Fair Value Commuting Pilot Program Deployed in Several Cities in Silicon Valley Led to a 40 Percent Reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled and 46 Percent Reduction in Energy Consumption for Participants.

User Interviews and Data Analysis Highlight the Launch of the Integrated Trip Planning Pilot Program.

Date Posted
08/30/2023
Identifier
2023-B01779
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Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Demonstration: City of Palo Alto and Bay Area Fair Value Commuting Evaluation Report

Summary Information

In certain areas of California, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area, there is a lack of availability or convenience of alternative modes that allow integrated trip planning for travelers. As a result, this area is still dominated by single-occupant vehicles (SOV). This study independently evaluated two core concepts: an integrated trip planning platform and a cashout system, both introduced as part of the Bay Area Fair Value Commuting (FVC) Demonstration project under the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox program. The pilot demonstration was conducted in the California cities of Cupertino, Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Palo Alto from August to December, in 2019. The evaluation focused on analyzing the project’s impacts on SOV use, commute vehicle miles traveled (VMT), energy consumption and emissions, public transit ridership, and accessibility and mobility amongst lower-income employees, and it was informed by nine hypotheses analyzed using app activity data collected during the pilot implementation, expert (stakeholder/project partner) interview data collected in 2020, as well as ‘before’ (June to August 2019), and ‘after’ (January to February 2020) surveys conducted for each of the four cities.

METHODOLOGY

The "Commuter Wallet" app, developed during this study, allowed users to plan, compare, and pay for journeys using various transportation alternatives, integrating available commute incentives and benefits. Conversely, the cashout system rewarded employees who opted for non-SOV commute methods like carpooling, transit, or non-motorized options. To evaluate these two key concepts introduced by the FVC project, this study considered nine hypotheses:

  • Hypothesis 1: “The mode share of commuting by SOVs for both participating employees and the broader population declines as a result of the FVC strategy. This mode share is defined as a function of trips”.
  • Hypothesis 2: “The total commute VMT for participating employees as well as the broader population declines”.
  • Hypothesis 3: “The total energy consumption and carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2-e1) emissions from participating employees as well as the broader population declines”.
  • Hypothesis 4: “The FVC benefits lower-income workers more than higher income workers”.
  • Hypothesis 5: “Improved access to pre-tax payments increases public transit ridership”.
  • Hypothesis 6: “The mobility aggregator, a feebate or cashout policy, and gap-filling analytics positively impact the propensity of commuters to take non-SOV modes”.
  • Hypothesis 7: “The attitudes of employees toward public transit become more positive”.
  • Hypothesis 8: “The commute feebate or cashout is financially sustainable at participation rates achievable during or after the pilot”. (Could not be evaluated) -Hypothesis 9: “The project produces a series of lessons learned that will be documented through expert interviews with project stakeholders”.

A variety of data was utilized in this study, including commute activity data, cashout data, stakeholder interviews, and a before and after survey. The expert interviews were conducted with a total of eight people who were directly connected to the project team and had deep knowledge of it. This included employees of the Cities of Cupertino, Menlo Park, Mountain View, and Palo Alto. As for the before and after survey, the ‘before’ survey had 507 responses, while the ‘after’ survey had 389 responses, split into smaller groups based on participation in before-only, after-only, or both before and after surveys.

FINDINGS

  • The combined analysis of survey and trip activity data showed that the total commute VMT for participating employees decreased by 40 percent as a result of the pilot program and thus was in line with Hypothesis 2.
  • The combined analysis of survey and trip activity data also indicated that the total energy consumption decreased by 46 percent, and CO2 emissions decreased by 10.2 metric tons for participating employees, supporting Hypothesis 3.
  • Survey findings indicated 74 percent of 19 participants drove less, 93 percent of 14 increased commuter rail use, 91 percent and 73 percent of 11 individuals biked and walked more respectively, and 80 percent of 10 carpooled more, supporting Hypothesis 1.
  • Under Hypothesis 7, 40 percent of 57 respondents rated public transit 7 out of 10 before the pilot, which rose to 60 percent after, a 50 percentage point increase. The average transit rating across four cities jumped from 5.5 to 7 (a 27 percent rise), with Palo Alto and Menlo Park seeing the most significant gains.

Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Demonstration: City of Palo Alto and Bay Area Fair Value Commuting Evaluation Report

Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Demonstration: City of Palo Alto and Bay Area Fair Value Commuting Evaluation Report
Source Publication Date
12/01/2021
Author
Martin, Elliot; Adam Cohen; Stephen Wong; Sena Soysal; Susan Shaheen; and Les Brown
Publisher
Prepared by University of California, Berkeley and ICF for FTA
Other Reference Number
FTA Report No. 0206
Results Type
Deployment Locations