- More than 100 transportation and technology leaders from across the country gathered in Chicago on October 27 to celebrate the official launch of the Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC), a public-interest partnership working to foster collaboration in shared mobility and help connect the burgeoning industry with transit agencies, cities and communities.
The half-day workshop and launch party drew attendees from organizations including Zipcar, Uber, Lyft, Divvy, B-cycle, Enterprise CarShare, Metra, Pace, Amtrak, the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois and more.
- SUMC Executive Director Sharon Feigon offered an overview on the state of shared mobility in Chicago. The city provided more than 529 million transit rides in 2013 and is home to over 850 car-share vehicles, 3,000 Divvy bikes and several ride-share companies including Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and Blackline (full presentation here). These services are growing and are starting to fill some transportation gaps.
- Despite its rich mix of transportation modes, however, Chicago still has additional gaps that need to be addressed, such as:
- -Limited service, including infrequent weekend and nighttime service, in suburbs and lower density areas
-Mismatch between locations of jobs and housing
-Overcrowding on heavily used transit lines
-Limited connections between different modes (including stations and timing)
Feigon said SUMC will be working to find ways to use shared mobility to enhance travel options in Chicago. If we can help providers connect the dots, these services can be even more effective for our city, she said.
- Susan Shaheen, co-director of the University of California, Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center, offered a national overview on the growth of the shared mobility industry (full presentation here). She provided definitions for the many different services and discussed how the car-sharing, bike-sharing and ride-sharing industries have experienced double-digit growth over the last several years.
- The workshop also featured a discussion with a panel of industry leaders, including:
-Emily Castor, Director of Community Relations, Lyft
-Joseph Kopser, CEO and Co-Founder, RideScout
-Karen Weigert, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Chicago
-Tim Papandreou, Deputy Director, Strategic Planning & Policy, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
-Michael Mikos, Director of Strategic Development, car2go
-Michael Bolton, Deputy Executive Director, Strategic Services, Pace
- The panel covered a variety of issues, such as:
-The success of Divvy and how shared mobility and public transportation fit into Chicago’s long-range environmental and planning goals.
-Ways to better address integration, such as by using Chicago’s Ventra fare card and the commuter tax benefit to pay for shared mobility services.
-San Francisco’s recent attempts to reshape street space, including adding 900 car-sharing spaces and charging private shuttle companies for use of public bus stops.
- Break-Out Session Takeaways
Following the panel discussion, the audience broke into groups to discuss challenges and solutions to shared mobility in the the following areas:
- Integration of Services
-Goal: Creating a transportation system in Chicago that seamlessly connects public and private service providers.
-Challenges: Include lack of consistent data, insufficient funding and the need to get local transit agencies more involved.
-Solutions: Could include creating a “regional integration czar,” implementing dynamic pricing on public transit and leveraging new opportunities created by the Ventra card.
- Public Space
-Goal: Creating new land use models that work for bike and car-share services as well as public transportation systems.
-Challenges: Include cost of parking for shared mobility operators, different parking rules across municipal lines and the greater dependability of private parking compared with public space.
-Solutions: Could include making street space available for shared mobility providers, creating incentives to use space more efficiently and better matching inventory with need through packaging pilot programs.
-Goal: Make further inroads into under-served communities and create service models that work in a wide range of neighborhoods.
Challenges: Include serving people with a variety of disabilities, adapting complex technology to older populations and creating payment systems accessible to people without bank accounts.
Solutions: Could include launching pilots in low-income communities, working with credit unions to serve “un-banked” residents, and fostering creative partnerships to increase access and awareness.
- Next Steps
Many participants expressed an interest in continuing to work together on these issues. As a result, SUMC will begin convening regular dialogues on integration, public space and serving diverse communities in early 2015. SUMC will also take additional actions in the coming year, including:
-Reaching out to the region's transit agencies to discuss challenges related to integrating public and private mobility services.
-Conducting new research, including a white paper about equity issues that draws on the previous experience of SUMC's staff operating car-sharing systems in Chicago and Buffalo, NY.
-Launching a Chicago peer-to-peer car-sharing pilot in conjunction with the Center for Neighborhood Technology in 2015 that will serve low-income and low-density areas.
-Developing new resources such as a policy repository and an interactive tool that cities can use to identify and address service gaps.
-Convening additional workshops in Chicago and other cities across the nation, including an upcoming regional shared mobility summit in Los Angeles on February 23, 2015.
- Celebrating SUMC's Launch!
After the conclusion of the workshop, guests gathered upstairs in the Energy: Coalition co-working space to celebrate the official launch of the Shared-Use Mobility Center. The party featured music, refreshments and handsome SUMC coffee mugs for all in attendance.
More photos from SUMC's launch party and workshop are available on our Flickr page. And don’t forget to visit us online at sharedusemobilitycenter.org and on Twitter to keep up to date on our latest activities.
We hope you will continue to stay in touch and collaborate with us during this exciting time for shared mobility.