April 12, 2016 12:00PM (ET)

Emerging Technologies Fulfilling First and Last Mile Needs

New technologies are challenging the ways in which transit systems are able to provide service, however research is beginning to show ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are becoming more of a friend to public transportation than an enemy. Public transportation agencies are entering into innovative partnerships with transportation companies to meet first and last mile needs using subsidies and hybrid ride hailing business models. This webinar session focused on how to co-opt and market these emerging technologies to compliment transit services to attain its first and last mile needs. Download Handout

Presenters: Justin Begley, Senior Planner, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART); and Christopher Cochran, AICP, Senior Planner, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA)

Justin Begley has worked in transit service planning and technology advancement in transportation since 2001.  Justin has conducted sponsored research for federal, local and state governments and is an advocate for applying research at transit agencies to solve transportation problems.  His efforts include the management of an award winning $10 million ITS program and he is currently lead transit coordinator for deployment of Connected Vehicle technology on buses and streetcars in Tampa, FL.

Christopher Cochran, AICP is a Senior Planner with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA).  He has an MS in Environmental Science and Policy from University of South Florida in Tampa.  Currently, he is supervising projects related to everything from Transit Development Plans, Title VI reporting, to multiple innovative initiative such as the Direct Connect Pilot Program with Uber and United Taxi.  Prior to joining PSTA, Christopher worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Urban Transportation Research focusing on providing Data and GIS support for multiple departments.



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Unanswered Q&A During Live Event

Responses from the presenters are provided with each question.

  1. For Chris, you still need to provide ADA service within 3/4 miles of your designated bus stops? And how are you dealing with people in the zones who can’t use the bus at all? ADA Service still is provided within ¾ of Mile of the stops in the Pilot, because they are regular stops for other fixed route services.  For people in the zone who need Demand Response paratransit type service we have brought in CareRide to provide 20 minute on demand service in those boundaries.  The same rules apply for the trip to be valid.  Must start or end in the zone and at one of the two designated stops.
  2. Is there a guaranteed level-of-service (LOS) via Uber at PSTA? Currently there is no guaranteed LOS via Uber.  Uber does not employ their driver’s, they are independent contractors, but we know that during the 7a – 7p hours, there are plenty of Uber drivers in the area at this point in time.  We will not be able to ever guarantee a LOS for TNCs and that is a disadvantage, however, the market is flooded with driver during the pilot hours from our experience.
  3. For Justin: what was the average length of those first/last mile trips in which people walked? First mile was 2.4 blocks, last mile was 2.2 blocks.
  4. For HART, how are rides verified for payment to TransDev? Customer can pay by credit card at time of trip booking/ride, or pay cash to driver upon entering the vehicle.  All trips booked through the app or call center are documented and invoiced upon completion on a regular interval.
  5. You talked about a subscription for the service; did you mean you could sign up for a Hart Link monthly service and pay a flat fee per month? Or did you mean subscribing to a daily commute, so the service has more time to plan the trip? The idea of a flat monthly subscription fee is a good one!  Right now the subscription service is more so your second comment, advanced booking with a weeklong window to better organize the trip aggregation.
  6. I may have missed this–but how are rides paid for in the HART project? Rides are paid by the customer at point of booking/completion (if using credit card) or $3 cash to the driver upon entering the vehicle (no change).  The $7 trip subsidy from us is being funded with local dollars in year 1 and a matching state DOT grant should the service be extended into year 2.
  7. What process was used to bring Uber on board? How was billing handled? Our CEO met the General Regional Manager of Uber at an Event with Senator Jeff Brandes in 2015 and developed a relationship from there.  The process really involved about 8 weeks of contract negotiations and PSTA is invoiced on a monthly basis by each Pilot contractor.
  8. For Chris: Have you been able to learn anything from the preliminary data thusfar? And second, what data is/will be provided from the providers to PSTA? From the preliminary data, I can say that the findings of the “Shared Mobility and the Transformation of Public Transit” study from APTA (March 2016) is very consistent with what we are seeing.  Lot of access, but education on how to use a 3rd party app is critical.  After on-site education outreach by Uber, we say the individual rider usage triple in a week.  Uber is very restricted in the type of data that they will provide.  We get total miles at the end of the project, and a count of trips from and to each of the two designated locations.  We cannot get O&D data from Uber, but we can get much more of that type of data from United Taxi and will use that in our Planning moving forward.
  9. Question for PSTA: Does your customer service reps duties include matching and booking the customer with the connecting service  (taxi, paratransit)  based on need when they call in or does the customer contact the connecting service directly? No they do not.  Riders must contact United, Uber, and CareRide directly to take advantage of this Voucher program.  Uber requires the App and Credit Card, the other two you can call and cash or credit is available.
  10. The $3 each way adds to what regular fares to use your transit service? Correct.  The customer is still responsible for standard bus fares in addition to the first/last mile trip.  There is a potential for four $3 fares if you use both first and last mile on each end of a round trip.
  11. Would be very helpful to see actual contracts to share with our legal counsel.  Please email me directly at ccochran@psta.net and I can share those with you.
  12. Can you spell out LOS, QA, ADA, and PTC? I think I missed those acronyms. Sorry about that.  Level of Service (LOS), Quality Assurance (QA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Public Transportation Commission (PTC)
  13. In providing an end to end service through the app are you able to show the total costs the rider will incur? (including the transit fare) That is the end goal, yes.  This is under development.
  14. In Pinellas, does the customer pay a fare on top of the TNC / taxi fare when transferring to the bus? Yes they do.
  15. Sometimes people don’t have $3.00 with them. Has any thought been given to use of credit cards like many taxis use in other cities? Uber requires a Smart Phone and Credit Card.  Cash is not allowed on Uber and all bookings must be done through the mobile app. United Taxi and CareRide can be paid with either a Credit Card or Cash.

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