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Personalized Demand Responsive Transit Systems

  • Author(s): Yim, Y. B.
  • Khattak, Asad J.
  • et al.
Abstract

An aging population in the US, low-density urban sprawl and the accessibility needs of certain groups (particularly disabled and aged) increasingly point to more flexible demand-responsive transit systems in the future. This paper describes the important aspects of a consumer-oriented Personalized Demand Responsive Transit (PDRT) service. The system will provide services to the traveling public for journeys to work and for journeys to other destinations. A PDRT that responds to the travelers' needs and takes advantage of the emerging advanced public transportation technologies to increase efficiency may be successful and sustainable in the long term. To understand travelers' willingness to use and pay for PDRT, focus groups and a CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview) survey of automobile and transit travelers were conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area. The objective was to investigate service attributes that will attract travelers to PDRT. Specifically, we examine the factors that are likely to influence the decision to take "on-demand" PDRT (similar to a taxi service with a van making multiple pick-ups) and "fixed-schedule" PDRT (pick-ups and drop-offs are made at fixed but convenient locations). The results of six focus groups and the survey indicate that the idea of a personalized transit service may appeal to commuters as well as non-commuters. There is significant potential to attract travelers to PDRT; about 15% (N=1000) of those surveyed reported that they were "very likely" to use the PDRT service and another 47.7% (N=1000) were willing to consider PDRT as an option. A majority of these PDRT pre-disposed were willing to pay between $5-$10 for a 30 minute trip using fixed-schedule service (62%; N=627) and on-demand service (73.0%; N=642). A majority of the PDRT predisposed were also willing to use the service despite an average 20-minute wait time for pickup and 54.5% were willing to take PDRT despite it taking 15 to 20 minutes longer than their current commute or most frequent trip. Responses to attitudinal questions revealed a strong (positive) preference for flexibility in scheduling pick-up times, conducting criminal/driving background checks on all van drivers and being dropped off at the front door after dark (for safety reasons). The results show that a reasonably priced PDRT service that is reliable and meets customer expectations (of cost, travel time and wait time) can be successful. Respondents were quite realistic in their expectations about the PDRT service attributes, especially the longer travel times and wait times involved in using PDRT. More detailed findings and their implications are discussed in the report.

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