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Profiling Transport Network Company Activity using Big Data

Transportation network companies (TNCs) provide vehicle-for-hire services. They are distinguished from taxis primarily by the presumption that vehicles are privately owned by drivers. Unlike taxis, which must hold one of approximately 1,800 medallions licensed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to operate in San Francisco, there is no regulatory limit on the supply of TNCs. TNCs have an increasingly visible presence in San Francisco. However, there has been little or no objective data available on TNCs to allow planners to understand the number of trips they provide, the amount of vehicle miles traveled they generate, or their effects on congestion, transit ridership, transit operations, or safety. Without this type of data it is difficult to make informed planning and policy decisions. Discussions with Uber, Lyft, and the California Public Utilities Commission, which collects trip-level data from TNCs in California, requesting information on TNC trips have not resulted in any data being shared. Under increasing pressure from policymakers for objective data to inform policy decisions, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) partnered with researchers from Northeastern University who developed a methodology for collecting data through Uber’s and Lyft’s application programming interfaces (APIs) with high spatial and temporal resolution. This paper provides a brief literature review on transport network company (TNC) data, and goes one to describe the methodology used to collect data, summarizes the process for converting the raw data into estimated TNC trips, and presents an analysis of the results of the TNC trip estimates. This study determined that TNCs serve a substantial number of trips in San Francisco, over 170,000 on a typical weekday, that these trips follow traditional time of day distributions, and that they tend to take place in the busiest parts of the City.


  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01659712
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 18-05899
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 8 2018 11:31AM