Private mobility providers create products and services based on perceived market opportunity. Rather than compete with one another, public agencies can start with their stated goals and collaborate with private providers to solve identified challenges, improve overall efficiency, and provide increased access for users. Partnerships based on identified needs have led to Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platforms internationally, solving access issues while addressing additional goals such as decreased personal vehicle usage and economic growth.
The Whim app in Helsinki, for example, presents an integrated platform for trip planning, payment and booking, with multiple levels of bundled subscriptions to various private and public providers for users. In just two years of existence, Whim boasts 60,000 users monthly.
Even without a full MaaS system, first/last mile solutions for transit agencies present an ideal opportunity for partnership. Micro-mobility providers (bike share and scooter share), Transportation network companies (TNC), such as Uber and Lyft, and eventually driverless cars, may increase access to destinations, increase transit ridership, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through reduced personal vehicle usage.
However, TNC’s and driverless cars may replace transit trips as well, increasing congestion, GHG emissions and stress on infrastructure. Pilot programs, with built-in metrics to evaluate progress towards goals, allow the flexibility to shift policies and plans as needed to address trade-offs. Pricing trips to incentivize shared travel, re-routing vehicles to optimize usage, and geofencing vehicles into (or out of) specific zones are just some of the levers available for public agencies to ensure all mobility in their region is working collaboratively to achieve desired outcomes.