Sustainable Transportation Implications of On-Demand Ride Services

The motivations for this study stem from an uncertainty about whether on-demand ridehailing services such as Uber, Lyft and others, will exacerbate existing transportation issues, or help alleviate them. To that end, the goals of the project were to learn about the perspectives of stakeholders from a variety of sectors, on their reactions to policies and other actions that might enable on-demand services to help alleviate existing transportation issues including congestion, emissions and inequality of access and mobility.

This study aims to address the following three questions: How well do stakeholders in different sectors and regions, agree about the potential outcomes related to on-demand ridehailing and sustainable transportation goals? What are stakeholder perspectives on the policies and strategies that might facilitate emerging on-demand transportation services to most effectively enhance sustainability and mobility outcomes? What decision making venues and approaches are supported by different stakeholders in the process, and how can these approaches be pursued in order to realize policy goals related to sustainability of on-demand ridehailing? I.e., what venues, and at what level can most effective policies be introduced to facilitate sustainability improvements in transportation by embracing on-demand ridehailing services.

To answer these questions, a series of interviews were completed with stakeholders from California Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs), from state agencies, the ridehailing industry, and local planning agencies or transportation divisions of cities. The results of this study indicate that policy makers must consider the varied systems and contexts throughout the state; and likely throughout the US. Further, there is an existing dialogue on these topics among transportation professionals, public interest groups, academics and policy makers. In this study, the researchers took a systematic approach to documenting this dialogue and identifying meaningful messages and policy guidance that is not possible without a rigorous scientific approach.