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A new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group shows how well American cities are using technology-enabled services and tools for their transportation needs. It ranks major American cities on the number of different types of new transportation technology options in the city, including: car-sharing, ride-sharing, ride-sourcing, taxi-hailing, bike-sharing, public transit navigation apps, and virtual transit ticketing, among others.
The report, “The Innovative Transportation Index: The Cities Where New Technologies and Tools Can Reduce Your Need to Own a Car,” demonstrates how rapid technological advances have enabled the creation of new transportation tools that make it convenient for more Americans to live full and engaged lives without owning a car.
Leading the pack among the 70 cities were Austin, San Francisco and Washington D.C., with Boston, Los Angeles and New York City right behind.
"I'm so proud that the car capital of the world is evolving into a tech-transportation capital. LA's transportation options have grown at a break-neck speed, on pace with our tech industry, to the benefit of our environment and our economy," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“None of these options even existed a few years ago, and this trend is just beginning,” said Phineas Baxandall, Transportation Program Director at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “Technology has given people new convenient ways to get around more freely without having to own a car.”
“Expanding the availability of shared-use transportation modes and other technology-enabled tools can give more Americans the freedom to live “car-free” or “car-light” lifestyles,” said Jeff Inglis, a policy analyst at the Frontier Group and co-author of the report. "Smartphone apps and new transportation services are making it easier for people to get where they need and want to go, while avoiding many costs associated with owning, insuring and maintaining a private vehicle."
This new study finds that residents of 19 cities with a combined population of nearly 28 million people, have access to eight or more of these 11 services, with other cities catching up rapidly.
- Individually, these services and tools make a difference. But together, they are more than the sum of their parts. Someone considering riding public transit instead of driving, for instance, will want to know about complementary options for times when riding the bus or train wouldn’t be convenient.
- The cities in this report all host a variety of services or tools that make it easier for Americans—and Millennials especially—to lead a car-free or car-light lifestyle. Having a suite of options allows people to spontaneously choose the most convenient option for them.
- There is much that cities can do to encourage more and better use of innovative transportation choices. Just because these services are new shouldn’t stop officials from responsibly integrating them into their plans and policies.
"Bike share is the perfect example of how successful 21st century cities are using technology to re-imagine how we get around. It’s personalized to how you want to travel and flexible enough to evolve with cities in real time, as new travel patterns emerge and neighborhoods change. This excellent report makes clear that people are now expecting cities to embrace bike share and similar options if they want to grow and thrive,” said Jay Walder, Chief Executive Officer of Motivate, which runs the largest bike share systems in the country.
“The shared mobility industry is growing and evolving at an incredibly rapid pace," said Sharon Feigon, Executive Director of the Shared-Use Mobility Center. "These innovative services not only provide riders with new transportation options but, by integrating with existing transit systems, they have the potential to offer tremendous social and economic benefits such as reducing emissions, lessening congestion and improving public access to transportation.”
Even when these services provide access to a car, they still make it easier for Americans to reduce their auto dependence by enabling easy access to a vehicle without the constant use associated with ownership. These tools have been expanding rapidly, yet public agencies have been slow to integrate these new systems into their planning and policy.
“The cities in this report should be proud of helping to bring new transportation choices,” said Baxandall. “These new tech-enabled options will play a big role in defining what our cities look like in the years to come.”
The report calls on policy-makers and elected officials to explore ways to tap the potential of technology-enabled services to address transportation challenges and increase the number of people with the option to live car-free or car-light lifestyles.
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