Title:
Understanding Attitudes and Behaviors Associated with Shared Mobility During Disruptive Events and Times of Uncertainty

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Author(s)
Kiriazes, Becca
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Advisor(s)
Watkins, Kari E.
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Abstract
Although single-occupancy vehicles are currently the main mode of transportation for most of the US, recent breakthroughs in technology mean that new and improved shared mobility options are becoming available and have the potential to dramatically change travel behaviors. In cities around the world, innovative ride-hailing services (e.g. Uber and Lyft) have become a popular mobility option but true “shared” ride-hailing services like UberPool and Lyft Line are significantly lagging in acceptance. To magnify this existing trend of low willingness-to-share across modes, the COVID-19 pandemic, which dramatically changed the way we interact with strangers, disrupted the perception and perception of shared mobility short-term and possibly long-term. Is this the end of shared mobility? This dissertation tackles this emerging issue to understand attitudes and willingness to share in mobility services during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. To investigate the comfort and behavior of shared mobility throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, a two-wave online survey was deployed in 2020 and 2021. Survey data collected reported preferences related to ride-sharing environments and safety procedures, frequency of travel on different modes before and during the pandemic, and level of comfort related to the usage of different modes. As online surveys became the most common data collection mode due to pandemic limitations and existing survey methodology trends, this dissertation first compares the strengths and weaknesses of the online sample recruitment platforms. Results from the first wave of the survey in October 2020 indicated that despite the reopening of the economy in Georgia, the actual usage of shared mobility transportation modes, including private ride-hailing, shared ride-hailing, and transit, had still dramatically decreased when compared to before the pandemic. Attitudes and behaviors are intrinsically linked so survey results indicated a similar decrease in shared mobility comfort due to the disruption. Attitudes towards shared mobility vary among individuals by socio-demographic variables like race, income, and age, familiarity with the mode, and general attitudinal factors related to extroversion and perception of the pandemic. Logistic modeling and data analysis indicated that although there would be an increase in comfort for all shared modes when a vaccine is available, the willingness-to-share mobility will not return to the pre-pandemic levels. Despite the prevalence of the vaccine a year later, the second survey wave found that individuals were still less comfortable using shared ride-hailing than private ride-hailing and transit. This study reveals situational differences in sharing spaces with strangers and the persistent discomfort of returning to shared mobility in a “new normal”. Finally, as relying on self-reported measures for attitudes and behavior introduces potential bias, the difference in respondents’ ability to predict future attitudes is identified and analyzed. Overall, this dissertation provides new understandings of perceptions and behavior related to shared mobility as a result of the COVID-19 disruption. As we work to plan resilient and sustainable transportation systems, results from this thesis can be used to further develop adaptive strategies in shared mobility services.
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Date Issued
2022-12-14
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Dissertation
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