In this month’s edition of our ‘Women In Shared Mobility’ series, we take a look back at our interviews of 2020 so far, and share some of the top insights and our favourite takeaways from our interviewees so far. In this 2020 roundup we will explore the how Covid-19 has impacted our transportation services, the problems and benefits of MaaS as a mobility solution and how designing equitable and inclusive is not only essential, but it is the future of mobility.
Women in Shared Mobility Roundup: Top Insights From Our 2020 Interviews
Rita Landauer, COO of Fluidtime
Crissy Ditmore, the Director of Strategy for Cubic Transportation Systems
1. HOW HAS COVID-19 EFFECTED OUR TRANSPORTATION SERVICES?
“For me shared mobility and micromobility… it’s definitely something that needs to be considered as essential and also if we’re going deeper, it’s definitely a service which needs to be supported by the state and regulated by the state.” – Polina Mikhaylova
During the Pandemic and even now, residents of cities across the world are reluctant to continue using public transit services in the same way they did before the outbreak. The main issues are with safety and social distancing measures, which are hard (if not impossible) to enforce on a public bus/train. Cities around the world have acknowledged that micro mobility services stepped up and allowed cities to weather the storm during the height of the Pandemic. This just shows how essential and vital active transportation is as part of the entire transportation ecosystem.
“I think it’s a moment for us to recognize that one, we need redundancies in our transit systems, and not to say that scooters are a replacement of a seat on the bus, but it is our bike-share systems and how micro mobility can help us in times like this.” – Clarrissa Cabansagan
Another massive changed that occurred over the last few months, is just how quickly policy was changed and enacted regarding mobility services and infrastructure. For example, closing down roads for cars in Stanley Park, Vancouver and opening them up to use as bike lanes instead. We now see how quickly things can progress and change when necessary, so hopefully we can keep up this moment moving into the cities of tomorrow.
“The thing that I found to be most interesting is how the will of the people can put policy on an expedited timeline. I think everybody was kind of caught off guard by Covid and how it would change everything, but cities had to adapt, people had to adapt, people had to think about how to travel ways to get around and you had to move quickly because you needed a solution sort of immediately” – Nadia Anderson, PH.D
2. WHAT ABOUT MAAS? HOW CAN WE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENT IT AND ENCOURAGE CHANGE IN TRAVEL BEHAVIOUR?
“This is one of the advantages of Mobility-as-a-Service – it can help organize what we call ‘trip chains.’ If you want to go from A to B using different modes of transport we call it a ‘trip chain’ and Mobility-as-a-Service can help make bring sense into these trip chains and also make them more individualized. It’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ way to getting from A to B anymore, but Mobility-as-a-Service can actually help individualize solutions. It could tell someone who, for example, has special accessibility needs that the route they were going to take is not accessible…” – Sandra Witzel
Most of our interviewees this year all spoke of MaaS and the benefits a successful Mobility-as-a-Service could bestow up a city and its residents. Customizable journey solutions all working together from the one platform to ensure you, the user, has the smoothest ride possible. In theory, the idea is fantastic, however there have been some issues with implementation across the globe. A big one is the reluctance of private and public agencies to work together and share their data,
“There are probably more than two points, but I think the the main two points would be; one, we really really need open data. We need open standardized data and we need to make sure that we don’t end up with data silos, where a few large corporations hoard all the data and not share.” – Sandra Witzel
We can talk about MaaS, it is something that we all want to have and without the public control, without the public investment, it wouldn’t happen… this integrating to two sectors and recognizing that they’re both providing an essential service and so giving them kind of the same measuring sticks instead of being completely different. We’re not competing.” – Polina Mikhaylova
From European case studies, it has become clear that MaaS systems that have branded themselves and worked closed with the public transportation agencies within their region, have had greater success than those who have chose to fly solo.
“What we have also observed here in Europe the gas company Ferrovial in Spain which is also a train company, was offering the city carsharing, and is now just an extension of their offer to the clients. Here in Berlin and the BVG which is the local transportation provider, they have experimented and teamed up with ViaVan and experimented with shared mobility.” – Katharina Wagner
“Even MaaS Global, arguably, their first city in Helsinki project, went really well. They had initial great adoption, really fast. They had fast growing usership and we’re looking to expand that in several different cities. In some of the cities that they went to they had limited success when they weren’t very closely partnered and aligned with a public entity, whether that was the city or the transit agency.” – Crissy Ditmore
However, it isn’t ‘one size fits all’ – the success of a MaaS systems is dependent upon the regulatory framework, the current transportation services and geographic area of the region that it is in.
“What we’re starting to see is, how it unfolds, will be different in every region and I think that’s to be expected, everyone’s going to have different laws and regulations and capabilities but there’s an underlying tenant of addressing a public policy goal, that is what will be the basis of how you execute your technology stack to meet that goal.” – Rita Landauer
Throughout the interviews our interviewees spoke about how it was important to make MaaS services attractive to users via means of trust building, monetary incentives and education. It’s exceptionally hard to change the ‘tried and tested’ travel behaviour of a population, but encouraging them through means of marketing and making it worth their while to ‘give it a go’, are a few ways of doing this,
“I think that there is a lot of information and trust-building needed so that people can learn about operators so they can be convinced that they can trust them. We need incentives. I think monetary and non-monetary incentives. The non-monetary incentives are somehow available anyway because it’s a good feeling to contribute to Environment Protection but I think we will also need monetary incentives. With these kind of things, I believe that we need the help of companies because they have the possibility, for example, to offer to their employees some kind of mobility credit to get them to test those kind of services.” – Rita Landauer
Not everyone agreed that technology was the answer to solving our transportation problems. MaaS is a great addition that we should add to our mobility systems within our cities, but we need to dig deeper, understand our user base and their needs in order to create successful transportation ecosystems.
“I personally believe that technology is not the silver bullet but it’s something that we should be using and leveraging. I think many times people thought that technology was going to solve everything, it was going to solve the problem outright and it kind of got us away from actually taking the other steps and making sure that we were incrementally measuring progress but also making sure that people and voices and the impact of how it played out on the ground were actually considered.” – Nadia Anderson, PH.D
3. what about equity and diversity within mobility? Are we moving towards more inclusive transportation options?
“Working on equity in its purest form, sometimes you have to take a little bit of an extra step to make sure that people who are marginalized or excluded by the system or excluded by legacy systems that are in place, have the opportunity to be brought to the table.” – Nadia Anderson, PH.D
A major theme that reoccurred again and again throughout the ‘Women in Shared Mobility’ interviews was the need for more equity and diversity throughout our transportation services. And not just for the users, but within the management of the day-to-day operations. How can we begin to think about changing and adapting the designs of our transportation services, when, 1) we aren’t speaking to and catering for every ethic and social group (especially those in minorities) to find out the needs they have and 2) there isn’t enough diversification when hiring within our mobility companies. How are we supposed to realize there is a problem, if the people who ARE effected by this problem, don’t have a seat at the table?
“…when you look at who has the power, when you look at who’s in leadership positions, it doesn’t reflect the diversity of of the world that we’re currently living in. When you look at who’s at the head of shared mobility companies, they don’t look like me.” – Tamika L. Butler, Esq
We have to go into our communities and address the actual issues they have with moving around day-to-day, even if it isn’t pretty and there isn’t a streamlined piece of tech that will solve it. We need to earn trust by listening and actually creating solutions for these problems across our entire city, including marginalized areas.
“You can have the community come in and participate because a lot of times these conversations happen in the ivory tower or for those who work certain types of jobs, but the people who you really need to hear from may be shift workers or maybe working and have different issues or different time constraints on their time.” – Nadia Anderson, PH.D
“For whom are we planning? Are we planning for the able-bodied cyclists like myself? That lives within walking distance to work? We should not be planning for me to have more options, we should be planning for my grandma who needs more options, who drives everywhere still and she needs to not drive everywhere.” – Clarrissa Cabansagan
When designing future transportation services we have to try and think of alternative solutions to problems such as cost, and the lack of a smartphone device. We need to think outside the box and devise answers to these problems before they become an issue for many,
“The challenge, I think we have for shared mobility, is ‘how do we make them more affordable to people who otherwise would not be able to use them?’ Or for whom it’s easier or cheaper to have a transit pass than it is to pay per trip and so I do feel like some of the movement from scooter companies or the bike share companies to give access to essential workers are fascinating. How do we, in perpetuity give essential workers who are probably the lowest paid among us, free access to shared mobility?” – Clarrissa Cabansagan
“I think it’s also a topic of payment options. Especially for the elderly and also for children, they do not have access or are just not willing to give their credit card details or bank accounts for an online payment. There are possibilities to offer some kind of family account so that they don’t have to do the payment themselves and of course there is also the possibility to buy credits offline.” – Rita Landauer
North America, due to rigorous regulations in place, is behind Europe in certain areas when it comes to mobility solutions, however, they lag is a chance to really innovate and create equitable, inclusive designs that meets the need of all users, that just hasn’t been seen yet.
“When we are looking at how to address the needs of people who don’t have access to technology, who may be unbanked or underbanked, who may be part of an aging population, ideally we would want them to not have to drive, but we’re certainly not giving them alternatives on how to not drive. I think it’s actually North America’s greatest opportunity in defining how to create a set of solutions that meets the needs of all users.” – Crissy Ditmore
What are your thoughts on the developments in shared mobility that occurred over 2020 and what is to be expected for next year’s developments? What about the future implementation of MaaS and shared mobility within our cities? If you would like to be interviewed or to nominate a woman working in Shared Mobility for our next series, get in touch with us here.