Substitution of Ride-hailing services for more sustainable travel options in the Greater Boston Region

Substitution of Ride-hailing services for more sustainable travel options in the Greater Boston Region

The impacts of ride-hailing services on the transportation system have been immediate and major. Yet, public agencies are only beginning to understand their magnitude because the private ride-hailing industry has provided limited amounts of meaningful data. Consequently, public agencies responsible for managing congestion and providing transit services are unable to clearly determine who uses ride-hailing services and how their adoption influences established travel modes, or forecast the potential growth of this emergent mode in the future. To address these pressing questions, an intercept survey of ride-hailing passengers was conducted in the Greater Boston region in fall 2017. The responses, which enabled a robust description of ride-hailing passengers for the region, were used to analyze how new on-demand mobility services such as Uber and Lyft may be substituting travel by other modes.

Key findings

   Ride-hailing passengers with a greater household income were less likely to replace transit use than individuals with less financial means.

   Residents of compact neighborhoods with public transit access were more likely to generate new car trips, as their trips would otherwise have been taken by public transit or active transportation.

   State legislature and agencies must press for more disaggregate data reporting from the private ridehailing industry, whose business model and competitive marketplace largely discourage the sharing of detailed data with public agencies.

   A shifting of trips away from public transit toward ride-hailing services will result in a decline in transit ridership and subsequently a drop in revenue, potentially initiating a negative spiral of higher per-trip subsidies, service cuts, and a greater shift of commuters to ride-hailing services.

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