Small-scale study suggests that TNCs are particularly effective mobility solutions for short-term business trips.
The study, which focused on the difference in behavior when renting a car or using TNCs for transportation, found that TNCs could encourage significant cost saving effects.
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Business Traveler Behavioral Shifts from Ride-Hailing: A Before-After Case Study


A study by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado tracked the behavioral habits of one business traveler over the course of twenty work trips to Columbus, Ohio. For 10 of the trips, the subject rented a car for the duration of the trip, while for the other ten the subject used
transportation network companies (TNCs) as the main mode of personal transportation. At the time of the trips, the subject was not aware that travel data would later be analyzed.

As the study had an extremely small sample size, its authors recommend that it be used primarily as a jumping-off point for larger investigations. It is possible that its conclusions will be reflected in further studies, however. It also represents a constructive application of data—travel reimbursement receipts—that are available to organizations but that are often not analyzed.

The study took TNC trip receipts, hotel reservations, and other information from travel expense reports submitted by the subject. Qualitative factors that were analyzed included the distance of lodging from the trip's primary activities, the costs of car rental fees or TNC trips, and the resulting cost per mile. The authors also interviewed the subject to examine the decision-making processes that influenced behavior. The study's authors found that, despite the use of a single subject, the data collected were remarkably consistent by transportation mode and thus the differences in behavior were determined with statistical significance.

Lessons Learned

The following lessons were derived from the source report:

  • When using TNCs as the primary mode of transportation, the subject booked downtown hotels, as the cost of parking was no longer relevant. This led to such trips having a miles-traveled-per-day rate of less than half that of trips using rental cars.
  • The use of TNCs was found to be significantly more economical than the use of rental cars, with less than half the total per-day cost. This was attributed to the lack of parking, gas, and insurance expenses.
  • The cost-per-mile of the two modes differed insignificantly, indicating that the price advantage of using TNCs was due to the lower distance traveled. Thus, the comparative advantage of using TNCs would likely be significantly reduced if close lodging is not available, or if longer trips were required.

The use of pre-existing data and the lack of required preprocessing indicates that such analyses may be a low-cost way for organizations to better understand their employees' travel habits, and possibly implement data-based guidelines for travel practices.

Business Traveler Behavioral Shifts from Ride-Hailing: A Before-After Case Study

Business Traveler Behavioral Shifts from Ride-Hailing: A Before-After Case Study
Publication Sort Date
Young, Alyssa Lynn et. al.
ITS America

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