Integrated Corridor Management, Transit, and Mobility on Demand
IINTEGRATED CORRIDOR MANAGEMENT AND MOBILITY ON DEMAND
WHAT IS MOBILITY ON DEMAND?
Mobility on demand (MOD) encompasses USDOT's long-term vision for a multimodal, integrated, and connected transportation system in which mobility is a commodity and service. This could include, but is not limited to interoperable bike sharing, car sharing, and demand-response systems. The backbone of MOD is interoperable data and ubiquitous payment methods that provide seamless use of mobility services for the user. MOD is enabled by information provided and presented in a mobile data environment. Under a MOD paradigm, travelers will have increased options for when and how they reach their destination. The guiding principles of the MOD vision are that it is:
There are four primary reasons why the MOD concept is critical to the future of the transportation system.8
In addition to demographic trends driving the need for MOD, many emerging technologies serve and enable mobility, such as a "big data," Smart Cities and the "Internet of Things," connected and automated vehicles, social media, and Smartphone technology and payment applications. Current social and economic trends also encourage MOD, such as declining car ownership, the growth in the shared economy model and peer-to-peer transactions, increase urbanization and changing demographics, and an increased social preference for alternative transportation.
EXAMPLES OF MOBILITY ON DEMAND
Taxi operations represent traditional MOD services; riders request a door-to-door trip and receive it in a relatively short timeframe. Some of the most rapidly growing MOD services available today are transportation network companies (TNC) such as Uber and Lyft that build upon the taxi model, but leverage mobile data and cashless payment systems. These providers allow users to request rides through a smartphone application. Riders can track the location of the requested vehicle as it arrives, and payment is automatically integrated into the application. These companies have also introduced ridesplitting services (e.g. Lyft Line, UberPOOL) that allow users to split payment with other riders through the application, providing an environment for and encouraging shared-use mobility.
Figure 7. Photo. A vehicle owned by Car2Go, a car sharing company, in Denver, Colorado.
Figure 8. Screenshot. The Carma carpool smartphone application enables drivers and riders to match based on their trips.
Car sharing is another form of MOD. These are typically member-based services where users can reserve local vehicles online or through a smartphone application for a time-based fee. These vehicles may be part of a fleet owned and maintained by the car sharing company (e.g., Zipcar, car2go), or they could be owned by other subscribers (e.g., RelayRides). For example, a user may choose to rent their car out for local use while they are at work during the day. Car sharing offers users flexibility in car ownership. It may be an attractive option particularly in urban areas, where users only need to make occasional use of a car. It could also appeal to users who need to use a particular type of vehicle (e.g., an SUV) for a short-term trip.
Transportation network and car sharing services allow travelers to get door to door without having to own a car. They are not restricted to fixed routes and pick-up and drop-off points as are public transit services. A dynamic transit service operating in Boston and Washington, DC optimizes pick-ups, drop-offs, and routing based on demand. The system, called Bridj, enables smart phone users to select the trip that meets their needs, purchase their trip, and walk to their tailored pick-up location. All rides are shared.
These dynamic network and sharing models may be further revolutionized by automated and connected vehicle technologies. In the future, users may be able to order driverless vehicles to get to their destination, which could expand use of these services and potentially lower the cost.
While taxis, Uber, Lyft, and car sharing companies are for-profit services, other forms of MOD are peer-to-peer based. These includes carpooling arrangements, which can be run by public agencies (i.e., ride-matching and commuter connections programs), or made informally between travelers. In these arrangements, drivers may not be paid a fee beyond splitting the cost of gas with the rider. Rather, the driver benefits by being able to use HOV lanes or express lanes for a lower or no cost than they would as a single driver. This trend in peer-to-peer transactions also has a broad impact on ownership and thus business models, encouraging shared assets, situational use and mobility based on need. Smart phone applications that help travelers make these kinds of transactions have also emerged (e.g., Carma).
Lastly, some employers support MOD through bus, vanpool, or shuttle services, which can be offered at a fee or for free to employees. These services typically operate on a fixed route similar to transit, but can be beneficial to users who commute to large employment centers that are not located within walking distance of a transit station.
As the list of mobility options for travelers rapidly expands, some private sector companies are developing tools that integrate information into a common platform. For example, RideScoutTM is an application that shows users their travel options across multiple modes – driving, transit, walking, biking, taxi, ridesharing, etc. It compares travel times and options for all of these prices so that user can make an informed decision on how to make their trip.
But the private sector is far from the only interested party. For example, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is currently working on a project designed to illustrate the current practices and opportunities for two key aspects of active demand management: behavior-economic strategies deployed through smartphone applications and enhanced shared-use mobility travel options. This work is designed to provide information that both operations and planning communities can utilize to advance demand management strategies that can make significant impacts on transportation systems management and operations (TSM&O).
MOD options will continue to expand as technologies advance. As end users continue to seek alternative forms of transportation, public and private sector organizations will continue to advance innovative ways for travelers to travel from point A to point B.
BENEFITS OF INTEGRATION
There are many benefits to incorporating MOD concepts into corridor operations. The purpose of ICM is to make the best use of assets across a corridor travel shed, and MOD supports this goal by providing a broader range of travel options. Other benefits include the following:
STRATEGIES FOR INTEGRATION
Distributing demand across the transportation network in order to make the best possible use of all assets is a fundamental element of the ICM approach. This requires facilitating route or mode shift from overcrowded facilities or services to those with spare capacity. The focus of ICM to date has primarily been on shifting drivers off of the freeway during an incident or heavy recurring congestion. Not as much emphasis has been placed on finding alternatives for moving transit riders through the corridor during a major transit incident, such as a rail line breakdown.
One of the most significant opportunities presented by MOD is the possibility of developing "transit- centric" ICM responses in which MOD options are made available to non-driving travelers so that they can still make their trip when their primary transit route is not available. Possible MOD strategies to realize this opportunity are discussed in more detail below, along with other MOD-related strategies that contribute to an ICM vision and benefits MOD providers and users.
Mobility On Demand Services as Public Transit Bridges or Supplemental Transportation
During major roadway incidents, shifting travelers to public transportation can be an effective means of relieving traffic. However, this requires giving drivers a way to access other forms of transportation, and in many cases parking lots at transit stations may not have available space. Parking may be available at a park-and-ride lot or a temporary lot some distance from a transit station, but travelers still need to get from the lot to the station, and buses may not have spare capacity to accommodate these travelers. Additionally, some drivers who are willing to take transit instead of drive may not be comfortable leaving their vehicle in a public parking lot, but they would be willing to leave it at home or the office parking lot.
MOD services can play a valuable role in these scenarios by functioning as a "bridge" between parking locations and transit facilities. For example, the ICM scenario planning for I-394 in Minnesota calls for "shuttle" services between temporary park-and-ride lots and existing transit stations. An agency could also contract with taxis or other MOD services to deploy a predetermined number of vehicles to serve this bridge function under certain scenarios.
MOD can also supplement the line-haul capacity of transit. This can be beneficial because congestion often occurs during peak periods or special events when transit assets are already in full use. For example, bike sharing provides a limited opportunity for special event pre-planning. Denver's B-cycle plans for additional storage of bikes at Rockies and Broncos games, and they advertise this event planning to their members. Similarly, car sharing companies may have vehicles already parked at transit park and ride facilities. This could provide a limited number of vehicles to serve a line-haul function in the event of a rail transit ICM scenario. There may also be opportunities for agencies to partner with private bus fleet owners for special events and incidents.
Smartphone-based, dynamic ridesharing applications have revolutionized the traditional ridematching services. Casual carpools (arranged at fixed locations at the time a trip is needed) have been popular in some locations for many years. Dynamic ridesharing can also be an effective strategy to support HOV lane use, especially during light incidents that are not deemed severe enough to warrant waiving HOV restrictions or tolls on adjacent managed lanes. Dynamic ridesharing could be particularly effective for evening peak period transit ICM incidents when commuters that rode transit in the morning are seeking an alternative route or mode to get home. In these cases, one viable option could be to share a ride in an HOV or express lane.
Figure 9. Photo. A bike sharing station in Denver, Colorado operated by Denver B-cycle.
An agency could provide designated carpool formation locations (temporary or permanent) to prepare for ICM scenarios. Strategic placement relative to freeway exits, major transit connections, and managed lane/toll access points is critical. Direct connector ramps to serve these locations, as well as carpool queue jumps on ramp meters, can further expedite recovery in a freeway ICM scenario.
En-route messaging can also supplement the ridematching applications by alerting drivers of ridematching options without having to access a smartphone while driving. An agency could further promote this transportation option during ICM events by providing financial incentives, such as reimbursing a riders' payment to the driver in exchange for carpooling. This could also have longer- term positive impacts as drivers and passengers become aware of this service.
Targeted Travel Information for Mobility On Demand Service Providers
In addition to corridor operations benefiting from MOD services, MOD operators could benefit from ICM by receiving tailored information about traffic conditions in their service area. This information may include more detailed traffic data for less-major roadways and incident alerts. Because MOD vehicles do not operate on fixed routes, they have greater flexibility to adjust routes in response to information they receive about prevailing conditions. They could also use this information to determine where high demand pickup locations might be. Information could be provided to a central dispatch center or directly to drivers via a smartphone application or an in-vehicle navigation device.
A key consideration for this strategy is whether it can add value beyond the information available through existing public and private services. In addition to public 511 services, MOD providers may already have access to traffic information through a number of private services (e.g., INRIX, Waze, Google, etc.).
Use of Mobility On Demand Vehicles as Data Probes
Similar to the opportunity for ICM-public transit integration described above, the integration of MOD into an ICM system can provide additional monitoring capabilities. In cases where MOD vehicles are equipped with an AVL system (or through other tracking devices), speed and travel time information could be shared with roadway managers to help them monitor system operations. The value of such arrangements, however, may be mixed. Because MOD trips do not follow specific routes, the amount of data or sample size for a particular route may be limited. Also, these trips may avoid the major (and likely congested) roadways of greatest interest to roadway managers. On the other hand, this may provide information on routes that have little or no other monitoring capability. There is also the issue of possible "data overload" and whether roadway managers can make effective use of this additional input.
It should also be recognized that the use of private vehicles as probes is already being done, to some degree, by private sector entities. Services such as INRIX contract with various fleet operators to access their AVL data to help generate the real-time traffic and congestion maps for their mobile app. Additionally, several private sector firms compile data from various mobile devices (cell phone, blue tooth, navigation systems) to support transportation planning functions. While this typically involves the use of historical data, the time will most likely come when the data is compiled on a more real- time basis. This would provide for a greater dataset beyond just MOD vehicles.
Comprehensive Traveler Mobility Information
As MOD services grow, it is important to recognize their contribution to the overall mobility of the public. Information about MOD services should be shared along with that about traffic conditions, parking availability, and public transit. Combining this information in one place, such as a 511 website, can provide travelers with a more comprehensive understanding of their travel options. The MOD service information provided may include estimated trip time, cost, and how to schedule a ride (e.g., via a direct link to ride request site). However, since MOD services are usually for-profit and compete against one another, care must be taken to be all-inclusive and not show any favoritism toward a particular service.
CHALLENGES TO INTEGRATION
Although strategies for MOD services into corridor operations show potential, there are many challenges associated with this process. While none of the challenges described below are insurmountable, ICM teams should take them into consideration to be sure that they are addressed during the planning and development stages of the ICM project.
For several MOD strategies, the stakeholders who drive the strategy are individual travelers. For example, with peer-to-peer carpooling, drivers provide "supply" in the form of single-occupancy vehicles with room for passengers. This poses several challenges. Contractual arrangements for ICM are not practical with independent travelers, and it is logistically difficult and costly to position these MOD vehicles to match high-demand locations during congested conditions. Additionally, while these services take cars off the road, the carpools that are formed are still subjected to incident traffic delay, especially where HOV lanes are not available.
Public-Private Sector Service Coordination
Many MOD services are run by private sector businesses. One of the challenges to involving the private sector in a public sector initiative, such as ICM, is defining the benefits of participation for drivers, operators, and riders. Creating effective messaging for MOD operators and communicating with a disparate group of travelers are ongoing challenges that will continue as MOD strategies evolve. Drivers for many MOD services are independent operators who set their own schedules, and their compensation is based primarily on distance traveled for the ride provided. They will likely not be interested in line- haul trips during ICM scenarios since they know it will be congested. Furthermore, dead-heading could be significant in incident scenarios, and drivers would not have the opportunity to pick up additional customers. Significant additional incentive would be required to entice drivers to participate.
It may also prove difficult to contract with MOD services providers in order to support corridor operations. For example, it would be difficult for a public agency to contract with MOD services drivers, such as taxi companies, because drivers may be concerned about too much uncertainty and wait time just to deliver short trips, and compensation would need to be significant.
Car sharing and bike sharing would also have very limited and localized applicability in incident scenarios. It could be too labor intensive to dynamically reposition car sharing vehicles to serve high-demand locations, especially since prices for many car sharing companies are based on roundtrip from a specific parking space. It is also highly unlikely that fixed-location bike racks would be positioned near freeway exits. Though bike sharing companies could potentially supply a few loads of bikes to temporary parking lots for cross-corridor bridge trips to transit, they may have a very limited number of trucks to move the bikes to high-demand locations.
The efficient and effective integration of MOD services within ICM requires clear understanding of these emerging services and their impacts. This understanding is necessary to model and plan for these services, and is achieved through data sharing. However, because most MOD service providers are private entities, there may be apprehensions about and obstacles to this sharing of data. Overcoming this challenge will require public-private partnerships or agreements that clearly define the data that can be shared while addressing business and individual privacy concerns.
Competition with Public Transit
Some agencies may resist ICM approaches that encourage travelers to use MOD services because these services are viewed as competition for public transit. For example, transit operators may worry that MOD services that enable easier carpooling will attract transit riders. In addition, many MOD services enable travelers to make transportation decisions from any location along their route, without having to queue at specific locations. Transit providers may worry that travelers prefer the flexibility of MOD to fixed route transit.
One potential approach to this concern is to convey that MOD strategies will not necessarily take riders from transit, but they may convince SOV drivers to consider alternate modes of transportation. MOD services creates additional choices and flexible alternatives to SOV drivers. MOD services could actually benefit transit ridership, because it is less likely that transit assets will become overcrowded during roadway incidents if demand can be dispersed across more travel options.
In addition, it can be argued that if coordination is executed correctly and new MOD services are employed in the first and last mile access environment to public transportation, MOD may actually drive ridership.
Impact of Technological Change on Mobility On Demand Services
MOD is a growing area that will mostly likely be influenced and shaped by connected and automated vehicle technologies. For example, new services may develop around fleets of driverless vehicles. Market penetration of connected and automated vehicles is not yet high enough to understand what the exact impacts will be on personal mobility. Incorporating a concept as dynamic and unknown as MOD may be difficult; however, setting a framework for partnership with MOD providers now can smooth the transition in the future.
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8 Federal Highway Administration. http://innovativemobility.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Robert-Sheehan-Mobility-on-Demand.pdf. [ Return to footnote 8. ]
9 N. Farber, D. Shinkle, J. Lynott, W. Fox-Grage, and R. Harrell, Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices (National Conference of State Legislatures and the AARP Public Policy Institute: December 2011). Available at: http://www.ncsl.org/documents/transportation/aging-in-place-2011.pdf. [ Return to footnote 9. ]
10 American Public Transportation Association, Millennials and Mobility: Understanding the Millennial Mindset, n.d. Available at: http://www.apta. com/resources/reportsandpublications/Documents/APTA-Millennials-and-Mobility.pdf. See also, H. Malcolm, USA Today, "Millennials prefer cities with good public transit," April 24, 2014. Available at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/04/24/millennials-prefer-public-transportation/8097555/. [ Return to footnote 10. ]
11 USDOT, Beyond Traffic 2045 – Trends and Choices (Draft), n.d. Available at: http://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Draft_Beyond_Traffic_Framework.pdf. [ Return to footnote 11. ]
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration