Shared Mobility Online Dialogue (forum is now closed)

Note:

The dialogue is now closed. You can still view ideas and comments, but we are no longer taking new content, votes, or comments. Thanks to all who participated.


Welcome to our national dialogue!


Thanks to smart phone tools, web applications and innovations in public transportation technology, on-demand transportation solutions like bike-sharing, car-sharing, car-hailing, and innovative demand-response bus services are on the rise, providing new, flexible transportation options . As the transit industry embraces partnerships with these on-demand services, transit agency staff and others have sought FTA guidance on issues such as funding eligibility, civil rights requirements, and conditions for receiving FTA support.

In response to increasing interest from the transit industry in partnering with on-demand, shared mobility services such as ride-hailing companies, FTA has identified frequently asked questions (FAQs) about funding eligibility under federal public transportation law for FTA grant programs.

But other questions need to be answered, so we’re turning to you through this dialogue.

How can I participate?

Participation is simple. Present your own idea; vote on someone else’s idea; or simply leave a comment. Our categories, in the form of questions listed below, can guide your response, but any feedback is appreciated.

Once you have logged in (you can choose to remain anonymous), please feel free to:

  • Browse existing ideas below;

  • Comment or vote on someone else’s idea;

  • Select “Submit New Idea” to share an idea—you will be prompted to select a “Category” (optional) from a dropdown list; and

  • Encourage other transportation professionals and members of your community to join the dialogue and share suggestions.

Questions to help guide you

  1. What role should the federal government perform with respect to shared mobility?
  2. What are relevant performance indicators that FTA should consider adopting to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of shared mobility in relationship to public transportation?
  3. What are the key shared mobility research questions?
  4. What non-technical areas (political, legislative, institutional, financial, and/or legal) are seen as major challenges to collaboration between the public transportation industry and shared mobility services today?
  5. How can FTA ensure that key stakeholders such as transportation workers, the disability community and local governments are included in technical assistance, research and policy making opportunities related to shared mobility?
  6. Today, most shared mobility services are deployed in urbanized areas. How can this concept also benefit less population-dense areas?
  7. How well do current shared mobility solutions provide accessible and effective mobility options for persons with disabilities (including wheelchair users), older Americans and individuals with lower incomes? What are some examples of successful business models? Are there approaches that could be used to ensure equity and fairness in the delivery of shared mobility services?
  8. What information could the FTA collect or disseminate that would be helpful to transit agencies and other stakeholders as they assess shared mobility solutions for their communities?

This dialogue will remain open from December 12. 2016, to January 27, 2017; your participation will make a difference!

How can FTA support shared mobility services?

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  1. Privately-funded mass transit using solar-powered flying pods

    The main issue for providing shared mobility services in low-density areas is the cost of building new infrastructure. The assumption that everyone makes is that transportation infrastructure is inherently expensive and requires public funding. What if there was an exception to that rule? If mass transit infrastructure was low cost it could be profitable and privately financed. Transit X aims to deploy an ultra-narrow gauge, feather-weight rail system. It has the cost, capacity, and convenience to replace cars, buses, trains, and trucks.

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    • FTA should regulate all federally-subsidized paratransit & transit services to improve Efficiency & Safety

      FTA should regulate all federally-subsidized paratransit & transit services to improve Efficiency & Safety. Regardless whether the $ originates with DHHS, DOL, etc, the principles are the same. Involves a safe vehicle with seats and a trained driver. If oversight is in one agency, funding rules won't preclude grouping rides based on geography and arrival/departure time needs. More people riding together = reduced cost per ride provided. Think out of the box, folks.

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      • Improve public/private transport financial results

        FTA MOD Sandbox II could focus on “guiding principle 2: innovative business models” and specifically on improving financial results for public transit and private mobility services. The focus could be:

        a) score grant proposals on an explicit criteria on cost-efficacy, ability to self-fund, ability to scale, potential identification of permanent funding sources, ability to cost-reduce at scale, etc. Grant proposals should include biz model spreadsheet calculations that argue that the proposal is innovating for improved financial results.

        b) provide technical assistance to applicants in developing more robust “financial improvement” analyses.

        BACKGROUND:

        MOD is “failing,” except in a few urban downtowns.…

        2 votes
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        • low-income regional transit subsidy

          A disproportionate percent of low-income household budget goes to transport, therefore decreases in transport costs are economically progressive, increasing social equity.

          To increase equity, Seattle Metro Transit’s ORCA LIFT program provides transit discounts across multiple public transit operators to low-income residents. Low income adults obtain youth fares. ( http://seattletransitblog.com/2016/02/29/two-new-services-for-orca-lift-tuesday-other-fare-increases/ )

          There may even be arguments for extending subsidies to private sector mobility services that complement public transit.

          Obtaining permanent funding for subsidies may be challenging. Some potential funding sources include:
          * Local/regional transport sales taxes
          * TNC fees. Seattle has a $0.20 per ride fee (http://www.seattle.gov/business-regulations/taxis-for-hires-and-tncs/transportation-network-companies/tnc-companies). Philadelphia has…

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          • In Topic #7, all DOT modal adminsitrations need to be explicit that ALL types and protected classes of passengers will be equally protected.

            DOT's Civil Rights offices need to ensure equal and equitable enforcement for all protected categories of passengers and communities. Now is not the time to revert to "selected civil rights." There is a long history of taxis and similar providers refusing to serve minority communities, and this should not be allowed to be continued under "shared mobility" programs or federal funding. Attention to ensuring service to persons with disabilities should not override comparable guarantees for persons of color or low income.

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            • Formal Engagement with Transit Agencies and Consideration of Risks

              The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) requests that FTA convene a discussion with transit agencies to discuss impacts and benefits of various policies regarding shared mobility. CTA further requests that the federal government be deliberate and cautious about extending federal funding and associated benefits (e.g., the allowable use of pre-tax dollars to pay for transit fares) to private companies providing transportation services. There is a risk that, if not structured properly, increasing levels of partnership between public agencies and private transportation services could result in the privatization of large parts of public transportation services, which could in turn put low income,…

              2 votes
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              • Guidance in achieving ADA compliance and best practices for using technology

                -The FTA could provide guidance on how transit agencies can achieve ADA compliance when collaborating with entities such as private start-up companies that may not have the resources to be fully ADA compliant. This guidance could also address exceptions if the transit agencies were to supplement the deficient areas to ensure equal service to all customers.
                -Best practices in using technology to provide solutions to address cost efficiency and improved customer service.

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                • Effectiveness of shared mobility solutions

                  -Current shared mobility solutions for paratransit, such as contracted brokers and voucher-based car services, can be costly. Collaborations with other third-party TNCs, such as Uber, Lyft, and E-hail, could offer reduced paratransit operational costs, provide greater flexibility and shorter ride times, and help to support equitable and fair delivery of shared mobility services. It should be noted, however, that collaborations could result in a disparity in the number of wheelchair accessible versus non-wheelchair accessible vehicles, which conflicts with the ADA and could result in non-wheelchair users receiving a benefit not equally available to wheelchair users. Options for increasing wheelchair accessible…

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                  • Could lower the costs of expanding service

                    Use of shared mobility services could lessen the cost of providing service in off peak, low demand periods. It could also allow smaller operations to ramp capacity without expanding fleets.

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                    • 1 vote
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                      • Challenges to Collaboration

                        -The financial costs of providing ADA complementary paratransit service that is comparable to public transportation.
                        -ADA compliance requirements regarding equitable treatment and service provisions can make collaborative efforts with vendors that are not fully ADA compliant costlier and more challenging.
                        -Many TNC’s are privately owned and operated vehicles, which can restrict the availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles needed to ensure equity in accessibility and vehicle availability.
                        -Collaboration with TNC’s would equal a significant savings for paratransit. However, ensuring equitable access could be a challenge because of the disparate treatment of those attempting to secure the same fast and reliable service. …

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                        • Suggested research questions

                          -How do we meet the growing and diverse transportation demands of persons with disabilities?
                          -How do we accommodate the demand for the service within the community through technology while ensuring compliance with existing federal requirements?
                          -How do we service the entire community through collaborative efforts while ensuring compliance with existing federal requirements?
                          -How do we provide better service, improve on-time performance, shorten ride time, and increase flexibility to manage and book trips?

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                          • Suggested Performance Indicators

                            Safety, reliability, timeliness, compliance with the ADA, and enhanced independent mobility of travelers with disabilities are all relevant performance indicators that the FTA should consider. In addition, the FTA should consider developing indicators that help to assess the use of more integrated technology (such as smartphone applications) and Transportation Network Companies as viable alternative service methods that meet safety, reliability, timeliness and cost standards. We note that any performance indicators should be used as general measures for evaluating the effectiveness of shared mobility in the industry as a whole and not be linked to any regulatory actions or funding programs…

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                            • Provide funding to support collaboration, provide a forum to share ideas, and provide guidance to comply with existing federal requirements.

                              The federal government’s role with respect to shared mobility should focus on the following areas:
                              -Providing guidance to help shared mobility services comply with applicable existing Federal requirements such as the ADA and Title VI.
                              -Providing federal funding that can be used to support collaboration between public and other alternative transportation programs.
                              -Providing a forum to promote research and share best practices related to shared mobility for providers and customers. This can include, for example, a repository of ways to improve the independent mobility of traveler’s with disabilities through greater use of technology.

                              The federal government should not impose new…

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                              • Don't turn partners into data collectors

                                Don't adopt performance measures that will become a reporting burden on small providers and small businesses they may partner with.

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                                • Reduce the regulatory burden of being a federal grant recipient

                                  The level of federal regulation and oversight just continues to increase. It stands in the way of innovation and partnerships

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                                  • Provide a standardized training program for volunteer drivers.

                                    Many areas of the county now have volunteer driver programs for NEMT. If there could be a program designed to help those that are just getting into the concept of using volunteer drivers for assisted non-emergency medical appointments, it would be a great time saver and help to those new programs.

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                                    • Additional Reporting for 5310 funded projects

                                      Presently all reporting obligations are those of the grantee which includes which agencies they are coordinate with to provide service.

                                      My suggestion is that the FTA should require the agencies whom receive services through coordination report what the service is that they actually received.

                                      This would create a much needed check and balance

                                      1 vote
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                                      • Free Fare System across the multiple platforms

                                        The amount of time spend on collection, PM, bus changes, customer service, reporting is amazing. I believe when we put out costs together free fare system would benefit transit agencies with APC's leading our ridership data. In fact I believe free fare would encourage public transportation to increase service frequency as well as demographically.

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                                        • Upgrading or purchasing new solutions, moving away from existing due to data demands

                                          We purchase the initial solution and with time, cannot afford to update or upgrade it. Features are coming out daily yet we cannot afford to purchase them nor implement them. We are bound to sole source or limited funds and cannot move to another platform to achieve what we want for data requirements. Technology moves fast, faster than the capital plan.

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