Mobility Lab is a source of research and best practices for advocates to increase awareness and education about more and advanced transportation options for people.
Mobility Lab is funded by Arlington County (Virginia) Commuter Services, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
One of Mobility Lab’s primary roles as a start-up organization is to measure the impacts of “transportation demand management” services in Arlington County, Virginia – frequently cited as a national leader for public transportation. Third-party research shows that Arlington’s TDM work has been very successful, even though TDM investment pales in comparison to the dollars required to build roadways. TDM outreach work throughout the county helps shift 41,000 car trips each work day from solo-driven cars to some other forms of transportation. That’s roughly the equivalent of the number of vehicles on six lanes of I-66 and I-95 during the three-hour morning rush hour. Thus TDM cost-effectively supports the investment the county has made in its land-use plan and transportation infrastructure, resulting in better use of Arlington’s transportation system.
Mobility Lab believes – through storytelling, original research, events, and strategic partnerships – we can effectively gain local and national industry-wide funding for more and better transportation options for all people.
TDM is the flip side of infrastructure. It focuses on helping people use the infrastructure in place for transit, ridesharing, walking, biking, and telework. It is cost-effective in guiding the design of our transportation and physical infrastructure so that alternatives to driving are naturally encouraged and our systems are better balanced.
As Mobility Lab CEO Lois DeMeester says, “Traffic jams occur when demand for our infrastructure exceeds supply. Transportation demand management offers fiscally responsible programs that promote better use of our existing infrastructure.”
TDM thus underlies most of the important new initiatives of today: transit-oriented development, complete streets, walkable activity centers, livability and sustainability initiatives, and integrated corridor management.
Mobility Lab nurtures innovations to a fundamental requirement of human life: better transportation options for everyone. It is a place of collaboration, education, and continuous improvement for moving people in more healthy, efficient, and sustainable ways.
Mobility Lab is based on three pillars: Research. Collaboration. Communication.
- Research about how Arlington’s transit-oriented development works. We are embedded within the living laboratory that is Arlington County Commuter Services. We produce and disseminate cutting-edge original transportation research that details why so many of Arlington’s roads are free of the traffic that clogs so many urban areas.
- Collaboration to bring about innovation. We are a convener and engager of top minds on transportation in the D.C. region, nationally, and internationally. We regularly hold online collaborations and events like Hack Days, TransportationCamp, and educational symposiums on topics ranging from sustainability to real-estate development and beyond.
- Communication about best practices. We are a leading online source for how we can improve our lives by making better transportation choices than the ones our society has been trained to embrace. We want to share your research, as well as build a database of readable, entertaining, and usable best practices to work with an array of partners advocating for better policy and increased funding for those working in the TDM industry.
Awards, and what people are saying about Mobility Lab:
- Mobility Lab wins the Association for Commuter Transportation 2015 Excellence in Advocacy Award for our video Energizing People About the Future of Transportation.
- “Mobility Lab leads the way in tracking transit trends,” says the Eno Center for Transportation.
- “Mobility Lab is such an important and model project,” says Hans Riemer, member of Montgomery County (Md.) Council.
- Director Tom Fairchild and Mobility Lab chosen by the Dulles Area Transportation Association (DATA) for the Northern Virginia Transportation Partner Award in May 2014 at the DATA 28th Anniversary Celebration.
- Mobility Lab is named a Constant Contact All-Star in 2015, 2014, and 2013 for consistently high open and engagement rates of the Mobility Lab Express newsletter. It also means we are in the top 10 percent of all Constant Contact newsletters.
- Winner of the 2013 Association for Commuter Transportation Presidents’ Award.
- “Mobility Lab is doing wonderful work in the D.C. area to promote and encourage transit and transportation app development,” says Sheryl Gross-Glaser, director of the Partnership for Mobility Management.
- “Mobility Lab is an exceptional resource center for research and information about smart transportation options. By communicating often and clearly, it is helping move the needle on the effective use of transportation alternatives throughout America,” says John Martin, director of the Southeastern Institute of Research.
- “Fostering critical thinking and new perspectives at their unconferences and shepherding cutting-edge transit arrival and departure screens, Mobility Lab is a leader in applying technically innovative ideas to the transportation industry,” says Adie Tomer of The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.
- CaBi Trip Visualizer is called “awesome” by POLITICO Morning Transportation and application creator Michael Schade is called “inventive” by Emily Badger of The Atlantic Cities. His Side-By-Side Router was named a “Map of the Week” by Google.
- Washington Express columnist Vicky Hallett says, “Mobility Lab’s Hack Days are ‘about rolling up your sleeves, bringing your laptop and attacking specific ideas.'”
- “You guys crunch the numbers that people like me like to spew!” – Barbara McCann, author of Completing Our Streets, Island Press.
Mobility Lab has served as a meeting place and the home of idea generation for:
- Transportation Techies‘ monthly Meetup events
- The annual transportation unconference series, TransportationCamp
- Technology-development fellowships such as the one that created TransitScreen
- D.C. and Arlington-based organizations like Capital Bikeshare, Arlington Transportation Partners, BikeArlington, WalkArlington, and goDCgo
- Virginia Tech and American University transportation-focused students
- Crowdsourcing hackers for bike trip planning software and real-time transit screens
- Fairfax County (Virginia) Connector busline executives, and
- Roanoke (Virginia) transportation planners, to name a few.
Arlington County Commuter Services’ Results
One of Mobility Lab’s primary roles is to measure the impacts of Arlington County Commuter Services, showing that what we do works, and can be translated as a game plan for anywhere else in the world. See the latest here: Arlington County Commuter Services Performance Report FY2014 [PDF]
Mobility Lab tracks the actions of ACCS programs. Here are the latest numbers, updated in July 2015:
In 2006, ACCS embarked on an extensive research and evaluation program to measure its success in meeting customers’ needs and document the travel and environmental impacts of mode changes influenced by TDM services. ACCS has conducted surveys of residents, employees, service users, and employers to measure their awareness and use of TDM services, their satisfaction with the services, and their travel patterns before and after their contact with the program.
The research demonstrates the value of these cost-effective services to individual users and the collective value of the travel changes made by these users to achieve county-wide transportation and environmental objectives. Arlington County’s transportation demand management programs strive to improve mobility for residents, employees and visitors. Single-occupancy-vehicle trips are converted to more sustainable modes of transportation. Almost three-quarters of trips are converted to transit, i.e. rail and bus. We estimate that Arlington County Commuter Services’ programs shift 45,000 SOV trips each work day into other forms of transportation from the region’s roads.
We in the U.S. have been trained for our car culture, and Mobility Lab is working daily to show there are other options that offer a wide variety of direct and indirect benefits.
See the ACCS annual reports for further information about our results.
- ACCS Making an Impact 2014
- ACCS Making an Impact 2013
- ACCS Making an Impact 2012
- ACCS Making an Impact 2011
- ACCS Making an Impact 2010
- ACCS Making an Impact 2009
- ACCS Making an Impact 2008
- ACCS Annual Report 2005