Shared Use Mobility Center and Cityfi discuss integrating new transit into existing infrastructure
How can cities incorporate new innovative services into their existing transit services? That question was the focus of two recent discussions held by the Shared Use Mobility Center and Cityfi, which brought together transportation leaders working in Florida and California to share their successes and challenges. Circuit was pleased to participate in these roundtables about microtransit and other first and last-mile services that can improve public mobility outcomes, as well as the creative models cities have used to fund these pilots and permanent programs.
Our clearest takeaway from the discussion was that communities are eager for innovative mobility services. Local elected officials spoke about how excited they were about the potential for new mobility options to make their communities more connected, sustainable, and equitable. These leaders recognize that as communities grow, transportation systems reliant on single occupancy vehicle trips alone will not be sufficient.
However, there is no clear roadmap for how to make it happen. In each of the cities where Circuit operates, local partners have worked closely with the company to find creative ways to fund microtransit services. Circuit has pieced together state grants, local BID budgets, advertising, fares, and other funding sources to get pilots off the ground and continue them as permanent programs. But for new cities, this can be a daunting task. During the round table discussion, local leaders called for more clarity and flexibility from institutions like FTA and FDOT for how they could leverage funding sources to support microtransit in their communities.
Another key takeaway was that sharing is crucial to truly improve mobility outcomes. The public transit of the future may not always look like the traditional fixed route buses and trains of the past, even if those modes will always have an important place in the mix. Different types of trips are better suited to different size vehicles, and technology has enabled new on-demand services that are more flexible and convenient for riders. However, there is no substitute for shared rides when it comes to advancing critical climate goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled, carbon emissions, and congestion.
Information Sharing to Streamline Innovation
To encourage sharing among cities, Cityfi and SUMC created a collaborative Microtransit Resources page. This document includes funding strategies, universal mobility standards, open data standards, community engagement techniques, and existing program case studies.
By building a knowledge management system like this, cities can maintain momentum and learn from successful examples like these:
Chula Vista Community Shuttle - Funded by the California Air Resource Board Clean Mobility Options Program and the Community Congregational Development Corporation, this program offers free rides for seniors.
San Diego FRED (Free Ride Everywhere Downtown) - Since 2016, the City of San Diego has partnered up with Circuit to provide a 100% electric microtransit solution for residents and visitors. The program consists of an all-electric fleet with an ADA accessible option, a revenue share from third party advertising, and fare-free rides.
SUMC Mobility Learning Center: Community Engagement - Overview of community engagement, why it’s important, and includes a set of resources including definitions, strategies, best practices, and case studies.
We believe that the best ideas come from collaboration and diverse perspectives. While there is no roadmap, it is clear that communities are eager for innovative mobility services and that sharing is crucial to improve mobility outcomes truly. The Microtransit Resources Doc is a great step towards encouraging sharing and learning among cities.