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Open Access Publications from the University of California
Cover page of Electrifying Ridehailing: A Cross-Sector Research Agenda

Electrifying Ridehailing: A Cross-Sector Research Agenda

(2022)

Electrifying ridehailing services provided by transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution) and provide cost savings on fuel and maintenance to TNC drivers. Policy levers have emerged to nudge the industry in this direction. California’s Senate Bill 1014 establishes a “Clean Miles Standard” requiring that an increasing percentage of ridehailing services be provided by zero-emissions vehicles. However, the path to achieving this goal is unclear. This brief is the last in a series on TNC electrification. It presents a research agenda identified by government and industry stakeholders, articulating what they believe are the most important questions to address to find the path to TNC electrification. This brief also highlights which perceived research needs are shared broadly and which differ across government and industry stakeholders. The aim is to facilitate a shared understanding for better research, policy, and business practices.

Cover page of Electrifying Ridehailing: Drivers’ Charging Practices and Electric Vehicle Characteristics Predict the Intensity of Electric Vehicle Use

Electrifying Ridehailing: Drivers’ Charging Practices and Electric Vehicle Characteristics Predict the Intensity of Electric Vehicle Use

(2022)

Electrifying ridehailing services provided by transportation network companies (TNCs) can reduce climate-altering emissions and air pollution and provide cost savings on fuel and maintenance to TNC drivers. Policy levers have emerged to nudge the industry in this direction. California’s Senate Bill 1014 establishes a “clean miles standard” requiring an increasing percentage of ride-hailing services be provided by zero-emissions vehicles such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs)—together referred to as plug-in vehicles (PEVs). This can be achieved by increasing the number of TNC drivers using BEVs and PHEVs, and by increasing the electric miles PHEV drivers travel.

Cover page of Electrifying Ridehailing: Characteristics and Experiences of Transportation Network Company Drivers Who Adopted Electric Vehicles Ahead of the Curve

Electrifying Ridehailing: Characteristics and Experiences of Transportation Network Company Drivers Who Adopted Electric Vehicles Ahead of the Curve

(2022)

Electrifying ridehailing services provided by transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and provide cost savings on fuel and maintenance to TNC drivers. Policy levers have emerged to nudge the industry in this direction. California’s Senate Bill 1014 establishes a “clean miles standard” requiring that an increasing percentage of ridehailing services be provided by zero-emissions vehicles such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs)—together referred to as plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Because TNC drivers operate their personal vehicles, government and industry must accelerate PEV adoption among TNC drivers to achieve this goal.

Cover page of New Metrics Are Needed to Understand the Environmental Benefits of Micromobility Services

New Metrics Are Needed to Understand the Environmental Benefits of Micromobility Services

(2022)

Micromobility services (e.g., conventional and electric bikeshare programs and electric scootershare programs) hold great potential for reducing vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions if these services are used as substitutes for car travel and/or to access public transit. But estimating these environmental effects is challenging, as it requires measuring changes in human behavior—that is, the choice of what transportation mode to use. While many cities collect various micromobility usage metrics to regulate services, these metrics are not sufficient for calculating the sustainability benefits of these services.

Cover page of Electrifying Ridehailing: Segmenting Transportation Network Company Drivers Based on Their Electric Vehicle Charging Practices

Electrifying Ridehailing: Segmenting Transportation Network Company Drivers Based on Their Electric Vehicle Charging Practices

(2022)

Electrifying ridehailing services provided by transportation network companies (TNCs) can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution while providing fuel and maintenance cost savings to TNC drivers. Policy levers have emerged to nudge the industry in this direction. California’s Senate Bill 1014 establishes a “clean miles standard” requiring an increasing percentage of ride-hailing services be provided by zero-emissions vehicles, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs)—together referred to as plug-in vehicles (PEVs). In spring 2019, researchers at UC Davis surveyed 732 TNC drivers in the US who already use a PEV, to understand their use and charging of their PEV. This is the second in a series of briefs highlighting the results of the survey. There is limited understanding of how drivers’ charging practices affect the potential benefits of electrifying TNCs. This research identifies segments of TNC-PEV drivers based on their vehicle charging practices (i.e., location, level, and time of day) to inform infrastructure planning.

Cover page of Creating Dark, Quiet Paths for Wildlife to Approach Highway Crossing Structures

Creating Dark, Quiet Paths for Wildlife to Approach Highway Crossing Structures

(2022)

Transportation and other agencies and organizations are increasingly planning and building under- and over-crossing structures to allow wildlife to traverse busy highways. Research has shown that traffic noise and light can impede wildlife species from using these structures. However, existing guidance in the field of wildlife crossing design inadequately addresses how structural and vegetation elements can be used to reduce such disturbance. If wildlife is hesitant to or refuses to approach structures due to noise, light, and other factors, then the structures may have a much lower benefit-to-cost ratio than expected. To help address this gap in guidance for design, a research team led by UC Davis used field measurements and modeling of light and noise from traffic to inform and test wildlife crossing designs. The researchers developed wildlife-responsive designs using berms, barriers, and new paths for two crossings being considered by the California Department of Transportation: 1) the proposed Wallis Annenberg wildlife over-crossing (WAOC) across US 101 in the city of Agoura Hills, and 2) a potential over-crossing across Interstate 15, south of the City of Temecula (TOC). The researchers identified key limitations and opportunities for each design approach and concluded that creating “dark and quiet paths” could increase the wildlife-responsiveness of the designs.

Cover page of What to Make of Biofuels? Understanding the Market from 2010 to the Present, and Projecting Ahead to 2030 Given Current Policies

What to Make of Biofuels? Understanding the Market from 2010 to the Present, and Projecting Ahead to 2030 Given Current Policies

(2022)

Low-carbon biofuels are projected to play a critical role in the early and middle stages of a transition away from petroleum fuels, and they will likely have a longer-term role in uses like aviation and maritime transportation that require energy-dense fuels in high volumes. Policies over the last decade aimed to move low-carbon biofuels squarely into U.S. markets. While these policies encouraged the production of conventional biofuels such as crop-based ethanol, cellulosic fuels that can have a significantly lower carbon footprint per unit energy failed to materialize at commercial scale.

A research team at the University of California, Davis examined the track record of the past decade for clues as to why this happened, and looked forward to 2030 to point to how current policies are likely to still fall short in delivering low-carbon biofuels that can reach scales needed for these hard-to-decarbonize sectors. The findings highlight barriers to low-carbon biofuel development that would safeguard against unintended consequences such as additional emissions from land use changes or higher food prices that can come from competition with the use of crops for fuel. This policy brief summarizes the findings from that research and provides policy implications.

View the NCST Project Webpage

Cover page of Refueling Behavior of California Fuel Cell Vehicle Drivers

Refueling Behavior of California Fuel Cell Vehicle Drivers

(2022)

California has a goal of reaching 100% zero emission vehicle (ZEV) sales by 2035. Most ZEV sales to date have been plug-in electric vehicles, with fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) making up only around 1% of ZEV sales. The market for FCEVs may be constrained because, unlike plugin electric vehicles, FCEVs need an entirely new refueling infrastructure network. To date, only 48 hydrogen refueling stations are operational in California. This number will need to increase substantially for FCEVs to become a viable option for consumers. Researchers at the University of California, Davis surveyed more than 700 FCEV drivers about their use of hydrogen fueling stations in California to understand consumer preferences and inform the development of future hydrogen infrastructure.

Cover page of How Might Adjustments to Public Transit Operations Affect COVID-19 Transmission?

How Might Adjustments to Public Transit Operations Affect COVID-19 Transmission?

(2022)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, public transportation systems worldwide faced many challenges, including significant loss of ridership. Public agencies implemented various COVID-19-related policies to reduce transmission, such as reducing service frequency and network coverage of public transportation. Recent studies have examined the effectiveness of these policies but reach different conclusions due to varying assumptions about how passengers may react to service changes.