Part 7:

How is Mobility Changing?

As a community in the Bay Area, Walnut Creek is at the forefront of many emerging services and technologies related to transportation and mobility. This includes services such as Uber and Lyft as well as the proliferation of shared mobility companies throughout the region. In the context of Rethinking Mobility, emerging forms of mobility provide new mechanisms to support travel by modes other than single occupancy vehicles.

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.

One of the fundamental ways mobility is changing is the way we access different types of vehicles and modes of transportation. We are moving away from a model of individual vehicle ownership to a model of Mobility-as-a-Service.

 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.

 Curbside Management

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

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.

 Challenges, Needs, and Opportunities

Planning for the future

Has the opportunity to act proactively for future trends and their effect on transportation and land use

Maximizing valuable public resources

New mobility’s increased pressure on public goods such as curbside space positions the city to leverage existing assets for investment, data, and other opportunities.