Recent PhD alum Zhengtian Xu has received the 2021 HKSTS Outstanding Dissertation Award cum Gordon Newell Memorial Prize for his dissertation On the Empty Miles of Ride-Sourcing Services: Theory, Observation and Countermeasures.
According to the NKSTS website, the society established the Outstanding Dissertation Award “to promote transportation research and education in Asia.” The Gordon Newell Memorial Prize is named for a late faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley “in recognition of his significant contributions to scientific research and education in traffic and transportation theories.”
The proliferation of smartphones in recent years has catalyzed the rapid growth of ride-sourcing services such as Uber, Lyft, and Didi Chuxing. But to overcome the physical and temporal frictions that separate drivers from customers and effectively reposition themselves towards desired destinations, ride-sourcing services generate a significant number of vacant trips. These empty miles traveled result in inefficient use of the available fleet and increase traffic demand, posing substantial impacts on system operations.
In his dissertation, Xu investigated the formation and consequences of empty miles in ride-sourcing services and proposed countermeasures to bolster system performance. He was advised by Professor Yafeng Yin.
Xu finished his PhD in Summer 2020 and started as an Assistant Professor at the George Washington (GW) University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in Fall 2020. His research focuses on mathematical modeling, optimization, and empirical operations management of urban transportation systems. He leads the Sustainable Urban Mobility Lab (The SUM Lab) at the GW Transportation Program, aiming to understand, promote, and regulate emerging urban mobility services and vehicle technologies.