Late-Night Transportation: How Two Public Agencies Are Filling Service Gaps Through Mobility on Demand

By Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen

 

Late-night transportation options are critical to meeting the travel needs of late-night/early-morning commuters, particularly those without an automobile who need employment access and other services. In some cases, riders may have access to public transit services for the start of their shift, but service may be unavailable at the end of it. Late-night transportation services can serve an important equity role, particularly since those who benefit most from late-night services are households working second-and third-shift jobs, many of whom are low-wage earners and for whom these services are a mobility lifeline to employment. As such, late-night transportation can represent a critical economic ladder of opportunity for low-income households.

Yet, in many communities, access to public transit during late-night or early-morning hours is limited. Many public transit agencies stop running at or before midnight. While some agencies have implemented late-night services designed to meet the transportation needs of night-time commuters, these are usually much more limited than during the day and may have notably higher operating costs due to lower ridership and route productivity.

There are a variety of options available to public transit agencies looking to employ late-night services. A few of these include:

Fixed-Route Bus or Rail Service along defined routes where transit vehicles stop at a designated stop or on demand. Some public transit agencies have extended hours of service on select routes to accommodate the needs of late-night riders;

Shuttle or Microtransit Services (publicly or privately operated) that can provide late night first- /last-mile connections and fixed route or demand responsive services;

Stop Requested Bus Service allows late-night riders to request to be dropped off at a location that is not a bus stop;

Demand-Response Service providing door-to-door transportation throughout a neighborhood providing passenger mobility based on their specific pick-up and drop-off requests; and

For-Hire Vehicle Services (i.e., taxis and ridesourcing/transportation network companies (TNCs)) can be used to provide and/or replace late night transit services where ridership is not sufficient enough to support public transit service. A variety of partnerships and subsidies can be employed to make these options more affordable for late-night workers.

In recent years, a variety of public-private partnerships have emerged between public transit and on-demand mobility service providers to offer late-night transportation (and other use cases such as facilitating first- and last- mile connections, replacing low-ridership or underperforming public transit routes, serving paratransit, etc.). We feature two such late-night services below.

Pinellas County, Florida – Transportation Disadvantaged Late Shift

For example, in St. Petersburg and Clearwater Florida, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) has implemented the Pinellas County Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) Program, providing reduced cost transportation services for households that have incomes less than 150 percent of the poverty level. The U.S. federal poverty definition consists of a series of income thresholds based on family size and composition. To qualify in 2018, monthly income must be less than $1,518 for a one-person household, $2,058 for a two-person household, and up to $5,298 for eight people. In addition to reduced cost bus passes and door-to-door service, the program has a special TD Late Shift component. TD Late Shift provides late-night and early-morning free rides to low-income households as part of a public-private partnership with Uber, United Taxi, or Care Ride. The program is intended to help low-income workers who have jobs that require late-night transportation by providing free rides on demand between the hours of 10PM and 6AM, when regular bus service is not available. The program is funded through grant a from the Florida Department of Transportation’s Florida Commission for Transportation Disadvantaged.

Detroit, Michigan – Woodward 2 Work

Earlier this year, the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) launched the Woodward 2 Work (W2W), a 2,000-ride pilot program using Lyft to augment late-night transit services. The pilot program is being offered along the 53 Woodward route between 12AM and 5AM. To participate in this pilot program, users must have a Lyft account, debit or credit card, or a prepaid card with a $25 minimum balance available to book a trip. Travelers who do not have access to a smartphone can request rides using a telephone with Lyft Concierge.

Late-night partnerships with on-demand mobility services have a number of potential opportunities and challenges. By partnering with a third-party service provider, public agencies may be able to facilitate late-night, on-demand mobility services at a lower cost than infrequent and low-ridership transit services at that time. However, if a public agency does not currently offer late-night transportation, off-peak subsidies could represent an additional cost instead of saving money by replacing high-cost routes or encouraging transit connections. Public transit agencies considering late-night transit partnerships should carefully weigh the opportunities (e.g., benefits and costs); challenges (e.g., labor issues); and potential equity issues (e.g., access for vulnerable populations) associated with developing a late-night transportation program.

Identifying and understanding late-night service gaps is the first step for public agencies to help enhance mobility for these workers. Public transit partnerships that provide late-night, on demand service can help shift workers to overcome temporal and spatial barriers that can inhibit job access due to infrequent or no transit service at these hours.

Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen are co-authors of the U.S. Department of Transportation report Travel Behavior: Shared Mobility and Transportation Equity examining the Spatial, Temporal, Economic, Physiological, and Social aspects of transportation access.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

 

Convergence of Sharing and Automation: Need for Proactive Public Policy and Research Understanding

By Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen

In recent years, on-demand passenger and courier services – known as Mobility on Demand (MOD) – have grown rapidly due to technology advancements; changing consumer patterns (both mobility and retail consumption); and a combination of economic, environmental, and social forces. MOD is an innovative concept based on the principle that transportation is a commodity where modes have economic values that are distinguishable in terms of cost, journey time, wait time, number of connections, convenience, and other attributes. Earlier this month, we wrote about innovations in goods delivery that are transforming transportation and consumer behavior as travelers increasingly turn to MOD. In this blog, we discuss four potential impacts of driverless vehicles and the need for proactive public policy to maximize the potential benefits and minimize potential adverse impacts.

Potential Impacts of Vehicle Automation

In the near future, automation could be the most transformative change transportation has seen since the advent of the automobile. While MOD is already impacting many cities, it has the potential to have even more notable impacts, particularly in four key areas:

Travel Behavior: It should be emphasized that the impacts of automation on travel behavior are uncertain and difficult to forecast due to a number of highly variable factors, most importantly societal acceptance and use. One potential outcome is that existing roadway capacity may increase due to more efficient operations associated with technology (e.g., closer vehicle spacing known as platooning, etc.). Additionally, operators could “right-size fleets,” providing consumers with vehicles sized based on the number of passengers and trip length. However, there is a possibility that automated vehicles (AVs) and shared AVs (SAVs) could induce demand by making motorized travel more convenient and affordable than personal driving. This could adversely impact congestion. Additionally, automation has the potential to fundamentally change historic relationships between public transportation and private vehicle use, which could support or detract from public transit ridership (we will discuss the future of public transportation in our next blog). In summary, the impacts of AVs on congestion will likely depend on whether the vehicles are predominantly shared or privately owned as well as public policy, such as pricing and restrictions on zero occupant vehicles.

Land Use and the Built Environment: AVs could result in reduced parking demand, particularly in urban centers that can create opportunities to repurpose urban parking with infill development. Infill development has the potential to increase urban densities and could in turn support higher-occupancy transportation modes. However, vehicle automation and telecommuting growth could also make longer commutes less burdensome, which could encourage suburban and exurban lifestyles.

Labor: Automation has the potential to reduce labor costs. However, automation is not likely to completely eliminate transportation jobs. With an aging population, we may likely need attendants to assist people with disabilities and older adults, security personnel, and a high-tech workforce to maintain an automated fleet.

Social Equity: While AVs have the potential to enhance access and economic opportunities for underserved communities, there are numerous challenges that could impact the equitable deployment of AVs. A few challenges could include: 1) affordability/payability (the services are simply too expensive for low-income households or require banking access); 2) availability (the services are not available equally in all neighborhoods); 3) accessibility (the services are not accessible to people with disabilities); and 4) digital poverty (the services require a smartphone or data plan to access). Additionally, AVs may employ machine learning and artificial intelligence that could create other equity concerns. While machine learning – if designed well — can help minimize human bias in decision making, it is also possible that such systems can also reinforce historic bias and discrimination in the transportation network. Just as humans learn to drive through experience, many perception algorithms use machine learning that is trained by events based on past experience. In a driverless vehicle future, machine learning may also impact where vehicles are pre-positioned, roam, charge, and other defining operational characteristics. Learning biases could create notable equity challenges in the future. There is a risk for discrimination when designing transportation algorithms for machine learning systems, including the potential for exclusionary transportation.

Need for Proactive Policy in a Driverless Vehicle Future

Public policy can have a notable influence on the success or potential challenges of driverless vehicles. Public agencies should consider proactively guiding public policy in four key areas to maximize the potential benefits of AVs:

Pricing: Public agencies should consider employing pricing based on occupancy, time of day, and congestion to encourage higher occupancy SAVs and discourage single- and zero-occupant vehicles.

Incentivizing Urban Growth and Urban Growth Boundaries: Metropolitan Planning Organizations, local governments, and other public agencies may want to consider policies that limit outward growth and encourage urban in-fill development to discourage the potential suburban and exurban growth pressure that AVs could create.

Workforce Development Programs: Local and state governments should develop workforce development programs designed to prepare for and respond to a driverless future. This should include a broad program encompassing job training/re-training and job placement resources to minimize the potential adverse labor impacts of vehicle automation.

A Comprehensive Equity Policy: Public agencies at all levels of government should consider a comprehensive equity policy to ensure SAVs are equally accessible and available to everyone. This should include policies that ensure access for people with disabilities, un- and under-banked households, low-income communities, households without access to smartphones or mobile data, and others. Additionally, this should include policies that prevent discrimination and bias from machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other systems that impact or guide the operations of AVs.

The public and private sectors, along with key stakeholders (e.g., non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and foundations) should partner to develop proactive policies to prevent and overcome these challenges. Proactive policy and research understanding will be critical to balance public goals with commercial interests and to harness and maximize the social and environmental effects of driverless vehicles.

Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen are currently studying the impacts of connected and automated vehicles on state and local transportation agencies as part of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) study 20-102(11).

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

 

Seven Goods Delivery Innovations: Transforming Transportation & Consumer Behavior

By Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen

Mobility on Demand (MOD) is an innovative concept based on the principle that transportation is a commodity where modes have economic values that are distinguishable in terms of cost, journey time, wait time, number of connections, convenience, and other attributes. MOD encapsulates not only how people move, but it also reflects how households consume goods and services, as well as the spatial aspects of consumer decision making. Goods delivery is one key defining characteristic of MOD, where consumers can substitute goods delivery for a passenger trip.

Innovative technologies and business models are helping to reimagine service delivery. Whether it is a startup (e.g., Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash); an Internet-based retailer (e.g., Amazon); or a supply chain and logistics firm, advancements in courier services (technologies and service models) are transforming consumer behavior and disrupting both supply and trip chains (e.g., linking a series of destinations in one single-origin based trip). For example, a travelers’ decision to change their consumption preferences from driving to the store on the way home from work to having goods delivered to them will likely drive fundamental changes in traditional travel behavior.

From “Just-in-Time Inventory” to “Just-in-Time Delivery”

In recent years, on-demand courier services have grown rapidly due to technology advancements, changing consumer patterns, and a growing consumer recognition that goods delivery can serve as substitutes for person trips to access goods and services. Together these trends have transformed the retail sector from “just in time” inventory, where retailers order inventory and stock shelves on an as-needed basis to “just in time delivery,” with goods delivered direct to consumers on-demand. In recent years, subscription e-commerce has grown exponentially led by subscriptions such as: 1) Dollar Shave Club and Ipsy cosmetics; 2) Stitch Fix fashion on-demand; 3) meal kit delivery services including Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Home Chef; and 5) grocery delivery services such as AmazonFresh, Postmates, and Instacart. And it is not just subscription services. This also includes shipping subscription services, such as ShopRunner and Amazon Prime, which offer unlimited priority delivery services for a flat monthly or annual fee. Even companies, such as Wayfair, are offering free shipping on most merchandise, even larger items (e.g., furniture).

Seven innovations in goods delivery that are likely to disrupt transportation in the future include:

1. Subscription Delivery Services: The growth of low-cost, flat-rate delivery subscription services (e.g., Amazon Prime and Shop Runner) are allowing consumers access to on-demand all-you-deliver consumption—a key factor contributing to induced demand.

2. Advanced Algorithms: Algorithms help merchants and delivery providers optimize the supply and delivery chain from order fulfillment to identifying the least expensive or quickest delivery route.

3. Locker Delivery: Locker delivery, already widely deployed by the U.S. Postal Service, allows consumers to order and ship items to a self-service locker at home, work, or an alternative pick-up location. Locker delivery can help consumers, merchants, and delivery providers overcome a variety of challenges, such as weekend and off-peak delivery services and enhanced security (versus leaving a package at a door).

4. Courier Network Services (CNS): Apps or online platforms employed to provide for-hire delivery services for monetary compensation. The apps match couriers—who use a personal vehicle, bicycle, or scooter for deliveries–with customers of the ordered goods (e.g., packages, food).

5. Drones: A delivery drone is a short-range unmanned aerial vehicle (or UAV) that can transport small packages, food, or other goods. Some service providers, such as the United Parcel Service, have experimented with pairing drones and truck-based delivery to improve service delivery.

6. Robotic Delivery: Like drones, delivery robots offer short-range unmanned ground-based delivery of packages, food, or other goods.

7. Automated Vehicles: Automated and connected vehicles offer another mechanism for future delivery options employing both business-to-consumer and peer-to-peer delivery services.

Automation will reshape retail consumption and goods delivery.

Increasingly, last mile delivery is being reimagined through automated processes. In Summer 2018, Kroger began testing driverless grocery deliveries in Arizona using automated vehicles. Numerous companies, such as Dispatch and Starship, are delivering food, beverages, parcels, and other items using small delivery robots. To accept delivery when a person is at work or away, numerous companies are developing innovations to facilitate secure parcel delivery such as:

1. ParcelHome, an electric lockbox that can securely send and receive parcels with any courier service;

2. Pharme enabling the delivery of packages to the trunk of a car; and

3. Amazon Key that enables both vehicle trunk and in-home delivery.

Together the growth of e-commerce, subscription services, and last-mile delivery may contribute to a dramatic increase in goods-related trips across the entire transportation network. However, it is not just the growth of e-commerce, subscription services, and last-mile delivery that has the potential to increase delivery trips. In an automated future, there could be an increasing number of marketplace players including startups, courier network services, and retailers (who may more readily opt to operate their own delivery fleets). This is an important space to monitor, as it has the potential to disrupt both businesses (e.g., retail) and daily travel behavior (e.g., induced demand, congestion).

Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen are co-authors of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Mobility on Demand Operational Concept. For more information, please review the report here.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

 

Carpooling: Benefits to Society, Employers, and Individuals

By Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen

Carpooling is undergoing a period of notable change. In recent years, advancements in technology, social networking, location-based services, wireless services, and cloud technologies are contributing to the growth of shared and on-demand mobility but also a renaissance in IT-enabled carpooling. While Americans are still heavily reliant on single-occupant travel, emerging services such as app-based carpooling are making it easier for travelers to share a ride. Pooling offers numerous societal, employer, and individual benefits. In this blog, we review ten key carpooling benefits.

Anecdotal evidence and research studies suggest that carpooling provides numerous societal benefits, such as:

1. Reduction in energy consumption,
2. Lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and
3. Congestion mitigation

Studies have found that carpooling can save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG)emissions for users and non-users (the latter due to reducing congestion on the rest of traffic). Each year, the average passenger vehicle consumes approximately 550 gallons of fuel (Noland et al. 2006). Carpooling can represent an important strategy to reduce fuel consumption. Another study estimates that if one additional passenger were added to every 10 vehicles, the U.S. could reduce fuel consumption by 7.54 to 7.74 billion gallons annually (Jacobson and King 2009). This study also estimates a savings of 68.0 million tons of GHG emissions annually in the U.S., if one passenger were added to every 10 vehicles. Another study estimates that carpoolers individually reduce personal commute GHG emissions by approximately 4% to 5% after joining an employer trip reduction program (Herzog et al. 2006).

Numerous studies assessing the impacts of employee trip reduction programs (including carpooling and a variety of other transportation demand management (TDM) programs) have found that employees participating in these programs report between 4% and 6% lower vehicle miles traveled than employees at the same worksite who did not participate (Herzog et al., 2006; Lagerberg et al. 1997; Boarnet et al. 2010). Other studies have estimated that carpooling can reduce regional vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by an estimated 1% to 2%, based on carpooling’s congestion mitigation impacts on the rest of traffic. However, it is important to note that carpooling could also lead to induced demand where people are encouraged to drive more due to reduced travel times and costs (Shewmake, 2018).

 

In additional to notable societal benefits, employers can also benefit from carpooling through:

4. Increased employee morale,

5. Reduced parking demand, and

6. Employer financial tax incentives for supporting carpooling

 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that employees who carpool may enjoy reduced commute stress and increased convenience associated with shared driving responsibilities, high occupancy vehicle (HOV)lane time savings, and preferential parking at worksites. These benefits can translate to increased employee morale. Additionally, by reducing the number of vehicle trips to a worksite, employers can reduce parking demand saving an estimated USD$15,000 to $45,000 per parking space in capital expenditures and USD$360 to $2,000 in operations and maintenance per a space. Finally, employers can take advantage of numerous state level commuter tax benefits and tax credits for carpooling. For example, in Washington State, employers and property managers who provide financial incentives to their employees for carpooling (along with other TDM measures) are allowed a credit up to USD$60 per employee (up to USD$100,000 annually). Maryland and Georgia have similar tax credit programs.

Individually, carpooling users benefit from:

7. Shared travel costs,
8. Travel time savings from high occupancy vehicle lanes,
9. Reduced commute stress, and
10. Preferential parking and other incentives.

While there are few published studies on the impacts of carpooling on individual travelers, empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests individual carpool users benefit from shared travel costs, travel-time savings from HOV lanes, reduced commute stress, and preferential parking and other incentives (Shaheen and Cohen, 2018). One study of casual carpooling in the San Francisco Bay Area found that convenience, time savings, and monetary savings were key motivators to carpool (Shaheen et al. 2016). In the Bay Area, commuters frequently use casual carpooling to get from the East Bay to downtown San Francisco during the morning commute. Using the HOV lanes of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, carpoolers can take advantage of a toll discount and shorter waits at the toll plaza. According to a 1998 survey by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, approximately 9,000 Bay Area commuters (6,000 riders and 3,000 drivers) used casual carpooling each morning. Another study of casual carpooling in Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia found that the top reason for choosing to be a carpool rider was the desire to save on the cost of gasoline, followed by a preference to do other things during the drive (Oliphant, 2008).

In the future, vehicle automation could result in higher average vehicle occupancies (due to shared fleet growth) or lower vehicle occupancies (from zero-occupant vehicles growth). The convergence of shared modes; mobile technologies, electrification, and automation will likely transform carpooling and other pooled services. While the impacts of automation are uncertain, what is clear is that policymakers support a culture of pooling through public policy today. This is necessary to prepare for an automated vehicle future tomorrow and to proactively mitigate the potential for VMT increases due to unoccupied vehicle trips in the future.

Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen recently co-authored “The Benefits of Carpooling” and “Shared ride services in North America: definitions, impacts, and the future of pooling.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

 

Mobility on Demand Strategies: Re-Imagining Suburban Mobility

Mobility on Demand Strategies: Re-Imagining Suburban Mobility

By Susan Shaheen

 

For as long as there have been cities, there have been suburbs. Cicero used the term “suburbani” to describe the large estates of wealthy Romans on the city’s periphery. In North America, early streetcar suburbs were built across the continent beside horsecars and later alongside cable and electric streetcar lines. In the post-war years, North American suburbs were re-imagined around automobility with the growing popularity of private vehicles, interstate highways, and the conversion of streetcars into bus lines.

 

Today, shared mobility innovations are on the cusp of re-imaging suburban mobility again. Mobility on Demand (MOD) is an innovative transportation concept where consumers can access mobility, goods, and services on-demand by dispatching or using shared mobility, courier services, and public transportation solutions. Common MOD passenger services include:

Carsharing: Members access vehicles on a short-term basis (e.g., hourly) by joining an organization that maintains a fleet of cars and light trucks;

Bikesharing: Users access bicycles on an as-needed basis for one-way (point-to-point) or roundtrip travel;

Ridesharing (e.g., carpooling and vanpooling): Formal or informal shared rides between drivers and passengers with similar origin-destination pairings, which does not involve the driver earning a wage;

Ridesourcing/Transportation Network Companies (TNCs): Prearranged and on-demand transportation services for compensation that connect for-hire drivers of personal vehicles with passengers requiring rides;

Scooter Sharing: Users access scooters through a third-party organization that maintains a fleet of scooters at various locations; and

Microtransit: Public and private sector transit services that offer fixed-route or flexible-route options as well as fixed schedules or on-demand rides typically employing a van or small bus.

 

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Between the years 1800 and 2000, the percentage of Americans living in urban areas increased from less than five percent to nearly 80 percent. In spite of this shift from rural to urban areas, most of the post-World War II growth has occurred in suburbs outside of central cities. In the 2000s, suburban growth exceeded urban growth in 81 of the largest 100 U.S. metropolitan areas. Today, approximately 75% of U.S. households live in single-family or mobile homes.

 

In many areas, suburbs continue to grow faster than urban cores with many urbanizing into “edge cities” with employment centers and densities resembling urban centers but with a less walkable built environment.

 

Suburban built environments and densities are typically not well suited for high-quality fixed-route public transit services. These challenges can create social isolation for carless and car-lite households in suburban settings.

 

In many cases, MOD deployments have emphasized walkable, high-density, mixed-use urban locations. However, in recent years MOD is expanding into suburban locations. A closer look at Arlington and Fairfax Counties, Virginia offers a five examples of how MOD can be deployed in less urban contexts.

Carsharing in Lower Density Environments: Arlington County previously offered a risk sharing partnership with Zipcar based on a “subtraction model” to expand carsharing vehicles to lower density, less profitable locations. As part of this partnership, Zipcar determined a break-even cost of service provision, deducted the revenue generated from the total cost, and billed the shortfall to Arlington County.

Carsharing Parking at WMATA Stations: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) issues a request for proposal (RFP) to encourage a carsharing operator to locate vehicles at its outlying metro rail stations with parking facilities. Enterprise CarShare won the most recent competitive bid and currently has vehicles located at 45 of the system’s 91 Metrorail stations.

Closed Campus Bikesharing: Closed-campus deployments of shared mobility, such as bikesharing, carsharing, and microtransit, can be employed at universities, business parks, and other campus settings. ViaCycle briefly operated the Patriot Bikeshare program, a 20-bicycle campus bikesharing system at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA between 2012 to 2013. The program was available to faculty, staff, students, and guests for cycling on- and off-campus.

Public Bikesharing at Employment Centers: Since launching Capital Bikeshare in 2010, the system has expanded to include edge city deployments across Northern Virginia such as: Alexandria, Rosslyn/Ballston Corridor, Crystal City/Pentagon City, Tysons Corner, and Reston. Tyson’s Corner offers a prime example for how bikesharing can be applied in an edge city/office park setting. The area’s predominantly vehicle-oriented built environment results in areas that are often not easily walkable in spite of multiple metrorail stations. Capital Bikeshare, a station-based system, located ten kiosk stations throughout the vicinity that can serve multiple suburban use cases such as: first-and-last mile connection to rail transit and mid-day errands and lunch trips within an office park. Even if employees drive to work, bikesharing can help minimize mid-day trips and vehicle miles traveled, while providing an active transportation alternative throughout the workday.

Public Bikesharing at Residential Locations: Capital Bikeshare has also located bikesharing kiosks in more suburban settings, such as an 11-dock kiosk at Crescent Apartments, which includes 181-garden style affordable apartments on 16.5 acres, located in Reston, Virginia. The property is managed by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA).

 

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Other potential applications that could be potentially well suited to suburban areas and edge cities include: scooter sharing and microtransit. Light-electric scooters may be well suited for low-density residential and office park environments, particularly in places with dedicated trails and other active transportation rights-of-way. Similarly, microtransit could provide a mobility option for suburban densities that are not well matched to frequent, fixed-route public transit services using standard buses. With smaller vehicles, microtransit may be able to offer lower cost, more frequent, demand-responsive services that could make public transit and higher occupancies more attractive in a suburban setting.

 

MOD could help overcome a number of equity challenges commonly associated with the suburbs by providing transportation alternatives to the private vehicle, as well as enhancing job access and social inclusion. MOD in suburban settings can also provide more choices for individuals who have more limited options, primarily private vehicle ownership and public transit. Not surprisingly, public transportation has significant first-and-last mile challenges in most suburban setting. MOD may be able to bridge suburban service gaps where public transit service is unavailable, geographically limited, or infrequent.

 

In the future, the convergence of automation, electrification, and sharing has the potential to reshape suburban mobility. Many forecast shared automated mobility will expand from cities to the suburbs. Shared automated vehicles and automated transit services have the opportunity to reduce operating costs and make higher occupancy modes more competitive in suburban environments. Ultimately, automation could lead to the replacement of many privately owned vehicles in suburban areas with shared vehicle services.

 

 

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.