The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing exploring how shared mobility technology is transforming transportation services. The emergence and growth of ridesourcing services like Uber and Lyft is clear evidence of the impact of technology on transportation choices to enhance urban mobility. A study released at the briefing looks at who uses ride-sourcing services, when, and for what purposes. Research was conducted in seven U.S. cities (Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.). The findings and recommendations were presented and discussed.
What effect does the availability of ridesourcing services have on car ownership and the use of public transportation? Are ridesourcing services competing with public transportation or do they serve complementary public needs? Are there opportunities to improve urban mobility through public-private partnerships and collaboration between transit agencies and ridesourcing providers? Can transit agencies’ paratransit services be provided more efficiently or effectively through such collaboration, or by applying lessons learned from ridesourcing business models? What actions can and should be taken to foster innovation to sustainably enhance urban mobility?
Valarie McCall, Chair of APTA; Member of the Board of Trustees, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; and Chief of Government & International Affairs for the City of Cleveland, OH, emphasized that the new research unveiled at the briefing demonstrates the ability of the public transportation industry to respond to a rapid evolution, and to collaborate with private service providers (i.e., Uber, Lyft) to improve mass transit for all – it is collaboration at its finest.
Michael Melaniphy, President and CEO, American Public Transportation Association (APTA)
- Melaniphy highlighted the key findings of the report, which surveyed the travel habits of 4,500 ridesourcing users in 7 cities. It was found that they:
- use public transportation more than the average American, with 50 percent using trains and 45 percent using buses;
- use public buses or trains (57 percent) as their go-to shared mode source in their multi-modal lifestyle, followed by bike-sharing, ridesourcing and car-sharing;
- walk more, drive less, and save on transportation costs;
- own about a half a car less, on average, than those who don't use shared mobility;
- have adopted a more physically active lifestyle, helping lead to better health;
- postponed buying a car (20 percent), decided not to purchase a car (18 percent), or sold and did not replace a car (21 percent), and instead use public transit and other shared modes.
- Shared modes generally complement, and do not directly compete with, public transportation. The peak period for ride-sourcing trips is consistently between 10 PM and 4 AM on weekends, when public transportation is usually not available; 54 percent of ridesourcing use is related to recreational or social purposes, reducing drunk driving.
- Collaboration between public transportation and ridesharing services is strongly recommended to improve the sustainable mobility of urban customers. Several public transit agencies have already established effective public-private partnerships, proving that the transit industry can and is adapting to new technologies, and is eager to collaborate in providing services like paratransit. Transit providers see this as an option to provide services at a reduced cost overall.
Andrew Salzberg, Transportation and Mobility Policy Manager, Uber
- Salzberg has been excited by the enthusiasm of public transportation agencies working with Uber. Their goals are aligned: convenient, affordable, sustainable, accessible urban transportation.
- Public transportation and ridesharing can work hand-in-hand. For example, during the day, rail transit is often faster than ridesharing, but the latter can still play a role. When mapping Uber ride requests, clusters are found around commuter rail stations: ridesharing helps users with the last and first miles of their commute.
- At night, the availability of ride-sourcing services makes it easier not to own a car – reducing cost and improving sustainability.
- Rates of driver’s license ownership are going down, especially for “millennials” – the combination of public transit and shared mobility services is making a car-less lifestyle much more feasible.
Emily Castor, Director of Transportation, Lyft
- Enthusiasm in the public and private sectors is resulting in partnerships starting to gel. These partnerships are adopting maturing technology to provide sustainable transportation options that improve mobility.
- Lyft's founder began as a bus rider advocate, was appointed to the board of a southern California public transportation agency, and then founded Lyft to apply technology and existing vehicle assets to augment transit so that car ownership wouldn't be necessary.
- Lyft is partnering with transit agencies to create interoperable apps that ease the user experience when moving from public transportation to Lyft for the suburban “last mile” of their commute. Partnerships are also seeking to make it easier for the disabled and others who are unable to drive a car, and to close public transportation service gaps.
- Lyft has partnerships with Dallas (DART), Los Angeles, and Denver to provide interoperable, multimodal trip planning apps.
Brad Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)
- PSTA uses 210 buses on 40 routes to serve the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area in Florida.
- A partnership with Uber and taxi companies was launched on February 19, 2016. The 6-month limited area pilot has already increased Uber and transit ridership.
- In the pilot areas, a PSTA option has been added to Uber's app – if someone in those areas uses Uber (or a taxi) to reach a bus stop, they get a 50 percent discount on their Uber (or taxi) ride. PSTA pays the difference to Uber (or to the taxi company). The average trip discount is 3 dollars.
- The partners are already planning to expand the partnership to cover areas that would be expensive to serve with fixed-route bus services. They are also examining if the partnership can reduce paratransit service costs.
Question and answer session
- The net greenhouse gas emissions of ride-sourcing services is being studied. The APTA study highlights likely improvements due to reduced auto ownership (leading to fewer vehicle-miles-driven) and multi-occupant rideshares.
- Thirty-one municipal and state jurisdictions have enacted ridesharing legislation in the past 2 years.
- The initial opportunity to use ridesharing in paratransit services focuses on the 57 percent of passengers who are able to be served with sedan cars. This is just the beginning of figuring out opportunities for collaboration.
- Multimodal, coordinated shared services is the future of sustainable urban transportation. We are beginning to see a new piece fitting into the puzzle, and collaboration is helping to accelerate the transition.