Application of New Technology Product Research to New Suburban Commute System Design and Validation
Transportation Research Record
To provide improved alternatives to suburban solo commuting, a technologically-intensive door-to-door mobility service was designed for suburban commutes, with special emphasis on addressing attitudinal/psychological barriers. Literature Review, expert opinion, and GIS journey-to-work analysis influenced the initial conceptualization. Concepts were then iteratively refined through interview research. The final system concept was validated via stated preference surveys employing "gap analysis"
... measure the importance of barriers and the effectiveness of proposed solutions. An elaborate "assembly-line" eight-step survey protocol was employed, featuring immersive, virtual-reality based respondent stimuli (information acceleration), full disclosure of psychological barriers, and customized door-to-door commute comparisons. Original contributions include: a) a unique combination of varied product research techniques for the design and demand forecasting of futuristic transportation systems and b) rich anecdotal descriptions of technology worker commute psychology. PRODUCT CONCEPT / GOALS Addressed is the formidable challenge of removing 25 percent or more of parked cars from suburban office parks. In the San Francisco Bay Area, suburban office park commute mode is roughly divided as follows: 78% drive alone, 16% shared ride, and 3% transit. (1) The proven method to reduce solo driving is charging for parking. A database of 41 U.S. transportation demand management (TDM) case studies compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed nominal solo driving reductions of 16, 25, 28, 20, 16, 25, 34, and 25 percent with paid parking or parking cash-out regimens. No other known TDM technique produces a 15 percent reduction. (2) This research explored whether commuters could be willingly coaxed away from driving alone. The author's TRB '04 paper describes the mobility system concept, which can be summarized as follows: Proposed is a 20-station, elevated personal rapid transit (PRT) "shuttle" system for Palo Alto's 20,000-employee Stanford Research Park (SRP) major employment center, complementing and significantly increasing the attractiveness of commuter rail, carpool, vanpool, bicycle, 30 mph service for the commute's last two miles, and services mid-day trips. In addition to PRT, the proposal includes a very comprehensive "door to door mobility" service, called "D2D," that supplies both high technology (web/cellular) and "high touch" (personal) solutions to meet workers' complex transportation needs. D2D includes solutions to improve carpool and transit connections, increase the safety of carpooling with strangers, rapid car share/emergency ride home, and improved carpool matchmaking. The overall system is called "PRT+D2D." (3, 4) Interview and survey scenarios are set in Year 2008, assuming: a) PRT technology had been commercialized and b) cellular infrastructure had continued its breakneck technological progression. Thus, the research is based on speculative assumptions. Nevertheless, technology market researchers regularly forecast emerging technologies a few years into the future. PRT+D2D system economics and public policy considerations are avoided in this paper. SIX-STEP PRODUCT RESEARCH This study represents an application of technology market research and product design techniques to Silicon Valley suburban commuting issues. The "product" in this case is a complex transportation service