Measuring Fundamental Improvements in Sustainable Urban Mobility: The Mobility-Energy Productivity Metric: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Recent technological advancements in mobility are creating many options for connecting citizens with employment, goods, and services, particularly in urban areas where modes such as bike and car shares, electric scooters, ridesourcing, and ridesharing are proliferating at a rapid pace. Analysis and tools for overall transportation planning are dominated by urban regional travel demand models whose roots in highway operations poorly reflect the system dynamics in denser areas where parking costs, convenience, and availability - not to mention sustainability concerns and quality of life - are driving people to an ever-greater spectrum of mobility services. In this paper, we present a new paradigm for evaluating mobility options within an urban area. First developed for the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficient Mobility System research program, this metric is termed the Mobility-Energy Productivity (MEP) metric. At its heart, the MEP metric measures accessibility and appropriately weights it with travel time, cost, and energy of modes that provide access to opportunities in any given location. The proposed metric is versatile in that it can be computed from readily available data sources or derived from outputs of regional travel demand models. End times associated with parking, curb access, cost, and reliability and frequency of service need to be carefully considered to obtain an appropriate and accurate perspective when computing the metric. Ultimately, the MEP metric can be used to reflect the impacts of new mobility technologies (transportation network companies, electric scooters), business models (car shares and bike shares), and land-use practices (such as transit-oriented development) on sustainable urban mobility. This paper lays out the need, requirements, and framework for this new metric, and offers it, in collaboration with the American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE), as a foundational metric for Smart City assessment.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2019
EventASCE International Conference on Transportation and Development - Alexandria, Virginia
Duration: 9 Jun 201912 Jun 2019


ConferenceASCE International Conference on Transportation and Development
CityAlexandria, Virginia

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5400-74971 for paper as published in proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5400-73050


  • MEP
  • mobility energy productivity metric
  • ridesharing
  • ridesourcing
  • sustainable mobility
  • TNC
  • transportation network company
  • transportation planning
  • travel demand modeling
  • urban mobility


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