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Integrating TOD and shared/micro mobility

Explore how shared/micro mobility services can be deployed to address inequities in transit infrastructures.
Cargo bike with boxes
© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility

We’ll explore how shared/micro mobility services can be deployed to address inequities in transit infrastructures. This conversation will lead us to a concept referred to as ‘the first and last mile.’

Before we dive into this topic, let’s first explore what we mean by some of the key terms in this step.

Micro mobility

Micro mobility refers to human-powered or electric-assisted vehicles with fewer than four wheels and a maximum speed of 45 km/h. Examples of these include bicycles, e-scooters, and e-bikes.

First and last mile

In public transport, the first and last mile typically refers to the beginning and end of an individual trip. In many cases, if the transit station is close enough, the commuter will walk to their destination.

However, on either end of that trip, the origin or the destination might be difficult or impossible to access on foot. A gap in the trip from the origin is called the first mile connection. Correspondingly, a gap in the trip to the destination is called the last mile connection.

What relevance do these concepts have in relation to the subject of transit inequities?

Transit inequities

Research into transportation disadvantaged populations shows that marginalised populations and/or those with low incomes are most likely to be disadvantaged when it comes to access to transportation systems.

This population is also less likely to be able to afford the costs associated with a private vehicle, which – in turn – means reduced access to health care, employment, and schooling opportunities.

A solutions that has been proposed to address this issue has been the use of micro mobility services to improve commuter access to the first and last mile of trips to public transit stations.

Analysis conducted by the American Public Transportation Association identified a number of benefits related to integrating shared micro mobility into the public transport system, including:

  • greater transit reach
  • more equitability for low-income commuters
  • a decrease in the number of car trips.

This is of particular importance in TOD as it ensures that all residents, workers and visitors have good access to public transport, not only those who live or work immediately next to the station.

However, low-income, and marginalised populations face several barriers to accessing shared micro mobility.

Barriers accessing shared micro mobility

People who live close to bikeshare stations are more likely to use them. Historically, bike share users have predominantly been wealthy, white, young educated males and the placement of bikeshare stations reflects these statistics. Currently, stations are largely found in white, higher-income areas.

Additionally, within disadvantaged populations there are some misconceptions around micro mobility – specifically, bikeshare, including:

  • bikeshare is a recreational form of transport for wealthy people
  • the bikes would lock the rider out when the time limit expired
  • credits cards are required for payment.

Further to this, safety concerns, both personal and in relation to theft, have commonly been reported by low-income focus groups.

Metro bikeshare low-income fare is easy, Los Angeles.

One of the measures developed to counter some bikeshare equity issues has been micro mobility programs specifically designed to improve access for low-income populations.

A good example of this is Metro BikeShare Low-Income Fare is Easy in Los Angeles. Other recommendations have been to incorporate existing public transport payment systems with micro mobility operators and the development of discounted fare programs at a local government level.

Your task

Consider the points raised in this step and conduct your own research into micro mobility access in your local area and make note in your word or Google doc. Consider, for example:

  • How many stations are available?
  • Who is using the shared bikes/e-scooters?
  • What measures would you take to increase the equity of micro mobility use where you live?

Further resources

If you would like to read further about some of the concepts we have covered, the following resources are optional.

Transport and social exclusion: Where are we now

Electric scooter sharing and bike sharing user behaviour and characteristics

Integrating public transit and shared micromobility payments to improve transportation equity in Seattle, WA

© RMIT Europe and EIT Urban Mobility
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