Are On-Demand Mobility Services Cost-Effective for First/Last Mile Travel? A Comparative Analysis

Incorporating Mobility on Demand Into Public Transit in Suburban Areas: A Comparative Evaluation of Cost-Effectiveness

Principal Investigator: Qing Shen, Professor, Department of Urban Design and Planning
​Co-Principal Investigator: Cynthia Chen, Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Project Duration: 12 months
​Project Budget (Federal UTC Funds): $95,893
Project Budget (Cost-share): $95,893
Institution: University of Washington

The main objective of this study is to understand the relative cost-effectiveness of using different types of MOD services to supplement transit by filling first/last mile gaps compared to conventional alternatives, especially expanding fixed-route services and supporting driving alone with park-and-ride facilities. To do so, this study further develops a cost-effectiveness evaluation approach from a societal perspective and then applies it to selected geographic contexts. In addition, this study aims to inform transit agencies’ decision-making on establishing partnerships with MOD providers to serve first/last mile trips. Moreover, the research will investigate the conditions under which the socially more cost-effective alternatives are consistent with the individual preferences of users from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds. To achieve these objectives, this research will address the following questions:
1) From a societal perspective, what factors determine the comparative cost-effectiveness of alternative modes for first/last mile travel? Does lower travel demand density, for example, increase the likelihood for MOD to be more cost-effective? How do socioeconomic factors associated with the riders affect the possibility for fixed-route buses to be a more cost-effective alternative?
2) Under what conditions and arrangements are transit agencies-private service providers partnerships most cost-effective?
3) From the user’s perspective, what factors differentiate the comparative cost-effectiveness among alternative modes for first/last mile trips? What are the equity implications of each alternative mode?

Research Products and Implementation

Scope of Work

​Final Report