We hear a lot about how Uber and Lyft are impacting traditional taxis, but what of their potential impact on public transit?
Tech-enabled ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft already appear to be acting as a complement to public transit. Uber analyzed its Los Angeles trip data to in this light. Over the course of a month, Uber found that 22 percent of trips taken near Metro stations took place during rush hour (between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday). This data could be telling us that people are using Uber like they might use bikeshare, as a last-mile and first-mile connection to transit.
Transit doesn’t serve certain areas well, or even at all. In such places, ride-hailing can make a public transit trip more attractive than driving by offering an easy connection between home and the transit system. Once the initial barrier is reduced, riders may find transit to be the best option.
On the other hand, ride-hailing could actually be stealing riders from transit. If the same trip can be completed in less time with an Uber or Lyft than using the Metro, some riders will choose the speedier option. However, at the moment, it is unlikely that hordes of people will abandon transit for ride-hailing simply because transit is still less expensive.
But, with the advent of Lyft Line and UberPool, that cost difference may become less of an issue. These services start to resemble traditional buses in that they are picking up and dropping off strangers along a route. While not exactly synonymous, one could see the development of higher capacity vehicles lowering cost and converging more and more with transit buses. The popularity of these services is clear. In the first two months of its service in San Francisco, one third of all Lyfts are Lyft Lines.
Do we have to worry about the imminent demise of public transit? By no means. But it would do transit agencies well to take a hint from some of the more enterprising traditional taxi operators: look at the incursion of new transportation options as a challenge to improve service. Reduce wait times, upgrade vehicles, and make travel more convenient by using technology like GPS tracking to display next bus and train arrivals.
Transit agencies should indeed be very excited about these new complementary transportation options to their own services. If ride-hailing companies can cut total vehicle trips in congested areas, they can work side-by-side with local officials and planners to improve the quality of life in places where Uber, Lyft, and public transit coexist.
(This story by Chris Plano was originally published by Mobility Lab.)
...as a transportation planner who has worked on bus rapid transit-style systems in the greater Washington region, I’ve noticed a disconnect in the public’s expectations versus the reality of the systems they’re getting. It got me wondering: do people have an accurate picture of what BRT means or the benefits the systems provide? During public-planning sessions, I’ve heard a lot of feedback on BRT. The gist is, “That’s really nice that the bus is a different color and the station platform is fancy, but I just want it to be on time.”
After acts of terrorism — domestic or international — law enforcement agencies are almost always asked: “How are you ‘ramping up’ your security efforts?”
Billions of taxpayer dollars are spent buying buses and railcars every year. Although the national unemployment rate has declined since the Great Recession, for low-income families and communities of color, the unemployment rate remains in the double-digits and good, family-supporting jobs can’t come fast enough. We need strategies that revive U.S. manufacturing and other industries that can create the kind of jobs we want.
The recently adjourned 2016 Democratic National Convention put Philadelphia in the national — and international — spotlight once again. For the third time in four years, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority transported thousands of visitors to the City of Brotherly Love and its surrounding counties. As with the U.S. Open in 2013 and the World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit in 2015, public transit was a key component for all event activities.
Everywhere, evidence reveals how we’re moving into a less-consumptive, sharing-based society. Whether it’s people’s homes, torrent files or a car ride downtown, sharing is in. As environmentally conscious and economically prudent reducers and re-users, millennials are choosing non-traditional forms of transportation. This behavior has already had a huge impact on the way the transit industry is planning for its future.