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Does Dockless Bikesharing Create a Competition for Losers?



Dr. Yu (Marco) NIE

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University


Date:    June 18, 2024 (Tuesday)

Time:   11:00 am – 12:00 nn

Venue:  Room 612B, 6/F Haking Wong Building, The University of Hong Kong



We model the oligopoly competition in a dockless bike-sharing (DLB) market as a dynamic game. Each DLB operator is first committed to an action tied to a specific objective, such as maximizing profit. Then, the operators play a lower-level game to reach a subgame perfect Nash equilibrium, by making tactical decisions (e.g., pricing and fleet sizing). We define a Nash equilibrium under either weak or strong preference to characterize the likely outcomes of the dynamic game and formulate the demand-supply equilibrium of a DLB market that accounts for key operational features and mode choice. Using the oligopoly game model calibrated with empirical data, we show that, if an operator seeks to maximize its market share with a budget constraint, all other operators must either respond in kind or be driven out of the market. When all operators compete for market dominance, even a slight efficiency edge gained by one operator can significantly shift the outcome, which signals high volatility. Moreover, even if all operators agree to focus on making money rather than ruinously seeking dominance, profitability still plunges quickly with the number of operators. Taken together, the results explain why an unregulated DLB market is often oversupplied and prone to collapse under competition. We also show this market failure may be prevented by a fleet cap regulation, which sets an upper limit on each operator's fleet size.


About the Speaker

Dr. Yu (Marco) Nie is currently a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University. He received his B.S. in Structural Engineering from Tsinghua University, his M.S. from National University of Singapore and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis.  Dr. Nie’s research covers a variety of topics in the areas of transportation systems analysis, transportation economics, and sustainable transportation. Dr. Nie served as a member of the TRB committees on Transportation Network Modeling and Traffic flow Theory and Characteristics. He is currently an Area Editor for Transportation Science, an Associate Editor for Transportation Research Part B and Service Science. Dr. Nie’s research has been supported by National Science Foundation, Transportation Research Board, US Department of Transportation, US Department of Energy, and Illinois Department of Transportation.






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A strong delegation of 34 staff from Seoul Metro visited the Department of Civil Engineering and the Institute of Transport Studies on April 23, 2024. They came from engineering, operation, planning, sales and safety divisions.

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Social and Environmental Impacts of Carsharing: Looking Back and Looking Forward

The slides of this Distinguished Transport Lecture can be downloaded here:

Download PDF • 13.47MB

SPEAKER Susan Shaheen, PhD

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Co-Director, Transportation Sustainability Research Center

University of California, Berkeley DATE AND TIME 5/29 (Wednesday), 11 am -12 noon (Hong Kong Time)

5/28 (Tuesday), 8-9 pm (Pacific Time) ORGANISED BY Institute of Transport Studies, The University of Hong Kong ABSTRACT Carsharing, short-term access to a vehicle fleet, has been a sustainable transportation strategy employed across the globe, starting as early as the 1940s. This talk features Professor Susan Shaheen’s work on carsharing, starting with her doctoral dissertation research and numerous evaluations, spanning over two decades. The presentation explores a range of operational models, methods of calculating impacts, energy/environmental impacts, social equity, and electric vehicle deployment in carsharing fleets. The presentation includes key takeaways and policy options for maximizing the social and environmental benefits of this shared mode. SPEAKER’S BIO Susan Shaheen is a pioneer in future mobility strategies. Her research focuses on sustainable transportation, social equity, behavioral dynamics, public policy, shared mobility, electrification/alternative fuels, and advanced air mobility. She is a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS)-Berkeley. She also directs the UC ITS’ Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative. In January 2023, she was appointed to the California Air Resources Board by Governor Gavin Newsom. In 2022, she became the Chair of the Subcommittee for Planning and Policy Review for the TRB Executive Committee. She also joined the California Transportation Foundation Board in January 2022 where she serves as Co-Chair of the Scholarship Committee. She served as Chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee in 2021and Vice Chair in 2020. She has a Ph.D. from UC Davis and a M.S. from the University of Rochester. She has authored 92 journal articles, over 160 reports and proceedings articles, 36 book chapters, and co-authored and -edited three books. She received the 2017 Roy W. Crum award from TRB for her distinguished achievements in transportation research. In May 2016, she was named one of the top 10 academic thought leaders in transportation by the Eno Transportation Foundation.

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