Mobility as a Service

By Mr. Bruce Belmore P.Eng., PTOE, AVS posted 19 days ago

As ITE International President, I have the good fortune to travel to many of the District meetings and explore different transportation networks firsthand. I recently attended the Great Lakes District meeting in Indianapolis, IN, USA. With the city’s automobile racing heritage, there are several race cars proudly on display within the airport terminal. I immediately concluded this must be a car-centric city because of this history and tradition. After leaving the airport, I quickly realized that it was, instead, a city focused on encouraging all modes of transportation and meeting the public’s growing demand for mobility.

There has been recent investment in Indianapolis to kick-stara new public bus rapid transit (BRT) system. This midsized city is
moving from a less efficient hub-and-spoke bus system to a framework of straight BRT lines. The $100 million Red Line is under construction, which will run 13.5 miles (22 kilometers) through downtown, and features a fleet of articulated electric buses offering convenient, quiet, emissions-free operation. Other BRT lines are being planned and designed to form a grid network.

With things like off-board fare collection, transit priority signals, and 10-minute headways, Indianapolis will have conquered many of the common concerns over reliability of service. To reach the suburban areas, partnering with local ride-share companies may be a consideration.

Indianapolis currently has two companies operating dockless e-scooters, and two more have just been approved by the city council to provide service. The city charges an annual licensing fee to each company and collects a charge of $1 per day per scooter. E-scooters are projected to generate more than $1 million in annual revenues for the city—not surprising, given that e-scooter ridership is rising. In 2018, riders in the United States took 38.5 million trips on shared e-scooters, almost doubling ridership over a year earlier, according to a recent survey by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The city also has a bikeshare system, Pacers Bikeshare, and boasts an extensive brick multiuse pathway system running through downtown—the Legacy Trail. Color, texture, and pattern are all used to provide users necessary cues at intersections and other transition points.

Indianapolis has not forgotten about the car. BlueIndy is a revolutionary electric car-sharing service offered in the city where you can pick up and drop off cars at curbside charging stations. You can also sign up to charge your own electric vehicle at these same locations.

The mobility landscape is rapidly changing in transportation—from mode choice to payment method. Soon it will be commonplace for apps to allow for a single payment for all the travel modes you use in a day. The new mobility options will potentially affect how we undertake traffic impact assessments, how public regulations and policies are formed around the different mobility options, and how we dedicate space to transportation modes within the public right of way.

ITE can help answer the many questions that develop as this new transportation mobility landscape unfolds. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is the newest ITE Institute Initiative, and a committee of diverse public and private sector representatives will provide direction on goals and areas of opportunity. To complement this, the Coordinating Council has been conducting listening sessions at District meetings to explore members’ issues and needs regarding MaaS.

Hats-off to Indianapolis on what looks like a bright multimodal future, and to the Great Lakes District of ITE which, through restructuring as part of the ONE ITE effort, is anticipated to soon reach 1,400 members.

This blog post is from the President's Message in the June 2019 issue of ITE Journal.