Transportation planners have theorized that public bikeshare systems and mass transit systems are symbiotic– bikeshare solves what planners call the “last mile” problem: getting from a subway stop home or vice-versa. According to a second study, bikeshare may also completely replace mass transit for shorter trips where bikeshare may be faster or more cost effective. To understand the “on-the-ground” situation in our own backyard, we looked at New York City– specifically Astor Place, a station on one of the busiest lines in the MTA system; and the East Village, a neighborhood that is less served by mass transit in Manhattan.
Do customers, as predicted by the two studies, use bikeshare to reach the train from their homes? Does it appear customers use bikeshare to replace shorter train trips? If so, what are the implications?
To begin to understand how bikeshare is used in the East Village, we looked at the destination station for trips that originate from stations within the East Village. What we found confirms the conclusions of the studies referenced: users appear to use bikeshare completely to reach destinations within biking distance (e.g. Broadway and 14th Street or Broadway and 17th Street), but primarily use bikes to connect to mass transit that allows them to travel farther, as evidenced by the top destinations of Lafayette Street and E. 8th Street, where the 6 train stops.
Interactive visualization available here.
This multi-modality has a few implications for designers of systems for urban mobility:
One Payment System Enables Frictionless Transition
The new MTA capital budget includes a new fare system to replace the 20-year old MetroCard system. This could be a great opportunity to create a universal transit pass for all mobility options in New York that would allow transfer between different modes. A single payment system could also enable dynamic pricing during rush hour, helping to mitigate crowding in subways and generate extra revenue for the MTA.
Dynamic Trip Planning Can Reduce Congestion and Stress
A multimodal trip has different decision points. Taking advantage of the flexibility a dynamic trip planning service offers, commuters can plan and alter their routes based on real-time information available at each transition point. Recommendations can be optimized to reduce congestion and commuter stress by giving customers a sense of choice.
These are just a few examples of how understanding the ways people move through the city can create value for all stakeholders. The view that one form of transportation is dominant over others is not flexible enough to address a complex urban landscape, where each trip is constantly adjusting to service changes and commuter needs. In a responsive environment, services should intuitively meet the dynamic needs of customers.