Not a day goes by without a raft of stories about “new mobility” providers — ride-hailing companies like Uber or car-share services like Car2Go that have tapped into recent technological advances to provide new ways to get around.
In a new report, “Private Mobility, Public Interest” [PDF], TransitCenter deflates some of the hype surrounding these services while laying out several opportunities for productive collaboration between public transit agencies and private mobility providers.
Despite what you may have read, none of these services will replace transit — at least not buses and trains that move large numbers of people. But that doesn’t mean they can’t help transit agencies improve service, diversify their offerings, and operate more effectively.
Based on interviews with more than a hundred people working on mobility in the public and private sectors, TransitCenter’s report examines the opportunities for transit agencies to team up with mobility companies. If transit agencies keep the core values of providing “equitable, efficient, affordable, and sustainable transportation” in mind, TransitCenter writes, they can forge new partnerships that yield broad public benefits.
Here are some of the most fertile areas for collaboration.
Convenient, Cost-Effective Paratransit
Paratransit for riders with disabilities is usually among the most expensive types of service for transit agencies to provide. This can strain budgets and drain resources from other transit services. If agencies can provide paratransit at lower costs per trip, they can free up resources to run more bus or train service.
Both Boston and Washington have started to experiment with contracting paratransit to taxi and ride-hailing companies that can not only operate the service more cost-effectively, but also offer riders more convenience.