Multimodal Monday: Mikki Taylor-Hendrix, Andy Keeton & Jessica Alba

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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.

Welcome to the February edition of the Multimodal Mondays micro-webinar series. This month Sandra is joined by Mikki Taylor-Hendrix from Detroit Department of Transportation, Andy Keeton from Commutifi and Jessica Alba from Stanford University, to discuss incentives and behaviour change within the Mobility-as-a-Service sector.

Watch the micro-webinar below! Keep reading to learn more about each guest panelist and for a brief summary of our multimodal discussion. Check out episode one here

Multimodal Monday: mikki taylor-hendrix, andy keeton, jessica alba & sandra phillips

THE multimodal monday PANEL

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Mikki Taylor-Hendrix

Urban Planner • Community Enthusiast • Transit Supporter • DDOT

Mikki works for the department of transport in Detroit. Unlike other cities, Detroit has a transit system. Her work as an urban planner focuses on networking and routing as well as leading community engagement. Most of what she does on a daily basis is to make sure she is providing the community with the resources to get where they need to go. She looks at what people are gravitating towards and to see which mobility options/providers work best with the transit system. Staying up to date with the latest changes, trends and innovations that sway behaviour change, is another aspect of the work she does.

 

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Andy Keeton, TDM-CP

Data & Product Strategist at Commutifi

Commutifi, where Andy is the Data and Product Strategist, is a TDM data, automation and commute management platform. They help commute admins at different levels to help come up with the best data driven projects, to encourage people out of their single occupancy vehicles and into something more sustainable. Prior to Commutifi, Andy worked for a non-profit think tank, where he worked closely with the behaviour economics department within the mobility space. How to influence behaviour change and keep it sustainable and long lasting for the future, using data, is somewhere his work has taken him.

 

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Jessica Alba

Transportation Policy Manager, Stanford University

Jessica joined Stanford University as an external and internal liaison on transportation policy in 2017. She has spent her 20-year career working with thought leaders on transportation solutions that put people first. Her background mixes urban and environmental policy within the transportation field. She is cautiously optimistic about the future of transport investments with the new Biden administration and hopes to see more jobs within the sector and increased promotion of climate resilient and equitable systems and networks. Transport behaviour tools and incentives are important in continuing to keep transportation systems efficient and seamless.

february’s multimodal monday webinar:

What incentives work within the community?

DDOT in collaboration with local bike share company MoGo, recently introduced an incentive whereby if you bought a monthly transit pass, you would receive free bike share for a month. However it did not perform well, even though 2000 passes were purchased. Why was the bike share service activated so few times? It’s hard to change learned human behaviour. Trying to break a commuter’s routine for example is very different, especially when they have a set schedule and are worried about being late to work. They are now looking into how it was introduced, were the communities questions answered and if it was user-friendly enough.

How can technology influence human behaviour?

If you want to break a habit, usually the product/service has to be at least three times better for someone to want to even try it. With transportation, that number is closer to nine. Commutifi has built a score index around each type and mode of transport. It’s basically a baseline of where you are and lists reference points for where you could be. Being able to score transportation options objectively, gives the user a visual aid (removing the need for extra brain power). This is one way to induce them into changing their behaviour.

How has policy changed to inform human behaviour?

In contrast to European cities, the main driver for transportation in the US are economic drivers, not sustainability. For this reason, in order to shift behaviour and change policy, it has to be economically driven as well. The cost of changing, innovating and building isn’t attractive to many companies. However, if you convince private companies and public agencies to invest money in a strong transit system, bike network and a great tech provider, for example, you can create widespread change across all systems and focus on what’s really important – sustainability. Getting cities to look at minimum parking requirements and level of service analysis for car traffic are two things that have been the hardest shifts to make. Now we are at a point where cities are ready to dive into making changes in these areas.

Policy-wise they are ready, but implementation-wise, they are not. What is helping to break this cycle are pilot programs and positive data points. What we need to see for future sustainable transport systems are:

  • Regulations and ordinances changing.
  • An increase in infrastructure that support walking, biking, micromobility, and transit.
  • Public and private organizations working together to develop and implement equity packages.

How can we nudge people behaviour towards multimodal? Is it a good idea if it’s politically motivated?

If you just throw together a program due to political will, it might work in the short term, but not in the long term. It doesn’t have to be politically pushed forward with a “holistic” or “great” purpose, it could just be that we need to save money as a city/state. ‘It’s expensive to maintain car infrastructure’, ‘It’s expensive to not have your workers live in the city where they work’ etc. There are ways to incentivize shared programs with an economical driven belief that we can help the community.

Political forces are usually involved, especially with funding from a federal level. Even though the Biden administration is ‘transit friendly,’ there is still a limit on what solutions you can research and explore when you have boxes to tick. Funding stipulations and local/regional political directives can really inhibit successful innovation.

From a behaviour change perspective, commutes are the hardest to break. One way to do it, is to change habit reinforcing things like monthly parking and quarterly parking and instead offering daily and hourly choices. This way you can make a different choice each day, based on your needs, the weather etc. As people start to realize there are better options to driving, overtime that daily choice will change from once a week, to twice and then you can pull back on incentive programs. We also need sticks as well as carrots, like congestion and parking fees to help fund better, more equitable and sustainable transportation.

We need to think about the pandemic as a life changing event and a great time to encourage people to make new habits. Historically, successful transit was a system that had an increase in ridership. Now, with the pandemic, that is completely different. What we need to focus on is how to make public transit more attractive to those who use it every day and throughout the day, then choice riders will follow. Essentially, the focus should be on improving the quality of the experience as opposed to trying to get more people on board. One way to do this is to increase transit options/times throughout the entire day as opposed to just focusing on commuting periods.

How do we get past these stipulations that impede progress?

Demonstration programs and pilots allows us the opportunity to try a service or project and to measure results. Even just starting with one company or employer before rolling it out into a town/city. However, pilots have the tendency to get people really excited for something that initially may not be financially sustainable. Transparency with the user is key to managing expectations. There is more freedom for innovation exploration when you are not tied to federal funding program and expensive programs just aren’t always viable for public organizations. Therefore public and private partners need to work together more, to ‘spread the wealth.’ By investing in each other, they are investing in themselves.

Last thoughts?

“The opportunity a Transportation Management Agency (TMA or a TMO) can add to a region or a district that encompasses many organizations and partnerships. It could be both residential or employer or it could be many employers working together to bulk purchase transit passes, or offer a really strong communication program or launch something. These are really popular across the United States. I’m hoping more districts and regions consider them as a model for more coordination…” – Jessica Alba

“We are already incentivising driving and parking. So if you are talking to an employer or property developer who is asking ‘what can I do to incentivize transportation but I don’t have that much money?’ Realize you are already spending a tonne of money on parking so if you can remove just one more parking spot that costs you $150-$200 per month, that’s a lot of money you can put into some other program. You can save money by shifting people into multimodal use.” – Andy Keeton

“Accountability is a big factor. We need to make sure these employers are actually participating in the communities they exist in. Also transparency. Keeping in mind the goals for who your product is for. Making sure the user is part of the overall development and making sure they are engaged throughout the entire process.” – Mikki Taylor-Hendrix


If you would like to watch more of our #MultiModalMondays webinar series’ visit here.

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