ACCESS 51 Blog Spring 2017 Transportation Policy & Planning Travel Behavior

Ridesourcing’s Impact and Role in Urban Transportation – ACCESS Magazine

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App-based, on-demand experience providers—also called Transportation Community Corporations (TNCs)—have grown quickly in current years and prompted debate in the passenger transportation business. Advances in info and communication know-how have enabled these providers to offer all kinds of real-time and demand-responsive trips. Corporations reminiscent of Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar (now defunct) have developed smartphone apps whereby passengers can “source” a experience from a personal passenger car driven by a non-commercially licensed driver (often). These apps talk the passenger’s location to the driving force by way of GPS and charge a distance-based fare. The driving force is paid roughly 80 % of the fare; the corporate keeps the remaining. Many of these apps keep a score system that permits drivers and passengers to price each other after the trip is completed. A passenger’s credit card info may be saved inside the system to facilitate future trips.

Many phrases have been used to characterize these app-based, on-demand journey providers, however there has been little consensus on terminology. The California Public Utilities Fee (CPUC) was among the first to call these providers Transportation Network Corporations. CPUC has regulatory authority over TNCs to protect public security in the State. Different names embrace ride-booking or ride-hailing and even ridesharing. Though ridesharing is used colloquially, the term has sparked controversy and confusion. The emerging app-based providers have elementary differences from conventional ridesharing (the grouping of vacationers into widespread journeys by automotive or van, whereby the driving force has a standard origin and/or vacation spot with the passengers). To dispel this misunderstanding, we use the term ridesourcing to convey the essential know-how—a platform used to “source” rides from a driver pool. Thus, we refer to those providers as ridesourcing.

The Debate Over Ridesourcing

Ridesourcing has its roots in ridesharing and reveals traits of conventional taxis. In some methods, ridesourcing might turn into extra just like ridesharing by allowing unrelated passengers to share a experience. Nevertheless, in comparability to ridesharing, ridesourcing drivers sometimes do not share a vacation spot with passengers. As an alternative, the driving force’s motivation is revenue. To some, ridesourcing extra intently resembles a taxi in that a driver provides a experience in trade for a fare. Further blurring definitions, taxi corporations are increasingly adopting app-based dispatch providers generally known as e-Hail, and ridesourcing corporations are launching providers that more intently resemble ridesharing or microtransit (privately owned and operated shared transportation providers with fastened, on-demand schedules, or each). Thus, full characterization of ridesourcing is troublesome as a result of the providers are shortly evolving.

Supporters view ridesourcing as an alternative choice to driving alone and as a part of a set of shared mobility choices that serve previously unmet demand for quick, flexible, and handy mobility in city areas. Ridesourcing providers have instantly challenged present laws and practices that have through the years shaped the taxi business, elevating questions about applicable regulatory and public coverage responses. Furthermore, critics argue that ridesourcing providers compete with public transit, improve congestion throughout peak durations, mislead shoppers via opaque pricing practices, and endanger public safety. As city leaders revise insurance policies on ridesourcing providers, there’s an urgent want for unbiased evaluation of their mobility and environmental impacts.

We studied ridesourcing’s position in city transportation via an intercept survey of customers in San Francisco. The findings present an initial image of the ridesourcing market.

Coverage Developments

Improvements in shared mobility have begun to outpace coverage, notably since ridesourcing providers launched in San Francisco, California in Summer time 2012. With murky definitions and restricted understanding of public safety and transportation-related impacts, policymakers have been compelled to think about whether these new providers, which referred to as themselves “ridesharing,” fell beneath the classical definitions of ridesharing or for-hire car providers.

The California Public Utilities Commission established a new class of motorcar carriers, referred to as Transportation Network Corporations, in September 2013. A TNC was outlined as an operator that “provides prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform (such as smartphone applications) to connect drivers using their personal vehicles with passengers.” Beneath the new guidelines, TNCs in California have been required to obtain a license from the CPUC, conduct felony background checks on all drivers, present a driver coaching program, keep a “zero tolerance” coverage on medicine and alcohol, and secure sufficient insurance coverage for drivers when the app is on. In 2014, California passed Meeting Bill (AB) 2293, which supplants the CPUC determination and incorporates lots of CPUC’s rulemaking statewide.

The emergence of ridesourcing corporations draws attention to gaps in the transportation ecosystem not quite met by the taxi and ridesharing market. Ridesourcing shares many traits with taxis, nevertheless it also has the potential to comprehend some ridesharing advantages. Because the initial CPUC choice, virtually every US state has enacted legislation either to allow or limit ridesourcing, yet ridesourcing continues to pose a challenge for regulators.

The emergence of ridesourcing corporations draws consideration to gaps in the transportation ecosystem not quite met by the taxi and ridesharing market. Ridesourcing shares many traits with taxis, nevertheless it additionally has the potential to understand some ridesharing benefits.

Key Findings from Survey of San Francisco Ridesourcing Users

In partnership with several researchers at the College of California, Berkeley, we carried out an exploratory research of ridesourcing customers in San Francisco to start answering coverage questions. In Might and June 2014, 380 full surveys have been collected from three ridesourcing “hot spots” in the town, together with the Mission District, Marina District, and North Seashore. To obtain an sufficient response price, intercept surveys have been carried out between 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm from Wednesday to Saturday for about two months. Surveyors focused two forms of potential respondents: those who had simply completed a ridesourcing journey (“intercept trips”) and those who had used ridesourcing inside the final two weeks (“previous trips”). Both varieties responded to equivalent surveys. The survey asked 18 questions relating to journey origin and destination, trip objective, earlier and various modal selection, automotive ownership, and primary demographics. After survey completion, respondents acquired a $5 present card to an area espresso vendor. The research compared ridesourcing survey knowledge with three different datasets: (1) the American Group Survey (ACS) 2012 one-year estimates, (2) a survey of taxi users carried out for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) in early 2013, and (three) trip logs from a medium-sized taxi firm in San Francisco from October 2013.

Market Share and Demographics

UberX offered over half of surveyed trips (53 %), whereas Lyft offered 30 % of journeys, Sidecar offered 7 %, and the remainder have been different providers. Respondents have been 60 % male and 40 % feminine. Ridesourcing respondents have been usually youthful than frequent taxi customers from the 2013 SFMTA survey. Respondents have been additionally extra extremely educated relative to the citywide average; 84 % had a bachelor’s degree or larger.

Wait Occasions

While ridesourcing providers and taxis serve an identical market demographic and demand, ridesourcing customers experience shorter wait occasions than typical taxi dispatch and hail occasions. Two thirds of ridesourcing respondents waited 5 minutes or much less, and almost 90 % waited ten minutes or less, regardless of the time of day. Within the corresponding San Francisco taxi survey, only 35 % of respondents said they waited less than ten minutes on a weekday, and only 16 % reported waiting less than ten minutes on weeknights and weekends.

Modal Shift and Induced Journey

It is troublesome to find out whether or not ridesourcing providers induce journey. Table 1 displays outcomes to the query: “How would you have made this trip if Uber/Lyft/Sidecar were not available?” Ninety-two % said they still would have made the journey, which suggests an induced journey impact of eight %. About one third would have made the trip by public transit (bus or rail). Four % of all respondents named a selected public transit station as their origin or vacation spot, which means that some individuals use ridesourcing to access public transportation.

When it comes to modal shift and safety, it is very important observe that a small number of respondents (three %) stated they used ridesourcing providers to keep away from driving after consuming alcohol, once they in any other case would have driven themselves.

Car Ownership and Driving Frequency

Ridesourcing serves many residents who do not own a automotive, as those surveyed reported proudly owning fewer automobiles than taxi customers. Forty-three % said they didn’t own a car at house, whereas 35 % of taxi users reported being carless. Provided that ridesourcing continues to be a brand new choice to the urban transportation system, it isn’t shocking that 90 % of auto house owners reported they haven’t changed their possession levels because of ridesourcing. But ridesourcing might permit customers to drive less steadily—40 % said they drive much less since beginning to use ridesourcing. Thus, ridesourcing has the potential to influence car miles traveled and car ownership.

Research Limitations

This research shouldn’t be utterly representative of ridesourcing trips and users, because it targeted on three “hot spots” in San Francisco throughout night timeframes. Nearly all of trips reported have been for social/leisure purposes and under-represent other trip varieties (e.g., commutes, airport journeys, errands). Given these limitations, this analysis is exploratory in nature. However, it may well help to information future analysis.

Key Takeaways

This research presents ridesourcing in the context of basic ridesharing and taxi providers in city transportation and delineates the variations between every. At present, the policy dialogue continues to evolve across the US at local and state ranges, addressing problems with insurance coverage coverage, driver and car safety checks, and taxi competition. There were several key findings from our Spring 2014 survey of ridesourcing users in San Francisco: users are typically youthful, personal fewer automobiles, and extra often journey with companions than taxi customers. Forty % said that they drive much less because of ridesourcing. Notably, only 10 % of ridesourcing respondents waited greater than 10 minutes for a ridesourcing car, whereas 65 % of taxi uses waited greater than 10 minutes on weekdays, and 84 % waited greater than 10 minutes on weekends. While ridesourcing competes with taxis (40 %), it also competes with different modes (60 %), together with public transit, walking, personal auto, biking, and carpooling. It may well also complement modes, akin to public transit, as a first- and last-mile service and fill gaps in public transit networks. Moreover, eight % of the trips reported have been new trips that may not have been taken beforehand without ridesourcing.

As a comparatively new transportation choice with little publicly out there knowledge, ridesourcing just isn’t yet nicely understood by policymakers, regulatory businesses, or teachers. Future analysis should investigate ridesourcing with more representative knowledge, corresponding to ridesourcing trip and consumer knowledge obtained instantly from or with the assistance of ridesourcing corporations. Future research might try and measure the induced travel effect or the longer-term impacts on other modes and car ownership (including impacts on power use and emissions), as well as equity. A research of ridesourcing driver motivations, behaviors, and travel patterns can be useful for increasing information of the business. Finally, researchers might start to discover the impacts of enacted policies on insurance and safety to information future insurance policies as ridesourcing continues to evolve.

This text is tailored from “Just a Better Taxi? A Survey-Based Comparison of Taxis, Transit, and Ridesourcing Services in San Francisco,” originally revealed in Transport Policy.


The University of California Transportation Middle and the Transportation Sustainability Research Middle (TSRC) on the College of California, Berkeley generously funded this work. Thanks also go to our survey respondents and to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Company for providing us with taxi knowledge. We are grateful for the various contributions made by our co-authors Professor Robert Cervero and Danielle Dai, in addition to numerous college students together with Dylan Baker, Apaar Bansal, Shuchen Gong, Lindsay Lewis, Brandon Harrell, An-Yu Liu, Rebecca Lopez, Kevin Otis, Samuel Penny, Diwen Shen, Christine Vandevoorde, and Isabel Viegas. Ian Johnson helped with the taxi knowledge analysis. The authors are liable for the accuracy of the info introduced herein.

Further Studying

Chan, N. and Shaheen, S. (2012). Ridesharing in North America: Previous, Current, and Future. Transport Critiques, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 93-112.

Henderson, J. (2013). Road Battle: The Politics of Mobility in San Francisco. College of Massachusetts Press, Amherst.

Dewey, O. F and L. Rayle. (2016). How Ridesourcing Went from ‘Rogue’ to Mainstream in San Francisco, Harvard University Graduate Faculty of Design, 41 pages. Obtainable at

Rayle, L., Dai, D., Chan, N., Cervero, R., and Shaheen, S. (2016). Only a Better Taxi? A Survey-Based mostly Comparison of Taxis, Transit, and Ridesourcing Providers in San Francisco. Transport Coverage, Vol. 45, pp. 168-178.

Shaheen, S., Cohen, A., and Zohdy, I. (2016). Shared Mobility: Current Practices and Guiding Rules. Report No. FHWA-HOP-16-022, Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation, April 2016.

Susan Shaheen

Susan Shaheen is Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Analysis Middle (TSRC) and Adjunct Professor in the Division of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the College of California, Berkeley ([email protected]).

Nelson Chan

Nelson Chan is a Survey Researcher on the College of California, Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Analysis Middle ([email protected]).

Lisa Rayle

Lisa Rayle is a Doctoral Candidate in Metropolis and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley ([email protected]).