Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Dr Nicole Cook and Professor Gordon Waitt
Horton, Jacqueline, Carpooling Cultures: learning from University students on-the-move,
Bachelor of Science (Honours),
University of Wollongong, 2020.
Carpooling is an informal form of ridesharing which is often utilised to mitigate traffic congestion and parking demand. This thesis examines what mobilises, sustains, and limits the willingness of university students to share their cars on journeys to campus. Prompted by a decline in carpooling participation at the regional University of Wollongong campus, this project builds upon previous work at UOW to uncover motivations underpinning, and barriers limiting, carpooling amongst students. Engaging with mobilities and transport literature, this thesis offers qualitative insights into the experiences of carpooling amongst students; moving away from quantitative surveys which dominate current carpooling research. Thus, drawing upon Social Practice Theory, and concepts of affect and emotion, this study utilises a mixed-method qualitative approach through combining online semi-structured interviews with sketches, tables, and diagrams. The results presented over two chapters offer insights into two ‘cultures’ of carpool within the UOW student community, with distance playing a defining role in their distinction. Underpinning these ‘cultures’ are practices of sharing, scouting, hosting, scheduling, socialising, cleaning, and ridding. For those students residing in close proximity to campus, carpooling is just one of many transport options available. As a result, participant narratives revealed a lack of commitment to passengers, with the scheduling of a return journey from campus often non-existent. Therefore, carpooling amongst this ‘culture’ is often utilised to maintain a sense of control and comfort through the use of their private cars. Contrastingly, for those students travelling a further distance to campus, the labour involved in orchestrating and negotiating carpooling journeys heightens the felt emotional intensity of the journey. This coincides with ideas of public transport as ‘infrequent’ and a lack of supporting UOW infrastructure. The thesis concludes that carpooling practices at UOW amongst both cultures are underpinned by ideas of convenience, control, and autonomy, rather than sustainability. Arising from this are key policy implications and future research opportunities.
Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.