National Academies Press: OpenBook

Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit (2016)

Chapter: Appendix E - Ridesourcing Demand and Transit Capacity Calculation

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix E - Ridesourcing Demand and Transit Capacity Calculation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23578.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix E - Ridesourcing Demand and Transit Capacity Calculation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23578.
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Page 77
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E - Ridesourcing Demand and Transit Capacity Calculation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23578.
×
Page 77
Page 78
Suggested Citation:"Appendix E - Ridesourcing Demand and Transit Capacity Calculation." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23578.
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Page 78

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E-1 A P P E N D I X E Ridesourcing Demand and Transit Capacity Calculation

E-2 Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit Overview of data collecon To collect the data, we built a set of scripts in the R and Python computer languages that did the following: 1. For each metro geography, we built files with tract-level counts of a variety of Census variables, by which we weight the random tract selecon for the next step. 2. Each hour, query the Uber API for esmated wait me and price for each of 1000 theorecal trips in the study cies, and store the responses for later analysis. from Uber API For proprietary reasons, ridesourcing companies are extremely protecve of their actual trip data, and the researchers were unable to secure an anonymized or aggregated set of trip data for this phase of the study from either of the two largest ridesourcing companies, Uber or Ly†. However, Uber does provide a way to request informaon about their services via their applicaon protocol interface (API), a portal where two computers can pass specific informaon back and forth in a structured way. In the case of the Uber API, a client computer can ask the API for a cost and me esmate for a ride between a specific origin and desnaon at that moment in me. Queries from the Uber smartphone app use the API to get informaon, request rides, and interact with their account; Uber also provides documentaon of and limited access to the API to third-party so†ware developers. Uber granted the researchers access to their API for a limited number of requests per hour (1000 each of me and price). All of the queries we made were to a purely informaonal poron of the API, which did not generate actual ride requests or spoof calls for service. By systemacally querying the API throughout the day and week, feeding it origin/desnaon pairs from specific points providing coverage of our study cies, we gradually assembled a picture of how ridesourcing availability and demand varies across me and geography. The response from the Uber API contains several potenally interesng data points, among which the most useful for purposes of inferring supply and demand are an esmated me in minutes before an Uber car could reach the origin point, and a price esmate, which includes a component called the surge mulplier, a factor applied to the base price of a ride at mes when demand for rides is high in a specific area. Because surge mulpliers are limited in me and in geography, and because they vary along a scale from 1 to more than 6 (which means a rider would pay 6 mes the base price), they can tell us something about the relave level of demand at a given point and me. For each study city, we chose to limit the geographical extent of our queries to Census tracts constung the core county of each metro area. With tract counts ranging from 180 (DC) to more than 2300 (Los Angeles) we would be unable to query the full extent of our regions at the tract level every hour. Instead we chose to employ a weighted random sampling method for an inial four-week round of data collecon, and for a second four-week round narrowed the view to four core counes that were able to be fully covered every hour (Ausn, San Francisco, Sea˜le, and, Washington, DC).

Ridesourcing Demand and Transit Capacity Calculation E-3 Combined, the two rounds of collec on produced some 1.07 million usable observa ons for the study regions. Scheduled transit capacity from GTFS To determine how Uber rides corresponded with transit trips, the researchers compared the Uber data with agencies’ General Transit Feed Specifica on (GTFS) service informa on. For the transit capacity side of the comparison, we started from the assump on that the transit agencies schedule service in accordance with customer demand, and used the GTFS schedule data to build es mates of service capacity at the zip code level across the day and week. The researchers were assisted in assembling the transit capacity analysis by our partners at Sam Schwartz Engineering, who gathered all relevant transit agencies’ GTFS feeds and programma cally transformed it to hourly counts of trips, vehicles and vehicle types, and maximum wait mes for each stop in the system (limited, like the ridesourcing data, to the core county of each region). Using standard load factors and agency-specific vehicle sizes to es mate capacity at each stop, we arrived at a measure of seat-stops per hour for each stop; schedule informa on allowed us to calculate typical headways at each stop. We then assigned each stop to its containing zip code and generated aggregate measures of seat stops per hour and average headways at the zip code tabula on area (ZCTA) level. Because of differences in how individual agencies convert their opera on schedules into GTFS (WMATA’s feed in par cular has a number of unusual features), cross- agency comparisons based on this data should be approached with cau on, especially for more sensi ve sta s cal analyses. However, in aggregated form, the data do serve to usefully illustrate the fluctua on in scheduled service levels across the day and week. Summary maps of the transit and ridesourcing data are in Appendix F. Validity of surge pricing as a demand indicator Though Uber readily acknowledges that surge pricing is their system’s way of signaling high demand to both drivers and customers, we validated our interpreta on of this indicator by comparing our own addi onal scrape of these data for Brooklyn, New York, to trip data released by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). While the samples were not concurrent (the TLC data covered the period January-June 2015, while the API data was collected between October and December 2015), they do show contours in their hourly and daily fluctua ons that resemble both one another and the surge pricing pa›erns in the seven study ci es, with the highest use at weekend late nights and moderate rush hour peaks on weekdays (the two sources are shown in Figure E-1). While the surge data showed less range than in other ci es and fit was far from perfect, sta s cal modeling showed that the surge mul plier, day of week, and hour of the day were fairly strong predictors the actual rider count. The surge mul plier tended to overes mate the weekday demand, while modera ng the weekend nights somewhat, but the overall pa›ern remained. Possible explana ons for these differences are differing seasonality of the data, actual changes in trip pa›erns, or that the surge mul plier is a be›er predictor of demand in a par cular loca on than for a large area.

E-4 Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit Note: Data not concurrent; TLC data covers January–June 2015, while API data was collected October–December 2015. Figure E-1. TNC rider count data from New York City TLC trip reporng (top) vs. surge mulplier data from Uber API (boom), for locaons covering Brooklyn.

Next: Appendix F - Maps of Ridesourcing and Transit Demand and Capacity »
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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 188: Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit examines the relationship of public transportation (including paratransit and demand-responsive services) to shared modes, including bikesharing, carsharing, microtransit, and ridesourcing services provided by companies such as Uber and Lyft. The report also explores issues and opportunities and challenges as they relate to technology-enabled mobility services, including suggesting ways that transit can learn from, build upon, and interface with these new modes. A supplemental infographic summarizes the aspects of of the sharing economy and its intersection with transit.

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