Interactive Travel Modes: Uber, Transit, and Mobility in New York City

Smartphones have progressively become an essential tool to help people produce or achieve mobility by providing contextual wayfinding information and serving as a key asset in enabling new shared-mobility services. Using two unique data sets this paper explores how smartphone applications may enable multi-modal transport behavior. The data sets are user-level interactions from a smartphone application called Transit (which seeks to easily informs users of transit, bikeshare, carshare, and Uber access based on their geographic position), and Uber ride-hail origin data released publicly through the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission. It is believed that users who request Uber through the Transit app are signaling their intent to try transit first, but are willing to move on to other modes when transit does not meet their needs. Thus, Transit application users are more likely to request an Uber near a subway station as complement (for example, instead of a transfer) or a substitute (to avoid a long wait) to transit. After organizing data by location, this paper finds that Transit app users request Ubers at a higher rate both within 250 feet of a transit station and with greater dispersion across the entire city than the general population of Uber ride-hails. This suggests that Transit app users are attempting to use Uber to make up for gaps in their transit options. This finding aligns with previous studies where people have indicated that the tools on their smartphone allow them to assert more control over their transportation outcomes, particularly when they choose not to drive.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee AP020 Standing Committee on Emerging and Innovative Public Transport and Technologies.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Davidson, Adam
    • Peters, Jonathan
    • Brakewood, Candace
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2017


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 16p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 96th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01626971
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 17-04032
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Feb 27 2017 9:27AM