Multimodal mobility is fast becoming the biggest opportunity for us (as service providers and operators) to design seamless-interconnected journeys and to reimagine movement within urban cities. Multimodal mobility is the term used to describe integrated transport – seamless connectivity between different modes of transportation, such as buses, ferries, trains, trams, ridehailing, bikes, e-scooters and even walking.
This month we are joined by Adriel Thornton, Executive Director at MoGo Detroit Bikeshare and Vlad Marica, Head of Sales at Fluidtime Data Services GmbH for a chat about how the pandemic affected commuting patterns, active transportation and micromobility, and how employers are implementing these modes during Global Employee Health and Fitness month (and all year round!)
Watch the micro-webinar below! Keep reading to learn more about our expert guest and for a brief summary of their data privacy discussion. Check out more episodes here.
Executive Director | MoGo Detroit Bikeshare
As Executive Director, Adriel utilizes his expertise in community relations to execute, with the other members of the MoGo team, community interactions, events, and representational opportunities that propel the MoGo brand forward. Thornton is also responsible for overseeing all aspects of the organization, fundraising, and more.
Head of Sales | Fluidtime Data Services GmbH
Vlad is passionate about complex, interdisciplinary activities; he is experienced in forging relationships between companies, in sales & key accounting, in transnational project management as well as in planning, organizing and steering elaborate tasks. As Fluidtime’s Head of Sales, Vlad is responsible for Fluidtime’s sustainable growth through signing new customers, generating leads and opportunities and building up a partner network comprising transport service-, mobility- and other service providers. Vlad ensures the organic growth of both our company and our products and represents the company at events and shows. He has amassed experience in the art, aviation and entertainment industries, where Vlad has led several high-profile transnational projects; he graduated from the Vienna University of Technology with a degree in Mechanical Engineering after specializing in fluid dynamics and green energy.
Multimodal Mondays: Global Employee Health and Fitness Month
How has the pandemic and it’s affect on the workplace affected the work you’re doing?
Metro Detroit’s Bikeshare Program’s title sponsors are Henry Ford Health System, an integrated, non-profit health care organization and Health Alliance Plan, their insurance arm. They invested money into the MoGo bikeshare at its inception because they saw a connection between what both companies provide, when it comes to the health and fitness of communities.
When it comes to employees health and fitness, an active transportation system is a natural fit. MoGo is a transportation system but many people use the bikeshare scheme for exercise, as well as getting from A to B. We particularly saw this during the pandemic. Pre-pandemic, MoGo noticed a rise in employees using their bikeshare system and cycling for 30-40 minutes to get to work, to burn a few extra calories – whether that was the intent or not.
Fluidtime is a Vienna-based company that provides turnkey integrated mobility and MaaS solutions, which they have been focusing on within the last 5-6 years. Prior to the pandemic, they were seeing fragmentation in the transportation industry; B2G mobility, B2B mobility, B2C mobility etc. and now this fragmentation has become one degree of magnitude higher. We have a lot of different bodies, we have governing bodies, transportation providers, different private companies, who want to provide mobility to everyone. Now, particularly in the context of employer mobility, everything has become a bit more complicated, in the sense that employers are used to having their employees come to the office and now it is in a mixed state. Somewhere between work from home, come back to the office and a hybrid model.
It’s getting harder and harder to figure out the kinds of transportation people need and it’s getting harder for Fluidtime to devise strategies for companies that will, A. Motivate their employees and B. Do it in a financially viable and sustainable way. What they are learning is that they need clear tools and great technology to allow people to communicate their needs and for companies to share their offerings to employees.
What will it actually take to scale the shift towards more active and sustainable modes of transportation?
The first step is great communication so that we can figure out what companies are able to offer, what their employees need and then figuring out a middle ground. To do this, companies need an information portal to talk to their employees and vice versa. We want to go further than just company cares. A big trend in Europe right now are company bikes and cargo bikes, like BMW’s offering. It doesn’t just stop at transportation though, companies are now also offering massages, yoga classes, etc.
It’s important to realize that companies don’t want to spend more money on these offerings. There is a need for companies to make these options bookable and shareable with very little cost. Fluidtime are working on technology that will put these resources into a MaaS platform, in which all of your employees can connect to and book whatever they like.
Employees will always need mobility, so companies should make it easy for them to get non-car based mobility options and offer an integrated planning, booking and payment system as well. This doesn’t have to stop at transportation, this could work within communities and developments where landlords have the same relationship that companies have with their employees. In an ideal world, we would like to see employees benefit of their employers in one app.
Detroit is a different use case than Vienna. Corporations, cities, developers are also trying to include non-motorized options within their plans, but a lot of it has to do with parking mitigation which is a problem in the city of Detroit. That is the impetus and everything else has been secondary. The pandemic may have altered this slightly when parking became less of an issue and more people were using bikes and bikeshare schemes to commute. Now those same people are using it for different reasons, like errands or recreational use.
We are also seeing a shift towards health mitigation. Detroit was hit pretty hard during the pandemic very early on and it highlighted many of the health care inequities that they have in the region. People began to realize that it was in their best interest to be more active so active transportation became a better choice. There is a paradigm shift beginning to happen and more cycle infrastructure is being implemented, but the city of Detroit isn’t quite there yet compare to other European cities.
MoGo does however have adaptive mobility, which is mobility for all abilities. They created this system on the fact that not everyone can use active transportation. It’s currently designed more for recreation as opposed to transportation, but it highlights the fact that is very important to develop systems that are more equitable and inclusive.
How do we make shared mobility alternatives like bikeshare more attractive for other demographic segments?
Step one is community engagement. When MoGo expanded in 2020, in any place that they wanted to deploy a station, the first thing they did, was schedule community meetings. This was so they were able to meet the people living in these areas and ask them whether they wanted the service and if they would use it. MoGo also follow-up after the fact so that they can make it accessible for more people. They try to be equitable in their approach but even implementing a bikeshare scheme can become political. It’s important as an operator, to make a good case for the service and be honest. It’s naive to pretend that bikeshare services are the solution and will solve every problem, but it will solve some issues, of which accessibility in transportation is one.
Detroit has one of the largest black populations in the United States, so creating campaigns or services that are appealing to the young, white, hipster isn’t going to work there, which is why marketing schemes and imagery are a really important way to make it attractive to new users. It seems simple, but many other shared mobility schemes just don’t do it.
There are many people in Detroit who can’t afford a car or other forms of shared/public transit. MoGo’s annual bikeshare pass usually costs $90, but 5 years ago they launched their ‘active pass’ for anyone who receives state benefits or assistance and the cost of that pass is just $5 for 365 days a year and 24/7 access. They also have always included a ‘pay with cash’ option so that the people who really need this as a transportation option, could actually access it.
As a non-profit company, MoGo isn’t concerned with the bottom-line. Their mission is to give access to their system to anyone who wants to use it. Financially, they don’t make any money of their ‘active passes’ but they do get more ridership, which is what really matters to cities and governing bodies when they decide to plan or build more infrastructure.
Companies can also help with this shift in creating more active transportation users by incentivising systems in the workplace and partnering with private operators. For example, the University in Detroit partnered with the local public transit agency and MoGo to provide free transportation for all their students, faculty and staff. They did this as a solution for parking and traffic mitigation – which actually costs them more to maintain than the individual passes.
Many companies in Europe have different climate action plans but are located out of town and so their commuting footprints can be quite high. Some of Fluidtime’s clients wanted to create a gamification scheme that would gradually reduce the number of parking spots and offer alternatives to employees. You can book parking spots through the app and employees will get a certain number of points on the app if they don’t use their car each day and loose points if they do.
In the Netherlands, up until recently, universities gave their students free public transportation cards but now they are rolling out a pilot which will give students an app-based monthly mobility budget that they can now use on public transit, shared modes and active transportation. There were 300 spots available for this pilot and, with very little marketing, 4000 students signed up.
What is your 2022 Mobility Wish?
“I wish that the transportation systems that exist find a way to make a seamless integration for the people who use those services, whether it’s the bus, carshare or bikeshare. To be able to opt for one, but easily access the other, would be a benefit to all of us and would really get people into the mindset of using a different way to get around, rather than a single occupancy vehicle.”
“We want more transport providers, whether they are public or private, to get on board. We want them to be open to partnerships, new business and integration with MaaS schemes, so that we reach a critical mass of people who are willing to go the extra mile on foot and not in their private car.”
If you would like to watch more of our #MultiModalMondays webinar series’ visit here.