PI: Sean Qian

University: Carnegie Mellon University

Traditional public transit is designed to serve high-density, urban areas with concentrated travel patterns using fixed routes and schedules. Mobility gaps exist for populations who are captive to public transit and need to travel to locations where public transit does not cover, particularly for vulnerable populations for opportunity employment. Emerging technologies enable bridging such a gap by providing flexible mobility services and providing travelers with real-time service information. One such example is to complement public transit mainlines with either first- or last-mile mobility services (FMLM) or Transportation Network Companies (TNC), or both being integrated.

The goal of this PITA project is to develop a prototype FMLM mobility service system that employ user friendly interfaces, optimize the vehicle routing algorithms for system deployment, and test/pilot the models/algorithms invented in the SMC project. The ultimate goal is to build a FMLM system out of this PITA project, and spin off a technology company to commercialize the FMLM system. The team has interacted with RideACTA and received positive feedback on potential deployment of this new mobility service. Initial market analysis indicates that currently there is no system specifically designed for running efficient FMLM services nationally. Most mobility service systems are not tailored for FMLM, and there exist a number of operational issues related to the system that cannot be addressed easily. Those issues include inefficient vehicle routing, inability to incorporate TNC service, and inability to complement the FMLM with a fixed-route service, just to name a few. The team aims to address those issues by developing a prototype FMLM system for the first time and piloting the system with RideACTA by the end of 2021, with both Robinson Township and Moon Township as two pilot studies.