Mobile Apps and Transportation: Exploring Data Metric Potential and User Response to Multi-modal Traveler Information

The proliferation of innovative mobility options within American cities in recent years has greatly enhanced transportation alternatives for public, but it has simultaneously presented a challenge for transportation planners. Mobility resulting from increased multi-modalism is best measured through person miles traveled (PMT) as opposed to vehicle miles traveled (VMT). However, PMT is measured through comprehensive but infrequent surveys. As travel becomes more multi-modal, there are challenges associated with tracking that behavior. However, mobility "apps", such as multi-modal trip aggregators, can play a role in better understanding this behavior. First, many of these apps have a customer base engaging in multi-modal behavior. Second, these apps collect real-time information about travel/trip options as part of their operation. Together, these two features provide an opportunity to study users to better understand multi-modal decision making as well as to discover how data collected by mobility apps could be used to inform better PMT measures for transportation planners.