Pooled and Shared Travel in the Wake of the Pandemic: An Inventory and User and Expert Assessments of Vehicle Design Strategies to Mitigate Risk of Disease Transmission

Research Team: Angela Sanguinetti (lead), Beth Ferguson, Ashley DePew, Kate Hirschfelt, Cindy Ross, and Ethan Khoe

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Shared and pooled travel modes are less energy- and emissions-intensive alternatives to the single-occupancy vehicles that dominate California’s roads. Both old and new shared and pooled modes, including public transportation, ride-hailing, and shared micromobility, are critical components in a more sustainable mobility future. Many factors inhibit people’s willingness to use shared and pooled modes, such as sacrifices in comfort and privacy. The COVID-19 pandemic introduces the serious concern of virus transmission among users of shared and pooled travel modes. New vehicle design features are crucial to facilitating a safe return to pre-pandemic levels of shared and pooled travel, and ultimately to achieve the even higher levels of sharing and pooling required to sufficiently reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation sector.

Project Description: This project involved the development of a COVID-19 Risk-mitigating Vehicle Design (CRVD) typology to summarize and analyze the wide variety of vehicle design strategies that have been implemented or suggested to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among workers and passengers in shared and pooled vehicles. Public transit and shared mobility service operators can use the CRVD typology as a reference and guide to aid decision-making in their continued response to the pandemic as well as for future planning. The typology also serves as a launching point for further innovation and research to evaluate the effectiveness of CRVD strategies and their relationship to user preferences and travel behavior, again both within and beyond the current context. This research also explored layperson and expert perceptions of the identified CRVD strategies. By combining these perspectives, a holistic frame can be created to start to develop optimal vehicle design solutions that would be both objectively effective in preventing COVID-19 spread and making travelers feel safe. Ultimately, the hope is that this research can help support a safe return to shared and pooled travel in the wake of the pandemic and contribute to a better—more equitable, sustainable, and enjoyable—mobility future.

Status: Completed

Budget: $77,565

Associated Resources and Information: