Transportation Network Companies (TNCs):
Part of the magic of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft is that they convert demand for parking into passenger-loading events. The freedom and time savings realized by their users are key factors to the TNC mobility success story.
Of course, this shift from parking to passenger loading creates ripple effects felt by nearly everyone that relies on the transportation system (click here curbside management). It also raises the stakes for those who have made, or are trusted with making, decisions regarding current and long term land use and transportation system plans. And the stakes are raised once again as we move into a future that includes autonomous vehicles.
Frankly, everyone suffers if we don’t get these decisions right. That includes passengers, drivers, and other users of the street, those in city halls, and even board rooms across the country.
Fehr & Peers is able to draw upon a diverse set of experiences planning for the current and future ripple effects of the increasing ubiquity of TNCs. In addition to the projects that we’ve been engaged on, our clients have benefited from us committing our R&D resources to ensuring that we have the broadest knowledge base with respect to TNCs and are ready for the tough questions that lay ahead.
Businesses, such as hotels, event centers, and parking garages may see a reduction in demand; meaning they settle for a dip in revenue (not likely) or craft new fees or rates to stay whole.
Conversely, institutions or services with less of a profit motive like hospitals, universities, airports and transit providers should think twice before building any new parking facilities.
Cities that rely on parking demand as a revenue source will not go down without a fight; they will look elsewhere to make up for a shortfall whether it be through service use fees or tax increases or conversely, through reduced services.
This may be an opportunity for urban parking lots to be developed into much-needed housing development.
Cities that desire to convert curbside on-street parking spaces to passenger/commercial loading areas may have found their opportunity. It’s an open question as to whether it will be their revenue opportunity as well.
More users will be jockeying for the valuable real estate that is the curb; thus more care will be required in the design and management of this space.
Active management of the curb could spread from certain uses, like airports and arenas and certain times, like special events to full time needs for transit centers and entertainment districts.
Fehr & Peers’ current TNC-specific projects include:
San Francisco, California Curb Study
This study, in which Fehr & Peers served as a transportation consultant to Uber Technologies, was conducted to observe several locations with moderate to high passenger loading activity and a mixture of adjacent land use/neighborhoods and roadway characteristics. Observations were used to identify common trends and behaviors, and to develop broad strategies to improve curb space productivity for a variety of roadway typologies. Key insights:
Strategies to Improve Curb Productivity
Our study defines curb productivity as the importance, worth, or usefulness of a specific curbside designation in facilitating pick-ups and drop-off of people. Based on the observations for each study location, we developed three basic strategies to improve curb productivity. By accommodating a greater proportion of passenger loading demand at the curb, and thereby reducing the frequency of double parking, these strategies aim to reduce friction and increase safety in the travel lane.
Curb Productivity Index
To quantify curb productivity, we developed a metric which represents the productivity of a specific curbside designation based on its primary use. This may be commercial loading, passenger loading, bus stop, or parking. Since this study focused on passenger loading activity, the curb productivity index was expressed in terms of number of passengers served per hour per 20 feet of curb (passengers per space-hour).
Design Templates for Curb Reconfiguration
Our final product for the study was conceptual design templates, based on the results of each case study, to help cities understand the potential changes that could be made to the curb to improve the productivity of the curb and accommodate more passenger loading demand at the curb. Based on the detailed data collected, and utilizing the three strategies described above, we were able to show potential opportunities for curb reconfiguration that would incorporate the curb space needs of passenger loading activity, while also taking to account the context of each case study.
Future of the Curb in Cincinnati
Fehr & Peers is working with Uber and the City of Cincinnati to help balance the needs and safety of all users, prioritizing mobility of public transportation service while addressing the growing demand for curb space at key sites along downtown corridors. Our approach for this project will include reviewing several City streets to evaluate the interactions between transit vehicles and passenger loading activities. We will be collecting data related to transit activity, traffic volumes, and passenger loading activity, while also providing agency stakeholders with potential treatments, technologies, and innovative ideas to design the future of curb space to optimize the curb. Leveraging ITE and NACTO research and strategies, our plan is to make the most out of curb space as shared mobility grows as a hot topic across the globe. To read more about this project, click here.
SFMTA TNCs and Street Safety White Paper
Fehr & Peers is collaborating with the SFMTA and SFCTA to develop a white paper to document street safety issues and opportunities associated with app-based mobility providers such as Lyft and Uber in San Francisco. With no data source available to begin the research, Fehr & Peers is overseeing a comprehensive data collection and analysis project with UC Berkeley researchers, and also conducting interviews with internal stakeholders and cities across the US. The first-of-its-kind project will propose a series of policy, programmatic, and infrastructure steps the city can take to enhance safety in collaboration with TNC companies, drivers, and passengers.
SF Planning Travel and Loading Demand Update
The City of San Francisco is updating its travel demand estimation methods for some of the most frequently developed land uses. In support of this update, Fehr & Peers has partnered with the San Francisco Planning Department to gather real world data on how travel patterns to and from these land uses has changed in recent years, including data on how many trips are made by TNCs at a variety of sites across the city. We are using this data to provide insight on how TNCs contribute to citywide travel, and how they affect demand for and planning of curbspace.
BART Station TNC Observations
Fehr & Peers committed our own R&D resources to observing TNC activity at six BART stations in the Bay Area. This data set allows us to develop insights on average TNC use, occupancy, and dwell times by time of day, location, and area type. Our clients benefit from this and similar investments into understanding how TNCs are affecting transit demand and station operations.
SFMTA Travel Decision Survey
Fehr & Peers assisted the SFMTA in analyzing and processing its annual travel decisions survey for 2016. The SFMTA had survey data for the past five years, and Fehr & Peers was able to use this robust dataset to examine trends in TNC use over time; specifically how TNC activity may be shifting trips away from other modes, such as transit, walking, and biking, as well as how demographics and household location affect rates of TNC use citywide.
Go Dublin Evaluation
In collaboration with UC Berkeley researchers, Fehr & Peers is evaluating the Go Dublin Program which provides subsidized Lyft Line, Uber Pool and taxi rides within the City of Dublin. The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) initiated the program in January 2017 as an alternative to providing fixed-route, public bus service in a low-density, suburban area with the primary goal of providing greater mobility to its customers at a lower cost. The evaluation team will determine the extent to which program goals were met as well as recommendations for continuing or expanding the program.
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Fehr & Peers will continue to devote some of our R&D resources to evaluating emerging technologies such as TNCs so we can keep our clients informed and help them navigate this rapidly changing landscape.