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DART News Release

Media Relations Contact:
Mantill Williams, APTA

December 13, 2018

Public Transit Industry Offers New Innovations for Today and Tomorrow's Commuters

Nearly 80 Percent of Commuters See Public Transit as Backbone of Lifestyle that Includes Ride-hailing, AVs, and Emerging Technologies, According to New Study

Washington, DC With new innovations in public transportation and other options, the time of relying on the car you own as the only option to get around is over. Nearly 80 percent (77 percent) of commuters see public transit as the backbone of a lifestyle that includes current and future technologies such as ride-hailing (i.e. Uber and Lyft), bike/car-share, autonomous vehicles (AVs), scooters and other future emerging innovations, according a new study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

"Commuters are demanding multiple mobility options, and they instinctively know, it is simple arithmetic; public transit provides the best option that transports the most people in the smallest space," said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. "America's public transit systems are poised to serve as the regional mobility manager. This means they are best equipped to organize a multi-modal network of transportation options consumers can use."

The report, the Transformation of the American Commuter, includes a qualitative focus group and quantitative nation-wide survey of the general population with a strong focus on millennials. The research was conducted by Anazalone Liszt Grove for APTA. The study also includes additional data by the National Academy of Sciences and other data sources.

"Customers expect to be in control of their mobility choices, so it is up to us to prove our relevance. Being easy to use, and accessible via smartphones is key," said Gary Thomas, President/Executive Director of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit. "Recent updates to our GoPass® mobile ticketing app deliver enhanced travel planning tools and a 'cash-to-mobile' option to help us reach the unbanked market, and fare-capping, which makes transit even more affordable. Combining innovations in customer-facing communication with flexible services makes us attractive to new partners like Apple, VISA, Ford, and Toyota."

Many public transit agencies are centralizing the role of the mobility manager through a transit app and other private entities are focusing on this area. APTA's survey showed that 74 percent of millennials would use a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) app allowing for the coordination and payment of different types of transportation.

"Technology is disrupting the transportation industry, and people are embracing new modes of transportation to commute," said Tina Quigley, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. "As a public transit authority, we need to be flexible and able to better collect and analyze our customer data to integrate new technologies - such as autonomous vehicles, bike share, and ride hailing - into a comprehensive transportation ecosystem to help ensure that public transit remains a viable, accessible and desirable mode of commuting. For example, our ride RTC app allows people to buy their transit tickets and plan their trip on their smartphone. Using the app customers can determine which RTC transit route to take as well as how they can walk, use RTC Bike Share or use Uber to get to their final destination."

APTA's study shows some hesitancy from commuters about self-driving vehicles, with only 21 percent of millennial respondents saying that they would prefer a self-driving taxi to a traditional one. However, that figure increases to 46 percent when respondents were told that AVs have the potential to reduce costs by 90 percent.

Public transit agencies are and should be first adopters of AV technologies from Automated Driver Assist Systems to full autonomous, according to APTA officials. They note AV shuttles now being deployed can connect people to high capacity transit and serve mobility deserts - places that are not served by traditional transit. AVs can also expand autonomy to those who are not able to drive by improving and expanding accessible service.

"The upheaval in our industry has an upside: it has forced LA Metro to think hard about the best way to improve regional mobility," said Joshua Schank, Ph.D., Chief Innovation Officer, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "For instance, our microtransit project will allow Metro customers to use cellphones to order, monitor and pay for rides in vehicles smaller than our buses. The service wont be tied to a fixed route or schedule and will initially be deployed in smaller zones. We see microtransit as a great way to get around in areas where traditional bus service isn't working for most people."

Authors of the study note this multi-transit lifestyle is accommodated by transit-oriented development. Current research shows that most millennials lead the way with their preference for walkable communities and short commutes. In fact, APTA's study noted that 88 percent of millennial respondents said that the length of their commute was important to them.

"SouthWest Transit, a suburban transit provider in the Twin Cities, has been operating a pioneering shared ride microtransit service for over three years," said Matt Fyten, Manager of Planning for SouthWest Transit in Eden Prarie, MN. "The service, SouthWest Prime, has been highly successful with over a 400% increase in ridership since its first year in operation. Compared to traditional dial-a-ride services, SW Prime has proven to be the most efficient demand response service in the Twin Cities region serving over 400 riders a day while using only one dispatcher/reservationist to manage the entire system."

Because of technological barriers, the report explains that public transit agencies may be in the best position to address concerns that the rise of AV technology could lead to greater inequalities among the low-income, older adults and persons with disabilities. In addition, without guidance from local transit agencies, the unbanked and those with limited access to financial institutions or smartphones are also at risk of not benefiting from these new technologies.

"It is essential we transform our thinking of how we provide local transportation services to ensure integration across markets, modes, and providers," said Skoutelas. "It is important to continue to simplify the user's access, and work to keep trip and service costs equitable for customers. Most importantly, it is critical we grow this new mobility network to safeguard the mission to serve people from all walks of life while enhancing a region's transportation and community goals."

To read the full study go to

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public and private sector organizations which represents a $68 billion industry that directly employs 420,000 people and support millions of private sector jobs. APTA members are engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products.

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