Substitution of Ride-Hailing Services for More Sustainable Travel Options in the Greater Boston Region

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - demand responsive transit, planning - surveys


sustainable transport, on-demand mobility, survey


The recent and dramatic growth in ride-hailing activity is a bellwether of a coming transportation revolution driven by on-demand services. The impacts of ride-hailing services on the transportation system have been immediate and major. Yet, public agencies are only beginning to understand their magnitude because the private ride-hailing industry has provided limited amounts of meaningful data. Consequently, public agencies responsible for managing congestion and providing transit services are unable to clearly determine who uses ride-hailing services and how their adoption influences established travel modes, or forecast the potential growth of this emergent mode in the future. To address these pressing questions, an intercept survey of ride-hailing passengers was conducted in the Greater Boston region in fall 2017. Ten ride-hailing drivers, recruited and trained by the authors, asked passengers to complete surveys during their ride-hailing trip. The tablet-based survey instrument recorded nearly 1,000 passenger responses with regard to socioeconomic background, mobility options, and trip context. These responses, which enabled a robust description of ride-hailing passengers for the region, were used to analyze how new on-demand mobility services such as Uber and Lyft may be substituting travel by other modes. The study substantiates previous findings and advances knowledge of who is utilizing this new mobility option and what factors influence its adoption over public and active transportation modes. The results are intended to inform public policies ensuring that shared mobility technologies will complement existing multimodal landscapes and not worsen existing environmental concerns or equity gaps related to individual mobility.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.