Planning to begin an on-demand aerial ridesharing service, Uber partnered with RSG to develop demand forecasts for “Uber Air.” This futuristic concept is intended to alleviate ground congestion as cities become increasingly dense and sprawling. For Uber’s vision to move forward, credible estimates of ridership and traffic impacts were needed to determine infrastructure requirements and solidify partnerships with government regulators and aircraft design firms.
RSG developed a mode–choice survey to understand how travelers would interact with this new-to-the-world transportation option, and how their sensitivity to cost and travel time compare to today’s modes. Considering a recent trip, surveyed travelers were asked how they would behave in future recurrences, confronting an array of alternative congestion conditions, mode options, and costs. The importance of service attributes, including access/egress time, flight time, noise levels, safety, price, etc., were also evaluated.
RSG’s travel mode choice model allowed Uber to estimate mode share and simulate future travel patterns within the cities of Dallas and Los Angeles. Initial network requirements were established for the viability of the concept, including the number and location of helipad nodes needed for the service to operate efficiently. Uber leveraged these insights by sharing them at their annual Uber Elevate Summit, bolstering critical relationships with regulators, aviation engineers/manufacturers, and investors.