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FHWA Home / Shared Use Mobility: European Experience and Lessons Learned - Appendix B. Successes in the United States – FHWA Office of Policy

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Appendix B. Successes in the United States

The United States has also had some notable successes in advancing shared mobility approaches. Limited regulation on ride-hailing services in the U.S. has led to their huge expansion, while European governments have often curtailed such expansion. For example, Germany's passenger transportation law is comparatively strict and requires licensed professional drivers. As a result, the personal vehicle–centered "UberX" model common in the United States does not exist in Germany. Instead, Uber only operates much like a limousine or professional livery service.

Uber drivers are also not allowed to pick up passengers in a chain (A to B to C) but instead must return to their garage or call center between trips. In September 2017, Uber lost its license to operate in London, and had to completely suspend operations there as a result.

In addition to allowing the general growth in ride-hailing, the United States has had many notable successes in encouraging innovation in urban mobility in recent years, and has made comparative advances in some areas over Europe as a whole. These include:

Ride-hailing partnerships. While European cities have attempted to strictly regulate new transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft, with several cities banning them altogether, in the United States some transit agencies have begun limited pilot partnerships with ride-hailing services. This is especially true of agencies in midsize and smaller cities. These pilots include subsidized first/last mile services, promotional partnerships, limited provision of paratransit services, and Guaranteed Ride Home programs for carpool users.

Carpooling. Perhaps because the mode split favors single-occupancy vehicles so heavily in most of the United States, the nation has led in many ways regarding developing new solutions related to carpooling and ridesharing. Cities such as Washington, D.C., and San Francisco have long supported successful informal single-trip carpooling or "slugging." Innovations such as high-occupancy vehicle lanes and free use of high-occupancy toll lanes for ridesharing have helped to support carpools and are now fairly extensive in regions such as California's Bay Area, but are largely absent in Europe.

Parking meters. Source: SFPark.
Source: SFPark
Parking pricing. The United States has also led the way in developing new mechanisms for managing and pricing parking. In San Francisco, the SFpark pilot was one of the first to use "smart" parking meters that allow for prices to fluctuate according to location, date and time of day, adjusting meter and garage pricing up and down to match demand and help achieve sufficient parking availability at all times, and to send price signals when parking is most constrained and thereby encourage alternative transportation access.

Accessibility and equity. Every transit agency in the United States operates with the basic premise that all services should be provided to everyone. Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, however, the United States does much more on the federal and local level to ensure equity of service for disabled users than is typical in Europe.

Automated vehicle testing. Spurred onward by its sizable technology and auto industries, the United States clearly leads in the area of autonomous vehicle testing. In California alone, more than 40 companies have secured permits to test driverless cars on public roads.69 More than 20 states have passed legislation related to autonomous vehicles.70 The more centralized, controlled nature of many European governments along with perhaps differences in philosophy have resulted in less of such activity in Europe. Several European cities have started testing autonomous transit shuttles, but on a much smaller scale compared with activity in the United States.

69 State of California, Department of Motor Vehicles, "Testing Autonomous Vehicles with a Driver," n.d. Available at: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/vr/autonomous/testing/. [ Return to note 69. ]

70 National Conference of State Legislatures, Autonomous Vehicles Self-Driving Vehicles Enacted Legislation, "Autonomous Vehicles," March 26, 2018. Available at: http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/autonomous-vehicles-self-driving-vehicles-enacted-legislation.aspx. [ Return to note 70. ]

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