As the transportation landscape evolves around new technology, innovations, and social trends, policy makers and planners are looking for all the tools available to help them plan for the future. Thanks to a two-year research collaboration with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) co-director Susan Shaheen and researcher Adam Cohen recently opened up the conversation at the Caltrans Shared Mobility and Modeling Workshop held on the UC Berkeley campus on March 22, with TSRC, ITS Berkeley, and the Local Government Commission (LGC).
“We are in a unique position with our connections to policy makers, shared mobility companies, transportation managers, and our own research to lead this work for the State,” says Shaheen. “We gathered our knowledge and reached out to people across local and regional governments to develop a conversation about what’s here and the future.”
About 150 public and private sector thought leaders gathered to discuss the future of shared mobility policy and planning at the workshop, which is the latest step for TSRC to share their on-demand mobility policy, planning, and modeling work and bring it to the forefront. A new policy tool kit for shared mobility will also be released in the next month.
“Local governments are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of emerging shared mobility options. This workshop and toolkit provide local leaders with critical policy and program guidance, pulling from real-world models across that nation, that can position communities to proactively respond to new providers and ensure that they are optimizing community benefits from shared mobility" says Kate Meis, LGC Executive Director
Through a series of roundtables, discussions, and breakout sessions, participants learned about enhancing public agency (transit, local, regional, and state) preparedness for mobility solutions and technologies (both public and private); opportunities for public/private collaboration to deliver shared mobility services; advancing the incorporation of shared mobility into transportation planning and modeling approaches; and preparing for the growing role of micromobility and shared automated vehicles (SAVs) in the transportation ecosystem.
“As a leader in planning for the future of transportation in California, Caltrans is pleased to partner with the Transportation Sustainability Research Center by supporting this research initiative. The Shared Mobility Workshop and policy toolkit are great ways to share current research with the transportation community and together learn the best approaches to meet emerging mobility demands,” says La Keda Huckabay, Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development Office Chief.
Morning sessions included an engaging roundtable with local and regional government representatives talking about their positive experiences in Shared Mobility Transforming California Communities. Moderator Sally Goodman, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, led the discussion with participants: Barbara Laurenson, Metropolitan Transportation Commission; Eric Eidlin, City of San Jose; Raef Porter, Sacramento Area Council of Governments; and Darton Ito, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, who talked about their experiences and the importance of making sure shared mobility is pooled when possible, creating regional plans that measure up to real community needs, with high speed rail projects, and incorporating all travel modes into event planning.
Cohen moderated a lively discussion where shared mobility service providers discussed opportunities for data sharing and public-private collaboration with Jeff Hoover, Zipcar; Emily Strand, Uber; Megan Richer, Via; and Avi Bar, Waze at Google. Discussions revolved around what is currently being shared and what’s coming next including: quicker emergency service response times, street by street speed data, making sure all seats in a vehicle are filled, and how services impact people’s lives.
“It’s really interesting to see what data are being shared, where the information is flowing and how it is being used, what the capabilities are, and what’s coming next,” says Cohen. “Local governments are looking for data and we’re seeing some interesting applications for that data.”
Bhargava Sana, Senior Transportation Modeler at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) shared how SFCTA has updated their travel demand model to accommodate shared mobility options during the networking lunch discussion.
After a full morning of listening, participants broke out into sessions where they could talk about policy and planning for shared mobility with moderators Cohen and Elliot Martin of TSRC. A third break-out session about incorporating shared mobility into local, regional, and state planning models was moderated by Herbert Higginbotham of Cambridge Systematics. The sessions allowed participants to share best practices and lessons learned with public and private stakeholders.
“We had a great discussion as the conversation moved forward, and we were able to explore common gaps and issues that will be important to address,” says Martin.
In the afternoon, workshop participants looked ahead with a panel focused on “Preparing for a Shared Autonomous Vehicle (SAV) Future of 2030: Planning & Modeling for SAVs,” with moderator Ronald West, Cambridge Systematics, and participants: Chris Ganson, Governor’s Office of Planning & Research, Maren Outwater, Resource Systems Group, Inc. and David Ory, WSP.
“If we don’t lay down the foundation, shared mobility won’t be shared, and it needs to be shared,” says Barbara Laurenson, MTC’s Senior Program Coordinator.