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1 As new mobility service providers emerge, many public transit agencies have partnered, or are in the process of partnering, with such providers. Among these providers are trans- portation network companies (TNCs), which are the specific focus of this research effort.1 In the very early days of TNC expansion, transportation experts questioned how this new model might interact with traditional fixed-route transit and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit: Would it compete for riders? Could it complement service? When and where might the two work together? In an effort to explore new service options, several pioneering transit agencies partnered with TNCs directly to test complementary operating models. At the time, the transit industry lacked specific and practical guidance for engaging with TNCs and designing pilots and thus, project management tended to be more reactive than proactive. Transit agencies and TNCs both demonstrated cooperative attitudes toward building a value-add service, but struggled to navigate how a partnership could look between two parties with completely different business models. Both had to work to overcome contracting, data sharing, and marketing hurdlesâto name a few. The transit industry has produced research to describe primary considerations transit agencies should have in mind for partnerships with TNCs. Although this body of litera- ture includes policy recommendations, existing research has yet to identify specific project frameworks for transit agencies that have decided to pursue partnerships. This reportâs findings, highlighted in Figure S-1, draw on a thorough investigation of active and inactive partnerships between transit agencies and TNCs, designed to enhance understanding of project development and structure and how those were achieved. While partnerships between transit agencies and private mobility providers are not new, partner- ships with TNCs create unique opportunities and challenges as both parties work toward mutually beneficial program models. This research is informed by dozens of transit agency surveys and follow-up interviews, past literature, and interviews with TNC policy staff and industry experts as well as FTA representatives, and provides a Partnership Playbook so that the transit industry can be more deliberate in its approach to working with TNCs. Defining and Organizing Partnerships Defining the initial motivations for partnerships between transit agencies and TNCs is central to advancing the research in this area. Primary motivations for transit agencies were found to include demonstrating innovation, increasing mobility for existing and new transit customers, improving cost efficiency, and avoiding major capital investments such as S U M M A R Y Partnerships Between Transit Agencies and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)
2 Partnerships Between Transit Agencies and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) park-and-rides. TNCs, on the other hand, are motivated by attracting new customers, demonstrating good-faith efforts to solve local mobility challenges, understanding the constraints and needs faced by transit agencies, and addressing shared challenges such as pick-up/drop-off efficiency and safety. Beyond the initial motivations, transit agencies also differ greatly in organizational department ownership of pilots. With new responsibilities required to manage partnership projects, the pilot project manager role can fall within an array of departments, includ- ing the executive team, planning, operations, marketing, and other departments. Transit agency organizational frameworks are not a focus of this study, but it is a topic that warrants further attention. Another theme this research unveils is the identification of a target market for service offered in partnership with TNCs, such as people connecting to transit (first mile/last mile) and customers of ADA paratransit or dial-a-ride (DAR) services. Also represented are people traveling in lower density environments, people with late night travel needs, and guaranteed- ride-home participants. Partnership Designs Regarding partnership frameworks, the research uncovers reoccurring themes in partner- ship design and formal agreements. TNCs were originally created with a business-to-consumer (B2C) business model, rather than a business-to-business (B2B) model or business-to- government (B2G) model. Though transit agencies have a long history of contracting with third-party operators, the particular nuances of TNC operations mean that historical norms for contracting third-party operators have to be revisited to tailor the pilot to an on-demand, smartphone-based service with decentralized ownership of vehicles and contracted drivers. Transit agencies respond with two common partnership designs: subsidized TNC trips or a marketing partnership. In some cases, they implement the design with no exchange of funds (informal), but most case study partnerships in this research were formal in nature. Formal partnerships that involve an exchange of funds often trigger the transit agency procurement requirement of a request for proposal (RFP) or information (RFI) process. Informal partnerships are usually initiated through direct engagement with a TNC and do not involve a formal procurement process. For formal partnerships, TNCs and transit agencies expressed that coming to a data- sharing agreement is often the biggest hurdle. However, the majority of formal partner- ships (i.e., those that involve the exchange of funds) surveyed and interviewed indicated that their TNC partners do share at least some data. Informal partnerships often involve no or very limited exchange of data. TNCs have been hesitant to share data due to concerns about privacy, public records requests, and competition. Early partnerships in particular lacked data-sharing agreements. The data-sharing challenge is elevated by the fact that transit agencies are subject to âsunshine laws,â which require certain informa- tion held by governments to be open or available to the public. The federal Freedom of Information Act could apply, but local sunshine laws vary by state and city, and can affect the data that TNCs are willing to share. Regulatory Compliance Additionally, during pilot development, transit agencies must ensure compliance with the ADA and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, but the specifics of providing service with wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs) and ensuring equivalent response times remain a
Summary 3 challenge. Usually, the partnership will engage a third-party WAV provider, in addition to the TNC. Transit agencies generally address Title VI requirements with a call center for cus- tomers without smartphones and by offering a prepaid debit card or engaging a third-party provider that accepts cash for unbanked customers. Partnership Playbook In synthesizing the findings of this research project, this report offers a Partnership Playbook, informed by lessons learned by pioneering transit agencies. This is a begin- ning; the transit industry and new mobility companies continue to evolve. As such, this report suggests future research needs that would help refine the partnership frameworks for prospective projects. Key Findings Motivations for engaging in partnerships generally consist of three categories: â Use TNCs to provide a specific type of service â Meet or respond to a specific policy goal or challenge â Demonstrate innovation and flexibility to experiment The most common target audiences are people connecting to transit (first mile/last mile) and customers of ADA paratransit or DAR services. Also represented are people traveling in lower density environments, people with late night travel needs, and guaranteed-ride-home participants. The most common design involves transit agencies directly subsidizing TNC trips, but marketing partnerships are also represented. Formal partnerships that involve an exchange of funds are generally initiated through a formal RFP or RFI. Informal partnerships are usually initiated through direct engagement with a TNC and do not involve a formal procurement process. Marketing and customer outreach consist of collaborative marketing between the transit agency and TNC and transit agency marketing of TNC discount codes. Coming to a data-sharing agreement is often the biggest hurdle. TNCs have been hesitant to share data due to concerns about privacy, public records requests, and competition. Earlier partnerships, in particular, lacked data-sharing agreements. âSunshine lawsâ require certain information held by governments to be open or available to the public and vary by state, and can affect the data that TNCs are willing to share. Per FTA guidance, ADA regulations âapply [to transit agency partnerships with TNCs]â¦regardless of whether federal funding is involved.â Challenges include providing WAVs and ensuring equivalent response times. Transit agencies generally address Title VI considerations through a dispatch service for customers without smartphones and through a taxi company, dispatch service, or prepaid card for unbanked customers. Organizational frameworks differ by partnership. The specific organization or working group managing the partnership may be housed within a transit agencyâs planning, operations, marketing, or other department. Figure S-1. Key findings.