What We’re Reading: Public Adaptation for Public Good

  • Author: Andrew Carpenter
  • Date: December 7, 2017

The rise of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have arguably brought the concept of transportation innovation into public discourse. As a result, tech companies, Uber and Lyft in particular, have managed to dominate the popular narrative as the only means of improving transportation. This is important to note for mobility managers who frequently have to hear some version of funders asking “why can’t transit can’t just be more like Uber?”

For big cities and small communities alike, there are plenty of examples that can move the conversation beyond that limited worldview of TNC’s. Los Angeles, California, long a cliché of car-dependence, has begun to widely embrace new solutions for mobility. Most recently, the mayor hosted LA CoMotion to view up-and-coming mobility opportunities. This, occurring around the same time as L.A. County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro)’s efforts to integrate ride-hailing into its public service show how committed leadership can enact change and adapt to promising new practices in any setting.

Other California agencies have also begun to partner with or develop their own on-demand transit services as well. These are great examples of harnessing the influence of ride-hailing to direct travelers towards public services, therefore bolstering them and helping them expand to people with fewer options.

HopSkipDrive, a company based in L.A, has partnered with the county’s Office of Education to drive foster children to the school where they start their academic year. For such an overlooked aspect of mobility, ensuring continuity can greatly improve students’ educational achievement and overall quality of life in the short- and long-term.

On the private side, traditional taxi companies are adapting to push back against Uber and Lyft’s dominance. Three cab companies in Philadelphia have banded together, using their newly-pooled resources to develop on-demand technology similar to the ride-hailing giants, and to address other issues that have left the old taxi industry behind in many cities.


Creating connections

As readers are well aware, a major barrier to mobility is a relatively straightforward lack of options, both real and perceived. It is this perceived lack of options that makes many drivers feel tethered to their cars, when in fact they may be able to utilize other options that save them money and free up resources like the family car for other members to use.

Commute.org, a transportation demand management company, is addressing this perception problem in San Mateo County, California by modernizing how companies can provide transit benefits to their employees, particularly around guaranteed rides home. With an electronic system that refunds commuters who need an emergency ride home, commuters can feel more comfortable taking alternative forms of transit knowing that they have a way home in an emergency.

Colorado Springs, Colorado, is also tackling this issue by launching a webtool that helps commuters understand local transit, and goes a step further to connect them with carpools and vanpools in their area. This relatively simple resource goes a long way in introducing people to new options that can improve their own mobility options as well as build crucial support for the transportation network overall.


Image Credit: Washington State Dept of Transportation, Flickr, CC


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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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