How is Mobility Changing?
The Future Brings Both Opportunity and Uncertainty
Now more than ever the future of transportation and mobility is uncertain. Technological changes and a wide range of other factors will affect how we travel, how we work, and how goods and services are delivered.
Transportation Network Companies
User Information and Usage
TNC ridership is largely concentrated in dense, metropolitan areas, and riders tend to be relatively young, mostly affluent, and well-educated. User data shows that riders age 25 to 34 use TNCs 2-3 times more frequently than less affluent, less educated, and older individuals.1
Position in Urban Mobility
TNCs have added 5.7 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) annually to the Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC metropolitan areas. Simultaneously, car ownership across the US increased faster than the rate of population growth. TNCs compete primarily with public transportation, walking, and biking, and attract individuals who were once users of these non-auto modes, increasing their VMT from what it once was.
Shared ride services such as UberPool, Uber Express Pool, and Lyft Shared Rides are promoted as a vehicle of traffic reduction; however, these shared ridership programs currently do not reverse the increased rides generated by UberX or Lyft. The inclusion of shared services results in a marginally lower VMT per trip: 2.6 new TNC miles for each mile in personal autos taken off the road, for every 2.8 new miles incurred by private ride TNC services. Shared rides ultimately add to traffic if most users switch from non-auto transportation modes.1
Connections to Public Transit
TNCs can provide new options to expand access to public for transit by facilitating first-mile and last-mile connections form residential areas to transit stops or stations. Many cities have experimented with these types of public-private partnerships, including in the Bay Area. Programs like Go Dublin and Go Monrovia are examples of how public transit agencies have partnered with TNCs to provide shared first- and last-mile connections to transit from lower density suburban areas that are difficult to serve efficiently with buses.
Connecting Riders with Existing Drivers
Other programs, such as Scoop and Waze Carpool, connect individuals to existing drivers by aligning daily commutes or other frequent travel. For example, Scoop partnered with BART to manage parking demand during peak periods at several stations throughout the Bay Area. BART riders who arrived at the station with a passenger through Scoop were provided guaranteed parking during peak periods.
The increased usage of TNCs and online retail as well as the proliferation of delivery services has made curbside space a critical resource and policy issue. Cities across North America have implemented new policy frameworks and tools to understand existing usage and rationally plan for future trends and demand. This can include inventorying existing supply and demand of curbside space and implementing tools to maximize efficiency of existing curbside space through measures such as time restrictions for specific uses. In terms of supporting mobility options, curbside management can support shared ride services through the provision of passenger loading for TNCs, carpools, shuttles, and other services.
Shared mobility services provide vehicles that are available for short-term rental by multiple users. These include shared bicycles, electric bicycles, electric scooters, and cars. Dockless bicycles and scooters that can be left at any location within a specified service area have arrived in a number of Bay Area cities, including Walnut Creek. While it has been important to ensure that these new options are used safely and do not adversely impact others, they have provided an important new mobility option for shorter trips within a city, or to or from transit stops or stations.
As opposed to more traditional car rental companies, car sharing services typically distribute their cars throughout an urban area to make connections with other modes of transportation efficient. For example, carsharing companies place vehicles in the parking lots of many BART stations or in parking structures within central business districts. In the East Bay, GIG Car Share has become a particularly notable example due to users’ ability to leave vehicles anywhere in the service area once the trip is completed as opposed to returning it to the original parking spot. This provides a convenient and affordable alternative to car ownership or all-day parking in some sections of the East Bay.