This report was produced by ITDP for Living Cities and is reprinted here with permission. More information is available at LivingCities.org.
Shared-mobility programs like bike-share and car-share have significant potential to benefit low-income users, yet often do not reach that population. This report explores the specific opportunities and challenges facing shared mobility programs in expanding services to low-income communities.
In the last decade, shared mobility services such as bike-share, car-share and ride-share have taken off across the United States as a complement to local public transit and an alternative to private car ownership. As these models have developed, many have explored how the emerging field can more directly benefit low-income individuals, who often face longer and more costly travel times. However, current usage of shared mobility systems among low-income communities remains lower than usage by the general population overall.
This report is a survey of existing shared mobility strategies and their attempt to expand services to low-income individuals. It is our hope that the findings can inform operators, government agencies, funders, non-profit organizations and others as they try to tap into the potential of shared mobility strategies to improve the lives of low-income individuals.
Findings & Recommendations
The key findings of this research include:
- Different shared mobility types address different trip needs.
- Shared mobility is best used as a complement to local mass transit.
- There is no silver bullet for solving the transportation needs of low-income communities through shared mobility.
- Core strategies for improving access to shared mobility are similar across shared mobility system types.
- The market for shared mobility transportation is nascent and developing.
- The government has multiple levers of influence and can play multiple roles in bringing shared mobility services to low-income communities.
- Intermediaries have the opportunity to connect users to new opportunities within the shared mobility space.
Based on the above findings, the executive summary concludes with the following 5 recommendations:
- Launch pilot projects based on research of the actual transportation needs faced by low-income communities.
- Research shared mobility business models, especially those with cross-sector partnerships, to understand how best to reach low-income communities.
- Incorporate shared mobility into long term transportation planning.
- Focus on comprehensive, collaborative approaches to reducing barriers.
- Cultivate intermediaries to increase demand for services by addressing barriers.