Authors: Susan A. Shaheen, Ph.D. and Caroline J. Rodier, Ph.D.
Date: September 2008
Abstract: Access from public transit stations to employment and home locations can be a significant barrier to public transportation use in many urban regions, which is also commonly known as the “first and last mile” problem. The EasyConnect field test operated from August 2005 to December 2006 to introduce shared-use electric bicycles, non-motorized bicycles, and Segway® Human Transporters (HTs) to employment centers in and around the Pleasant Hill BART District stations. EasyConnect linked 36 employees of 14 companies at the Contra Costa Centre and Fresenius Medical. Contra Costa Centre took over the management of the EasyConnect program, which is now called “Green Fleet” and is operating an expanded and upgraded fleet of Segway HTs, electric bicycles, and bikes.
Although the EasyConnect program was initially designed to bridge the barriers to access from public transit stations to employment locations, the results of the field test indicated higher participation demand by Day Users (e.g., lunch, business meetings, errands) rather than by commuters. This may have been a function of the institutional support available for the program in the area. The Contra Costa Centre, which is walking distance from the Pleasant Hill BART station, was able to provide significantly more support to the program relative to employers and business centers further away from the station. The availability of the low-speed modes for Day Use at the Contra Costa Centre, however, may have allowed for a higher level of public transit use and carpool commuting. Even without accounting for such mode shifts, the evaluation results indicate net benefits for both commute and Day Use program participants from reduced vehicle travel and increased physical activity. In the future, shared-use low speed mode programs, like EasyConnect, should continue to examine pedestrian concerns about the use of these modes on trails and sidewalks.