MTI researchers examined three types of access services to transit in the San Francisco Bay Area: a fleet of AVs for single passenger service, shared microtransit service, and meeting point multi-passenger service. - Janna Starcic

MTI researchers examined three types of access services to transit in the San Francisco Bay Area: a fleet of AVs for single passenger service, shared microtransit service, and meeting point multi-passenger service.

Janna Starcic

New Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) research assesses the ability of automated vehicle (AV) fleets as a cost-effective solution to the first-mile, last-mile issue.

Transit agencies, which have already demonstrated a willingness to embrace new mobility services such as ridehailing, ridesharing, and door-to-door shared microtransit, are vying for means to offer fast and reliable connections to and from transit stations.

In the report, Cost Benefit Analysis of Transit Access Modes: A Case Study in the San Francisco Bay Area, the MTI researchers examined three types of access services to transit stations and stops in the San Francisco Bay Area: a fleet of AVs to provide home-based drop-off and pick-up for single passenger service (e.g., Uber and Lyft); door-to-door shared microtransit (e.g., vans, buses); and meeting point multi-passenger service (e.g., Via). They also assessed a range of fares (from as little as two dollars to ten dollars).

Case study findings include:

  • Transit access services may increase ridership and reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), especially when fares for these services are relatively low (less than approximately $6 per trip) to generate ridership.
  • Pooled access service trips have lower VMT and travel time, including wait times, relative to single passenger services. And, pool services with a group pick-up point provide even greater reductions in VMT and travel times.
  • Pooled service models may be more likely to create profits.
  • The estimated lower operation costs for AVs may enable lower fares.

“A growing interest in the future of automated vehicles and their potential to better address the first-mile problem means enabling easier access to transit,” explains Principal Investigator Dr. Caroline Rodier.

Results of this study reveal that transit access services may effectively increase ridership, accessibility, and profit. Pooled models offer the most significant profit margins, as do services utilizing automated vehicles. The study concludes that transit planners can focus on prioritizing these services to obtain superior results for agencies and to enable efficient, accessible travel for riders.

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