Sustainable mobility platform news
Mobility Hubs. Minneapolis ("Minneapolis pilots mobility hubs combining transit, scooters and bicycles," Minneapolis Star-Tribune) and Pittsburgh are getting attention for their "mobility hub" "innovations."
From the MST:
... new spots called mobility hubs where multiple modes of nonautomobile transportation intersect. Each one has a bus stop, a bench and parking for Nice
Ride bicycles and scooters that can be checked out by smartphone app.
The hubs opened this month at four busy north Minneapolis intersections and are designed to make it more appealing and convenient for people to leave their car at home, said Josh Johnson, the city’s advanced mobility manager.
“We want to get people out of their personal cars and onto low- or no-carbon transportation,” he said. “We are trying to get to those who have not considered using a bike, bus or scooter … to think about how you are moving around the city.”
Since I suggested setting up such hubs, centered around transit stations, dating to 2006-2008 ("Updating the mobilityshed / mobility shed concept"), it doesn't seem all that innovative to me. (When I was writing about it, so too was the University of Michigan transportation center.)
More recently, the mode listings were updated in terms of a broader platform for sustainable mobility.
-- "Further updates to the Sustainable Mobility Platform Framework," 2018
And when I was involved in a bicycle facilities firm aiming to participate in the bike sharing space, we proposed similar kinds of layering, that you could integrate bike sharing systems with parking systems, and include electric charging infrastructure, have wayfinding systems and community information centers as part of the station kiosk system, and even create "transportation demand management stores" ("") on the front end of back end repair and operations depots.
Integrating multiple modes by requiring different providers to work together. What makes the Pittsburgh initiative ("A Micromobility Experiment in Pittsburgh Aims to Get People Out of Their Cars," CityLab) somewhat interesting is that instead of the city doing the integrating, they put out a tender calling on the for profit providers to work together and come back with integrated proposals.
But hearing from those residents was an affirmation for Ricks that the introduction of a few hundred so-called micromobility devices was not going to make the answer for everyone. “We know that Razors on steroids are not a safe way for a mom to take her kids to school,“ she said. “So while we still wanted them, we also wanted to be able to provide something else to improve that situation.” ...Prototyping German style transport associations. This is tricky. While I think that all mobility providers should have to participate in a broad transport association which integrates planning, servicer, and operations, along the lines of a German Verkehrsverbund (VV), it's not clear that there are good examples, even in Germany of for profit and government agency actors all getting along.
That knowledge, and the stories at Mobiliti, helped seed Ricks’ idea for what is now the Pittsburgh Micromobility Collective, a self-organized, private consortium that aims to bring a range of “new mobility” services across the city. Led by the dockless bike and scooter startup Spin, the group also includes Zipcar, Ford Mobility, Waze, the scooter parking solution Swiftmile, and the Transit app. Earlier this year, the companies collaborated in response to a request for proposals from Ricks’ department, which called for a complement of car-free transportation options that customers can access and book through a single platform.
Their winning plan, which was one of five submissions, envisions “mobility hubs” clustered near transit stops throughout Pittsburgh. There, travelers would find some combination of bike-share stations, Zipcar vehicles, Waze carpool pickup spots, and parked and charged e-bikes and scooters from Spin to rent. The Transit app would handle route planning and ticketing services to customers, and Ford Mobility would feed data analytics back to the city.
-- "The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority association," 2017
-- "Verkehrsverbund: The evolution and spread of fully integrated regional public transport in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland," Ralph Buehler, John Pucher & Oliver Dümmler, International Journal of Sustainable Transportation (2018)
-- Transport Alliances - – Promoting Cooperation and. Integration to offer a more attractive and efficient Public Transport, VDV, trade association for German transport associations
So Pittsburgh is moving things forward.
By contrast, bike share programs operated by Boston and San Francisco actively opposed "competition," even to the extent of seizing bikes ("Another example of the need to reconfigure transpo planning and operations at the metropolitan scale: Boston is seizing dockless bike share bikes, which compete with their dock-based system").
Berlin's new transit app Jelbi connects all modes in one place," Fast Company).
The app, Jelbi, which will launch this summer, connects services that currently each have apps of their own, making it difficult to plan a trip or buy tickets given the number of choices. “We have eight bikesharing companies in the market, alone,” says Christof Schminke, the managing director in Germany for Trafi, the tech company that built the platform for BVG, Berlin’s public transport company. “I think it’s a good sign that Berlin has all the mobility options, but for every service you need a separate app on your smartphone.”So maybe I am wrong in my past writings where I suggest that it isn't necessary to have an integrated app linking all modes, since most people are likely to use just a couple modes and are inclined to "self-integrate."
BVG, which runs the city’s subways, trams, buses, and ferries, wanted to become a broader mobility provider for Berlin. “They also saw a competitive threat, because there are also other players, like automotive companies or the Ubers of the world, that are also starting to integrate other modes of mobility… they didn’t want to leave it to private players to [take on] this integrator role,” Schminke says. Other companies, like the startups offering bikes and scooters, saw the benefits of connecting with a public transit platform and getting more riders.
-- "integrating payment systems in the Sustainable Mobility Platform," 2018
-- "Chicken and egg transit planning: Greater San Francisco and the Clipper Card upgrade," 2018
From a branding perspective, even if it might not be absolutely necessary to provide one integrated app, it is key for the transit agency to maintain a prominent position in the mobility landscape and not unnecessarily concede its position, by yielding coordination of the sustainable mobility platform to for profit providers.
According to the BZ, Jelbi is the Berliner word for yellow, and yellow is the primary color used by the BVG transit system. They are using the same word and design for both the transit app and micromobility hubs ("BVG turns on Jelbi This new app is intended to revolutionize Berlin's traffic" and "First hub for mobility In Kreuzberg, the change is now easier").
The aim is to include as many providers as possible, but rather than include everyone at the outside, providers are being integrated into the app in phases, and some firms, like Car2Go, have declined to participate.
As demonstrated by Berlin and Pittsburgh, government agencies do need to step up to be able to continue to assert the primary leadership role in the sustainable mobility platform, to be innovative when media coverage tends to accord innovative practice to the for profit firms, which fueled by venture capital and other big money normally move much more quickly.
Surcharges for ride hailing trips. Ride hailing -- Uber, Lyft, and others -- shifts trips from transit to private automobiles, hurting transit agency revenues and increasing congestion. So it's reasonable to put surcharges on the trips, to pay for the negative effects. Chicago is proposing a $3 per trip surcharge ("Mayor Lightfoot's proposed ride-share fees would be the highest in the nation. But other cities are also considering hikes," Chicago Tribune).
As I state repeatedly, it pisses me off that in DC, the tax on a ride hail trip is 6% and sales tax on a car share trip is 10%.
Scooter rides now more expensive than a bus or subway trip. Recently, led by Bird, scooter companies have significantly increased their pricing. Originally, the cost was 15 cents/minute plus a $1 flat fee per trip. New entrants conformed to the pricing, but some didn't assess the per trip fee.
That scooter ride is going to cost you a lot more") made a table showing the cost of a ten minute trip. Now the cost is significantly higher than a typical bus or subway ride.
This isn't a surprise. It's hard to show a for profit business model for scooters that shows the likelihood of significant profits justifying the big investments made in the sector thus far, made by firms seeking extranormal returns. The scooters don't last that long and not that many people use them. There's a reason bike share is subsidized...
I can see scooters being integrated into community bike sharing systems, but it would be at a subsidy. In terms of for profit operations, I don't think the business is sustainable.