$325,000* SRP Multi-modal Commute Forecast using PRT Feeder, 4/03

Current Silicon Valley suburban job center commute mode split is 80% drive alone, 13% carpool, and 5% transit. Can a high quality feeder dramatically improve the effectiveness of rail, bus, rideshare, bicycle, and walking commute alternatives? Forecasting a commute experience that does not yet exist is challenging. There are four projects to create the forecast:


1) Find out where employees commute from. Create a "fine-grained" employee commute origination GIS map, using employee address data collected from employers.
Details, Conference Paper MS Word (TRB '03).


2) Conduct in-depth commuter interviews to identify objections and explore solutions to those objections. Each commuter has a unique commute context and attitude that requires a basket of supporting services, such as "wireless carpool assistant", improved guaranteed ride home, and instant messaging on commuter rail. The solution must necessarily be comprehensive, high-tech, and high-touch. Working paper available upon request. Statistically INsignificant result from these interviews: Drive alone mode split decreased from 77% to 20% with the addition of PRT!


3) Develop immersive educational materials for surveys in #4. These materials include A) a huge, two-story tall full-size PRT model (longer than a school bus) and B) a real-time, "virtual city" 3D animation of Palo Alto in Year 2008 with a PRT system. (PRT model:
latest pictures, http://www.advancedtransit.org/PRTmodel)


4) Conduct web-based surveys utilizing objections/solutions from #2. Commuters will state whether they prefer a customized alternative commute or their drive alone commute. To take a slightly modifed version of the actual survey and view some commute comparisons,
click here.

Study Details

A Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) "shuttle" system is proposed for Palo Alto's Stanford Research Park (SRP) major employment center, complementing and significantly increasing the attractiveness of commuter rail, carpool, vanpool, bicycle, and bus commutes. PRT provides non-stop, no-wait, 30 MPH service for the last two miles of the commute, and services mid-day trips. In addition to PRT, a very comprehensive "door to door mobility" service is provided supplying both high tech (web/cellular) and "high touch" (personal) solutions to meet the complex transportation needs of SRP workers. University of California Center for Commercialization of ITS Technologies PhD Susan Shaheen defines a "new mobility" service: "a new transportation approach that focuses on paring clusters of smart technologies with existing transportation options to create a coordinated, intermodal transportation system that could substitute for the traditional auto."


The study methodology resembles that used by Shaheen in her 1999 carsharing dissertation "Dynamics in Behavioral Adaptation to a Transportation Innovation: A Case Study of Carlink - A Smart Carsharing System." Shaheen faced the same problem of forecasting demand for a transportation service that did not yet exist.


The qualitative study begin with seven hour-long interviews with commute alternative takers. Commuting details and attitudes were elicited, then a PRT-based commute alternative was proposed. Detailed reactions to morning, mid-day, and evening trip making were recorded. Alternative takers understand the limitations of commute alternatives much better than drive alone commuters, so we started with alternative commuters. From these customers, new mobility solutions were designed to address their issues. Recently, six hour-long interviews were conducted with drive alone commuters, testing out the efficacy of PRT combined with comprehensive mobility solutions. Results from these interviews provide a rich tapestry of detail to feed the upcoming web-based survey. Preliminary, very statistically INsignificant qualitative summary results are as follows:

* $325,000 cost of the study is calculated two ways: a) as the sum of bids from specialist firms for each of the projects above, b) as the sum of financial contributions, paid Cities21 time, and volunteer time.