Travel and energy implications of ridesourcing service in Austin, Texas

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Journal Article

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This paper identifies major aspects of ridesourcing services provided by Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) which influence vehicles miles traveled (VMT) and energy use. Using detailed data on approximately 1.5 million individual rides provided by RideAustin in Austin Texas, we quantify the additional miles TNC drivers travel: before beginning and after ending their shifts, to reach a passenger once a ride has been requested, and between consecutive rides (all of which is referred to as deadheading); and the relative fuel efficiency of the vehicles that RideAustin drivers use compared to the average vehicle registered in Austin. We conservatively estimate that TNC drivers commute to and from their service areas accounts for 19% of the total ridesourcing VMT. In addition, we estimate that TNC drivers drove 55% more miles between ride requests within 60 min of each other, accounting for 26% of total ridesourcing VMT. Vehicles used for ridesourcing are on average two miles per gallon more fuel efficient than comparable light-duty vehicles registered in Austin, with twice as many are hybrid-electric vehicles. New generation battery electric vehicles with 200 miles of range would be able to fulfill 90% of full-time drivers’ shifts on a single charge. We estimate that the net effect of ridesourcing on energy use is a 41–90% increase compared to baseline, pre-TNC, personal travel.


Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment



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