Descriptions of mobility management vary, and therefore make it difficult to define. That said, professionals can use this to their advantage to work with a variety of industries and decision-makers to make sure policies and projects exist that can serve the movement of people in their communities.
An increasingly important space to spread the word about mobility management is the world of walkability and complete streets. By addressing walkability and complete streets it provides mobility managers with unique outreach opportunities, and the ability to increase services and decrease isolation. San Francisco has a robust version of this, called “Play Streets,” that would be great to model.
Similarly, some projects fail to move beyond paying lip service to the issues they claim to address. By understanding those that do make a difference at a fundamental level, mobility managers can develop a better sense of how to address the roots of issues rather than just the symptoms. such as how,. Unpacking what makes these infrastructure projects fulfill their vision and actually creating meaningful change, can offer insight into how to frame and implement mobility management programs.
Mobility depends on more than just the existence of transportation options. A variety of industries intersect with transportation, including health care and housing. These industries all depend on each other, and together they affect an individual’s mobility. Mobility managers should be heavily involved with the decision-makers of these other industries to ensure policies align to make sure mobility is a part of the entire community’s landscape.
Just like creating affordable resources that serve transportation, and vice versa, the transportation itself must be affordable. Individuals who need mobility management often also tend to have the least flexibility in terms of payment. As transit systems, such as WMATA in Washington, D.C. digitize and phase out cash payments, they threaten to leave those with the fewest financial resources without transportation access as well.
Fare policy is an influential tool in encouraging transit use, but also in making transit accessible. SPUR, in the San Francisco Bay Area, recently held an event on fare policy. The event highlighted how other countries have made successful changes to their fare policy, which can inform mobility managers in their push to address community needs.
Because fare policy is only one tool in influencing traveler behavior, communities should understand how other system designs affect who chooses certain modes of travel. In some ways, there are pretty basic rules to follow: more routes mean more riders, and people will abandon systems that abandon them. Another way for mobility managers and other advocates to understand what can be improved is to ask the people operating their systems.