U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This summary report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Back to Publication List        
Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-15-015    Date:  June 2015
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-15-015
Date: June 2015


The Exploratory Advanced Research Program

The Impact of Automated Transit, Pedestrian, and Bicycling Facilities on Urban Travel Patterns Summary Report

PDF Version (1.40 MB)

PDF files can be viewed with the Acrobat® Reader®



Full usage of rapid transit systems that serve major urban areas can reduce road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. One obstacle to greater use of available rapid transit systems is the distance between the rapid transit station and the traveler’s origin or destination, termed the last-mile problem. To address the last-mile problem, the investigators of this research project, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration’s Exploratory Advanced Research Program, asked whether the use of rapid transit might be increased by implementing an automated, high-frequency community shuttle service to the transit station and improving urban design near the stations to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. The investigators surveyed residents of four metropolitan Chicago neighborhoods, all served by rapid transit but differing in levels of population density and affluence. By drawing on the survey data and by using agent- and activity-based modeling developed by the research team, the investigators found that a significant shift of commuters from automobiles to rapid transit might be achieved with implementation of the potential shuttle service and design improvements. The investigators also explored how perceptions of cost, safety, and time affect travelers’ choice of mode.

Replication of this study, validation of its forecasts, and refinement of the research models are now needed to understand significant shifts in travel and mode choice. Although the deployment of automated vehicles is approaching technological feasibility, research is also needed to understand and address associated public policy and institutional issues, particularly with regard to public transit applications. The results of this project suggest that further research is indeed warranted.

Joseph I. Peters
Director, Office of Operations Research and Development
Federal Highway Administration

Debra S. Elston
Director, Office of Corporate Research, Technology, and Innovation Management
Federal Highway Administration


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Impact of Automated Transit, Pedestrian, and Bicycling
Facilities on Urban Travel Patterns: Summary Report

5. Report Date

June 2015

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

Jonathan Levine and Tom Morton

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

University of Michigan
2000 Bonisteel Boulevard, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

University of Illinois at Chicago
2035 W. Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60612

Woodward Communications
1420 N Street, NW., Suite 102, Washington, DC 20005

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.



12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Operations Research and Development
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Summary Report
September 2009-August 2013

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

FHWA's Contracting Officer's Task Manager (COTM): Zachary Ellis, HRTM-30
Technical Contact: Robert A. Ferlis, Technical Director, Office of Operations Research and Development

16. Abstract

Researchers conducted a survey in four metropolitan Chicago neighborhoods served by commuter rail to explore how residents' travel preferences might change with the potential addition of (1) an automated community transit (shuttle) service to and from the station and (2) a package of streetscape improvements to facilitate walking and bicycling to the station. The neighborhoods differ in levels of population density, current rail use, land use, and affluence. By using a telephone and mail survey to determine residents' current travel patterns and references with the potential improvements, agent-based modeling, and activity-based modeling, the researchers forecast a possible overall decrease in car use of 39 percent and an increase in commuter rail use of 34 percent with the improvements. The shuttle service produced greater changes in lower density neighborhoods, with forecast of transit use doubling in the lowest density neighborhood. Travelers' perceptions of cost, time, and safety are explored, and the differences among communities' responses to the improvements and their implications for the relative effectiveness of each potential improvement are discussed. This report summarizes the Exploratory Advanced Research Program project "Effects of Automated Transit and Pedestrian/Bicycling Facilities on Urban Travel Patterns." The final project report is available at https://taubmancollege.umich.edu/faculty/ faculty-publications/effects-automated-transit-pedestrian-and-bicycling-facilities-urban.

17. Key Words

Automated transit, automated vehicles,
neighborhood shuttles, bicycling facilities, public
transit, cycling, last-mile problem, pedestrians,
transit shuttle, urban travel patterns.

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price
Form DOT F 1700.7 Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables