Steps to Supplement Park-and-Ride Public Transit Access with Ride-and-Ride Shuttles

Daily movement of commuters into dense employment centers from sprawling residential locations where fixed-route transit is limited creates a challenge for transit agencies. A well-established paradigm for mobility in this environment is high-capacity fixed-route public transit set up with park-and-ride (P&R) access points that efficiently load buses and trains to a level of ridership that makes transit mobility cost-effective.

At the same time, public transit agencies are under fiscal pressure to sell off or reduce capacity of park-and-ride facilities for both financial gain as well as to support government environmental sustainability efforts to reduce daily vehicle miles of driving. How to provide alternative transit access via fixed-route or flexible-route shuttles that travel on a schedule or on-demand is useful knowledge for agencies interested in retaining their ridership generated by customers who want to park at transit stations and stops.

This research will organize what is known or emerging about shuttle approaches and then prepare guidance for transportation policy makers specifying recommended effective action when P&R facilities are shrinking in capacity or challenged by overuse. The research will focus on common carrier ride services on roads between suburban residential locations and existing transit center park-and-ride lots in California urban areas, recognizing the existing catchment areas for potential transit customers seeking access at particular facilities.

The parameters and specifications will cover human-driven and other vehicles with levels of automation up to and including future, completely driverless, autonomous operation. 

The research will be based on systems analysis and design work available from a review and synthesis of information found in existing literature, then validated and sharpened in interview with knowledgeable practitioners in relevant fields.

The researchers hypothesize that multi-passenger shuttles can compete cost-effectively with private car use for seamless customer conveyance to a transit center only by leveraging technology-rich processes for delivery of traveler information, fleet scheduling and dispatching, and (eventually) automated vehicle control. The specifications required of such systems will be identified by this project.

The potential implementation of the recommended configurations will be displayed in two to four scenarios based upon a variety of needs and physical circumstances found at a sample of facilities of Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA).


Mineta Consortium for Transportation Mobility
San José State University

Principal Investigator: 

John Niles

PI Contact Information: 

Mineta Transportation Institute
San José State University
210 N. 4th St., 4th Floor
San José, CA 95112

Funding Source(s) and Amounts Provided (by each agency or organization): 

California Department of Transportation – $100,650

Total Project Cost: 


Agency ID or Contract Number: 



December 2019 to May 2021

Project Number: