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posted on February 1st, 2016

And the role of the sharing economy

No one likes to sit in traffic, particularly when they want or need to be somewhere else — like on time for work, or decompressing at home on the couch after a long day. Yet many of us are stuck sitting in traffic more than we care to think about.

Luckily for commuters, the times they are a-changin’. Globally, as more and more people stretch into the middle class and purchase vehicles, solutions to congested roads and commutes that feel like a second shift are popping up.

At the forefront of these solutions is the sharing economy.

Rapid growth of car sales and populations require change

According to an urban mobility report by McKinsey & Company, “Urban mobility at a tipping point”, city dwellers are facing ever-increasing challenges when trying to get from point A to point B (whether that’s getting to work, going to the movies, visiting a friend, etc.).

And the statistics suggest that this problem is only going to multiply in the years to come. For example, worldwide new car sales are set to explode from 70 million in 2010 to 125 million in 2025 as individual car ownership continues to be a priority for an ever-expanding, global middle class.

Couple this with the prediction that city populations will increase from 50% today to 60% by 2030, and you can see why solving the urban mobility issue is an urgent issue on any city planner’s agenda.

Making better use of existing resources

Traditionally, construction and the addition of public transportation routes has been the way city planners combat their mobility issues. However, you can only build so many new roads, or expand existing ones to so many lanes (here in car-loving, public-transportation-hungry Houston, five-lane highways are the norm), before you just can no longer accommodate the surge in car ownership.

Instead, smarter solutions using existing resources are in need. Since individual car ownership is not going away anytime soon, using people’s existing cars more efficiently via the sharing economy proves to be an effective way to not only reduce congestion on the roads, but reduce the cost of personal mobility by an estimated 30% to 60%.

Newer generations are especially open to this idea. American Millennials, for example, are less interested in commuting to work by car (plus 23% less interested in owning a car at all), and are three times as likely to use public transit.

Meeting urban mobility demand with car sharing

While it may feel like you live in your car sometimes (especially if your commute is several hours a day), studies show that most cars actually sit idle about 90% of the time. Not only does this open up an opportunity for others to share a vehicle instead of feeling the need to purchase their own, but because car or ride sharing platforms, like Uber, Lyft, and, of course, Turo, allow car owners to turn their depreciating assets into actual cash.

Being stuck in traffic isn’t just a nuisance for you; it represents huge inefficiencies of lost time, wasted fuel, expanded greenhouse gas emissions that can cause serious public health concerns, and a general increased cost of doing business.

Fortunately, there are solutions in place now that are beginning to address these problems both on a macro level as well as in a way that will benefit you. Cash earnings on car sharing platforms are only going to increase, as car sharing service demand grows an estimated 35% per year. And of course the next biggest benefit of all is how solutions like car sharing, more public transportation, and others will hopefully alleviate commute time, changing your urban mobility experience for the better.

Read the full McKinsey report to learn more.

Amanda L. Grossman is a stretcher of paychecks and a post-it note lover. When not blogging at Turo, she's transitioning to her new Mommy-role in Houston where she lives with her husband and two cats.