Policy – Mobility Lab https://mobilitylab.org Moving People... Instead of Just Cars Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:55:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Arlington to review parking recommendations for condos, apartments near Metro https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/23/arlington-review-parking-recs/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/23/arlington-review-parking-recs/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:39:26 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21663 This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog. Each parking space in a garage can take up as much as 400 square feet, or 36 percent of an average Arlington County, Va., apartment, and spaces can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each to build. The availability of parking also has a strong... Read more »

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This post originally appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog.

Each parking space in a garage can take up as much as 400 square feet, or 36 percent of an average Arlington County, Va., apartment, and spaces can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 each to build. The availability of parking also has a strong influence on the transportation choices that we make. That is why county policy encourages staff and the Board to:

  • Ensure that minimum parking needs are met and excessive parking is not built
  • Allow reductions in parking at locations well served by other transportation modes
  • Reduce parking requirements for affordable housing

Arlington County is reviewing a part of its policy on how much automobile parking developers must build with new apartments and condominiums proposed for Arlington’s metro corridors.

A Working Group, made up of Arlington residents as well as business stakeholders appointed by the County Manager, has been meeting since September 2016. The Working Group is putting the finishing touches on a recommendation to County staff.

Seven elements for flexible-yet-predictable parking minimum requirements

The Working Group recommends that:

  1. Parking minimums should relate to how far the apartment or condo building is from a Metro station.
  2. For each committed-affordable unit, allow fewer parking spaces than for market-rate units.
  3. If a developer provides extra bike parking, bike sharing or car sharing amenities as part of the project, then allow fewer private-vehicle parking spaces to be built.
  4. Allow developers to build garages where apartments or condos share parking spaces with offices, retail and other uses, depending on the time of day.
  5. Developers should be able to supply some or all of their parking for apartments or condos in another building or garage within 800 feet of the building.
  6. In some cases, allow builders to construct fewer parking spaces if site conditions make building that parking especially difficult.
  7. If developers build more than a certain amount of parking, they must take steps to ensure that the building does not generate excessive levels of vehicle traffic.

The Working Group crafted these recommendations based on previously established County policy, six guiding principles that members wrote and adopted and current practices in other similar communities.

Taken together, the Working Group’s seven elements would add more predictability to the development-approval process for residents and developers, and it would allow developers more room to decide how much parking they will provide as an amenity to their prospective residents. This would allow parking supply to better match parking demand as many buildings in the Metro Corridors have excess parking. Furthermore, if developers were to choose to build less parking as a result, then the community could benefit from lower costs to produce housing – especially committed affordable housing.

Of course, off-street parking is only one component of Arlington’s parking supply. However, the County will not make changes to the Residential Permit Parking program or hours of operation of rates for meters based on the Working Group’s recommendation. It’s also important to note that the Working Group process will not change the Zoning Ordinance’s minimum requirements.

What happens next?

County staff will take the Working Group’s recommendation into consideration along with input from the public to create a recommendation for the County Manager to approve and send to the County Board for adoption at its June meeting.

Arlingtonians, want to get involved?

Get more information on the Working Group’s recommendation at the project website. Staff will be posting the Working Group’s report there and opening an online survey that you can complete. You can also see readings and summaries of prior meetings.

Keep an eye on the “Project Dates” section of the page for more events where you can listen and share your views.

Photo by Sam Kittner for Arlington Transportation Partners, www.kittner.com

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Federal performance measures: What are they, and why are they so important? https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/07/federal-performance-measures-briefing/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/03/07/federal-performance-measures-briefing/#respond Tue, 07 Mar 2017 18:29:50 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21456 Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its final rules for highway and interstate performance measures, which will play a role in the evaluation of and decision-making process for future federal projects. The enumeration of the measures themselves was mandated through the Move Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012,... Read more »

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Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its final rules for highway and interstate performance measures, which will play a role in the evaluation of and decision-making process for future federal projects. The enumeration of the measures themselves was mandated through the Move Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012, also called MAP-21. For a clear run-down of what performance measures meant for state DOTs and MPOs, see our one-page briefing.

Why performance measures?

These measures will be used to determine the performance of a number of types of highways, as well as the progress in programs addressing congestion and vehicle emissions. What kind of measures these rules collect reflects what solutions might later be funded to address congestion: metrics that incorporate delay of people and the generation of emissions will allow U.S. DOT to prioritize efforts that incorporate transit and other non-driving modes.

What kinds of metrics are collected?

States will measure the percent reliability of the person-miles traveled on interstates and non-interstate highways of the National Highway System. Counting person-miles rather than vehicle-miles moves the emphasis toward testing how well the systems move people, not just cars.

Along that same line, states and MPOs will also report the percentage of trips made up of options that are not single-occupancy vehicles. To do this, they can rely on the American Community Survey, which collects data on commute modes; local surveys, like MWCOG’s State of the Commute; or system-use measurements, such as traffic counters and transit ridership.

Importantly, emissions reductions must also be reported, including the percent change in carbon dioxide generated from vehicles against 2017 levels.

How often are measures reported?

Under the final rules, state departments of transportation must, by February 20 of next year, establish four-year targets that reflect how they anticipate their highways will perform at that time. Metropolitan planning organizations then must set targets within six months of their state’s target. Urban areas only have to set one two-year goal and one four-year goal, no matter what level agency is responsible for the highways that run through them.

For what will the U.S. DOT use them?

How states and metropolitan areas measure things impacts further investments down the line. Performance measures will ensure that federal transportation funds are spent in such a way that supports the goals of U.S. DOT. They also increase transparency and accountability of the decision-making process, since it will be clear what data is informing funding choices.

Read the one-page briefing.

Photo: Interstate traffic in Arlington (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com).

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Untangling the jumbled path towards the ultimate connected city https://mobilitylab.org/2017/02/28/untangling-path-towards-connected-city/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/02/28/untangling-path-towards-connected-city/#respond Tue, 28 Feb 2017 16:19:17 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21366 This is part 1 of a two-part series on how advocates can create connected cities, examining how public agencies can reshape their priorities. Part 2 will detail how they can then move beyond conventional projects. Smartphone owners feel connected much of the time, for better or worse. But shouldn’t that be the goal for physical... Read more »

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This is part 1 of a two-part series on how advocates can create connected cities, examining how public agencies can reshape their priorities. Part 2 will detail how they can then move beyond conventional projects.

Smartphone owners feel connected much of the time, for better or worse. But shouldn’t that be the goal for physical movement as well, to be literally that connected – with a transportation system that could take one anywhere at any time?

That’s a big ask. But what’s exciting is how realistic the vision is for cities that dramatically alter outdated transportation planning. And this is not just about the New Yorks and San Franciscos; auto-oriented towns and cities can develop completely new blueprints for how people get around.

Many people and organizations have taken cracks at defining the connected city. Often these delve into the realm of Internet of Things-type technology. And beacons, smart traffic lights, and sensors will be a big part of cities in the future.

But from Mobility Lab’s standpoint, we look at the connected city as more about access, and making sure people can get to jobs, shopping, family and friends, and healthcare as easy as possible. And that they can do this without owning a car if necessary. Affordable, efficient, easy access from anywhere, anytime is the heart of a “connected city.”

Finding new funding

Of course, the major elephant in the room is always funding, most of which still goes to highways and roads, which have both divided and connected our cities over the past century. The good news is that autonomous vehicles and an increasing focus on making places bikeable and walkable could offer avenues for bringing mass-transit funding up above its typical level of 20 percent of the overall transportation budget. The bad news is that it’s still unclear whether the growth of services like Uber and Lyft will compromise transit funding sources or expand their pool of possible riders.

“Fortunately, communities are increasingly willing to tax themselves” to fund transit expansions, says Darnell Grisby, director of policy development and research at the American Public Transportation Association, who spoke at an “Ultimate Connected City” panel I moderated at TransportationCamp DC in January. “There will be a whole new way that agencies are structured with new connectivity coming online.”

Public agencies must dramatically adjust their planning

The National League of Cities 2016 “Cities of the Future” report [PDF] made even clearer how cities are woefully prepared for new transportation technologies. Of the 68 metropolitan areas analyzed, only 3 percent considered the effects of app-based, on-demand companies like Uber and Lyft in their city plans. Only 6 percent considered the effects of driverless technology. Meanwhile, 50 percent have explicit plans for new highway construction.

The federal government has taken some recent steps in the right direction, with an Obama administration report [PDF: pages 34-35] recommending pilots, workforce training, company and city partnerships, and research into future transportation engineering for autonomous vehicles.

Some places are already making headway on these guidelines. In San Francisco, if new mobility providers meet the necessary requirements, the S.F. Office of Innovation’s new City Transportation Platform grants them access to public rights of way. On a smaller, short-term scale, Washington, D.C’s Metrorail has been aggressively asking customers how it can improve, notes that “competitors” are really partners in connecting the region, and has been implementing some customer suggestions. These are the kinds of elements that need to go into comprehensive, nimble, flexible local transportation plans.

New adhesives clarify for riders

New adhesives clarify for Metrorail riders where the end of six-car trains stop at the platform.

APTA’s Grisby adds, “We would need to re-invent government. How do we maintain social equity? How can we show we’re going to be responsible with taxpayer money while making these changes? All of these changes need capital, cash, and this requires trust. We need trust.”

Public agencies must see advantages to competing confidently

Despite some remaining hesitancy, city leaders are beginning to dabble in this space. Joshua Schank, LA Metro’s first chief innovation officer, says, “As long as we continue to run mass transit systems that are treated like social services, instead of treating them as if they’re trying to attract customers and they’re trying to compete, then you’re going to have real problems in terms of trying to get our capacity to be used more effectively.”

The vision statements in many of the U.S. DOT Smart City Challenge applications show the beginnings of lights turning on. But other local officials still have a long way to go to research and understand carsharing, ridesharing, new technologies, and the needs of their constituents. Getting all of this mobility right will be a significant competitive advantage for cities, according to a recent report from McKinsey and Bloomberg.

To make one or multiple connected cities happen, local governments – and perhaps the feds as well – will simply have to start jumping in the water more than they have so far. In Finland, a government bureau called Liikennelabra (Traffic Lab) works to bring inexpensive transit providers to cities. Part of the answer may be that simple – a more fluid array of public options.

“What an agency looks like today may look different 20 years from now. A transit agency might be a contract manager, partnering with all sorts of entities. The question is: can we encourage folks to try? To not be afraid of failure?” Grisby asks.

Many transit agencies are already on the right track, but often fail to communicate the true benefits of key transit service. Transit planner Jarrett Walker recently wrote:

“The most urgent thing transit agencies need to do, right now, is start talking more confidently about what their fixed-route, high-ridership transit service is achieving, so that they negotiate with the new players from a position of strength and confidence.”

One example: Seattle has consistently supported its bus and rail transit in recent years, drawing higher rates of transit ridership to its booming downtown in a time when bus ridership is dropping in most cities.

seattle bus - BeyondDC

Seattle buses, which are given dedicated space in parts of the city’s downtown.

Educating and informing connective habits

It’s a bit surprising how successful transit projects are across the country. We’re still largely a drive-alone culture in which carpool rates have fallen consistently since the 1980s. To truly have a connected city, where people can move around seamlessly, people must be willing to share rides, and they must be aware of the availability of these options.

There is indeed hope that people are increasingly understanding that they have non-driving transportation options available. More than 30 percent of households do not own a car in six of the 30 largest U.S. cities. And people want these options, as seems apparent by the 77 cities that applied for the Smart City Challenge and the influx of younger residents to places with transit and walking options.

Connected cities must be woven into the fabric of people’s lives. There’s little doubt that Los Angeles is successfully experimenting with this concept. LA Metro is seeing a surge of new light rail riders to Rams football games because the Expo line offers a much-better deal than expensive parking at the stadium. Coordination around big events is a great way to help change people’s habits, and LA’s Olympic committee wants to further embed non-car culture into the city through its planning for the 2024 Games.

Consumer-oriented technology certainly has a big role to play in educating people, too. Apps such as Metropia, which incentivizes people to drive or travel during off-peak hours, or like Mobidot, which helps people monitor and improve their travel behavior, offer new options. Education efforts like these might be key puzzle pieces for creating connected cities.

Next, a look into how cities are finding creative ways to enhance the connectivity of their transportation systems.

Photos, from top: D.C.’s Eastern Market, where Metro riders can connect to the DC Circulator or Capital Bikeshare (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com). A six-car Metrorail sticker (WMATA). Buses in Seattle (BeyondDC, Flickr, Creative Commons).

Mobility Lab technology reporter Andrew Carpenter contributed to this article.

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WIRED tries to cover TDM, but shows that it’s still a little hard for them to grasp https://mobilitylab.org/2017/02/10/wired-tries-to-cover-tdm-but-shows-that-it-s-still-a-little-hard-for-them-to-grasp/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/02/10/wired-tries-to-cover-tdm-but-shows-that-it-s-still-a-little-hard-for-them-to-grasp/#respond Fri, 10 Feb 2017 15:37:48 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=21153 I like WIRED’s take on the topic of TDM, which they semi-smartly term “alternative-transport perks.” Semi because perks is a nice way to describe what “transportation demand management” really is all about. But “alternative” does a disservice to the need to continue along the path of normalizing things like bicycling and transit. And “transport” sounds... Read more »

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I like WIRED’s take on the topic of TDM, which they semi-smartly term “alternative-transport perks.” Semi because perks is a nice way to describe what “transportation demand management” really is all about. But “alternative” does a disservice to the need to continue along the path of normalizing things like bicycling and transit. And “transport” sounds too much like they’re talking about heavy rail.

Further, it’s great WIRED is covering San Francisco’s new TDM law, but it’s too bad the flashy headline writers want to make it very un-futuristically about a so-called “war on cars.”

Read the complete article at wired.com

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In Arlington, 221 Champions recognized for work promoting transportation options https://mobilitylab.org/2017/02/02/arlington-transportation-partners-champions-banquet/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/02/02/arlington-transportation-partners-champions-banquet/#respond Thu, 02 Feb 2017 21:32:20 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=20226 While Arlington County’s transportation network benefits from being directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the county has worked hard to get people moving in ways other than by car. “We have the lowest drive-alone rate for commuters in the state,” noted Larry Filler, bureau chief of Arlington County Commuter Services. But that rate... Read more »

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While Arlington County’s transportation network benefits from being directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the county has worked hard to get people moving in ways other than by car.

“We have the lowest drive-alone rate for commuters in the state,” noted Larry Filler, bureau chief of Arlington County Commuter Services. But that rate doesn’t happen on its own: it’s partially a product of employers and property managers creating a welcoming environment for biking, walking, carpooling, and transit.

Banquet audience

Left to right: ATP’s CEO Lois DeMeester, Larry Filler, Robert Thomson, and Jay Fisette at the Champions Banquet. Photo by Reema Desai for Arlington Transportation Partners.

Filler’s comment kicked off a celebratory breakfast honoring the 221 employers, commercial and multi-family residential building managers, and schools that take part in Arlington Transportation Partners’ Champions program.

ATP recognizes Champions in a tier system, awarding bronze, silver, gold, and platinum statuses based on participants’ efforts. And ATP makes sure each employer and property re-ups its efforts each year to continue promoting and supporting biking, walking, taking transit, teleworking, and getting IRS transit benefits throughout the county.

“Traditional contests are very employer-focused, and they look at what organizations are doing right now,” said Wendy Duren, ATP’s program director. “The multi-family residential properties have really embraced Champions. They are always trying to get new residents and new amenities in their buildings. And across all sectors, it’s promoting a little friendly competition to attract the best talent and keep up with the Joneses.”

One key to ATP’s successful efforts is that it remains a constant resource and advocate for Arlington’s attractive network of transportation options. For example, Nestle USA announced this week it will move its headquarters from California to Arlington, and ATP sales representatives have already worked with Nestle to ensure a smooth transition. One ATP rep will even travel to California to meet with Nestle employees before they move to Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood starting this summer.

“Part of the appeal of Arlington to Nestle was that our ATP has been working with them from the beginning,” confirmed County Board Chair Jay Fisette.

He said a major part of the county’s vision is to work well with the private sector and that ATP has been “stepping up to bring that vision to life.” Speaking at the banquet, Fisette cited Arlington’s mix of transportation options as a major selling point for potential employers and residents alike.

Fisette specifically noted ATP’s work with schools. “Very rarely do you see a school system as committed to [transportation issues] as ours. A lot of our schools are not in our transit corridors, but our school system has committed to work with us to enhance those transportation choices,” he said.

Of course, Arlington’s focus on educating the public about its transportation possibilities diverges from older thinking. Robert Thomson, better known as The Washington Post’s “Dr. Gridlock,” gave the keynote address to the Champions in attendance.

“There’s a cloud on my horizon. It’s called Arlington County,” he joked. “I have a vested interest in commuter frustration.”

At the Post, Thomson is considered “the Dear Abby of traffic.” “Tell [my readers] that the nuclear summit is in D.C. or the Pope is in town, and they don’t ask for the best method of travel. They ask for a detour.” He added, “Many people have not had a bad experience on Metro: they have had no experience on Metro.”

Thomson’s comments make clear how important it remains – and how much work is left, especially for organizations like Arlington Transportation Partners – to get more people traveling in more and different ways.

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Paving the way toward walkability by kicking deadly driving habits https://mobilitylab.org/2017/01/30/paving-way-walkability-driving-habit/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/01/30/paving-way-walkability-driving-habit/#respond Mon, 30 Jan 2017 17:06:03 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=20164 Long gone are the days of Mad Men, when smoke-filled offices were common place. If you had told anyone during that era that in 30 years, it would be illegal to light up in most public places, they would have laughed in your face. When smoking was identified as a preventable killer and a threat... Read more »

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Long gone are the days of Mad Men, when smoke-filled offices were common place. If you had told anyone during that era that in 30 years, it would be illegal to light up in most public places, they would have laughed in your face. When smoking was identified as a preventable killer and a threat to public health that had to be curbed, it was obvious it would require dramatic behavior change to shift social attitudes. Several decades later, we now find it hard to imagine that smoking in public places was ever allowed.

Re-imagining the future with different behaviors can be difficult, but we have to act now. 2016 saw a dramatic surge in travel deaths in the U.S. This included car-crash fatalities as well as a surge in pedestrian deaths by cars. Car-related fatalities have affected all of us taking any mode, but the good news is that this phenomenon is preventable.

International progress towards safer streets

In the 1970s, the Netherlands saw a dramatic increase in car-related deaths, and public outcry ensued. They created a campaign advocating for safer streets for the most vulnerable people in society, children, called “Stop de Kindermoord,” which literally translates to “Stop the Child Murder.” Dutch cities responded with traffic-calming measures and shared-space designs in neighborhoods called “woonerfs,” which dramatically decreased the number of fatal car crashes.

Along the same vein, the Danish decided that they wanted to have safer, healthier citizens, which could be achieved by creating a more livable city. They invested in creating more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. By striving for this vision, the City of Copenhagen has transformed to become a place where more than 50 percent of people commute by bike every day.

U.S. driving in the future

Campaigns such as Vision Zero propose that no loss of life on our roads is acceptable. Such organizations re-frame the conversation to acknowledge that road deaths are preventable, not part of the game, and have helped us envision a safer and healthier future.

Several U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., are leading the way by adopting Vision Zero strategies and are actively making roads safer for all. The adoption of Vision Zero in D.C. has opened several doors, including collecting and making the District’s crash data open and more accessible to the public. This allows advocates and civic programmers, like Mobility Lab’s Transportation Techies group, to experiment with the data and gain new insights that can be used to identify specific locations that require new interventions and safety strategies. It has also included education and enforcement campaigns aimed to protect our most vulnerable road users.

A future that is dedicated to the goal of zero car-related fatalities will be a healthier, more productive future for everyone sharing the road. This future of safer roads with adequate space and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists will entail less congestion for motorists. The societal benefits that bicycling and walking produce are vast and cost-effective and reverberate to everyone who shares the road.

What you can do

Local, state, and federal governments all play a role in creating and maintaining our transportation system. All levels need to be involved in this re-visioning of safety and shift towards transportation planning practices that focus on all modes of transportation. They also need to be held accountable.

Shifting transportation goals, policies, and laws from a focus on the throughput of vehicles (which entails a certain percentage of crashes) to safely moving people to the places they want to go aligns with the mission of transportation-demand-focused agencies. Therefore, as constituents, it’s important to push for the adoption of Zero Vision policies and a shift to Complete Street design strategies, particularly at the local level. These will save lives.

It’s high time we commit to curbing our dangerous driving addiction and enjoy the benefits of safe streets.

A version of this post first appeared on the Arlington Transportation Partners blog.

Photo: Pedestrians navigate an intersection in Arlington County. (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com)

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Overcoming obstacles in on-demand public-private agreements https://mobilitylab.org/2017/01/25/overcoming-road-bumps-on-demand-public-private-agreements/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/01/25/overcoming-road-bumps-on-demand-public-private-agreements/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 15:46:20 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=20125 The recent rise of “mobility on demand” services like Uber and Zipcar has shifted society’s understanding of transportation systems and how they operate. “Mobility has evolved in the past 10 to 15 years from a binary choice,” Justin Holmes of Zipcar explained at this month’s TransportationCamp DC. “An accordion of choice has opened for consumers.”... Read more »

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The recent rise of “mobility on demand” services like Uber and Zipcar has shifted society’s understanding of transportation systems and how they operate.

“Mobility has evolved in the past 10 to 15 years from a binary choice,” Justin Holmes of Zipcar explained at this month’s TransportationCamp DC. “An accordion of choice has opened for consumers.”

Governments, advocates, and communities are responding by experimenting with their relationships to these services to ensure that on-demand options work with transportation networks to benefit public mobility. To determine how to make these relationships more mutually beneficial and flexible, a panel consisting of members from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors dug into this recent evolution of public-private partnerships.

How best to partner?

A key conversation now, according to Colin Hughes of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, is how the right private partnerships can contribute to the public good through increased mobility, and what types of agreements cities should encourage.

Understanding the importance and dynamics of these partnerships, Melissa McMahon of Arlington County Commuter Services, explained that her bureau seeks solutions in how not just to provide transit, but how to connect people to it – an area in which on-demand companies can play a key role. As a result, cities can ensure that they create “a legitimate foundation for working with private companies to ensure they serve the public.”

This public role, for many companies, fits with their ultimate business goals. Car2Go’s Walter Rosenkranz emphasized, “Public transit should always be the backbone of mobility.” Companies like Car2Go serve as an extension to those systems, seeing the most success in markets with strong connections to mass transportation.

Darnell Grisby, of the American Public Transportation Association, pointed out that what helps partnerships work is that cities provide access to companies as an incentive to accelerate growth, at which point they can potentially expand service and connect more people.

The nature of public-private agreements moves public projects in this direction, suggested Uber’s Andrew Salzberg. He described the partnerships as problem-oriented, allowing companies to collaborate with cities to address their communities’ needs. As their relationships evolve, though, stakeholders should “go back to first principles,” focusing on the core issues of increasing access to transportation without increasing vehicle miles traveled.

Many sides don’t see eye-to-eye yet

In light of this experimentation, governments and cities are still figuring out how to have relationships with on-demand services.

One impediment to these partnerships, McMahon noted, is a lack of trust between private companies and communities. Residents can generally count on public-transit services, like buses or subways, to stick around in the long-term, but there has been mixed success with getting providers to continue operating in areas that need an option but may not generate profit.

As McMahon put it, while the neighborhood will always exist, “it might not make sense for a business to stay five years later,” potentially leaving communities without essential connections to main transit corridors.

Rosenkranz addressed this when pressed about Car2Go’s recent service suspensions in San Diego and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Because it “did not see enough adoption to-date to continue,” he said, the carsharing service withdrew from those cities.

In a move based more on principle, Uber and Lyft suspended service in Austin, Texas, after citizens voted to uphold legislation requiring fingerprint checks on potential drivers. Consumers lost one transportation option, and had to get creative in implementing their own replacement services.

Rosenkranz and Salzberg reminded the group that private companies do react to low-demand conditions, which could cause them to leave certain markets. From the perspective of affected communities, the companies only appear to care about profit, and not local needs for transportation access. It’s a narrative that private services will have to change in order to build trust and grow in these markets.

Salzberg emphasized that companies and cities want the same outcome: fewer people driving alone. The best approach, then, is for governments to “shape policies for anybody to plug into,” and then providers can move in to fulfill these goals.

In this sense, according to Hughes, the government could become the “platform” for which companies extend transit services. Through this technology-based lens, governments might focus on their goals for the transportation, that creates a foundation for mobility services to provide the means of effectively addressing community needs.

Partnerships are working towards mutual benefits

Ultimately, speakers made the argument that companies and governments can help each other – and therefore communities – to develop more connected and accessible transportation. They generally agreed that governments, as Hughes mentioned, can create the space where companies provide the necessary flexibility to adapt systems to public needs.

Cities are beginning to see this in progress, as private entities partner with transit agencies to provide services from fare collection to paratransit.

APTA’s own research suggests services like Uber and Lyft are contributing to transit ridership, a nod to how the definition of public transit is changing. In addition, the release of Uber Movement’s traffic data, and similar collaborations that may follow, suggests the beginning of better-integrated partnerships that will allow both parties to better understand their environment and work together.

Photo: Three car2go SmartCars in Seattle (SDOT Photos, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Transportation connectivity as a tool for public health in rural communities https://mobilitylab.org/2017/01/06/transportation-connectivity-tool-public-health-rural-communities/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/01/06/transportation-connectivity-tool-public-health-rural-communities/#respond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 17:01:27 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=19967 This Saturday’s TransportationCamp DC 2017 will feature a broad array of topics. Esther Dyson, executive founder of Way to Wellville, author, and angel investor, will appear in a session about creating more connected cities. Access is an important factor in community health, and a well-connected transportation network plays a vital role in enabling that. Small,... Read more »

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This Saturday’s TransportationCamp DC 2017 will feature a broad array of topics. Esther Dyson, executive founder of Way to Wellville, author, and angel investor, will appear in a session about creating more connected cities.

bob-lee-ed-creative-commonsAccess is an important factor in community health, and a well-connected transportation network plays a vital role in enabling that.

Small, rural communities tend to lack the resources, funding, and political will necessary to drive this, meaning, residents are likely lacking travel options to access the services that support a higher quality of life.

Esther Dyson, founder of health research non-profit HICCup, hopes to fill TransportationCampLargerResizedthose gaps with Way to Wellville, a challenge the group is running to improve quality of life in five communities over 10 years by providing support and guidance to health-based improvements that would achieve these goals.

Hailing a connection

Dyson, who expresses a particular interest in ride-hailing services, emphasizes the importance of creating transportation options for residents that link them to health and economic opportunities.

One of her group’s major efforts is to attract ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to the “Wellville Five” communities selected to participate in the challenge: Clatsop County, Oregon; Greater Muskegon, Michigan; Lake County, California; Niagara Falls, New York; and Spartanburg, South Carolina. With such low-density areas, Dyson says the services represent an opportunity to connect spread-out people to healthful lifestyles.

Dyson points out that this could start by using ride-hail companies to connect residents without their cars to healthcare and wellness facilities. Providing convenient access to health infrastructure creates an opportunity for smart, long-term investment in community health by “paying a little bit year-by-year to maintain health rather than paying a huge price to fix something after it goes wrong.”

That said, Dyson says it is difficult to get companies to roll out programs in small communities like the Wellville Five. While private businesses have more incentive to establish services in dense urban areas, there is a “latent capacity” that they overlook in less-dense areas.

Dyson wants to build interest among companies and convince them to work with small communities by emphasizing the long-term economic value of introducing this transportation option. Local initiatives and buy-in would be essential to “jump-start” efforts to attract service providers and overcome their high startup costs.

Should a ride-hailing company establish itself in these communities, Dyson expects that they would release a strong source of latent economic activity, engaging people with cars that need money, and providing access to the community for people without personal vehicles who lack transit options.

Because Way to Wellville is only two years in, it is still too early to measure dramatic progress. However, Dyson ultimately won’t look for success in terms of metrics like blood sugar count. Instead, she expects to see “more kids graduating, more empty hospital beds, and more people engaging in fitness” by having access to the tools and facilities that promote healthy lifestyles. These will become desirable communities to live in, and connectivity will play a decisive role.

Attendees of Transportation Camp 2017 will have an opportunity to discuss with Dyson and other panelists the potential of such services to improve community health: please keep an eye out for the “Ultimate Connected City” session.

Photos: Top, a couple walking (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com). Esther Dyson (Bob Lee, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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What does “mobility on demand” success look like? https://mobilitylab.org/2017/01/04/mobility-on-demand-success-options-transitcenter/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/01/04/mobility-on-demand-success-options-transitcenter/#respond Wed, 04 Jan 2017 19:42:53 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=19951 In October, the Federal Transit Administration announced the selection of 11 projects through its Mobility on Demand Sandbox Program. A piece of a broader move throughout the United States Department of Transportation, the $8 million funding program hopes to harness the potential of on-demand mobility options to make transportation systems more accessible and spur innovative... Read more »

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TransportationCampLargerResizedIn October, the Federal Transit Administration announced the selection of 11 projects through its Mobility on Demand Sandbox Program.

A piece of a broader move throughout the United States Department of Transportation, the $8 million funding program hopes to harness the potential of on-demand mobility options to make transportation systems more accessible and spur innovative projects in the field.

Chris Pangilinan, tech and rider engagement program director at TransitCenter, has been part of the organization’s discussion with the FTA to, as he puts it, “seed innovation in order to take advantage of emerging mobility offerings.” This would help municipal departments of transportation effectively develop their projects and the performance indicators that measure their outcomes.

While performance indicators are necessary, Pangilinan points out that “it’s important to have overarching goals to answer why we have transportation in general, in order to determine what’s best to measure.” However, “in [their] research, [TransitCenter] realized not every city has goals in mind, and are just measuring data,” lacking a vision for what they want from their transportation systems.

TransitCenter and the FTA are working to articulate these overarching intentions, and therefore the metrics that become important to measure through this lens. From there, cities can better understand the most effective way to expand their transportation connections.

The potential behind new services

As mobility on demand-type services, such as bikeshare and ride-hailing, continue to grow, the Sandbox Program will encourage cities to experiment with these options and shed light on whether or not they are effective ways to make transportation systems more accessible.

One project Pangilinan highlights is a cooperative submission from Seattle and Los Angeles in collaboration with Lyft to strengthen first- and last-mile connections to the cities’ main transportation corridors.

While both cities hope to expand the reach of their light-rail and bus systems, adding expensive services like connecting bus routes may not be the most effective solution for the communities’ needs. Instead, partnering with an on-demand service could create “efficient connections and expand ridership without spiking the cost” of serving passengers, Pangilinan notes.

Having such different cities submit similar partnership frameworks could provide important information in how specific MOD services expand transit connections.

“We don’t know what MOD brings to transit,” says Pangilinan. “So let’s work with cities to see what they can do with these partnerships.”

In his view, both cities show potential for success based on their unique characteristics. Seattle “intuitively makes sense” based on its more transit-oriented land use. On the other hand, Los Angeles’ particularly dense population on a gridded road network presents its own unique opportunity to move a lot of people along direct routes.

How each partnership develops, and whether they effectively serve their target communities, can help other cities better articulate their own transportation goals and make better-informed decisions based on their own unique contexts.

Exploring success through accessibility

Underlying the Sandbox Program’s various projects is a push to improve equity among the communities each project serves.

Stakeholder engagement is a key element in developing the projects, says Pangilinan. Community involvement in transportation experiments help them direct the conversation toward what best serves those populations, and therefore makes a successful project.

In a sense, TransitCenter and FTA are still figuring out what success means through this lens. There are two perspectives to reconcile in this sense, Pangilinan explains. First is to provide travelers the ability to “maximize every utility available” to get around quickly and affordably. Second, from a wider point of view, agencies must also determine if changes in their systems are contributing to the broader public good, be it greater access, improved public health, or reduced congestion.

“Are we providing access to institutions that are necessary for people to thrive?” he asks.

In this light, Pangilinan is excited to measure how mobility on demand affects these aspects. “Mobility on demand is an interesting tool,” he says. “But is it helping achieve our broader transport goals?”

The MOD Sandbox Program is helping to build a conversation around what successful projects look like, and how they improve access to the cities that build these services into their transportation systems.

Participants at TransportationCamp DC can contribute to this conversation this week: Pangilinan and colleagues will be leading a discussion to explore how mobility on demand contributes to transportation systems and the communities they serve.

TransitCenter is a host partner of TransportationCamp DC 2017.

Photo: Traffic in Arlington County, Va. (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com).

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Our 10 most-read posts of 2016 https://mobilitylab.org/2016/12/23/most-read-top-posts-2016/ https://mobilitylab.org/2016/12/23/most-read-top-posts-2016/#respond Fri, 23 Dec 2016 15:05:36 +0000 http://mobilitylab.org/?p=19924 From tiny data-gathering initiatives to widespread carpooling ideas, here are our 10 most-read articles from the past year. 1. The yellow bicycle button that gets the attention of city leaders Swedish company Hovding, makers of the explosively inflating bike helmet, paired with the London Cyclists Campaign to create a simple button that cyclists could use to record... Read more »

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From tiny data-gathering initiatives to widespread carpooling ideas, here are our 10 most-read articles from the past year.

1. The yellow bicycle button that gets the attention of city leaders

Swedish company Hovding, makers of the explosively inflating bike helmet, paired with the London Cyclists Campaign to create a simple button that cyclists could use to record and, and later map, high-stress biking conditions. 

2. Bikeshare GPS insights highlight stark differences across types of trips

Contributor Jon Wergin worked with the District Department of Transportation on a rare study of Capital Bikeshare bikes tagged with GPS trackers. Wergin then identified common routes for both frequent, registered riders, and visitors, as well as areas that might benefit from new bikeshare stations.

3. Filling up seats in cars: The future of driving

What if we could put the empty seats on highways to better use? Our video examined what a future of efficient carpooling and traffic might look like, from better ride-matching to shared autonomous vehicles.

4. Affordable housing and transit should go hand-in-hand

Contributor Michael Ryan discussed the idea of employing affordable housing as a part of transportation demand management thinking. Through financing incentives, cities can locate more affordable housing, for whose residents transit access is essential, near frequent transit corridors.

5. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation cuts solo driving with employee programs

Faced with a move to a new complex in downtown Seattle, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation created a wide-ranging employee commuting program to reduce its 88 percent employee drive-alone rate. A combination of transit and biking incentives and flexible parking policies more than halved that rate in five years.

6. Bikeshare safer than riding personal bikes, new research says

A report from the Mineta Transportation Institute found bikeshare collisions occur at a lower rate than crashes involving personal bikes. The authors suggest a number of factors, from the types of people riding bikeshare to the design of the bikes, could contribute to the overall safety rates.

7. Transportation redefined: Cities must work with shared mobility options

Ride-hailing and -sharing transportation options are now ubiquitous in most major cities, and in order to create efficient transportation networks and best serve residents, agencies should look to ways to collaborate with them to improve access and reduce drive-alone trips.

8. Transportation options are looking different – sidewalks should too

Emerging, tech- and sharing-based transportation modes are changing how we use sidewalks and curb space. New public space design plans, writes contributor Lisa Nisenson, should consider the need for bike racks, bikeshare stations, drop-off areas, and more in addition to traditional curbside uses like private car parking.

9. Virginia’s new Capital Trail is spurring investments along its route

Not only has the 55-mile, year-old Virginia Capital Trail brought business and visitors to the corridor between Richmond and Jamestown, Va., but it’s also raising the visibility of biking as transportation in the area. Nearby towns are looking into ways to educate kids about biking and expand their biking facilities to connect to the trail.

10. Bike parking gets people riding. Here’s how to build it right.

Visible, safe, and covered bike parking can play a major role in encouraging people to bike to work and other destinations. The best kinds of racks, according to contributor Michael Ryan, are U-racks, while “wheelbenders” and wave racks actually create conflict and waste potential bike parking space.

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