According to AARP Public Policy Institute research, more than 100 million Americans do not drive. Yet our transportation systems are still built primarily around individual car ownership. Ride-hailing services, like Lyft, along with public transportation systems are beginning to work together to reimagine how our future transportation infrastructure can improve quality of life for people of every age and background.
While innovations in transportation tend to be viewed as a trend unique to urban communities and settings, new technologies are now enabling service providers to capitalize on a previously untapped market: rural communities. With a unique set of challenges and opportunities—and enabled by today’s technology—these rural markets allow transportation service providers to rethink the kinds of services they provide, how to scale those services, and how to make them more accessible. That movement toward innovation in rural markets needs to grow.
Whether traveling to work, a restaurant or coffee shop or even the hospital, consumers have more transportation options than ever before. And as both new and re-formulated technologies fuel the continued expansion of the local transportation market with new services and companies – both public and private – it’s easy to think that now is the best time to be a local commuter.
The idea of a group of people traveling together from Point A to Point B as a way to make transportation more efficient and more affordable isn’t exactly new. At LA Metro, we’ve been doing that with buses and trains for over 60 years. But in the age of ride-hailing (e.g., Uber and Lyft), the transportation landscape has dramatically changed, and today there are many more options to consider than there were in the 1950s. The concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS)—which, as its name suggests, is centered on users tapping multiple transportation options as a service rather than depending entirely on vehicle ownership—is more relevant than ever. Public transit fits perfectly into this new and still-emerging landscape, and LA Metro has responded accordingly.
During the recent Thanksgiving holiday, a record 30 million-plus Americans traveled by air, and millions more will take to the skies before the clock strikes 2019. Notably, less than 10 percent of those travelers used a traditional travel agent to book their flights.
Well-designed, transit-rich neighborhoods provide many benefits to residents of all ages, as I document in, “ Independence Found in Downsizing to a Transit Rich Neighborhood.” These neighborhoods also provide dividends to the larger community, generating higher property values, rents, and revenue than real estate located further away from high quality public transportation services. Cities as diverse as Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Detroit, and Washington, DC have all strengthened their regional economies through investment in transit-oriented development (TOD). And because their residents walk and bike more, TOD residents reap some health benefits as well.
Most of us take our mobility for granted. We grab our keys and head out to work, buy groceries, and shuttle our kids to movies and soccer practice—all without a second thought. But for the one-third of Americans who don’t drive and many others who lack access to a working vehicle, transportation options don’t come easy—especially in rural America, where transportation has long been a seemingly intractable problem.
In 2009, a truck struck and killed Beverly Shelton’s grandson, Zachary, who was walking inside a marked crosswalk and accompanied by an adult. The driver had rolled through the stop sign rather than make a complete stop.
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