What We’re Reading: Opportunities in Transportation Technology

  • Author: A Conrick
  • Date: September 28, 2017

KPCTH -2016.07.02 New TransitScreen - Center for Total Health 00780

This week, Harvard Business Review got us thinking about changes in technology that are changing transportation and what cities and communities can do to harness the opportunities that come with them. These changes will challenge all communities, rural as much as urban, in different ways, but they will come no matter what. In the long run, these challenges can benefit the communities that look forward on this front, tailoring technological advances to their specific contexts. Therefore, our we’ve focused this week on apps and new innovations in this part of the tech world to highlight how these changes already affect communities, for worse but also for better.

In big cities, many individuals have begun using apps that collect and provide nearby public transit options for riders. One of these apps, called Transit, has been focused on helping people navigate complex metro areas by collecting all nearby transit options into one easy interface. Recently the company raised another $5 million to expand their mission to integrate more transit options (such as bike sharing), and to start paying attention to smaller communities that the tech world frequently overlooks.

Yet another urban transport navigator app, Citymapper, just announced a new initiative with Gett’s UK black cab hailing app to run two fixed route commuter lines of shared taxis in London. Lyft has actually been piloting a similar service in Chicago and San Francisco since July called Lyft Shuttle, which operates as a part of its commuter ride sharing option but operates along a set route with specific pickup and drop-off points. Despite the argument from both of these companies that pooled taxi/ride-sharing routes can offer a more flexible transport option to add to the mix, there remain concerns that these kinds of services may end up undermining city bus systems. Mobility managers have an opportunity to work with these companies in some form and use these ideas to their advantage largely  by directing them to the greatest areas of need, to ensure they remain complementary rather than letting them steamroll through, as Uber and Lyft did with the taxi industry.

On a more positive note, many communities are using technology and data collected from apps to actually bolster public transit options. Ohio is using new traffic analytics tools to help both state and local officials analyze real-time transportation data to influence and streamline planning and prioritization of transit projects. The project will largely use data that is collected from smartphone apps that already request GPS location access from their users.

MobilityScore, from the creators of TransitScreen, helps individuals understand their alternative transit options available within a one-mile radius of key locations in the U.S. or Canada. Initially launched on September 22, 2017 for this year’s World Car Free Day, the site started with information on the 30 largest metros areas in the US – but will continue to scale up to include the entirety of both countries by late October. For mobility managers, this tool could be useful for comparing the accessibility of certain amenities as it is able to score mobility by specific location within cities.

Changes in technology hold major implications for communities across the country. It is up to mobility managers to make these positive, and it is never too early to discover strategies for riding this endless wave and solidifying mobility options for their residents.

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

Image Credit: Center TotalHealth, Flickr, Creative Commons


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

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