Generalized Costs of Travel by Solo and Pooled Ridesourcing vs. Privately Owned Vehicles, and Policy Implications

Research Team: Lewis Fulton (lead), Austin Brown, and Junia Compostella

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: The emergence of “3 Revolutions” in transportation (automation, electrification and shared mobility) presents a range of questions regarding how consumers will travel in the future, and under what conditions there may be rapid adoption of various services. These include individual on-demand taxi-style services, shared mobility in pooled services, and use of public transit, all with or without drivers. There is now enough data and estimates on the costs of these service combinations, and in some cases ridership data, to consider how consumers are making choices and could do so in the future as things evolve.

Project Description: This project involved: (a) reviewing existing literature and data on consumer mode and vehicle choice; (b) developing new “generalized cost” estimates that combine monetary and non-monetary (e.g., hedonic) components of travel choice, notably incorporating value of time; and (c) conducting a comparison of monetary and generalized trip cost for a range of trip types across travel options in the near term (2020) and longer term (2030-35). Three main travel options were considered: privately owned vehicles, ridesourced solo trips, and ridesourced pooled trips. Consideration of internal combustion vs. battery electric and, in the longer term, automated technology was also core to the analysis. The trips considered include urban and suburban types in the San Francisco metro area, using actual trip characteristics. The results suggest that in the near-term, solo ridesourcing is likely to be perceived as significantly more expensive (in terms of monetary and time costs) than pooled ridesourcing or solo private vehicle trips except for those with a very high value of time. Solo ridesourcing does better in dense, slow, urban trips than in faster suburban trips. In the longer term, with automated driverless vehicles, solo ridesourcing could become the cheapest mode for many travelers in a range of situations. This report includes an initial consideration of the implications of these policies for affecting travel choices, presumably to push choices toward pooled ridesourcing as a sustainable option. VMT-based pricing, pricing that could be adjusted with vehicle occupancy, and parking-related approaches are described. A large price signal might be needed to shift travel, given some of the differences in generalized cost found in this analysis.

Status: Completed

Budget: $25,000

Policy Brief(s):