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.