Shared Mobility: A Complement to Public Transportation

Providing a wide array of transportation choices is critical to building sustainable and vibrant communities in the 21st century. The expansion of carsharing, bikesharing, and ridesourcing services like Uber and Lyft is undoubtedly improving urban mobility, and in many cases they are doing so in a way that complements — rather than competes with — public transportation.

Shared Modes Complement Public Transit

A recent study released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) takes a closer look at the intersection between transit and non-transit shared use modes of transportation. This study found that individuals who use shared modes often are more likely to ride public transit, own fewer cars, and spend less overall on transportation than those who solely use public transit.

Furthermore, the study found that shared modes are often taken for social trips between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., when public transit service is less frequent or unavailable. Thus, shared mobility seems to be filling demand when public transit is not widely available rather than competing with transit during peak operating hours.

Several public transportation agencies around the country are recognizing the complementary nature of these shared use providers and are working to establish collaborative relationships with them. For instance, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) in Dallas is working with Lyft, Zipcar, and Uber to help customers complete trips when they are starting or ending in an area that is not easily accessible to a DART station.

Similarly, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in Pinellas County, Florida, is collaborating with Uber and the local taxi company to help facilitate transit riders' first and last mile connections. These are just two examples of many in which transit agencies are capitalizing on the benefits of embracing the broader universe of shared mobility.

Even as shared mobility continues to expand, APTA's study indicates that public transportation remains the backbone of a multimodal lifestyle.

Shared Modes Reduce Car Usage

The addition of other shared modes is making it easier for regular transit users to get around without needing a car to fill the gaps. This implies that a continued growth in shared mobility will help reduce the number of cars on the roads, which would make communities cleaner and safer while saving their residents money.

Because of this, APTA's report concludes that public entities should continue to explore ways of collaborating with ridesourcing, carsharing, and bikesharing companies to improve mobility and the overall quality of life for the people they serve.

Top image: Detail of a DART transit map in Dallas. Photo by Flickr user airbus777 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

About the Author
Kirsten Holland is a Policy Associate at Advocacy Associates.

March 22, 2016

By Kirsten Holland