This research was performed under the direction of Joseph Chow, industry associate professor of civil and urban engineering and Deputy Director of the C2SMART transportation research center at NYU Tandon. Authors included former C2SMART graduate students Mina Lee and Gyugeun Yoon, and Brian Yueshuai He of the University of California, Los Angeles.  

Newswise — The e-scooter sharing ecosystem is now one of the fastest emerging micromobility services. As of 2018, such e-scooter sharing companies as Lime and Bird operate in over 100 cities around the world. This year New York City chose Lime, Bird, and VeoRide as the first participants in its inaugural electric scooter pilot.

Sector growth is being driven now by the low entry barrier, but also because e-scooters are potentially filling a mobility gap in cities that have weaker public transit infrastructure. This is due to the fact that they provide better access to transit access points and offer an economical means to travel short distances as part of a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) system. They also reduce traffic congestion and fuel use, which can be a catalyst for adoption in cities where automobiles are the most common mode of transportation.

In a new predictive study, the researchers created forecast models for motorized stand-up scooters (e-scooters) in four U.S. cities based on user age, population, land area, and the number of scooters. Using data from Portland, Ore, Austin, Tex., Chicago, IL., and New York City, the model predicted 75,000 daily e-scooter trips in Manhattan for a deployment of 2000 scooters, which translates to $77 million in annual revenue. The investigators assessed the number of daily trips by the alternative modes of transportation that they would likely substitute based on statistical similarity. 

The model parameters reveal a relationship with direct trips of bike, walk, carpool, automobile and taxi as well as access/egress trips with public transit in Manhattan. The study estimates that e-scooters could replace 32% of carpool; 13% of bikes; and 7.2% of taxi trips. E-scooters are likely to compete with the other modes at shorter distances than at longer distances. The results statistically support the hypothesis that e-scooters play distinct roles as direct trip-substituting at short distances and access trip-substituting at longer distances.

In the study, published in the Elsevier journal Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, the investigators argued that their research results are valuable for government or city transportation planners as  the growing popularity of environment-friendly-transportation make e-scooters a sustainable mode providing significantly less pollution. In particular, the confirmed hypothesis that e-scooters can play a role for access trips lends support to its value toward increasing the public’s accessibility to public transit.

“The economical demand analysis we proposed can promote the development of policy and infrastructure relating to e-scooter systems,” they write. “For example, e-scooters are driving much of the discussion on curb management practices, as well as mobility data sharing and as a core part of Mobility-as-a-Service platforms.

This research was conducted with support from the C2SMART University Transportation Center (USDOT #69A3551747124).