. Developing indicators of the possibilities and limits of CSS as an integrated part of transport concepts based on an analysis of the requirements of demand- and supply-oriented transport planning concepts.
  3. Coming up with approaches for the further development of the contents and organization of the concept as well as key minimum requirements as a basis of future standards by analysing users’ requirements as well as deficits and success factors of systems currently in use both in Germany and abroad.
  4. Designing a system concept to connect CSS based on the analysis of different system versions and developing a technological interface.


The project showed that CSS have considerable potential which is not being used in their current form. Public stakeholders strengthening their cooperation, integrating CSS into transport planning and connecting the systems to create an umbrella platform are some ways to increase the efficiency of CSS. In order to do so, we developed and implemented the prototypical use of a carpooling meta portal based on the interface specifications designed in the project as proof of the concept. The benefits of CSS were investigated in an accompanying standardized evaluation using the example of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Region. If the full potential of CSS is tapped, they will result in high economic benefits.

Project duration:

September 2009 – March 2011

Project partners:

Institute of Urban and Transport Planning, RWTH Aachen University

Momatec GmbH, Aachen

Practice partner:

Office of the AG PPS (ivm GmbH, Frankfurt a.M.)

Contacts at the ISB:

Dipl.-Ing. André Bruns
Reyhaneh Farrokhikhiavi, M.A.
Dipl.-Ing. Rolf Schmidt