Authors: Elliot Martin, PhD, Aqshems Nichols, Susan Shaheen, PhD
Date: November 1, 2019
The UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) conducted an evaluation for the City of West Sacramento of the pilot Via Rideshare System, which began providing rides to customers in May of 2018 and is currently in operation. This analysis presents the findings from surveys and expert interviews. Surveys were deployed to both users and non-users of the pilot service in order to assess the behavioral impacts of the system on users and to evaluate non-user response to the system and why they had not yet opted to not use the service. The user survey, which collected 224 respondents, provided a number of key takeaways. First, the pilot served as a mode substitution with several personal vehicle modes, the most prominent of which was Uber/Lyft (45% mode substitution). Second, of the 39 respondents, 23% responded that they drove alone at least once fewer every week or greater in response to using Via. Third, of 35 respondents, 49% reported that the pilot service significantly improved their child’s mobility and accessibility. Via was reported to improve quality of life by 57% of respondents. These results, amongst others discussed in the report, show that users reported that the service was impacting their behavior and quality of life. The non-user survey, which collected 145 respondents, also provided several important takeaways. First, 44% of 125 respondents reported that they had planned to use the service but had not gotten around to it yet. Second, 55% of 105 respondents thought that the service would be cheaper. Third, 51% of 106 respondents answered that they thought that the pilot service could replace their use of other modes because it was better. Likewise, 31% of those 106 respondents believe the service could provide additional mobility in the sense that it allowed for trips that would not have been doable otherwise. These results show some of the underlying reasons concerning why non-users opted not to ride the service. Several expert interviews were also conducted to learn more concerning the institutional impacts. These persons detailed the difficulties that were experienced in developing the pilot. Some of these include settling legal issues related to indemnification, marketing the service, and recruiting drivers. One of the key successes of the partnership as stated by an expert was the sharing of data. But the challenges that had to be overcome resulted in negotiations that required considerable time to complete. These issues highlight the need for the development of guidelines at the state legislative branch that clearly delineate the role of each party within a partnership similar to the one established in this project. Further findings are presented in more detail within the report.