Transit agencies, both public and privately owned, are adopting new shared mobility platforms and innovative programs in the wake of popular ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to offer additional and efficient last-mile solutions for their customers. Uber alone has launched at least 20 public transit projects around the world and in Denver, Colorado, the company is now integrating real-time public bus and rail information with the ability to buy train tickets all inside its own ride-hailing app.
When considering the future of transport, one of the main challenges is maintaining an efficient and profitable service while providing a seamless mobility experience that works alongside legacy transportation systems around the world.
Adopting and integrating new shared mobility solutions, however, require larger technological expertise for local transportation agencies. And today’s transit agencies are in a great position to leverage their experience in the areas of fleet management and asset ownership to provide flexibility and seamless mobility services for their ridership, help reduce traffic congestion and offer on-demand or pre-booked shuttle services while using technologies from third parties to maximize the effectiveness and costs.
In Pinellas County, Florida, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) was the first transit agency in the US to offer a joint first/last-mile shared mobility service subsidized by public dollars. The PSTA’s “Direct Connect” program allows riders to get to and from bus stops in a taxi, wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV), or Uber TNC vehicle at a subsidized rate.
Launched in 2016, the PSTA Uber venture has gone through several iterations of pilot programs and testing to offer the best service possible for the county’s ridership. According to the study “When Uber Replaces the Bus: Learning from the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s “Direct Connect” Pilot,” what’s needed to successfully launch a shared mobility pilot program is good data and transparency from all parties, as well as concrete plans for outreach and evaluation, and the right platform technology to power the service.
Public/Private Partnerships for Shared Mobility Programs
A significant challenge to shared mobility solution adoption is creating public/private partnerships that leverage shared vehicle services such as Uber and Lyft while incentivizing riders to utilize the enhanced services provided by transit agencies.
Public/private partnerships were once thought to be an obstacle to shared mobility adoption as they may allow private contractors, especially large organizations, to dictate terms to the public and achieve a “competitive advantage” over public sector providers, including public transit. Private providers, however, do have advantages: cutting-edge technology solutions, greater customer service flexibility and more transportation option flexibility than public transit without the need for special permits and additional public sector employees.
Some cities and local county government transit agencies that invest in urban transportation improvements, both public and private, are building the foundation to transition from auto dependence to walking, biking or shared transit solutions to ultimately benefit their communities and the environment.
In the greater Seattle area, King County Metro Transit has launched an app-based “micro-transit” van service program called “Via to Transit” that provides on-demand rides to connect transit riders with light rail and bus lines. Via, part of King County Metro’s Innovative Mobility Program, is a private company contracted to provide vans, drivers and technology for the public transit service and has 18 vans in its fleet with some wheelchair accessible.
To date, the service has exceeded King County Metro’s daily ridership goals with more than 70,000 total rides taken. King County Metro’s Innovative Mobility Program is a great example of a mobility program that leverages emerging mobility services and technologies to provide new transportation options. Home to technology leaders such as Amazon and Microsoft, King County is exploring shared mobility, Mobility-as-a-Service, automated vehicles, and Smart Cities. King County Metro Transit believes that the best innovations come out of partnerships among government agencies, communities, and the private sector.
Choosing a Shared Mobility Solution
By combining the best features of public and private transportation, ride-hailing modules, mobile payment systems and data and analytics into one platform, transit providers can offer advanced shared mobility solutions for meeting rider needs. To achieve transit program success, agencies must also find the right technology partners and solutions that will enable them to plan, launch, scale and optimize new-mobility services while keeping services efficient and profitable.
Fleetonomy, the leading smart-mobility platform provider for operating and managing ride-hailing modules, offers a mobility platform made for transit agencies that maximize vehicle usage and helps generate new revenue streams for public and private transit providers.
Fleetonomy’s Ride-hailing platform is built with optimization tools from the ground up so that transit agencies can efficiently orchestrate every part of their operations. This includes automatically including drivers’ schedules, fueling/charging, and vehicle maintenance according to predicted demand and live data feeds.
Fleetonomy’s Ride-hailing Platform for transit agencies also ensures that mobility operators are putting their fleet to best use by minimizing idle time and maximizing vehicle usage. The platform includes advanced prediction engines that allow accurate demand prediction, matching each vehicle to customer needs, easily managing drivers and vehicles in real-time and operating efficiently according to data-driven insights.
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