Microtransit adoption in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from a choice experiment with transit and car commuters

Jason Soria, Shelly Etzioni, Yoram Shiftan, Eran Ben-Elia, Amanda Stathopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

On-demand mobility platforms play an increasingly important role in urban mobility systems. Impacts are still debated, as these platforms supply personalized and optimized services while also potentially exacerbating sustainability challenges. To alleviate these concerns, microtransit projects have emerged, promising to combine the advantages of pooled on-demand rides with more sustainable fixed-route public transit services. Specifically, microtransit provides, dynamic rider-driver matching to serve demand with fewer vehicles and design optimal routes if riders accept to wait to board vehicles at curbside boarding locations. The shift to microtransit calls for new research on user behavior, motivations, and acceptability to understand demand and its role in existing mobility systems. The COVID-19 pandemic context adds an additional layer of complexity. This study investigates the potential demand for microtransit options against the background of the pandemic. We use a pivoted efficient choice experiment to study the decision-making of Israeli public transit and car commuters when offered to use novel microtransit options (sedan vs. passenger van). By estimating commuter group-specific Integrated Choice and Latent Variable models with error component terms for the microtransit alternatives, we investigate the tradeoffs related to traditional fare and travel time attributes, along with microtransit features: walking time to the pickup location, vehicle sharing, waiting time, minimum advanced reservation time, and shelter at designated boarding locations. We analyzed two latent constructs: the attitudes toward sharing and the experiences and risk perceptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The results reveal three key takeaways. (1) New modal attributes significantly affect the utility of the microtransit alternatives, with a notable aversion to walking and waiting among drivers; (2) car and transit commuters have structural differences in attribute elasticities; (3) significant differences are noted for the magnitude of the latent variable effects. Sharing experience and COVID Comfort play a key role for drivers evaluating the choice of microtransit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104395
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Volume157
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Integrated Choice and Latent Variable modeling
  • Microtransit
  • On-demand mobility
  • Stated choice experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management Science and Operations Research

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