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Research Projects

STATUS: Complete YEAR: 2021 TOPIC AREA: Public transit, land use, and urban mobility Transportation planning, policy, and finance CENTER: PSR

The Potential for Ride-Matching in Disadvantaged Communities

Project Summary

Project number: PSR-21-01
Funding source: Caltrans
Contract number: 65A0674
Funding amount: $70,844
Performance period: 8/16/2021 to 8/15/2022

Project description

Mobility is critical for access to jobs, education, medical care and healthy food, yet in many communities of color mobility resources are limited. Low income households have fewer cars, and even in densely populated urban areas public transit is often of poor substitute for the private car. The purpose of this research is to explore the market for a unique ride-matching service in low income, minority communities. The original concept was developed by Dessouky and colleagues (Furuhata et al, 2015) for shuttle services. The ride matching service is conceptualized as a non-profit service that matches an individual seeking a ride with a driver traveling from and to a similar origin and destination. As a non- profit service, the payment simply covers costs of providing the ride. Unlike ridehailing services such as Uber or Lyft, the ride-matching service minimizes deadhead miles, as it seeks to match ride seekers with nearby drivers who have a similar origin and destination.

A low cost ride-matching service has the potential to fill a mobility gap in low income, minority communities. However, such a service must serve the needs of the community. We will work directly with the Southeast Los Angeles Collaborative (SELA) to examine travel patterns, elicit perceptions of various service models, and develop recommendations for a pilot demonstration. SELA is an association of non-governmental organizations dedicated to improving quality of life for area residents. The SELA area is located in Southeast Los Angeles County and has a predominantly Hispanic, low income population.

Our research methods include analysis of existing travel surveys, analysis of cellphone based mobility data, and focus groups to elicit attitudes and perceptions regarding various service concepts. The research will be informed by a research vision group representing both the community and local public agencies. The research will provide new knowledge on the travel behavior of low income, minority households.

This research is part of a larger effort to solicit funding for a field demonstration of the ride matching service. In this research, we work with the SELA Collaborative to understand the travel needs of the community - a generally under-studied population that is not well represented in traditional state or national travel surveys. Using that learning, we will design a later proposal for a full demonstration of a ride-matching service (not this proposal), which makes this initial research potentially high impact. We anticipate that the successful completion of this initial stage will lead to opportunities to generate larger funding pools for a full ride-match demonstration program.

The proposed research focuses on understanding travel behavior, attitudes and perceptions within low income communities of color. While the research is aimed at providing missing knowledge for a full demonstration program, this research will fill a notable gap in the travel behavior literature on its own, providing new insights into travel needs of an underserved and often under-studied mobility disadvantaged population.


Genevieve Giuliano
Professor; Margaret and John Ferraro Chair in Effective Local Government; Senior Associate Dean for Research and Technology; Director, METRANS , Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 216Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]


Marlon Boarnet
Senior Associate Dean, Academic Affairs; Professor & Director of Graduate Programs in Urban Planning, Sol Price School of Public Policy
650 Childs Way
Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall (RGL) 301CLos Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
[email protected]