This project was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC; grant number NITC-RR-1401) a U.S. DOT University Transportation Center.
Technology-enabled shared micromobility services have expanded mobility for some travelers, but significant barriers to use limit their uptake among certain groups. To address these barriers, cities and professional transportation organizations have undertaken two distinct efforts to operationalize equity in shared micromobility services: 1) drafted equity frameworks in an attempt to clearly define equity within the transportation context and to provide guidelines for what cities should consider when designing equity-based mobility programs; and 2) some cities have attempted to ameliorate access disparities by establishing new requirements for shared micromobility programs. Both equity frameworks and program requirements mark important steps to operationalizing equity in shared micromobility. Yet our understanding of the scope and breadth of each—and how they actually impact mobility and accessibility of historically underserved travelers—remains limited. To address this gap, we ask and answer four questions: 1) What equity requirements do shared micromobility programs include? 2) What strategies are employed by cities/agencies seeking to operationalize equity in shared micromobility programs? 3) To what extent are programs monitored and evaluated to determine if program requirements translate to more equitable outcomes in practice? and 4) How do current frameworks approach equity in shared micromobility? To answer these questions, we collected information from 239 shared micromobility programs across the U.S., conducted five case studies, and reviewed existing literature and mobility equity frameworks. We find that shared micromobility equity requirements are common but far from universal, and that equity requirements are more common in joint micromobility (e-scooter plus bikeshare) programs than they are in stand-alone bikeshare or e-scooter systems. A tremendous range exists in the types and structures of equity requirements imposed by different cities across seven dimensions of equity requirements: reduced fares, multilingual services, cash payment compatibility, non-smartphone access, adaptive vehicles for users with disabilities, mandated geographic service areas, and targeted marketing and outreach. This research suggests that most cities, regardless of the robustness of their city or program-level goals, could benefit from a logic model exercise to ensure clear connections between program goals, components, and data collection. The most promising practices to advance equity in shared micromobility programs include: 1) linking operational incentives to desired equity outcomes; 2) dedicating staff time and resources to managing shared micromobility programs; 3) ensuring that there is a clear arc connecting specific goals with program requirements; 4) matching each program requirement with targeted data collection to enable an assessment of how successfully each requirement is meeting its goals; and 5) conducting transparent evaluations to measure progress and identify future paths of improvement or iteration.
Brown, Anne, Amanda Howell, and Hana Creger. Mobility for the People: Evaluating Equity Requirements in Shared Micromobility Programs. NITC-RR-1401. Portland, OR: Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), 2021. https://doi.org/10.15760/trec.277