The Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC) defines “shared-use mobility” (SUM) as transportation services that are shared among users, including public transit; taxis and limos; bike-sharing; car-sharing (round-trip, one-way, and personal vehicle sharing); ride-sharing (car-pooling, van-pooling); ride-sourcing; scooter sharing; shuttle services; neighborhood jitneys; and commercial delivery vehicles providing flexible goods movement.
In their 2016 “Shared Use Mobility Tool Kit for Cities” the SUMC states “New, shared modes of transportation—such as bike-sharing, car-sharing, and ride-sourcing—have grown tremendously in recent years as a renewed interest in urbanism and growing environmental, energy, and economic concerns have intensified the need for sustainable alternatives to a transportation system centered on private automobiles. These technology-enabled services are helping to fill transportation gaps, create first/last mile connections with public transit, reduce traffic congestion, cut household transportation costs, and lessen harmful greenhouse gas emissions. However, they also present a challenge for cities, which must regulate in a quickly changing environment and work to ensure the public good is upheld without stifling innovation.”
Government contracts with private sector SUM services can be an effective method to supplement public transit but they can also present challenges in complying with federal transit regulations, such as ADA compliance and equitable service, as recently outlined in a December 5, 2016 “Dear Colleague Letter” from USDOT Secretary Foxx and require compliance oversight by agencies that receive state and/or federal transit dollars.
Currently, SUM strategies are being applied in larger urban settings and will likely remain most applicable there. However, there may be options for SUM services or programs in certain rural areas of the country. In rural areas, these practices may require government leadership/involvement (and funding) because the private marketplace may not opt to serve rural areas on their own and/or the services the private sector is opting to provide may not fulfill government obligations under ADA, environmental justice and other regulations that govern federal or state funded transit. This research will determine if there are emerging SUM practices applicable in rural areas to augment traditional rural transit service or enable transformation of existing rural mobility service models and what role State DOTs will need to play to make use of those practices to supplement traditional rural transit.
The objective this research is to generate information that State DOTs and others, including rural transit, planning and/or economic development agencies, could make use of to advance selected shared use mobility practices as a method to extend the reach or capacity of small urban and rural transit services, with a significant focus on rural areas.