The National Academies

TCRP J-11/Task 21 [Completed]

The Impact of New Technology-Enabled Mobility Services on Public Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
Research Agency: Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC)
Principal Investigator: Sharon Feigon
Effective Date: 6/2/2015
Completion Date: 5/31/2016


During the past five years a variety of new urban mobility options have emerged that are built on the capabilities of new technology, including mobile device applications on smart phones and tablets that include GPS services. Customers can conveniently request and pay for their trips on their smart phones and can monitor vehicle location, arrival time, and trip progress. Most of the new technology-enabled mobility services started in the United States and quickly spread throughout the world. New companies have spurred additional urban mobility options that are more conveniently arranged and paid for than are traditional public and private urban transportation services. A hallmark of the new technology-enabled mobility services is customer convenience and satisfaction.

Often the new technology-enabled mobility service services are part of the “sharing” economy, where individuals leverage their personal assets (i.e., their car or home) to make money. Since the sharing economy generally operates outside of existing regulations and tax requirements, its services generally cost less than traditional services. Pricing may, however, vary considerably based on market forces, rather than established regulations. The customer conveniences and generally lower costs make the new technology-enabled mobility services extremely popular.

Despite the popularity of the new technology-enabled mobility services, they are not without their critics and their problems. While some cities and countries throughout the world have embraced the services, others have banned them because they operate outside of existing regulations that pertain to public safety, equity, and normal business practices. Some jurisdictions have imposed fines for continued operation. The new mobility services skirt many laws faced by other businesses, creating ill-will, protests, and litigation. While some local- and state-level jurisdictions are developing procedures and regulations to welcome the popular new technology-enabled mobility services in their community, others are not.


Recognizing the limited budget for this project and the need for practical information, the objective of this project is to examine the near- and longer- term opportunities and challenges for public transportation services to learn from, build upon, and interface with new technology-enabled mobility services.

The audience for this research includes public transit agencies, local and regional officials, and other interested parties. The product of this research should:

  • Improve broad-based understanding about new technology-enabled mobility services,
  • Present opportunities for public transit agencies to learn from and build on the successes of these services, in particular regarding service marketing and customer satisfaction and convenience,
  • Identify opportunities and challenges, including the potential for both positive and negative outcomes for public transit agencies, presented by new technology-enabled mobility services, and
  • Present practical near- and longer-term strategies for public transit agencies to consider and, as appropriate, pursue to interface with new technology-enabled mobility services regarding trip and market analysis, transit coverage and operations, technology, and business models.

STATUS: The project is completed and the final report has been published and available here: http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/174653.aspx

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