Designing Microtransit Services to Complement Public Transit

Research Team: Susan Shaheen (lead), Michael Hyland, Susan Pike, and Kari Edison Watkins

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine

Problem Statement: Microtransit offers an alternative approach to public transportation, and California's public transit agencies have embraced it to address specific challenges. Typically, government entities or nonprofits operate these services, although private microtransit programs also exist. Public transit agencies and municipalities across California have implemented, tested, and/or considered microtransit services. The degree of success in these endeavors varies based on the specific goals and metrics they assess. However, there is a research gap in understanding how to effectively scale microtransit across different regions in California. This entails optimizing transit services for efficiency, improving social equity, enhancing job access, and appropriately tailoring resources. Additionally, apart from identifying and evaluating microtransit systems in various scenarios, it's crucial to define and measure what constitutes success. This includes considering factors like cost and time savings, shifts in travel behavior, changes in vehicle miles traveled, and their impact on vehicle ownership, among other aspects.

Project Description: This project will investigate microtransit usage patterns among individuals, delving into who utilizes this service, for what types of trips, and whether it leads to changes in transportation choices. Additionally, the study will utilize simulation models to assess how different service configurations (such as the number of vehicles and route options) impact various outcomes, such as passenger service quality (including wait times and detour times), service equity, and overall costs. Furthermore, the research will evaluate these outcomes in relation to different levels of fixed-route transit. Throughout the project, the team will collaborate with transit agencies and other entities involved in providing microtransit services for each case study. The goal is to identify and refine performance metrics, taking into account the diverse service models and geographic contexts of these cases. The project involves three distinct, Via-supported microtransit case studies, each in different land use and built environments. These locations span the Central Valley and East and South Bay regions and feature different service models, including blended approaches like paratransit and integrated overall mobility solutions.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $460,329