Nearly every month, a new mobility service pops up aimed at commuters. From shared escooters or ebikes, to microtransit services, to carpool matching apps, employees have more choices than ever for their daily commutes. But will they use them?
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) techniques have traditionally focused on encouraging walking, biking, public transit, carpooling and vanpooling. New mobility options can offer the same benefits as traditional transportation modes (fewer emissions, healthier habits, time savings), but often have different barriers to entry (new devices and technology, shared ownership). Therefore, marketing and encouraging these new options requires new ideas and methods for fostering behavior change.
In California, Santa Monica has been ground zero for new micro-mobility deployment. In September 2017, the first electric Bird scooters appeared on a Santa Monica street, seemingly from nowhere. Less than a year later the City launched a Shared Mobility Pilot Program that brought more escooters and ebikes to city streets. Combined with Santa Monica’s existing bike share, municipal bus service, and light rail connecting to downtown Los Angeles, there have never been more options for getting around the city.
Santa Monica is also a regional job center with over 88,000 daily in-bound commuters, nearly doubling the population. Hence, the way in which these commuters arrive to the city each day dramatically affects local traffic and emissions.
How can employers and their employees take advantage of new mobility options? To help answer this question, the Steer-operated Santa Monica Transportation Management Organization (GoSaMo TMO) brought together a group of employers to sit down with new mobility companies and discuss everything from scooters to carpools. Representatives from mobility companies Bird, Jump, Lyft, Waze Carpool, and Micro Kickboards were all on hand to discuss what they could offer Santa Monica employers and their employees. Employers asked questions about trip tracking, liability, and costs, while encouraging the mobility companies to make their employer programs easy to implement. At the end of the meeting employers were able to network with the mobility company representatives and their fellow employers. The TMO continued the conversation by sharing the results of the meeting with those who were unable to attend and connecting them with the new mobility providers.
Employers continue to come to the TMO and say anecdotally that they see their employees using these new services. It is not currently possible to determine exactly how many commuters are using shared micro-mobility services to get to work, but the number of people in Santa Monica choosing them is staggering. According to City data, there were roughly 150,000 rides on shared escooter and ebikes in November 2018 alone. It is still very early on for these new transportations solutions and only time will tell how big their impact has been on commuting. The TMO continues to help all employees and employers understand what these new transportation services are and how they can take advantage of them.
Steer has operated the GoSaMO TMO since 2016, helping employees, residents and visitors understand their transportation options and encouraging the reduction of drive alone trips.
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Steer has delivered projects internationally across a range of disruptive technologies, from dockless bike share to on-demand minibuses and autonomous vehicles, offering insight to employers, service providers and agencies alike. We are passionate about how new technologies can help shape our urban environments for the better. Steer is adept at advising both operators and public bodies worldwide, providing knowledge, insight and guidance on the implementation and development of technologies to complement existing services while maintaining a commercial understanding of business needs.
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Article written by: Nathan Pope, Consultant