Bridging the Income and Digital Divide with Shared Automated Electric Vehicles

April 7, 2021

report coverCivil and Environmental Engineering doctoral student Jessica Lazarus, International Council on Clean Transportation and UC Berkeley alum Gordon Bauer, Emerging Futures’ Jeffrey Greenblatt, and Civil and Environmental Engineering professor and Transportation Sustainability Research Center Co-Director Susan Shaheen look at improving the mobility of low-income travelers by incentivizing the use of electric SAVs (SAEVs) and public transit in a recently published paper: Bridging the Income and Digital Divide with Shared Automated Electric Vehicles.

Abstract: Shared mobility is gaining traction in the transportation community as a potentially more environmentally friendly alternative to automobile travel and complement to public transit. However, adoption and use of shared mobility by low-income individuals lags behind other demographic groups. Additional research is needed to better understand the transportation needs of low-income travelers and how public agencies, community-based organizations, and shared mobility operators can work together to best serve those needs.

This research fills gaps in understanding the potential policy strategies that could be effective at increasing the access, awareness, and use of shared mobility by low-income individuals. We employ Oakland, California as our primary study site (see Figure 1 and Table 1 for more detail). In this report, we present our findings on barriers to shared mobility from a review of existing shared mobility social equity initiatives, expert interviews (n=13) and focus groups with rent burdened residents of East Oakland (n=24). We further investigate barriers and implications for transportation use in an online survey (n=177), as well as longitudinal panel of phone and video interviews (n=31) with rent burdened Oakland residents. Rent burden refers to the percentage of income spent on rent and can more widely capture the population of Oakland residents who are struggling to keep up with rising housing costs.