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1 Private transit servicesâincluding airport shuttles, shared taxis, private commuter buses, dollar vans, and jitneysâhave 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 ride-splitting products like UberPool and Lyft Line, âmicrotransitâ services, and new types of public-private partnership that are helping to bridge first-/last-mile gaps in suburban areas. This research report is intended to help inform public transit agencies, local govern- ments, potential service operators and sponsors, and other stakeholders about private transit services and the ways that they are addressing transportation needs in a variety of operating environments. The document provides an overview and taxonomy of private transit services in the United States, a review of their present scope and operating charac- teristics, and a discussion of ways they may affect the communities in which they operate along with several case studies and other supporting information. The reportâs taxonomy includes two main branches, determined by the primary com- mercial relationship (private market service or sponsored service) and, distributed between the two primary categories, five primary private transit service types: â¢ Private market services: The provider does business directly with the rider, generally for a fare (business to consumer). These include â On-demand pooled services, such as shared taxis and shared transportation network company (TNC) services; â Prearranged route- or zone-based services, such as those offered by âmicrotransitâ providers like Chariot; and â Flexible route-based services like jitneys and dollar vans. â¢ Sponsored services: A property owner or employer contracts with a service provider for the benefit of some other party, such as tenants or employees (business to business). These include â Employer-based commuter services and â Property-based private transit services. The report also examines ways that private transit services are interacting with communi- ties and transit agencies, as well as resulting impacts and benefits. Key findings include the following: â¢ Private transit services can complement public transit and help reduce solo car trips. Private transit services, like public transit, generally thrive in urban areas and rarely exist s u m m a r y Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions
2 Private Transit: Existing services and Emerging Directions in places where public transportation is entirely absent. The nature of the relationship varies, but the fact that the private services rarely exist without a nearby public system suggests that private transit depends on the same fundamental conditions that make for productive public transit. â¢ Some private transit services divert drive-alone trips and may cause reductions in vehi- cle miles traveled (VMT). Evidence that some private transit services substitute for pri- vate automobile trips is established by data from employer commuter shuttle programs, which are often offered as part of transportation demand management (TDM) programs implemented under local land-use or environmental regulations. â¢ Without prudent regulation, private transit services can contribute to conflicts over use of street space and public rights-of-way. Disputes over street space are unavoidable in environments where land is at a premium. At the same time, many cities are making changes to their streets to prioritize pedestrians, bicycles, and transit vehicles, and ratio- nalize the use of limited rights-of-way to support goals beyond moving as many cars as possible. â¢ Private transitâs safety benefits stem from per capita VMT reductions. In general, the number of vehicle crashes is strongly correlated with increasing mileage, and the occu- pants of large trucks and buses have lower rates of crash injuries and fatalities than the occupants of smaller vehicles. It follows that modes that (1) reduce VMT and (2) move people in larger vehicles would tend to provide more passenger safety than those that increase VMT and move people in smaller vehicles. â¢ Private transit can expand transportation access in underserved or hard-to-serve communities. Private transit services have the potential to expand access to specific geo- graphic areas or demographic communities. In some cases, this could mean adding to the options already available, while in other cases, it could mean that private transit provides the only viable options for some trips. This report also includes a discussion of regulations that can affect private transit, includ- ing the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which apply to important parts of private transit services. States and cities also play a role in overseeing operation of private transportation operators, for instance, through ordinances on TNCs like Uber and Lyft. Three case studies further delve into the impacts of private transit services in various communities: â¢ San Franciscoâs âtech busesâ and related pilot attempts to implement a cooperative process for prioritizing street use. â¢ Consortium-sponsored services, including public-private partnerships to access low-density job centers in metropolitan regions such as Austin and suburbs of Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and San Francisco. â¢ New York Cityâs dollar vans and New Jerseyâs jitneys, two forms of grassroots private transit evolving at the regulatory margins. Finally, this report closes with a series of conclusions based on the research: â¢ Work together with private transit providers to create regulations that work for everyone. â¢ Allocate street space to reflect public priorities without stifling private-sector innovation. â¢ Update local and state licensing of private transportation services to reflect evolving busi- ness practices and emerging models. â¢ Use private transit services as an âearly warningâ to indicate how and where service needs and markets are changing and where public transit service might be productively expanded in the longer term.
summary 3 â¢ Anticipate that conflict may be heightened by reconfiguration of public space. â¢ Explore the use of consortium-based services for locations that need group transport but would be unable to support a productive public transit route. â¢ Promote efficiencies in the use of sponsored services by offering priority to services that support public goals of equity and efficiency. â¢ Incorporate private operations into emergency planning and response. â¢ Perhaps most important, ensure that private transit services are a key part of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) developments.