The first mile towards access equity: Is on-demand microtransit a valuable addition to the transportation mix in suburban communities?

A. M. Liezenga*, T. Verma, J. R. Mayaud, N. Y. Aydin, B. van Wee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

As cities grow, the benefits of living in them are increasingly unequally distributed. USA cities, in particular, have experienced rapid suburbanization of poverty and decreased levels of access to jobs for transit-dependent and vulnerable communities. The public transit challenges in suburbs call for innovative forms of transit to turn the tide on urban inequality. On-demand microtransit, a novel type of shared mobility provides efficient, convenient and affordable transportation. Its potential for redressing inequity had yet to be investigated fully in a suburban setting. We presented a case study from the suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, USA. We combined unique datasets of microtransit ridership from two public transit agencies, transit surveys, land use data, and expert interviews, to conduct spatial analysis, accessibility analysis, and equity impact assessments for these suburbs. We found that microtransit enables public transit agencies to reach a larger number of vulnerable riders than fixed-route transit, particularly for commuting and trips to/from commercial areas. Microtransit also provided a cheaper alternative to ride-hailing and a faster alternative to public transit and walking, without cannibalizing ridership from fixed-rout transit alternatives. Finally, microtransit redressed transportation inequities by alleviating access inequality, reaching vulnerable rider groups effectively, and creating travel opportunities that are less spatially concentrated than those provided by traditional, fixed-route public transit. This study provided a framework for further investigations into the impact of microtransit, including in urban core or rural settings, and highlighted the impact of microtransit in reducing access inequity in a suburban environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101071
JournalTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Volume24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Access equity
  • Accessibility
  • Microtransit
  • On-demand transit
  • Urban inequality

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