Trading off costs with time in accessibility by ride-hailing and transit

I’m excited to share the preprint of our new study comparing accessibility by ride-hailing Vs transit Vs the combined use of ride-hailing + transit.

Perhaps the most important contribution of the study is to demonstrate how accounting for the trade-offs between travel time and monetary costs is a critical aspect in accessibility analysis and which should be considered by future research on transportation accessibility and equity. Apart from that, the study also brings robust evidence that policies that promote an integration between mass transit and on-demand rideshare could bring substantial accessibility gains. Nonetheless, our findings show that such accessibility gains are likely not going to benefit low-income communities without some form of subsidized fare discounts.

  • Pereira, R. H. M., Herszenhut, D., Saraiva, M., & Farber, S. (2023, March 23). Ride-hailing and transit accessibility considering the trade-off between time and money. OSF Preprints.


Ride-hailing services have the potential to expand access to opportunities, but out-of-pocket costs may limit the benefits of ride-hail for low-income individuals. This paper examines how ride-hailing services can shape spatial and socioeconomic differences in access to opportunities while accounting for the trade-off between travel time and monetary costs. Using one year of aggregate Uber trip data for Rio de Janeiro in 2019 and a new multi-objective optimization routing method, we analyze the potential for ride-hailing services to improve employment accessibility when used as a standalone transportation mode and in conjunction with transit as a first-mile feeder service. We compare the accessibility Pareto frontiers of these transport mode alternatives with cumulative opportunity measures considering multiple combinations of travel time and monetary cost thresholds. We find that, compared to transit, ride-hailing can significantly expand accessibility as a standalone transport mode for relatively short trips (between 10 and 40 minutes), and as a first-mile feeder to transit in trips longer than 30 minutes. In both cases, the accessibility advantages of ride-hailing are mostly limited by relatively higher out-of-pocket costs. When we account for different affordability thresholds, the accessibility benefits of ride-hailing services accrue mostly to high-income groups. These findings suggest that policy efforts to integrate rideshare with transit are likely not going to benefit low-income communities without some form of subsidized fare discounts to alleviate affordability barriers. The paper also highlights how accounting for trade-offs between travel-time and monetary costs can importantly influence the results of transportation accessibility and equity studies, suggesting that this issue should be addressed in future research.

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