Going My Way? The Evolution of Shared Ride and Pooling Services

Going My Way? The Evolution of Shared Ride and Pooling Services

Susan Shaheen May 2020 Sharing rides is a longstanding tradition that predates even horse-and-buggy travel. Recent innovations, however, make sharing a ride easier, more convenient, and more efficient. Innovative mobility services premised on pooling — getting multiple riders into the same vehicle — can lower travel costs, mitigate congestion, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also offer travelers more mobility choices between the traditional bookends of auto ownership and public transit. The motivations for pooling are simple. There are economic incentives. Cars are among the most underused capital assets in our economy, sitting empty 95 percent of the time and usually carrying only one person the rest of the time. If cars were used more often, and if they carried two, three, or four passengers, their cost per rider, and per hour, would drop dramatically. But the benefits of pooling go well beyond cheaper mobility. If the car is carrying many people who might otherwise drive themselves, sharing can result in fewer vehicles on the road, which means less air pollution and energy use and fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and parking spaces. With more than 1 billion cars and light trucks in the world, the potential for major reductions in pollution and GHGs is huge — in the United States and most other countries. We know that technologically, a future with many shared rides is now possible. What we don’t know is whether and under what conditions people will be willing to make that transition. Thinking about this possibility requires… Read full article...
Will Bay Area traffic come roaring back after COVID-19? It might if we ditch transit for cars

Will Bay Area traffic come roaring back after COVID-19? It might if we ditch transit for cars

Nico Savidge May 8, 2020 While clean air and traffic-free roads have been one of the few silver linings amid the coronavirus pandemic, there are worrying signs that the Bay Area’s fearsome congestion could come roaring back once public life resumes — and perhaps be worse than ever. That’s because many of those who once packed into crowded buses and BART trains could opt to drive whenever people begin physically returning to work in large numbers. It’s an understandable shift for virus-scarred commuters seeking the physical distance of a private car. But it presents a host of troubling consequences for a region where officials have long tried to lure people out of their automobiles: gridlocked freeways and traffic misery, increased tailpipe emissions and deteriorating air quality, financial hardship for public transportation agencies. “We are going to have lesser ridership on transit for the near future,” said Professor Frances Edwards of San Jose State’s Mineta Transportation Institute. And as a result, Edwards said, “We are going to have bad traffic.” Read the full article...
How Will Public Transit Survive the COVID-19 Crisis?

How Will Public Transit Survive the COVID-19 Crisis?

Larry Buhl Capital & Main April 1, 2020 The $2 trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill signed into law last week, the largest aid package in U.S. history, also contained the largest aid package ever for U.S. transit agencies: $25 billion. The money comes at a time when ridership and revenues have plunged during the COVID-19 health emergency. Experts say the money, which has basically no strings attached, should be more than enough to keep workers employed, at least through the year. But transportation experts say that after the health crisis abates and jobs come back, mass transit could look somewhat different. Owing to stay-at-home orders in many cities, transit ridership has been in freefall through March, according to Moovit, an urban mobility app. In its request for federal aid, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the largest in North America, asked for more than $4 billion from Congress to offset a loss of revenue from a steep decline in ridership. In San Francisco, where residents have been ordered to stay home since mid-March, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) has seen a ridership decline of 90 percent and has been forced to reduce service. It is not yet clear how the money will be divvied up among the different transit agencies across the U.S., nor is it clear how each agency will use the money it receives. The law comes with more suggestions than strings: It simply says emergency funds are “to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus.” According to the bill, the money is reimbursement for lost operating costs accrued since Jan. 20, 2020, and could be...