On-demand transportation programs offer an effective way for cities to maximize the value and ridership of existing transit systems, according to a new report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
“Our study showed that on-demand transit services work,” researchers concluded in the study. “In the right regulatory context, with lower per-passenger subsidies than those provided to comparable public services, these initiatives can benefit passengers and cities alike. Their convenience and flexibility improve the user experience over fixed-route mass transit while bringing good jobs within reach of neighborhoods poorly served by the status quo. They also generate less congestion and pollution than solo passenger travel.”
For the report, “On-Demand Transit Can Unlock Urban Mobility,” the BCG researchers analyzed four services — Arlington On-Demand in Arlington, Texas; Via to Transit in Seattle; West Sacramento On-Demand in West Sacramento, Calif.; and BerlKönig in Berlin, Germany — all of which are Via partnerships, though Via did not sponsor the report.
During the year-long study, analysts evaluated a wide variety of factors to determine their final recommendation. They examined metrics like the quality and efficiency of the service, whether the transit network competed with or complemented existing public transportation, and if it decreased traffic congestion and pollution.
Findings of the study, include:
- On-demand services complement existing transit services: Researchers found that on-demand transit services can improve mass-transit usage when operators and local authorities work together. The report cited first and last mile services in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Arlington, Texas, where 27% of the trips have been to or from the regional commuter rail station.
- On-demand services can help reduce pollution: Researchers found that on-demand transportation can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, citing that West Sacramento and Arlington save an estimated 60 and 150 tons of CO2 emissions, respectively, by aggregating passengers into shared vehicles and eliminating solo trips, despite using gas-powered vans for the service.
- On-demand services can help decrease congestion: Researchers found that on-demand services can help reduce vehicle miles travelled. In Arlington, for instance, the city’s service helped eliminate nearly 400,000 miles of travel that would have occurred if passengers drove alone because on-demand services pool passengers.
- On-demand services increase economic mobility: By improving and extending the reach of public transit and providing people a convenient and affordable way to travel, on-demand transit also helps connect people to jobs, healthcare, education, and civic activities.
To view the full report, click here.