Report: New services plus transit equals more accessibility, equity, and sustainability

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A new report finds that combining public transit with new mobility services will further mobility options for a wider segment of the American population than ever before.

The report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, entitled “The Role of Transit, Shared Modes and Public Policy in the New Mobility Landscape,” said that by combining public transit with new technologies, local, state, and regional transportation systems have the potential to further mobility, equity, and sustainability.

In order to realize the benefits of shared services and transit, however, transportation systems will have to provide platforms that give customers more complete options, integrate ticketing and payment across services to simplify the process of arranging for and paying for multiple modes for a single trip, and overcome fragmented management across modes and jurisdictions.

“If anything, the pandemic has shown the value of meeting customers where they are comfortable and adapting to change. A focus on the traveler will be expected of both public transit and private mobility options,” the report said. “Without information about the availability, duration, cost, carbon emissions, and other factors, travelers will continue to rely on single-occupancy vehicles, which dominates travel in the United States. But with the advent of shared mobility services, consumers have more choices for more sustainable, equitable, and efficient travel.”

The report highlights five capabilities needed in a multi-modal system and then recommends implementation strategies. Those recommendations include the creation of publicly available platforms integrating and sharing information to consumers about their options, cost, duration, and emissions. The report said that implementing their recommendations would require legislative changes to reporting about service availability while protecting consumer privacy and proprietary information.