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Presenting Research on Ridesharing Users at TRB 2019 (TRB Recap Series #1)

Last week at the TRB Annual Meeting, I presented to a packed lectern session on the topic “Shared Mobility, Ridehailing, and Emerging Transportation Trends.” Covering diverse topics such as microtransit regulation, the effect of shared mobility on driver behavior, and strategies for reducing empty vehicle miles, the lectern session drew well over 250 attendees – a standing room only affair!

I presented the results of an upcoming journal article I co-authored, titled "Rider-To-Rider Discriminatory Attitudes and Ridesharing Behavior". The paper, spun-off from my own master’s thesis research, is a collaboration between myself and my co-authors at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning: Ph.D. candidate Joanna Moody and Professor Jinhua Zhao. The research explores rider behavior and preferences in ridesharing services (such as uberPOOL or Lyft Shared) and I am excited to say that the research was recently accepted for publication in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour.

Here is a preview of the research methodology and results: Using survey data roughly 2,000 Uber and Lyft users, our paper establishes a measure of rider-to-rider race and social class discrimination in ridesharing. Our paper then incorporates this measure into three models to investigate associations between rider-to-rider discriminatory attitudes and ridesharing behavior. We find that discriminatory attitudes do not significantly predict whether Uber and Lyft users have used a ridesharing service (e.g., uberPOOL), which is very good news! However, among those who have used ridesharing services before, we find that discriminatory attitudes are strongly negatively predictive of an individual's level of satisfaction with the sharing option, which may discourage future use. Finally, among those who have not yet used ridesharing services, we find discriminatory attitudes in ridesharing are strongly negatively predictive of willingness to consider using uberPOOL or Lyft Shared in the future. These findings indicate a significant association between rider-to-rider discriminatory attitudes and ridesharing behavior and suggest that such attitudes may persistently discourage sharing, which could present a barrier to the policy benefits offered by increased occupancy in ridesharing.

The presentation at TRB inspired some great conversation among leaders in the shared mobility industry and the experience left my co-authors and me with many ideas for further research into this topic, so stay tuned for more! 


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