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Multi-city Survey on Generational Attitudes Towards Emerging Mobility Options





There is a great generational divide in how emerging and transformative transportation technologies may be adopted and used in the years ahead. This is just one of the findings of a large multi-year research study being led by SSEBE researchers under the auspices of the TOMNET University Transportation Center (UTC) led by Arizona State University (ASU). The Center for Teaching Old Models New Tricks (TOMNET) is a $10 million Tier 1 UTC funded by the US Department of Transportation in 2016 and aims to derive deep behavioral insights on the many factors that affect people’s mobility choices. TOMNET is developing and testing new transportation simulation models that can accurately forecast future travel demand in an era of emerging transportation technologies and shared mobility options.


As one of its signature projects, TOMNET is conducting a large-scale four-city survey to understand people’s preferences and choices when it comes to transportation. The survey is intended to collect very detailed and in-depth data about people’s mobility patterns, and attitudes towards emerging transportation options such as autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing services. TOMNET consortium members – Georgia Tech, University of Washington, and University of South Florida – as well as a sister University Transportation Center (called D-STOP) led by the University of Texas at Austin, are joining forces with ASU to collect data from a sample of 5,000 residents in the four metropolitan regions of Phoenix, Tampa, Austin, and Atlanta


Among the many key findings, the TOMNET team has discovered a great generational divide in the extent to which people embrace emerging transportation technologies. Among those 18-30 years of age, only 3.7 percent indicate that they are not familiar with ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. But among those over 70 years of age, 25.5 percent indicate that they have never heard of such services. For all age groups above 40 years old, more than one-half of the individuals indicate that they are familiar with the service but do not use it.

TOMNET Assistant Director, Khoeini, who is an Assistant Research Professor in SSEBE, noted that “Mere familiarity with a service does not necessarily mean that it will be used; there are a number of other factors that affect the extent to which individuals can and will embrace new mobility options. For example, it can be very inconvenient for a household with two workers and three children to use services such as Uber and Lyft, while those in the oldest age group may not be very comfortable with using technology and smartphone apps for hailing rides.” While 37 percent of those 18-30 years of age indicated using ride-hailing services at least once a month, the corresponding percentage for the older age groups is much smaller.

See the TOMNET Project page for future updates.

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