“You’re important and in a hurry. We’ll get you there,” proclaims an Uber ad strategically placed at a city bus stop. It’s the perfect slogan for today’s private mobility service providers (MSPs), who have flooded the transportation market since the early 2000s. Private mobility services are the ultimate manifestation of the “me” culture. They promise personalized, fast, convenient, and on-demand travel that’s centered around the rider’s needs and preferences, and they deliver it through a myriad of transit modes and options.
No wonder city managers remain apprehensive about what provider to use. Tasked with providing affordable, equitable, and accessible mass transit options to all citizens, many public transit agencies find themselves competing for riders with commercially driven MSPs in what often feels like a losing battle. In some regions of the world, including the United States, public transit ridership is declining. And while we can’t point a finger directly at private MSPs (a recent study from Transit-Center found that people use ride-sharing services to replace and complement transit use), their impact on cities is profound—and not necessarily positive.
It’s not quite what cities imagined when they first considered the idea of Mobility as a Service (MaaS). Defined as “a combination of public and private transportation services within a given regional environment that provides holistic, optimal and people-centered travel options, to enable end-to-end journeys paid for by the user as a single charge, and which aims to achieve key public equity objectives,” the MaaS promise is yet to be realized on a large scale in most urban areas.
Today, as cities are trying to deal with the aftermath of a global pandemic, we’re at an inflection point. COVID-19 has rocked every major economic sector, including transportation. Public transit ridership has fallen 70 to 90 percent in major cities worldwide, and several private mobility players had to suspend services. This temporary slow-down gives cities an apt opportunity to reevaluate the current state of play and take a closer look at where public and private mobility intersect. Are city managers happy with the mobility options available to their citizens? Is MaaS meeting their expectations? Do they have a clear vision of what city mobility should look like in a post-pandemic world?
In this white paper, Cubic Transportation Systems lays out why cities and their transit agencies must use this crisis as an opportunity to reinvent themselves and reestablish a clear path to realizing their MaaS aspirations. By taking a new approach to managing mobility, cities can evolve beyond their primary role as service providers towards becoming mobility managers—helping maintain the checks and balances of urban mobility with the support of independent third parties to ensure equitable, environmentally friendly, and safe travel for all, while realizing critical public policy objectives.
Download the full paper here.