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UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies

There are 99 publications in this collection, published between 2012 and 2020.
Capstone Projects (37)

A Scoot, Skip, and a JUMP Away: Learning from Shared Micromobility Systems in San Francisco

In 2018 electric powered shared scooters and stationless electric bikeshare proliferated throughout the United States. Many cities have begun to experiment with new permitting systems and regulations for these vehicles. To date, there is scant academic literature on how well scooter and stationless bikeshare permits have helped cities achieve their transit, sustainability, and equity goals. San Francisco was one of the first cities in the United States to create permit systems for stationless bikeshare and scooter companies. This research evaluates scooters and stationless bikeshare use as a first/last mile transit option, reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and equity of utilization. The author evaluates these systems using a mixed methods approach and primary data collected by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) as part of its pilot permit programs. Results indicate that the two travel modes substantially support transit usage, both by connecting riders to transit and by replacing automobile trips. Shared e-bikes reduce VMT significantly more than scooters by replacing more and longer auto trips. Scooters are more likely to reduce VMT by connecting riders to transit. Rider demographics for both travel modes do not demonstrate improved equitable utilization as compared to traditional, personally owned bikes at this time.

School Transportation Equity for Vulnerable Student Populations through Ridehailing: An Analysis of HopSkipDrive and Other Trips to School in Los Angeles County

The Every Student Succeeds Act (2015) gave foster youth additional legal protections in school, including the right to transportation and the right to remain at their school despite any moves, similar to protections already in place for students experiencing homelessness and students with disabilities. Californiaís compliance with this mandate was relatively more difficult than other statesí, as less than ten percent of students in California travel by school bus, compared with 35 percent nationally. Thus, California schools could not simply tap into their existing services to provide transportation for foster youth. Ridehailing offers a solution to this gap. HopSkipDrive, a ridehailing company designed to transport children, engages in contracts with school districts and county governments to provide school transportation for these vulnerable student populations. In 2018ñ2019, HopSkipDrive provided 32,796 trips to school in Los Angeles County, with massive time savings over the logical alterative: transit. Using Googleís Directions API, I determine that HopSkipDrive offers time savings of nearly 70 percent compared with the same trips simulated on transit. HopSkipDriveís trips average 28 minutes in duration, yet on transit only 30 percent would have taken less than 45 minutes. This is despite 90 percent of all origins and destinations being located within a half-mile of a transit stop. This service has important social equity implications beyond just time savings offered to vulnerable student populations, as HopSkipDrive contract trips tend to originate in neighborhoods with high percentages of low-income households and people of color.

Connecting the Dots... Ridership Changes, Underlying Causes, and Strategies for Pasadena Transit

Over the past decade, public transit operators in the Los Angeles region started experiencing steep declines in ridership, while Pasadena Transit was adding riders. More recently, however, Pasadena Transit’s ridership plateaued and then started to decrease. The Transit Division of the City of Pasadena Department of Transportation (“the Client�) is therefore interested in understanding what may be causing transit ridership to decline in its jurisdiction, what are the circumstances driving these changes, and what these causes and circumstances suggest for ways to make the system more attractive to riders. This project aims to answer these questions by contrasting ridership trends with possible causal factors: vehicle access, commuting patterns, demographic changes (e.g., age), economic indicators (e.g., income), homelessness, and housing-market conditions. Increased vehicle ownership and use were discarded from the onset, since Pasadena residents, contrary to their L.A. County and California counterparts, are collectively disposing of private vehicles. The escalation of telecommuting is a likely contributor, given that the less that people physically travel to work, the less likely they are to ride transit. The aging of Pasadena’s population could be an influential factor as well, since younger populations (especially people in their early 20s and younger) are, by far, more likely to ride transit than seniors and much more likely than middle-aged people. Rising homelessness in Pasadena, which went up 28 percent from 2016 to 2018, might be incentivizing riders to seek other, more private, travel modes that spare them the discomfort of sharing space with homeless people. Yet, none of these longstanding trends explain, in a satisfactory manner, why Pasadena Transit’s healthy patronage base experienced mild declines in recent years. The homelessness upsurge did coincide with Pasadena’s faltering ridership, but it appears unlikely that this alone would significantly impact transit patronage. Moving or displacement of frequent transit users out of transit-rich areas appears to be the main culprit. Half of Pasadena’s households pay more than a third of their income in rent. A rent-burdened person who used to frequently ride on Pasadena Transit will need to take their “travel business� elsewhere when they get pushed out by a heavy influx of wealthy people, who are — at best — sporadic transit riders. This report recommends targeted marketing and awareness campaigns, informed by extensive surveying. This would help identify the population of unlikely riders, of travelers deterred from transit by the presence of homeless individuals, and of rent-burdened residents who have changed their travel patterns due to increased housing costs. All of these recommendations center on adapting to the needs of specific riders, which embodies the cornerstone of other cities’ recent successes in improving service and attracting riders, and is also mentioned throughout the literature as a “best practice� in the provision of public transit in the era of modern ridership decay.

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Policy Briefs (52)
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Reports (10)

An Assessment of Performance Measures in the Transportation Development Act

"This report examines the performance measures requirements in California’s Transportation Development Act (TDA) of 1971. The TDA is an important source of funding for the state’s public transit agencies, representing approximately 18 percent of their total (2018) revenue between the TDA’s two funds (LTF and STA). Since the TDA’s passage in 1971, the transit operating environment in California has changed, in some cases dramatically. The state has nearly doubled in population (20.4 million in 1971 to 39.8 million in 2019), traffic has worsened considerably, climate change is now a central public policy focus, and many places around the state are investing heavily in making public transit a viable alternative to driving. Our research examined the TDA’s performance requirements and their effects on the state’s transit operators. We also considered alternative approaches to both transit finance and performance requirements, by studying transit funding programs in 13 other states that invest significant amounts of funding in transit. In brief, we find that the TDA’s use of performance measurements to allocate funding is unusual. The states we studied do not for the most part make funding contingent on performance, thereby avoiding the unproductive and difficult-to-implement “death penalty” (Taylor, 1995) of withholding subsidies for a much-needed public service. In several of the cases analyzed, by contrast, states guarantee specific levels or amounts of funding for transit service.

To examine how the TDA’s performance measures are working, we conducted a survey of California transit professionals at agencies and at Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs). That California’s aspirations for transit have evolved over the years is reflected in the frequent loopholes and exemptions the legislature has added to the TDA to give struggling operators more latitude to receive funding in order to meet multiple goals and objectives while staying in compliance with a single cost-effectiveness goal. The extent and frequency with which these exemptions have occurred suggests that the larger aims for public transit, and indeed the goals for the TDA program itself, have evolved, and need to be re-thought holistically, rather than incrementally.

Accordingly we offer six recommendations concerning transit performance assessment in the TDA."

Transportation Access to Health Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Trends and Implications for Significant Patient Populations and Health Care Needs

Since March 2020, COVID-19 transportation system disruptions have altered how Americans access routine health care. This report examines current knowledge about disparities in transportation and access to health care for people with various health conditions and health care needs. We highlight evidence related to end-stage kidney disease, pregnancy, cancer, mental health and substance use, disabilities, multiple chronic conditions, and preventive care to discuss population-specific transportation needs and challenges, COVID-19 health risks, and impacts of transportation system disruption on health outcomes during the pandemic. The report concludes with policy recommendations for how leaders in transportation, public health, and health care can improve transportation access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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