Mobility management is a strategic approach to service coordination and customer service that is becoming a worldwide trend in the public transportation sector. The expectation is that, over time, transit agencies should move beyond the traditional role as operators of fixed-route service and assume a broader role in coordinating the full range of mobility services in their communities. Following are questions and answers about the opportunities and potential advantages for transit agencies in considering development and implementation of mobility management programs.
Question: Will more innovative and efficient uses of transit resources assist agencies to move beyond establishing and operating traditional fixed-route transit systems?
Answer: Yes—but not just transit agencies. The role of the mobility manager will be to organize and foster a network of diverse transportation services and providers to offer a full range of travel options for individual customers. This may seem foreign to the transit manager who is accustomed to moving masses on single mode fixed routes. It will take a shift in consciousness—an entrepreneurial spirit —to champion a planned and deliberate synergy of transit services with land use, infrastructure and population. Managers will have to be trained to be advocates for flexible and creative transportation solutions based on need.
Beyond that, we have to educate the public on the need for increased mobility and how transit agencies can provide that mobility. We will work with the private sector, human service providers and nontraditional mobility providers to change institutional environments. And finally, we will need to implement transportation and land use policies that will encourage and fund all forms of mobility services.
Question: What are the components of a good mobility management program?
Answer: Since the mobility management model is one of customized delivery of transportation service, no two programs are alike. Each program will be designed specifically for each unique community, with innovation as the driving force. That being said, some common elements will include:
- multiagency partnerships that can reduce costs through efficient and effective coordination; potential partners might include social service agencies, senior programs, non-emergency medical providers and taxi companies
- a customer-driven, market-based approach to transportation delivery that offers a variety of individualized travel options
- greater use of information technology systems in real time
- the development and implementation of one-stop travel information and trip planning systems
- traffic management strategies and coordination of public transportation with infrastructure development and land use policies
Question: Why would transit agencies that operate large buses and railcars want to be mobility managers?
Answer: Transit agencies need to maintain and expand their role in communities as the “go-to” source for transportation. Their job is not to move rolling stock, but to move people effectively, efficiently and inexpensively. It makes good business and financial sense to provide better service for less money. The business world is replete with many examples of companies suffering mightily when they were late to recognize a paradigm shift. Kodak and Polaroid are just two recent examples. That’s the kind of challenge that faces us.
Question: What are some of the nontraditional transit services that might be involved in a mobility management program?
Answer: There are many non-traditional forms of transportation services that can be, and are, included in mobility management programs, including carpooling/vanpooling, volunteer drivers, hourly rental cars, travel training, travel vouchers for riders, and real-time demand response services that include taxis and other providers.
Question: How widespread is this coordinated approach in other industries? Within the transit industry, what are some examples of successful, viable mobility management programs?
Answer: An example of the concept in use is the business practice of UPS, FedEx and the US Postal Service. These companies all compete with each other, but they also share delivery resources, making the customer the primary focus. Mobility management practices among transit and transportation providers would be similar. Some good examples of mobility management practices in the U. S. include Denver, Colorado, Portland, Oregon, and Southeastern Michigan, further described in the “Business Case for Mobility Management” section.
Question: How are customers better served as a result?
Answer: Customers can go to a single source to learn about their travel options and understand which work best for them. Through mobility management, customers will have a wider range of travel modes and trip prices. The overall result will be greater mobility for travelers, which in turn will stimulate increased economic activity and social interaction.
Question: How can transit systems save money and operate more efficiently as a result?
Answer: For transit agencies with mobility management programs, efficiencies of coordinated services result in operating budget savings. RTD in Denver reports that it saved nearly $700,000 in its vanpool programs and $1.5 million in taxi user-side subsidies; SMART in Southeastern Michigan saved $2.7 million in its community programs; and Portland’s TriMet reports saving nearly $2 million through the efficiencies of coordinated service. Plus, improved customer service means additional riders and more satisfied customers.
Question: How can transit systems use new technologies to facilitate the implementation of mobility management programs?
Answer: Fortunately, information technology systems have advanced to the point where communities are now able to plan and match requests with real-time, stateof- the-art call center systems to facilitate mobility management.
Question: What are the institutional barriers to implementing mobility management? How can they be overcome?
Answer: The biggest institutional barrier is the status quo attitude, “I’ve always done it this way and it works, so why change?” Those of us who see the need for change must encourage others to embrace change if we are going to evolve—to provide better service more efficiently.
Question: Are there any resources and/ or programs that currently support mobility management efforts?
Answer: Mobility management activities are now an eligible expense in FTA formula grant programs. These activities include planning, management and improved coordination of resources, as well as staffing mobility manager positions.
Question: Where can we learn more about mobility management and implementing a mobility management plan?
Answer: APTA has developed presentations that address mobility management issues at APTA conferences. Other resources include: