Private Transit: Existing Services and Emerging Directions

Private transit services—including airport shuttles, shared taxis, private commuter buses, dollar vans, and jitneys—have operated for decades in many cities in the United States. Recently, business innovations and technological advances that allow real-time ride-hailing, routing, tracking, and payment have ushered in a new generation of private transportation options. These include ride-splitting products like UberPool and Lyft Line, “microtransit” services, and new types of public-private partnerships that are helping to bridge first-/last-mile gaps in suburban areas. This report provides an overview and taxonomy of private transit services in the United States, reviews their present scope and operating characteristics, presents three case studies, and discusses ways private transit services may affect the communities in which they operate. The taxonomy of private transit presented in this report includes two main branches, according to their primary commercial relationship. Private market services are those in which the provider does business directly with the rider, generally for a fare (business-to-consumer). These include: 1) on-demand pooled services, such as shared taxis and shared transportation network company (TNC) services; 2) prearranged route- or zone-based services, such as those offered by “microtransit” providers like Chariot; and 3) flexible route-based services like jitneys and dollar vans. Sponsored services are those in which a property owner or employer contracts with the service provider for the benefit of some other party, such as tenants or employees (business to business). These include employer-based commuter services and property-based private transit services. The report examines ways that private transit services are interacting with communities and transit agencies, as well as resulting impacts and benefits. Key findings include the following: 1) private transit services can complement public transit and help reduce solo car trips; 2) some private transit services divert drive-alone trips and may cause reductions in vehicle miles traveled (VMT); 3) without prudent regulation, private transit services can contribute to conflicts over use of street space and public rights-of-way; 4) private transit’s safety benefits stem from per capita VMT reductions; and 5) private transit can expand access in underserved or hard-to-serve communities. The report also includes a discussion of key federal regulations that can affect private transportation services and the role played by states and cities in overseeing operation of private transportation services, such as through ordinances on TNCs like Uber and Lyft. Finally, the report concludes with a series of suggested strategies for public agencies looking to constructively engage with operators of private transit services.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Bibliography; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 71p
  • Serial:
  • Publication flags:

    Open Access (libre)

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01666150
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780309446877
  • Report/Paper Numbers: Project J-11/Task 24
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Apr 16 2018 11:33AM