MOD Sandbox Demonstrations Independent Evaluation: BART Integrated Carpool to Transit Access Program Evaluation Plan

Abstract: 

The MOD Sandbox Demonstrations are sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The MOD Sandbox Demonstrations Independent Evaluation is sponsored by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), jointly by the Intelligent Transportation Systems - Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) and the FTA. All documents are USDOT publications. You may access the document at: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/36425


BART is the fifth-busiest heavy rail rapid transit system in the United States, carrying more than 430,000 daily riders. BART provides service in Northern California in four Bay Area counties: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, San Francisco County, and San Mateo County. The BART system is comprised of 107 miles of track, 46 stations, and 669 revenue vehicles. It provides access to many of the San Francisco Bay Area’s key destinations for work, school, and recreation. BART has over 3,400 employees and a combined annual capital and operating budget of over $1.5 billion.

BART, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and Scoop Technologies, Inc. (Scoop), are partnering on a program to better integrate carpool access to public transit by matching passengers with a transit station as their destination, and providing a seamless way to reserve and pay for highly-coveted parking spaces at BART stations.

BART offers 48,000 parking spaces at 34 of its 46 stations. The parking mix at BART includes “daily fee” first come/first served spaces (approximately 35,000 spaces), permit spaces (approximately 12,000 spaces), and a small number of carpool spaces (approximately 900 spaces). Demand for parking is high and the majority of spaces fill by 8am each weekday. However, only about 0.8 percent of those parking at BART carpool with others to the station, according to a 2015 passenger profile survey. Therefore, as most vehicles remain parked all day, the majority of parking spaces serve just one patron per day.

MTC operates BART’s legacy carpool permitting program, which provides dedicated carpool spaces at 21 BART stations. Unfortunately, this legacy carpool program is unsuccessful, as first-come/first served carpool spaces are difficult to preserve for legitimate carpools. Preventing fraudulent use of these spaces by single occupancy vehicles requires live observation of passengers as they exit their vehicles, which is impractical given staffing resources. As a result, BART does not provide dedicated carpool spaces at one-third of its stations and has been reluctant to expand the number of spaces at stations where the legacy carpool program does not exist.

The MOD partnership between BART, MTC and Scoop allows BART to address some of the issues that were previously limiting BART from expanding carpooling options. Scoop provides an app that matches drivers and passengers with similar destinations into carpools. MTC and Scoop had already been working together since 2015 to promote carpooling in the Bay Area region. In 2016, BART, MTC and Scoop began working together to develop a pilot program which would use the Scoop app to match users going to BART stations into carpools and as an incentive would guarantee a parking space at the BART station. 

Since the number of users matched might vary from day to day, in order to provide flexibility, matched drivers are allowed to park anywhere in BART’s permit parking areas. Permit spaces are reserved for permit holders and matched Scoop drivers until 10am, offering passengers more flexibility about when to arrive at the station. Scoop provides license plates of matched drivers to BART on a daily basis and BART uses this information to enforce the program.

The pilot program initially launched at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station in January 2017 and through the MOD Sandbox grant, the program is able to expand to additional stations. The grant will also be used to more fully develop Scoop’s app functionality in BART-specific ways by including BART stations as preset origins and destinations, integrating parking payments into the app, and pre-screening for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Grant funds will also be used to market the program and increase the critical mass of users.

The total project funding is $521,000, including $358,000 in USDOT funds from the MOD Sandbox grant and $163,000 in matching funds from the three project partners.

Author: 
Gustave Cordahi
Susan Shaheen, PhD
Elliot Martin, PhD
Publication date: 
April 1, 2018
Publication type: 
Report