Transit in the Era of Shared Mobility
Kari Watkins, Georgia Institute of Technology
Noreen McDonald, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ruth Steiner, University of Florida
Billy Williams, North Carolina State University
There are several conflicting trends in the rapidly changing transportation market, which are impacting transit ridership is varying ways. Transportation Network Companies have the potential to reduce or replace the need for auto ownership and may serve some populations better than transitional transit services, but limited survey research indicates that they may be adding more trips than they reduce. With recent surges in technology that negate the need for trips, low gas prices and a strong economy, and shifting populations, fixed route transit ridership is on the decline. However, research on all of these factors is limited and largely inconclusive. While it is useful to track ridership trends at the national level on a city-by-city basis, such analysis only yields limited insight.
Ongoing research by the study team compares trends within similar groups of agencies and metropolitan areas. Use of these clusters in ridership analysis suggests that changes in ridership are not uniform across modes and clusters. By conducting disaggregate level research in three cities (Portland, Minneapolis, and Miami), the study team found that the most productive routes are those losing the most ridership. Models also indicated that economic displacement of transit-dependent patrons may be causing ridership to decline in three systems studied. Future research by the research team will extend this work by considering housing prices and ride-hailing usage.
At the same time, through this research, the study team encountered various avenues through which innovation in shared mobility is driving the evolution of healthcare transportation. Across the country, care providers are partnering with ridehailing services such as Uber and Lyft to establish new ways for patients to travel to and from medical appointments. While new partnerships and companies continue to emerge in healthcare mobility services, it is important for both healthcare providers and transportation providers to evaluate programs to ensure that they are accessible to the most vulnerable patient populations.
- Cluster analysis of transit agencies – Produced a cluster analysis showing which transit agencies are grouped as peers based on factors that influence transit ridership. Agencies can use their cluster to choose peer agencies for future benchmarking studies.
- Taxonomy of shared mobility options for healthcare – Produced a taxonomy of shared mobility options for accessing healthcare.
Who can benefit from the finding(s) of this project?
- Transit agencies, transit providers, and health care providers and clinicians
Product 1: Identification of the peer agencies from the cluster analysis has enabled the analysis of transit ridership change by both the researchers and internally within agencies. This understanding of ridership is helping agencies improve the sustainability of transportation by identifying areas that are the greatest threat to their business practices. As agencies work to improve performance, they can use the peer agency metrics to identify areas from improvement.
Product 2: Taxonomy of shared mobility options for healthcare – Technological advances are reshaping paratransit and dial-a-ride services quickly, and it has been difficult for practitioners and transportation providers to understand these swift changes. Our review and subsequent typology provides a structured language and categorization through which these new offerings can be understood. This typology is useful especially for transit providers who may be interested in leveraging new technology via partnerships in their own service. It is also useful for health care providers and clinicians who want to learn about potential new solutions that can be put in place for their patients with transportation barriers.