Ride-Hailing Holds Promise for Facilitating More Transit Use in the San Francisco Bay Area

Increasing transit use has many benefits, including reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, riders need to be able to get to a station in order to use transit. Walking is an option only for those within a limited radius of a station. Driving to a station may be feasible for some, but providing sufficient parking can be expensive and land intensive. The rise of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft presents a new opportunity for bridging the “first-mile” gap to high quality transit. Transit agencies are beginning to launch pilot projects to test public-private partnerships with ride-hailing companies to increase access to transit.

This policy brief summarizes findings from researchers who used existing modeling tools and data to understand the potential market demand for a first-mile transit access service in the San Francisco Bay Area. They modeled the likelihood of commuters who drive alone to switch to using ride-hailing and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rail system to get to work based on travel time, cost, and distance to a BART station. They explored the magnitude of change in overall travel time and cost for travelers who switch from driving alone to using ride-hailing and BART, as well as potential changes to vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and GHG emissions at both the regional and station level.