Mobility is evolving quickly, and even industry leaders struggle to keep up with their own changes. As a result, many providers and managers feel overwhelmed. Despite the barrage of news around new technology and evolving transportation options, transit agencies should not panic but instead adapt and take advantage of new technologies that present an opportunity to better serve passengers.
There will always be value in investing in public transit and high-capacity corridors. The trick is to adapt to community needs that can feed into these core services. With this in mind, cities have begun experimenting with microtransit solutions, with varying degrees of success, to get customers to and from main lines, which positively influences accessibility to opportunity.
There are even efforts at the state level to encourage fewer single-occupancy vehicles, which would leave space for better investments in public transit. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has partnered with Enterprise Rideshare to create a vanpool incentive program which provides subsidies for participants that join a pool of seven to 15 people. Enterprise claims its vanpool program has removed over 100,000 cars from the road, and therefore the need for 100,000 parking spots, across the U.S. Growing this kind of program could lead to even more mass transit investments as the lower strain on road capacity frees resources to reinvest in better service.
An important part of adaptation is also to understand what prevents ineffective services from working. Outside of Baltimore, the Maryland Transit Administration is discontinuing suburb-to-suburb commuter bus lines due to low ridership. Greater Greater Washington’s analysis can help providers and planners elsewhere in the country understand what might limit their services’ effectiveness, and hopefully avoid similar mistakes in the first place.
Maintaining and expanding robust transit networks is the best way to serve a community in need. This practice helps to de-centralize poverty and connect low-income residents to resources that help them succeed in life. Though there is a role for microtransit providers to play here, quality bus routes will have the best effect on a person’s chances to improve their economic situation.
Understanding how transit can best serve your community requires both a bird’s-eye and a block-by-block view of the space you use. Planning platform Remix has released a new tool to help with this visioning, particularly how altering the street network could affect mobility around town. Best of all, the results provide direct evidence to help mobility managers support their arguments for better investment in public services.