Think Tank SUMC Releases Shared Mobility Guide for Cities

The Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC) recently released its new Shared-Use Mobility Reference Guide. Over the course of 44 pages, the group outlines their research findings in the areas of bikesharing, carsharing, ridesourcing, microtransit, and other shared transportation platforms. The goal? To help municipal and community leaders make better decisions when it comes to transit options.

The guide includes:

  • Recommended definitions for new shared modes of transportation
  • Updates on the latest industry trends
  • Analysis of shared-use mobility’s potential and impacts
  • Evaluation of changing local government roles and policy choices
  • Suggestions for way to better connect shared-use mobility with transit
  • Recommendations for growing shared mobility services to serve all residents

SUMC aims to update the guide as the shared-transport industry expands so that best practices -- and worst mistakes -- can benefit the broad array of stakeholders involved.

Here are the top five areas of exploration in the current guide:

Bikesharing

Bikesharing is growing rapidly. In 2004, there were only 13 bikesharing systems. Today, there are more than 855 systems worldwide. The greatest growth is in IT-enabled public bikesharing, which provides real-time information and uses technology to assist in rebalancing demand for bikes at docking stations throughout a community.

Carsharing

Carsharing is a service that provides members with access to an automobile for short-term — usually hourly — use. In 2014, U.S. carsharing membership reached approximately 1.34 million people.

Ridesourcing

Ridesourcing providers such as Uber and Lyft — codified in California law as Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) — use online platforms to connect passengers with drivers who use personal, non-commercial, vehicles. Ridesourcing has become one of the most recognized and ubiquitous forms of shared mobility. Uber, for example, is currently valued at more than $50 billion and operates in 60 countries and approximately 300 cities worldwide. 

Because they have been less regulated (so far) than the traditional taxi and limo services they compete with, TNCs have also generated some controversy and have been banned by some governments. Recently, several cities — including Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C. and Chicago — have begun developing their own universal e-hailing apps to help level the playing field between cabs and TNCs.

New, specialized ridesourcing services have also emerged. These include Shuddle, which focuses on providing safe rides for children, and Lift Hero, which uses certified medical personnel to safely transport elderly passengers. It is also worth noting that Uber and Lyft have begun providing services in select cities that enable passengers to share rides to reduce vehicle trips and generate cost savings. UberPOOL and Lyft Line allow drivers to add additional passengers to a trip in real-time. These services are known as “ride-splitting” — since the passengers split the cost of the trip — and are continuing to evolve as companies experiment with various models.

Ridesharing

At its core, ridesharing involves adding additional passengers to a pre-existing trip. Such an arrangement provides additional transportation options for riders while allowing drivers to fill otherwise empty seats in their vehicles. Unlike ridesourcing, ridesharing drivers are not “for-hire,” but may be compensated for their time and mileage. Traditional forms of ridesharing include:

  • Carpooling
  • Vanpooling
  • Real-time or dynamic ridesharing

Transit

Transit — publicly owned fleets of buses, trains, ferries, facilities, and rights of way, with fixed route local and express service — is the foundation for much of shared-use mobility. Not only could transit be considered the original form of shared-use mobility, but it also plays a vital role in creating an environment where newer shared modes can thrive. There is also great untapped potential for transit agencies to integrate with or offer new shared-use travel options to increase access to transportation and lower costs.

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