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APTA Study: Uber, Lyft Users More Likely to Use Public Transit

The more people use shared services like Uber and Lyft, the more likely they will use public transportation, according to a new study by APTA released at a press conference and congressional briefing March 15 during the annual Legislative Conference.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers looked at the traveling habits of 4,500 people in seven cities. Among those who use Lyft and Uber, 50 percent said they take a train and 45 percent said they used a bus frequently.

In the study, Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit, the author’s surveyed “shared use” or “ridesourcing” consumers in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC. They also conducted in-depth interviews with private ridesourcing operators and public transit agency officials to understand the impact of new-tech mobility services. The study was prepared for APTA through the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP).

APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall began the briefing by noting that technology is transforming transportation.

“The ability to conveniently request, track and pay for trips via mobile devices is changing the way people interact and get around within their cities. As the study shows, people who use public transit and these shared services are making a lifestyle change that results in more walking, less driving and greater household savings because of overall lower transportation costs,” McCall said.

APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy recognized Dianne Schwager, senior program officer at the Transportation Research Board, for her work on the study. “Ridesharing,” he said, “has emerged as a critical element in our industry because it helps the public transit customer with the first and the last mile of the transit network.”

Melaniphy said, “The way people get around in communities is being transformed and public transportation is at the heart of this formal shift. Together with companies like Lyft and Uber, we are integral to creating a dynamic multimodal lifestyle.”

The study showed a clear peak in ridesourcing demand between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. on weekends, Melaniphy added. “This is the time of greatest demand overall and public transit is often unavailable during these hours. This means ridesourcing does not compete directly with public transportation, but rather complements the entire mobility network.”

David Plouffe, chief advisor and board member for Uber, cited the importance of the report, saying it will make our cities stronger and save people both time and money.

“This study confirms what we’ve always believed­—ridesharing is an important complement to public transportation,” he said. “We’re excited to work with transit operators across the country to accelerate progress toward our common goal: cities with better mobility for residents that are less congested, less polluted and less dependent on personal car ownership.”

Emily Castor, director of transportation policy for Lyft, said that “APTA’s study shows the powerful positive impact Lyft and public transit can achieve when we work together.” She said the use of technology is improving services and having a catalytic impact on cities.

“Transit is the backbone of urban mobility and Lyft’s flexible, reliable service helps fill in the gaps. These findings prove that Lyft and transit combined reduce the need for car ownership, which will lead to more livable, sustainable cities,” Castor added.

Morgan Lyons, assistant vice president, external relations, for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), said his agency began working with Uber and then Lyft about a year ago to “crack that first mile, last mile challenge agencies are dealing with.” He noted that while DART is the longest light rail system in the country, it doesn’t go everywhere.

“Customers expect choice and convenience when they travel,” Lyons said. “Working with Uber and Lyft, and integrating them into our own transit app, is one way we can do that. We believe these relationships help make public transportation relevant to a new market of prospective customers,” he said.

“The private and public sectors have always worked together to provide bus and rail services,” Patrick Scully, chair, APTA Business Member Board of Governors, said previously.

“These new shared services offer a great opportunity to partner on ways to reduce single occupancy trips. We are excited that Uber and Lyft are new business members of APTA,” he added.

These issues also were discussed at a congressional briefing, which included Brad Miller, president and chief executive officer, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (FL). He spoke about his ­agency’s successful partnership with Uber and a local cab company in a pilot program to fill some of the gaps in ­public transportation.

Find the report at the APTA website by searching on the title.

On hand to release APTA’s shared mobility study at a press briefing during the annual Legislative Conference are, from left Emily Castor, Lyft; APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy; APTA Chair Valarie J. McCall; David Plouffe, Uber; and Morgan Lyons, Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
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