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11 chapter three Survey Results: Ridesharing Within Public Transit Agencies This chapter provides insight into the various ways in which for vanpools and carpools, assistance with forming vanpools, public transit agencies have incorporated ridesharing into and subsidies for vanpool fares. their transportation services. It specifically presents the sur- vey results from 28 transit agencies across the country. For Incentives are an important tool to encourage rideshar- example, it shows that the most common ridesharing services ing. Of the 13 transit agencies responding, more than half provided by the transit agencies are carpool and vanpool said that they use prizes such as gift cards to encourage ride- matching and guaranteed ride home programs. This chapter sharing. Nearly 40% use recognition in print or web publi- also analyzes survey results related to other issues, including cations. Direct cash subsidies, loyalty programs, commuter the motivation for providing ridesharing services, the evalu- checks, and transit vouchers are offered by almost one-third ation of those services, and the amount of money spent on of respondents. Those who responded "Other" also listed ridesharing programs. In reporting the challenges to integrat- annual lunches, HOV lane access, and incentives funded by ing transit and ridesharing, more than 40% of respondents private sponsors (see Figure 2). indicated that ridesharing within their agency is considered a threat or not part of its mission. In providing a robust ridesharing program, the agency that "does it all" is King County Metro in Seattle, profiled next. The public transit agencies surveyed for this synthesis vary in size and area coverage. Seventeen agencies serve regions, nine serve single counties, and two serve entire states Profile: King County Metro Transit in Seattle Integrates Ridesharing (Figure 1). Some of the agencies' ridesharing programs have into Agency been highlighted in case studies. Appendix A contains the survey questionnaire and the responses for each question. King County Metro Transit is a public transit agency with a multi-faceted ridesharing program in King County, Wash- ington. A division of the King County DOT, Metro Transit, Ridesharing Services Offered as the agency is called, operates the largest publicly owned by Transit Agencies commuter van program in the country. The city of Seattle, Transit agencies greatly differ in the ridesharing services that which created the first publicly operated vanpool service in they offer and the way in which those services are provided. the state in 1979, transferred the program to Metro Transit in Half of the transit agencies surveyed (14) indicated that they the 1980s. It has grown from 130 vans in 1984 to more than operate their ridesharing program in house. Five others said 1,150 commuter vans in 2011 (Enoch 2003). that their program is operated by an MPO/COG, TMA, or DOT. Only two transit agencies reported that they contracted The commuter van program complements Metro Tran- out their program to another organization. sit's fixed-route bus service, according to the agency's Ride- share operations supervisor. Unlike Metro Transit buses that However the programs are provided, carpool and vanpool primarily serve King County, commuter vans travel all over matching is one of the most common ridesharing services the Puget Sound region; however, their origin or destination offered by transit agencies. Nearly all of the agencies sur- must be within King County. In addition, the formation of veyed (24) reported that they provide this matching service. vanpools is driven by consumer choice, with no restrictions The other widely popular ridesharing feature is a guaranteed regarding whether or not a bus is also available. ride home program, which is also offered by almost all transit agencies surveyed (24). Metro Transit's commuter van program has two compo- nents, VanPool and VanShare. The VanPool program provides Another prevalent component of ridesharing services is vans, maintenance, support services, fuel, and insurance to marketing. Most transit agencies market their ridesharing groups of 5 to 15 people who travel together (see Figure 3). programs to businesses, as shown in Table 1; half directly All riders, except the volunteer driver, pay a monthly fee based target their marketing to transit riders. Other common ride- on the number of vanpoolers, the size of the van, and the sharing services provided by transit agencies include parking roundtrip mileage of the commute.
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12 FIGURE 1 Locations of transit agencies surveyed. VanShare provides vans to commuters to cover the Metro Transit also helps form carpools and vanpools distance--up to 10 miles one way--between a public trans- through a regional ride match system. The system allows portation terminal and a workplace or between home and riders to find other commuters through an online system, a public transit connection. Launched in 2001, the VanShare www.Rideshareonline.com, which is a partnership between program was modeled after a similar service operated by Pace King County and the Washington, Oregon, and Idaho state in Illinois. Van Share serves multiple functions: it provides DOTs. Alternatively, riders can fill out a rideshare applica commuters a link to their worksite instead of using their own tion and receive a list of people who live in their neighbor personal vehicle; extends the functional life of a vanpool hood or have similar commuting needs (King County vehicle by continuing its use for short trips; and reduces the Metro Transit 2011). There are more than 11,000 active need for parking at transit-served stations. names in the regional ride match system. Other ridesharing options include a custom bus program, whereby schools and Ridership for the VanPool and VanShare programs topped employers contract with King County for express bus routes 2.8 million passenger trips in 2010, down from 3.18 million to areas not previously well served by fixed-route transit trips in 2009 owing to the recession (King County DOT 2011). (King County Department of Transportation, Metro Tran- More than 5,600 vehicles have been eliminated from the roads sit Rideshare Operations 2011). With its consumer-oriented as a result of Metro Transit's commuter vans (King County approach, Metro Transit has integrated ridesharing into its DOT 2011). menu of services. Table 1 Does the Ridesharing Program Include Any of the Following Components? Response Count Percent Provide carpool and vanpool matching 24 86 Provide guaranteed ride home 24 86 Market ridesharing to businesses 20 71 Help establish vanpools with vehicles our agency owns or leases 18 64 Market ridesharing to transit riders 14 50 Subsidize vanpool fares 13 46 Form vanpool through a third-party provider 12 43 Provide parking for vanpools and carpools 12 43 Provide incentives (e.g., loyalty programs, commuter checks, prizes, recognition) 11 39 Other 4 14 Total responses 28 100 Answers exceed 100% because respondents could choose multiple answers.
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13 FIGURE 2 Ridesharing incentives offered by transit agencies. If you indicated above that the rideshare program provides incentives, please check all incentive programs that you provide (n = 13). There are many different reasons why public transit agen- cies think ridesharing and transit should work together. Accord- ing to survey results, common reasons include market demand from customers, environmental concerns, and improved access to public transit routes and stations (see Table 2). Although regulations were not a major motivating factor, they were, none theless, a reason for transit agencies to offer ridesharing as part of their services. In a follow-up question, roughly one-quarter of the transit agency respondents reported that regulations are a factor, and state regulations (6 of 7) are the most com- mon type (Figure 4). By and large, however, the most common reason for transit and ridesharing to work together--one cited by all FIGURE 3 King County Metro seven-passenger vanpool. transit agencies--is to fill gaps in service areas not covered (Courtesy: King County Metro.) by existing transit service. This reflects the viewpoint that Table 2 Why Is It Important for Ridesharing and Transit To Work Together? Responses Count Percent Service area gaps not filled by existing transit service 28 100 Market demand from our customers 24 8 Environmental concerns 20 71 Improved access to public transit routes, stations, or park-and-ride lots 20 71 Increased access to businesses and services with limited parking 15 54 Meet mobility manager policy goals 8 29 Regulations 3 11 Other 3 11 Total Responses 28 100 Answers exceed 100% because respondents could choose multiple answers.