Pacific Southwest Region 9 UTC

National Renewable Energy Lab’s Dr. Alejandro Henao Discusses Impacts of Ride-Hailing Services on Transportation Innovation

Sunday, March 4, 2018 - 4:41pm

By Nicolette Sarmiento, UC Davis Biomedical Engineering 2018

On February 9, 2018, the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis hosted a Friday research seminar on the UC Davis campus as part of ITS-Davis’ partnership with the Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center.

The seminar, “Assessing Impacts of Transport Innovations Through Ride-Hailing Research,"  featured Dr. Alejandro Henao, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Dr. Henao spoke about the early impacts of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft on multi-modal transportation across several U.S. cities. Henao conducted research for his doctoral dissertation by collecting his own data as a driver for both Uber and Lyft, calculating the efficiency of shared rides by vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and passenger miles traveled (PMT). In his research, he found that a “future shared autonomous vehicle system might provide the ride-hailing vehicle occupancy average of 1.36 passengers per ride equating to approximately 0.80 passengers per ride (which is lower than a single occupancy vehicle trip).” Overall, Dr. Henao’s research suggests that though ridesourcing might be the way to go, there is still much that engineers and researchers need to do to effect positive changes in the transportation culture.

Dr. Henao works as a postdoctoral researcher in NREL’s Transportation Systems Group. He holds a Ph.D. from the interdisciplinary sustainable urban infrastructure program at the University of Colorado. His doctoral dissertation analyzed the impacts of ridesourcing on several areas of transportation. Dr. Henao is a recipient of a Dwight Eisenhower Fellowship and additional fellowships from the National Science Foundation, and has published and presented multiple research studies in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. His current research focuses on the synergies between transportation and energy, with an emphasis on data collection strategies and innovation to answer key research questions, including the transportation/energy impacts of ride-hailing and future transportation revolutions. He is interested in and motivated by work that leads to the creation of better places, including transportation innovations opportunities, mode choice, transit use, car-dependency reduction, vision zero, and equity.

You can view a recording of Henao’s talk, "Assessing Impacts of Transport Innovations Through Ride-Hailing Research," part of ITS-Davis’ weekly seminar series, by clicking on Video Link at the URL:

About the Author: Nicolette Sarmiento

Nicolette Sarmiento is an undergraduate student studying Biomedical Engineering with an emphasis in biomechanics at the University of California, Davis. She currently works at the Institute of Transportation Studies at Davis as a News Writer, Photographer, and Social Media Manager. Her true passion lies in research and science writing, which she believes is imperative in interdisciplinary communication. She can be reached at