Can transportation network companies replace the bus? An evaluation of shared mobility operating costs


Xavier Harmony

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - demand responsive transit, place - north america, economics - operating costs, operations - service span, land use - urban density


TNC, transit, break-even, operational cost, municipal, decision-making


Municipal governments struggle with providing accessible mobility for constituents without overburdening them with service costs. While transit offers many advantages, the cost of providing services can be prohibitive. Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) are a mobility alternative. This research answers the following question: Can TNCs be economically feasible as a replacement for bus? U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) National Transit Database (NTD) data was evaluated finding that while TNCs could replace transit in some instances (23% of cases for an exclusive TNC option; 45% of cases for shared TNCs) most of the time bus will be more cost effective. Three agency characteristics were identified to anticipate TNC cost effectiveness: ridership, service area density, and average bus operating speeds. Overall, while TNCs are unlikely to be able to replace transit completely in most cases, their flexibility allows public entities to be more creative when making mobility policy and operational decisions.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.