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.