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The Innovative Transportation Index

Posted by Content Coordinator on Monday, February 9th, 2015

FRONTIER GROUP
U.S. PIRG EDUCATION FUND

Executive Summary

Rapid technological advances have enabled the creation of new transportation tools that make it possible for more Americans to live full and engaged lives without owning a car. Many of these new tools have been in existence for less than a decade – some for less than five years – but they have spread rapidly to cities across the United States.

This report reviews the availability of 11 technology-enabled transportation services – including online ridesourcing, carsharing, ridesharing, taxi hailing, static and real-time transit information, multi-modal apps, and virtual transit ticketing – in 70 U.S. cities. It finds that residents of 19 cities, with a combined population of nearly 28 million people  have access to eight or more of these services, with other cities catching up rapidly.

These services make it easier to conveniently get around without owning a car. That is increasingly what city dwellers – and Millennials especially – say they want. These services individually help travelers, but more importantly, they work together to become more than the sum of their parts.

Expanding the availability of shareduse transportation modes and other technology-enabled tools can give more Americans the freedom to live “car-free” or “car-light” lifestyles – avoiding the cost of owning, insuring, maintaining and garaging a private vehicle. Even when these services provide access to a car, they still make it easier for Americans to reduce their auto dependence by enabling easy access to a vehicle without the constant use associated with ownership.

These tools have been expanding rapidly, yet public agencies have been slow to integrate these new systems into their planning and policy toolbox. Local, state and federal governments should explore ways to expand access to these tools and incorporate them into strategies for reducing the congestion, public health and environmental impacts of urban transportation systems.

Technology-enabled transportation services provide new options for millions of Americans.

  • Carsharing services offer vehicle access on-demand, lowering the cost of vehicular mobility for many while still preserving on-demand access to a car. Options include fleet-based services such as Zipcar or peer-to-peer networks that provide cars for round-trip and, increasingly, one-way trips. Carsharing is currently available in 69 of the 70 cities surveyed.
  • Ridesharing services provide a tool for riders and drivers to find one another. Potential riders can find drivers who are already going in the same direction and use these services to coordinate pick-up location, costs and schedules. Ridesharing is currently available in 5 of 70 cities.
  • Ridesourcing services, such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar, enable users to solicit a ride from their current location from a pool of drivers using a smartphone. These services differ from taxis in that the drivers are not commercially licensed taxi drivers and, as such, are not permitted to pick up passengers off the street. Ridesourcing services are currently available in 59 of the 70 cities evaluated in this report.
  • Taxi hailing services provide technology to help users locate and call taxis with their smartphone, and (in some locations) pay through the  smartphone as well, eliminating the need for cash on hand. Taxi hailing services are currently available in 34 of 70 cities.
  • Bikesharing systems increase options for short journeys (for example, trips too long for walking), and can serve as first- and lastmile connections between transit locations and travelers’ final destinations. They also provide a fun and active way to travel without concern for fixed schedules. Bikesharing is currently available in 32 of 70 cities.
  • Static transit data improves usability of transit services by enabling users to access schedules and route maps online via desktop, smartphone or other Internet-connected devices. When accessible on the go, schedule and routing data helps riders navigate transit systems effectively, even when their plans change. Static transit data is currently available in 66 of 70 cities.
  • Real-time transit information builds on the benefits of open static data by providing users real-time information on arrival/departure times and delays. This gives riders the ability to avoid unforeseen wait times, or to change routes at the last minute. Real-time transit information is currently available in 56 of 70 cities.
  • Multi-modal apps knit the transportation landscape together by offering users the opportunity to see side-by-side comparisons of a variety of routes and services for making their trip, including biking, carsharing, public transit, driving and walking. Multimodal apps are currently available in 47 of 70 cities.
  • Virtual ticketing gives users the opportunity to avoid lost tickets and long wait times at the ticket counter by buying tickets directly through an Internet-connected device such as a smartphone. Riders can set up an account to look after expenses and track ticket validity. Virtual ticketing is currently available in 6 of 70 cities.

Table ES-1. Top Cities with Abundant Choices

 

Download full version (PDF): The Innovative Transportation Index

About Frontier Group
www.frontiergroup.org
Frontier Group provides information and ideas to help citizens build a cleaner, healthier, fairer and more democratic America. We address issues that will define our nation’s course in the 21st century – from fracking to solar energy, global warming to transportation, clean water to clean elections. Our experts and writers deliver timely research and analysis that is accessible to the public, applying insights gleaned from a variety of disciplines to arrive at new ideas for solving pressing problems.

About U.S. PIRG Education Fund
uspirgedfund.org
With public debate around important issues often dominated by special interests pursuing their own narrow agendas, U.S. PIRG Education Fund offers an independent voice that works on behalf of the public interest. U.S. PIRG Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer Americans meaningful opportunities for civic participation. For more information, please visit our website at uspirgedfund.org

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One Response to “The Innovative Transportation Index”

  1. jerry schneider says:

    The transportation index is focused on the “here and now”. Why not extend it to those innovative systems that are being developed around the world? Some are operational, some are being developed and tested and some are still conceptual.
    More than 100 of them are described and illustrated at the Innovative Transportation Technologies website” http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans

    Very few people are aware of these systems, most of which offer far lower capital and operating costs with higher levels of performance and access to desired destinations. Most use electricity for propulsion, are fully or partially automated , grade-separated and provide higher levels of safety and reliability. Many feature service using a network as opposed to corridor back-and-forth (shuttle) service, making access to dispersed origins and destinations far greater than conventional modes (bus, rail and streetcar)

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