There is a lot of hype about the potential for MaaS and connected/automated vehicles to increase mobility choices for people who don’t drive, e.g., persons with disabilities, those who can’t afford a car, and children, to name a few. But this outcome won’t just evolve magically from market growth. It has to be shaped intentionally by agency staff and officials responsible for equitable access to transportation networks. During this session, a panel of seasoned researchers and agency staff will share insights and facilitate discussion with all participants to identify realistic strategies transportation planners and decision makers can use to optimize access to existing and emerging mobility options for all their constituents.
Get with the Program: Investing to Fill Gaps and Build Opportunities
Beth Alden, Hillsborough MPOShow Abstract
Trey Wadsworth, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission
MPOs, State DOTs, municipalities, and other public entities entrusted with the difficult job of programming transportation funds have wrestled for decades to strike the right balance among maintaining current networks, improving capacity to serve existing needs, and laying the groundwork to support anticipated demand. The rapid advance of new mobility technologies adds another dimension to the challenge of juggling priorities: some of the systems we are struggling to maintain and improve may become obsolete in a few short years. Meanwhile, gaps in equitable access to transportation services are evident throughout the nation. Buses travel rarely along poorly maintained rural roads, and even the most prosperous cities struggle to provide reliable transit and complete streets in every neighborhood. Many regions could easily spend all of their funds on the single objective of ensuring equitable access to current networks, and still not close all of their equity gaps. Private investors driving the growth of most emerging mobility options can help to improve equitable access, but only if it does not require them to operate at a loss.
Every region wants to position itself to reap the potential benefits of emerging mobility technologies, while avoiding the possible pitfalls such as investing in obsolete systems. Every transportation agency must maintain its current networks, strive to fill existing gaps in equitable access, and expand services to support anticipated demand—while also building relationships with new private investors that are disrupting the mobility services realm. How can public sector transportation agencies partner effectively and invest wisely to fulfill their current responsibilities while seizing new opportunities? Seasoned agency staff will offer insights from practitioner experience, followed by a facilitated discussion with session participants to identify proven strategies that agencies can implement now and potential actions they can consider.
Envisioning Equitable Mobility: New Resources on Scenario Planning for Emerging Mobility Technologies and Environmental Justice in Transportation Planning and Programming
Hannah Twaddell, ICFShow Abstract
Participants will get an overview of new practitioner resources—some hot off the press and some soon to be released—including a reference on scenario planning for connected/automated vehicles and MaaS; guidance on assessing and addressing equity in regional and statewide transportation plans and programs; and research on demographic shifts among traditionally defined “environmental justice” populations including low-income persons and minority communities.
Examining the Equity Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles: A Travel Demand Model Approach
Jesse Cohn, Fehr & PeersShow Abstract
Richard Ezike, Union of Concerned Scientists
Jeremy Martin, Union of Concerned Scientists
Kwasi Donkor, Fehr & Peers DC
Matthew Ridgway, Fehr & Peers DC
Melissa Balding, Fehr & Peers
As investments in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology continue to grow, agencies are beginning to consider how AVs will impact travel behavior within their jurisdictions and how to respond to this new mobility technology. Different autonomous futures could reduce, perpetuate, or exacerbate existing transportation inequities. This paper uses a regional travel demand model to quantify how transportation outcomes may differ for disadvantaged populations in the Washington, D.C. area under a variety of future scenarios. Transportation performance measures examined include job accessibility, trip duration, trip distance, mode share, and vehicle miles traveled. The model evaluates changes in these indicators for disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged communities under scenarios when AVs are primarily single-occupancy or high-occupancy, and if transit agencies respond to autonomous vehicles by maintaining the status quo, removing low-performing routes, or applying AV technology to transit vehicles. Across the performance measures, the high-occupancy AV and enhanced transit scenarios provide an equity benefit, either mitigating an existing gap in outcomes between demographic groups or reducing the extent to which that gap is expanded.
An Equity Assessment of Smart Mobility Systems in Portland, Oregon
Aaron Golub, Portland State UniversityShow Abstract
Vivian Satterfield, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
Michael Serritella, Portland Bureau of Transportation
Jai Singh, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
Senna Phillips, Cornell University
There is an active debate about the potential costs and benefits of emerging “smart mobility” systems, especially in how they will serve communities already facing transportation challenges. This paper describes the results of an assessment of these equity impacts in the context of lower-income areas of Portland, Oregon, based on a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research. The study found that by lowering costs and improving service for public transit, ridesharing and active transportation, smart mobility systems could address many of the needs of transportation disadvantaged communities. Significant barriers exist, however, which prevent smart mobility technologies from benefiting all communities. For example, lower income survey respondents and respondents of color had significantly lower access to drivers’ licenses, bank accounts and credit cards and also rely more heavily on paying cash for transit tickets. Lower income respondents and respondents of color had lower access to Internet at home and work and were more likely to reduce data use or cancel cell plans because of cost or data restrictions. Respondents were also concerned about information security, as the impacts of loss or theft, especially identify theft; can be devastating for lower-income residents. Since integrating payment systems and relying on Internet and cell data for mobile applications is a core feature of smart mobility systems, these disparities are significant barriers to the equitable transition to smart mobility. Policy recommendations to address equity include expanding free and public WiFi, better real-time transit information, improved training, and language translation for phone applications, among other things.