February 2021 Tech Updates for Mobility Managers

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: February 25, 2021

Electrification, electrification, electrification. Have I mentioned electrification? It’s a word on the lips of many this month.

TNCs/Ride Sourcing Companies

Can Uber Help Save Public Transit? by David Zipper, CityLab
“A new report from the ride-hailing company says its tools can help Covid-battered transit agencies trim costs and improve service. Not everyone is so sure.”

Will Uber’s U.K. Loss Jump the Pond? Gig Worker Status Explained by Erin Mulvaney and Kathleen Dailey, Bloomberg Law
“A U.K. Supreme Court ruling against Uber Technologies Inc. likely means fines, back pay, and more legal challenges to app-based companies there, but will the U.S. gig economy face a similar blow?
The answer: Not any time soon.”

Lyft sees its future, and it is autonomous and B2B focused by Brian Straight, Modern Shipper
“‘We believe the future of transportation is as-a-service, and we are the only company in North America that has a seamless multimodal transportation platform that can replace car ownership,’ [CEO Logan Green] said. ‘We expect autonomous vehicles to accelerate this transition. They will transform the ridesharing industry and their business.'”

Autonomous Vehicles

A Framework for Shaping the Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles and Advancing Equity Outcomes by Becky Steckler, Amanda Howell, Nico Larco, and Grace Kaplowitz, Urbanism Next, University of Oregon
“Using experience from working on the Knight AV Initiative, Urbanism Next created this white paper to provide a foundation for public sector agencies to approach autonomous vehicle deployment and policy with a focus on equity. This report outlines ways that public agencies can identify community needs and shape deployment to ensure that AVs will be accessible for all.”

Prepare For Gridlock If Future For Autonomous Vehicles Is Plentiful Cheap Journeys by Carlton Reid, Forbes
“It is a fundamental principle of economics that when the price of a good decreases, the quantity demanded increases. In other words, make something cheap, and people will buy lots of it. Make motoring even cheaper than it is today, and people will consume even more of it. In that scenario, the future for AVs is gridlock.”

Research Report 220: Low-Speed Automated Vehicles (LSAVs) in Public Transportation, Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board
The report “presents current use cases for LSAVs and provides a practitioner guide for planning and implementing LSAV services as a new public transportation service.”

Self-Driving Tech Heads To Transit With New Flyer’s Autonomous Electric Bus by Alan Ohnsman, Forbes
“New Flyer’s prototype bus and the Connecticut test program are receiving funds from the Federal Transit Administration’s Integrated Mobility Innovation initiative, which assesses ways advanced technology can improve transit services.”

The underwhelming reality of driverless cars by Allison Arieff, City Monitor
“Billions have been invested in the development of autonomous vehicle technology, and the industry is starting to accept that the outcomes aren’t really what anyone expected.”


CTS applies ‘Netflix model’ to MaaS by Ben Spencer, ITS International
“Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) has launched Umo, a suite of platforms for riders, transit agencies and mobility service providers to complement transportation technology.” MaaS for riders, SaaS for transit agencies.

Google Maps will now let you pay for public transportation and parking through its app by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“In places like the San Francisco Bay Area, customers will be able to buy a digital Clipper card directly from Google Maps. The feature will be available to use in over 80 transit systems around the world, Google says.”

Public Transportation Should Be Free by Michelle Wu, The Appeal
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for us to ignore this problem any longer. Our nation’s public transit is in crisis. To secure an equitable post-pandemic recovery, we must take meaningful steps toward a fare-free transit system.”

Vehicle Electrification

Research Report 219: Guidebook for Deploying Zero-Emission Transit Buses, Transit Cooperative Research Program, Transportation Research Board
The report “is designed to provide transit agencies with information on current best practices for ZEB deployments and lessons learned from previous deployments, industry experts, and available industry resources.”

Steep Climb Ahead: How Fleet Managers Can Prepare for the Coming Wave of Electrified Vehicles by Rocky Mountain Institute
The report “finds that major fleet managers have begun electrifying their fleets, which will ultimately save them money and reduce their carbon footprints. But in order to electrify their vehicles at scale, they will need to begin serious planning for it now. Organizations with large fleets will need to undertake a fundamental business restructuring in order to execute a successful transition to electric vehicles (EVs).”

Electric Buses Renew Attention on Transit Maintenance Facilities by Erica Antoine, Metro
“Successfully electrifying our nation’s bus fleets requires a renewed appreciation for the often-overlooked bus maintenance depot.”

The Auto Industry Bets Its Future on Batteries by Jack Ewing and Ivan Penn, The New York Times
“Carmakers, government agencies and investors are pouring money into battery research in a global race to profit from emission-free electric cars.” Market forces can come late, but when they come, they come big.

How to Electrify the Nation’s School Buses by Kea Wilson, Streetsblog USA
“It will take a long time to electrify the nation’s bus fleet. But a new study says the right mix of financing measures and government subsidies could supercharge the nation’s school bus fleet within the decade.”

Biden orders aim to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035 by Catherine Morehouse, Smart Cities Dive
This includes plans to upgrade the nation’s electrical grid.

Biden plan to electrify federal fleet will boost EV market, but many questions remain, experts say by Robert Walton, Utility Dive
The move towards incentivizing the electrification of non-transit fleets may also lower the costs of electrifying buses as well.

Shell agrees deal to buy electric car-charging company ubitricity by Jillian Ambrose, The Guardian
“Acquisition expected to be finalised by end of year as race gathers pace to corner market”

It Is Time to Decarbonize Transport by Makhtar Diop and Andrew Steer, The City Fix
“Transport’s impact on climate change is plain to see. But addressing it will require a shared international commitment and a high degree of cooperation. This week, the World Bank and WRI Ross Center are convening leaders in the sector to do just that.” An international perspective on electrification of mobility.

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

The Role of Transit, Shared Modes, and Public Policy in the New Mobility Landscape, Transportation Research Board of the NASEM.
“The report’s authors recommend deliberate and strategic measures in order to realize the full and potentially transformative benefits of shared services. These measures include providing travelers with real- or near real-time information on combinations of available price and service offerings, smartphone applications that simplify the process of arranging and paying for the use of multiple transportation modes for a single trip, and more public sector coordination of services across modes and jurisdictions.”

Populus: public sector must lead on MaaS by Ben Spencer, ITS International
The Transportation Holy Grail – Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and Mobility Management advises public agencies to coordinate to influence the future of MaaS to steer progress on transportation equity, carbon efficiency and congestion.”

Mobility-as-a-Service: Can It Be the Swiss Army Knife for Personal Mobility in Rural Areas? by Sandra Phillips
A look at how Tompkins County, New York is taking the lead to develop MaaS in rural New York State.

Wayne State Researchers Use AI to Bring Micro-transit to Hourly Workers by Grace Turner, DBusiness Magazine
“Researchers at Detroit’s Wayne State University are working to bring micro-transit solutions to those who live in affordable housing so they can get to their jobs. The National Science Foundation is helping to fund the project.”

The Transactional Data Specification: A Building Block for Equitable Mobility-as-a-Service by Jana Lynott and Sharon Feigon, Shared-Use Mobility Center
“A simple, but integral technological advancement holds the promise of creating a stronger, more equitable transportation system.”

Piecing Together the Puzzle: Mobility as a Service from the User and Service Design Perspectives by Jana Sochor, International Transport Forum
“To quote one project partner in a MaaS pilot project, who represented a public organisation new to MaaS but with long experience within one transport silo, and who shall remain nameless: ‘This was a lot harder than we expected’. So, what should one expect? Why has the MaaS vision not naturally coalesced?”

Technology, More Generally

Why you’ll be hearing a lot less about ‘smart cities’ by Sommer Mathis and Alexandra Kanik, City Monitor
“Growing backlash against big technology companies, combined with the pandemic, has led to diminishing enthusiasm for a term that once dominated the conversation around the future of cities.”

Why You Shouldn’t Build a Mobile App by Louis Antonopoulos, Thoughtbot
Transit agency fascination with creating apps may be over, but for those still considering it, this is a good article to read.


We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (kashner@ctaa.org).

Skip to toolbar