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Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions (2018)

Chapter: Appendix B - Definition of Private Transit Services

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B - Definition of Private Transit Services." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25020.
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Page 48
Page 49
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B - Definition of Private Transit Services." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25020.
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Page 49
Page 50
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B - Definition of Private Transit Services." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25020.
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Page 50

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48 Private Services As a fundamental distinction from public transit services, this research explores services that are both owned and operated by private entities and not operated under contract to a public transit agency (apart from some consortium-sponsored services). As a basic distinction, this research excludes as “public transit” most services that are reported to the National Transit Database (NTD). At its most basic, the NTD requires reporting on services that receive any monies through the two major formula grant programs of the FTA, Sections 5307 and 5311 (Urbanized Area Formula Grants and Rural Formula Grants, respectively). Voluntary reporting is also encouraged for other public services that do not receive these funds. Both directly provided and contracted services are reported, and vanpool and general-public dial-a-ride programs are included. While some routes called “employer shuttles” may be included in the NTD, this is limited to routes that are demonstrably public transportation, which, while they may primarily serve a particular employer or worksite, remain open to the general public.9 In addition, Puerto Rico has an extensive system of private jitney vans called carros públicos operating under franchise agreements with set routes and fares. The públicos are regulated as a public service, reported to NTD, and widely regarded as a form of public transit by other authorities. These essentially public services would thus be beyond the focus of this research. One exception to this general rule is that this research will examine community or workplace shuttles that are provided through a mix of private and sometime public monies (referred to below as “consortium-sponsored services”). Ridership and finances for these services are in some cases reported to the NTD, but will not be excluded from this research on that basis. See Case Study II for more information on this service model. Commercial Transportation Services This research also focuses primarily on commercial transportation services, as opposed to transportation provided under various voluntary arrangements, traditional carpool or vanpool matching services, or newer tech-mediated carpool or slugging services (as distinct from TNCs or taxi-like services) in which a driver might be compensated some amount by riders. A key aspect of this distinction is that the drivers of services of interest to this research are being paid as employees or contractors for the work that they do as drivers, rather than volunteering or A P P E N D I X B Definition of Private Transit Services 9To further define the included employer shuttle types, the NTD follows the definition of public transportation laid out in 49 USC 5302(14)—“regular, continuing shared-ride surface transportation services that are open to the general public or open to a segment of the general public defined by age, disability, or low income”—and excludes intercity bus service, charter bus service, school bus service, sightseeing service, courtesy shuttle service, and intra-terminal or intra-facility shuttle services.

Definition of Private Transit Services 49 taking others on a trip the driver would be making anyway (as in a true carpool, whether or not it involves compensation). Transit-Like Services The following characteristics give the services included in this research the character of transit: • Shared concurrently. This research focuses on concurrently shared private transportation services. Sequential versus concurrent sharing is a distinction made in TRB’s Special Report 319 (Committee for Review of Innovative Urban Mobility Services 2016). The basic unpooled taxi or TNC service, for example, is a sequentially shared service, as a vehicle is only transporting one party at a time, although it may serve many people over the course of a day. Similarly, all bikeshare and carshare programs involve sequential sharing. Pooled taxi or TNC services, however, are concurrently shared, since two or more unrelated parties can share the vehicle at once. In sequential sharing, a vehicle is being shared over time, so personal ownership of that vehicle is not necessary to benefit from its use. With concurrent sharing, the vehicle’s benefits are being shared in the same way, but so are additional resources such as road space, fuel, and driver cost and time. Just as with public transit, there is no guarantee that multiple parties are sharing a trip at a given moment, but concurrent sharing services are based on that possibility. • Provide intraregional trips. This study is concerned only with travel within a metropolitan region (intraregional or intraurban), not trips between regions (interregional). • Intended and available for regular, ongoing use. Finally, the service should be available for regular, ongoing use and not provided for a one-time purpose related to a special event (regardless of how many times a given rider uses it). This distinction is meant to exclude all private charter services for a special event as well as sightseeing services (e.g., hop-on, hop- off buses) that provide services but are not primarily intended as day-to-day transportation. University Transit Systems University transit systems are excluded from this research, although they share some charac- teristics with the private services that are included. These transportation services are generally available to both students and employees, but may also be available to visitors. University transit systems generally serve a variety of trip types beyond peak-hour commutes, and universities and their associated institutions (hospitals, laboratories, research facilities, etc.) may represent a mix of public- and private-sector entities. Consequently, these services straddle several categories. Because of the difficulty in disentangling the various university transit services from public transit more broadly, they are excluded from this research, although university transit services are likely the single largest class of private or semi-private transit services and many of the same companies operate services in both the university and fully private markets. According to APTA, at least 94 colleges and universities in the United States provide private transportation services as of 2017, and at least half a dozen university transit systems report to the NTD as freestanding operating units. TCRP Synthesis 78: Transit Systems in College and Uni- versity Communities (Krueger and Murray 2008) counted over 300 college or university transit systems of all types in the United States. In TCRP Synthesis 78, it was reported that a survey of the administrators of about one-third of these systems showed that • 48% of respondent schools operated their own transit systems. • 18% of the systems were operated by public transit agencies and open to the public, although they may be subsidized by the university. • 33% were hybrid systems that involved partnerships with a mix of public and private operators.

50 Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions School-operated systems appear to be the most common operating arrangement. An exam- ple is the system at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) main campus in Amherst, MA. The system provides free service to students on the UMass campus as well as at several nearby colleges and allows the public to ride for a nominal fare. The system relies on a mix of student fees, parking permit revenues, and state monies for operating revenues and keeps costs low while maintaining high ridership by employing student labor and providing relatively few amenities such as bus shelters or benches (Krueger and Murray 2008). Publicly operated systems are operated directly by public transit agencies, often in smaller towns where university students make up most of the transit-riding population. Oklahoma State University (OSU) is a public university of over 25,000 students and is located in the micropolitan area of Stillwater, with a population of 47,523 (U.S. Census Bureau 2015, OSU 2016). Because the OSU-Stillwater Community Transit system receives federal funding (100% capital and 81% for operating expenses), it reports to the NTD. Students, who make up most of the system’s ridership, pay no fare on the system, while the general public pays $0.75 (OSU n.d.). Hybrid systems, which mix public and private administration of transit services, often resemble the consortium-sponsored private transit services described elsewhere in this report, where riders affiliated with the supporting businesses or institutions ride for free, and the public pays a fare. An example of a hybrid system is the University of Chicago’s network of routes, which are limited to students and employees of the university and its hospitals. The University of Chicago is a private university of over 15,000 students, with a main campus on the South Side of Chicago and several remote annexes and associated institutions, including a hospital. The university contracts with First Transit Inc. to operate a system of private shuttles on campus and nearby, while it subsidizes several CTA bus routes that primarily serve the university but are open to the public (UChicago 2017). The university subsidizes two CTA bus routes around the main campus and one peak-hour shuttle from the major downtown commuter rail terminals to on- campus hospitals (UChicago 2016). Students, faculty, and staff of the university and associated institutions ride for free on the subsidized CTA campus routes, although not on the express.

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TRB's Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Research Report 196: Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions provides information about private transit services and ways they are addressing transportation needs in a variety of operating environments. The document contains an overview and taxonomy of private transit services in the United States, a review of their present scope and operating characteristics, and a discussion of ways they may affect the communities in which they operate along with several case studies and other supporting information.

Private transit services—including airport shuttles, shared taxis, private commuter buses, dollar vans and jitneys—have operated for decades in many American cities. Recently, business innovations and technological advances that allow real-time ride-hailing, routing, tracking, and payment have ushered in a new generation of private transit options. These include new types of public-private partnership that are helping to bridge first/last mile gaps in suburban areas.

The report also examines ways that private transit services are interacting with communities and transit agencies, as well as resulting impacts and benefits.

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