CityTalk / Canada
CityTalk: Mobility as a Service: How can MaaS support better mobility access?
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Un résumé des idées, des thèmes et des citations les plus convaincants de cette conversation franche
1. Furthering the conversation around Mobility as a Service.
In an environment of shifting traveler behaviours, constrained municipal budgets, and unmet mobility needs in equity-deserving communities, the delivery of transit services requires a rethink beyond just serving peak hour commutes. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is an integrated platform for transportation services that combines multiple modes, public and private, on one easy-to-use navigation and payment app. Research and engagement by a joint CUI-AECOM team found that a MaaS approach can foster greater mobility access by filling service gaps in an urban region for everyone, everywhere, all the time.
See our joint CUI-AECOM report “Mobility as a Service: A Feasibility Study on Implementing MaaS in the Greater Toronto Area,” which explores the desirability of MaaS in the region and sets out a framework to further the conversation around implementation.
2. A whole-of-system approach.
Deborah Wathen Finn, president of US-based The Wathen Group, frames MaaS as an opportunity to link separate mobility systems and incorporate feedback from the business community and customers through collaboration and good governance. A MaaS approach “starts to be realistic” about mobility patterns in urban, suburban, and rural areas and tries to link them “so that we get the most efficiency out of those systems,” enhancing the experience for customers. On the question of leadership, Deborah says the public sector must set the standard around the quality of transit systems to form the basis of agreement between all actors.
Tosh Chambers, Senior Program Director for Pittsburgh’s MovePGH MaaS program, states the need for an organizer to connect different services and providers. “It could be a non-profit, like we’ve managed here, to get all those agencies to speak together, because I think they all recognize that they have their own niche in the transportation ecosystem and they all benefit by working together…”
3. Democratizing mobility: access for all
For MaaS to truly improve mobility access, it must be designed intentionally with an equity-centered process. According to Matthew Palm, Assistant Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill and partner lead for Mobilizing Justice’s pilots program, “[MaaS] can be a way to actually target resources towards equity-deserving communities to remove financial barriers to access certain services.” Service areas in Pittsburgh, targeted from an equity standpoint, saw riders starting their trips in these areas receive a 25 percent discount. There’s an opportunity for MaaS to reach everyone, but that’s contingent on “real partnerships with community groups that are on the ground in different neighbourhoods…”
Tosh, speaks to MovePGH’s approach, “I don’t think you need to look at [MaaS] as this massive program requiring a ton of funding.” With a low budget and effective tactics, such as creating mobility hubs, strategic deployment, and pushing for equity pricing, the MovePGH team successfully coordinated partners to implement MaaS in Pittsburgh.
4. Reducing car dependency by providing affordable alternatives.
Travel behaviour is inextricably linked to urban environments and the availability of mobility options. Matthew sees MaaS as a way of reaching “folks who live in outer suburban communities who aren’t necessarily driving by choice.” “I think there’s hope for [MaaS] to try and reach those folks by helping make things more affordable as a means of getting alternative modes into some of those communities.” A MaaS platform also provides real time and reliable information on available options and service interruptions allowing travelers to plan their commutes according to need and preference, gaining efficiencies in cost and time.
Deborah calls on attendees to imagine how we could run a mobility system, for example, on days where there isn’t enough capacity on the highway. “We’ll give you a discount if you get on the transit system.” Excitedly, she calls this the real frontier in managing big urban areas.
5. Iterative prototyping to evaluate and adapt.
Justin Trevan, AECOM Canada’s Vice President and Growth Strategy Lead, calls for the need to experiment. “It wasn’t until you could actually get to the pilot stage and try it, would you discover the things that did or didn’t work. …I think process is actually the most critical piece … because the piece that you discover at the end of it might not be the thing you thought you were going to solve.” The process for evaluation needs to be set up in a way that allows for iterative prototyping.
Building on Justin’s point, Deborah has seen successes for agencies rolling out high-tech solutions. When OMNY was introduced in New York City as a contactless payment, it began as a pilot with employees and some of the contractors. This was followed up by placing ambassadors on specific transit lines as the offering was expanded.
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to email@example.com avec «transcription» dans la ligne d'objet.
Mary W. Rowe [00:02:22] Hi, folks. It’s Mary Rowe from CUI. We normally give a few minutes here for people to rope themselves into the session. And since it’s August and it’s hot or it’s getting hotter in a lot of parts of the country, and we think particularly of the parts of the country that are severely challenged by heat and by fires. I heard our colleague Rebecca Alty, the mayor of Yellowknife, this morning talking about evacuating and what’s going on up there … So this is going to be the summer we will all remember of just extraordinary events that seem to be weather related and climate related and how we need to just stand together with what the tragedies that are unfolding for people as they evacuate quickly or try to figure out how they’re going to actually cope with the aftermath of these events. If you’ve seen the shots from Hawaii, it’s staggering. And that has happened repeatedly across the country. So if you’re in a part of the country that is struggling with that, we feel for you and we are concerned and committed to the resilience of our communities across the country and look forward to figuring out together how we’re going to make our places more resilient, have better adaptive capacity, and be able to cope better with whatever these kinds of climate related resilience challenges are ahead of us. So just acknowledging that. I’m in Toronto today, I happen to be at my home because I’m getting a flight this afternoon to Ottawa. I’m often at the office though, and I hope many of you are back at the office because we know that that is another part of the puzzle here. And several of our panelists are in their offices and we need to continue to remind ourselves what cities are about, which is an experience of being with other people and engaging with other people who aren’t like us and who don’t necessarily … we don’t necessarily live with. So I just want to acknowledge that we continue to monitor that carefully and look at what the new patterns are and what a great topic we have today on mobility and what an essential ingredient that is for cities to be able to enable that kind of cross-collaboration and connection, that urban dynamism, urban vitality and urban economic life and cultural life is dependent on us being able to connect with one another and get to various places. And how do we do that in a way that’s sustainable? So in Toronto, traditional territory, as we know of a number of First Nations, Inuit and Métis, specifically the Mississauga of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Wendat peoples, the Chippewa, and the Haudenosaunee and still home to many different diverse First Nations, we continue to come to terms with what true reconciliation needs to look like in this country and how does that affect the policy decisions that we make, the investment decisions that we make, and how we engage with one another. So another reason for us to make sure we get our butts into neighborhoods that aren’t our own and be able to have some direct experience of how other people live and cope and what they’re coping with. So urbanists unite. The city is ours, and we need to chart our future together as best we can. So I’m going to ask the folks that are coming together on this session to expose their screens so that people can see you. And I hope that you’re all going to tonight have a really lively conversation at your dinner table about what the hell is MaaS? I used to work for an organization in New York called MAS one “A” and so this is, I don’t know, is it MaaS, is at Moss, I’m going to hear from the experts, what we actually call it. But it is a whole new way of understanding mobility. And we’ve been very appreciative to work with AECOM because they have been our great partner on imagining what this could look like in one particular jurisdiction, one particular region, the GTHA, but it is relevant across the country. And so I’m hoping people are checking in … yes they are, thanks gang … where they’re coming in from, so that we can see how this is relevant to other parts of the country. This is not … The challenge is certainly not specific to Toronto, but nor are the solutions. And so we’re going to hear specifically about the scope of this particular work. But what I’m hoping we’re going to really talk about is how do we move forward in all our urban communities to understand what mobility as a service could look like, what the potential is, and how do we need to commit ourselves to it? And could there be a more poignant moment to do that when we’re seeing such dramatic impacts of GHGs, which largely come from transportation. just saying! So,thanks gang for joining us. Thanks for coming on to CityTalk. As you know, we have a lively chat function. You’re all living up to that advance billing by chat, chat, chat. And remember, we publish the chat. We create a transcript from this meeting, from this discussion, we publish the chat. We also run a video of this. You can see that it lives on our website forever, so does the chat. So just keep that in mind when you’re in lively exchange on the chat, just remember it’s kept for posterity. So that’s important. And we have learned a lot from chats and we hope you’ll continue to use that platform. And if you’ve got some questions you want to have raised, make sure your toggle switch says everyone so that everybody sees them. Sometimes the question can easily be answered by somebody on the chat rather than the panelists who are busy talking to each other. So let everybody see it. I’ll watch it too. And off we go. So first off, there’s going to be Leandro, who works with us at CUI, who was one of the lead partners with AECOM on the project. And so Leandro I’ll go to you first, then I’m going to go to Justin and then we’re going to talk to our colleagues across … In two U.S. cities and in Toronto. So, Leandro, over to you, please, to give us a little overview on the report and we hope everybody will read the report, obviously. But Leandro, you’re going to tell us sort of the highlights.
Leandro Santos [00:07:45] Sure. Hi, everybody. So, CUI partnered with AECOM to study the desirability and feasibility of implementing mobility as a service in the Greater Toronto area. What we really aim to do with the report was to create a starting point or a common language in order to advance the conversation about MaaS’s application, its benefits within the region. What we found is that if co-designed intentionally with communities and implemented with the goal of addressing transportation equity challenges, MaaS does have the potential to introduce more flexibility, inclusivity, inclusivity, affordability and connectivity in our mobile networks. What I’d really like to do is echo the call from thought leaders that we have engaged throughout the process for the need to rethink transit delivery. Since mobility access is such an integral part of every individual’s quality of life, transit needs to be tailored beyond just serving peak hour commutes to really accommodate people whose lifestyles and work patterns fall outside of that range. What our work does is highlight the potential for MaaS to help. So what is MaaS? Mobility as a service? It’s an integrated platform for transportation services. It combines multiple modes, including public transit, ride hailing, scooter, biking, car sharing, and sometimes even parking fees and road tolls, on one easy to use navigation and payment app. But what does successful MaaS look like if it were to be implemented properly for an urban region. What we heard is that it’s mobility options in all communities, in all geographies, at all times of the day to really help people access their daily recreational employment and social needs. One thing to keep in mind is that on demand services are really just one small part of a MaaS system that’s really about creating a truly multi-modal system with public transit as its foundation. When considered as part of a more comprehensive approach to land use and transportation planning, MaaS can support the significant expansion of mobility options for all communities. The good news is that there are many initiatives in the GTA that are currently under way that MaaS can build upon. Urban intensification. Urban centers, local and regional transit investment. Public realm improvements to accommodate active transportation such as walking, cycling and alternate transit delivery models currently being tested by municipalities. We found that MaaS could help plug gaps in existing transit networks to expand the geographic reach of mobility access, especially in suburban and transit dependent communities. What we heard from stakeholders that one of the largest, one of the main barriers to successful MaaS implementation, especially within a regional context, is a possible misalignment between the public and private sector. We also have to keep in mind that the GTA is made up of many municipalities, each with its own jurisdictions, its own council approved directions, its own transit networks. So what we found at CUI and AECOM is that the real starting point to advance this conversation is really bringing together a multi-sectoral group of partners representing transit agencies, the province, municipalities, private mobility operators, as well as nonprofits and community organizations. We’re really hopeful that this is possible. And from what we heard in our engagement, private mobility operators are willing to augment public transit systems. The transit agencies within the GTA are ready in a collaborative environment. Really good relationships being built across the municipalities, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how this conversation advances. So I’d like to leave space for the panelists, so I will step back and segway into the background. If you have any questions about the report, check it in the chat. There should be a link and I’ll be available for any questions.
Mary W. Rowe [00:11:54] Thanks, Leandro. That’s great. And I appreciate every time we do one of these, all of our colleagues and staff, we learn a ton. So I appreciate that so much of our work together is more about inquiry and common inquiry. We don’t always have the answers and this is, as we always say about CityTalk, it’s the beginning of the conversation, it’s never the end. So Justin, take us into the sort of belly of the beast here in terms of what your particular broad interest has been in this. And I guess the one question I always have is what are we solving for? You know, what is the problem that we’re actually trying to fix? So maybe just give us a sense from your perspective.
Justin Trevan [00:12:31] Absolutely. Thank you and great to be here and nice to see so many people in the chat and As well beyond Leandro covering it so well and all the things we found. This really started back in the pandemic. And you mentioned getting everybody back downtown in cities and actually being together, that was the driver for it. It was, you know, how can we reactivate downtown? And we’ve gone around a number of the transit agencies and we’ve been talking to them and we’ve seen these sort of marks in long term strategy, maybe five years out, there’s let’s do a MaaS solution or MICROMOBILITY. And there’s sort of these dots out there somewhere that were quite solution focused, really. And I think you said it perfectly Mary, I think it was an English architect … Cedric Price In the sixties that said “technology is the answer but what was the question?” And that’s what we suddenly started thinking is, you know, there’s all of these possible solutions and they’re all valid and they solve various things. But what is the flavor that we wanted to talk about here as we look around the city, we’ve seen a widening equity gap just …
Mary W. Rowe [00:13:47] We’ve lost Justin. I hope he’s coming back. Is it just me or does anybody else not hear … We’ve lost Justin completely. It’s all … Okay, We’ll get back to Justin. I don’t know. It’s often the case that the worse Internet coverage comes from somebody who’s in the middle of an urban center. Just saying. So we can’t always predict. But what I like to do now is go to our colleagues, Tosh, Matthew and Deborah to give us …Justin, is he coming back? We’ll let him come back when he comes back. Justin, we are not hearing you well, you are leaving in and out. So what I’m going to suggest we do is that the tech folks are going to talk with you to see if they can figure out what’s going on, maybe get you on a different channel. And I’m going to go to Deborah and Matthew and Tosh to see if I can get a perspective. So, Deborah, can I go to you first? Because can I just say that as a layperson, I’m not a planner. People think I’m a planner, but I am not a planner, not an architect, I’m not an urban designer. It’s hard to know really what the hell I am, but I’m none of those things. So I ask kind of dumb questions. And one of them would be this – I always think of transit as being big, big, you know, subways, street cars, large systems. But I think this discipline of MaaS, you’re trying to say, well, no, actually, let’s get it into smaller bites. Yeah. Am I right or wrong?
Deborah Wathen Finn [00:15:13] Well, that’s an interesting paradigm you’re suggesting. Let me first say, I was so proud to be part of this effort. I actually do a lot more work in North America and have run transit agencies in North America. And my company actually works with a number of them around North America and have spent a fair amount of time in Canada. So it’s always good to be working with Canadian colleagues because I actually own property in New Brunswick, by the way … “You’re an honorary Canadian” … no transit in the place I own, but anyway, so that’s a really interesting question. I think that the MaaS is the opportunity is to link everything because the customer base knows that there is a linkage. We have small, large … we know that as a customer … We know that all these things fit into it because we all have a different travel pattern, whether it’s a scooter or walking. Most people aren’t just on transit. And of course in the smaller communities there are small systems, but there’s pieces of it that fit into the mobility that each of us try to access, right? So what I love about this, this concept is it starts to be realistic about what is our mobility pattern in our urban and suburban and rural areas and try to link it so that we get the most efficiency of those systems. And we enhance the experience for the customers. That’s one of the things I loved about this, the findings in this. But there’s been a lot of barriers, as Leandro said, to getting people to come together and acknowledge those other pieces of the program, which also then gets into land use, etc.. So there’s there’s just so many levels and layers that you go through to look at the whole system. Thanks for that question, Mary.
Mary W. Rowe [00:17:10] Which I guess is the point is that what we’re saying is that it’s a whole system, right? And you sort of we hear these different little buzz phrases, last mile, all that kind of stuff. But I wonder if there’s a way for us and is that what this clumsy acronym is supposed to be, is that mobility is fundamentally a service. And so we’re trying to say cities and city regions and even smaller communities provide different mobility services. Is that the mind shift you’re trying to get us all to make?
Deborah Wathen Finn [00:17:41] Absolutely. And it’s also then thinking, as you’re an urbanist sitting in Toronto, thinking about how the decisions are that shape that mobility pattern. You know, I spend time in the New York area, but also I’m in Maine right now today, and they’re talking about wanting to put railroads in, but they don’t have the land use to be able to support it. And they don’t understand that that’s not probably the best financial decision to make. So how do you link the smaller things to create hubs or whatever? But it goes back to the decisions that are made in the community at the local, state and regional levels. And I know we’re going to talk a little bit more about how we look at that on a larger scale of region at least.
Mary W. Rowe [00:18:22] Mm hmm. Okay. Let me go now to Tosh. Tosh, can you just bring us into your world here about what your perspective is, what your background is, and what your sort of approach is. And just keep in mind, I mean, I can see on the chat, we’ve got lots of people on the chat who know a whole lot about this whole discipline and discourse. But just if you can just give us the basics as well, that would be great. And then we’ll get Matthew next. Go ahead, Tosh.
Tosh Chambers [00:18:46] Yeah, absolutely. So to give some background, I have been a manager of the program, Move PGH based here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is a collaboration between all of the mobility services in the city, including transit, bike share, scooter share, car share, but also folding in some of the technology elements that we work with the transit app to kind of present all of those options and coordinate them. So we’ve actually just concluded our two year pilot of this program and are continuing it now and kind of this evaluation and iteration phase. But yeah, a lot of my work has been to, you know, test out the Scooter program, which was kind of novel in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania in general, and seeing how dockless mobility can fit into that transit ecosystem and that multi-modal system and, you know, hopefully kind of fill in some of those gaps. We have a great legacy transit system, but it doesn’t get everyone, everywhere all the time. So we have done a little bit of work to try to introduce additional services as a city, working with nonprofits and private entities just as well. But yeah, this is all kind of a program to link all of those options, provide information through technology, because I think a lot of people don’t really know about all of the transportation options that they can utilize to get them around. And particularly linking between those options, you can gain a lot of efficiency in cost and time. And so, you know, presenting our services in a way that makes that easier for residents has really been a primary goal.
Mary W. Rowe [00:20:39] It’s interesting. Don’t leave Tosh, because it’s interesting to me what you’re suggesting here, that as I hinted at, you know, I think a lot of people think that transit is something that is centrally controlled, municipally run, and they don’t necessarily … I’m old enough to remember really when bikes weren’t considered anything like you. You know, if you rode a bike, it was for fun. It wasn’t actually to get yourself anywhere. So all of a sudden now it’s kind of like a democratization of options. And it doesn’t all have to be run by one Central Transit agency, am I right? I mean, that’s in essence, what you’re trying to do is pull together a whole bunch of things. Now, coming to you next, Matthew, because I want to ask about equity, So go ahead, Tosh.
Tosh Chambers [00:21:20] Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s how how we’re looking at it in that kind of … and that thought has really been evolving. Bikes, scooters and really all other modes are types of shared mobility, you know, whether sharing on one vehicle or sharing the vehicle at different times. These are assets that we can, you know, make a lot of benefit from just by making investments in infrastructure in those companies who are running their services here. There’s a lot of connections to be made between those services that I think needs some kind of organizer. That may not be the city. It could be a nonprofit like we’ve managed here to, you know, get all of those agencies to speak together, because I think they all recognize that they have their own niche in the transportation ecosystem and they all benefit by working together is what we found.
Mary W. Rowe [00:22:19] Mm hmm. It’s interesting to see on the chat, I see our old friend and colleague Dan Hornbeck is on. Dan, so nice to see you. And he’s plugged a study here that they’ve done at Ontario Tech about what the implications would be if we made this more available to Ontarians. But, Dan, is a person who’s worked in the Global South, and I see we have Michael coming in to us from Ghana who’s saying, wait a sec, in Africa, this is something that’s being talked about more and more. And I know that Benjamin De la Pena, who’s been on CityTalk and who’s a senior fellow with CUI, is with the Shared Mobility Center in Chicago and is constantly talking about what we can learn from the Global South and how do we actually allow ourselves to just be much more open to all the different solutions. So I appreciate people coming in on the chat and Dan’s put a report in there. Everybody have a look at it and any other reports people know about and anything that they can provide to Michael from Ghana, please plug it into the chat. So I want to ask about equity because again, I feel like this conversation can quickly become seen as something that only fit 30 year olds with a lot of resources and no child or no disability can do. And so how do we make sure that we are extending, that if we’re going to embrace this mobility as a service concept, that it means that a whole bunch of different kinds of folks and more folks have access to mobility choices. Matthew, talk to us from your experience on the Mobilizing Justice Project. You’re part of a huge study to try to concretize this. Tell us what you’re learning and what’s your view?
Matthew Palm [00:23:51] Sure. So I’ll just start with an introduction … my name’s Matt Palm and I’m an Assistant professor at University of North Carolina in City Planning. I lead the pilots program at Mobilizing Justice. So we evaluate new technology, new policies, new programs from equity perspectives, and we’re always on the lookout for new projects. So shameless plug. I’ll drop it in the chat. If you’ve got a project that you think would be interested to evaluate from an equity standpoint, always reach out to us. You know, Mary, I agree with your sentiment. When I first heard about mobility as a service, I thought, Oh, I don’t know. There’s a lot of buzz words, a lot of tech. I don’t know, is this really going to help folks. But I think the answer is it can if it’s designed in the right way and and if equity is centered in the process. And I’ll actually note that in Pittsburgh, I don’t know if this is still the case, but for a time, correct me if I’m wrong, Tosh, riders who started their trips in specific zones got a 25% discount and that those were zones that were like targeted from an equity standpoint. So mobility is a service can be a way to actually target resources towards equity deserving communities to remove financial barriers to access certain services. You know, we hear a lot about digital disconnection, but there are ways around that. And I think … I’m going to kind of stick my neck out here, at least from an academic perspective, and say that since the end of the pandemic, a lot of the digitally disconnected barriers are being resolved, at least in the major urban areas in Canada. It’s a different story in the United States, it’s a different story in remote communities, where the infrastructure necessarily isn’t there. But in major urban Canadian cities, I would say the digital disconnection barrier is not what it was ten years ago. And so there’s really an opportunity for mobility as a service to reach everyone. But again, that’s also contingent on, you know, real partnerships with community groups that are on the ground in different neighborhoods like, you know, Jane and Finch in Toronto or Cabbagetown, where people who are based in the community, organizations that are based in the community are working with your service providers to help train people because, you know, it can be overwhelming and a bit confusing at the start.
Mary W. Rowe [00:26:26] You know I am with you on that. I’ve got to say, and I meant to write something about this to see if anybody would pay any attention. But I … In my part of Toronto in the last three or four weeks, there’s massive construction and rerouting because of the Ontario line and various projects. And I live on the Queen streetcar and there has been … Everything is getting rerouted, Broadview is out, Queen is out. And it’s quite confusing. Is it the Dundas car, is it the King car? And it’s overwhelming to try to navigate it even if use your little app. Right? And so the TTC put people out with little pinnies on … did anybody else see this? I see my neighbor is on the call, I bet she saw it … people have little pinnies on identifying them as a a TTC employee and you can go up to them and say, I have to get to … where. And they’d say, “Oh, yeah, take this, take that” … I can’t tell you how reassuring it was for me. And I guess I’m a woman of a certain age, but I’m an urbanist. I navigate this stuff all the time and to have a person there available to us, you know? And I thought, Boy, we’ve sort of lost that that capacity to have an individual who can navigate with you. You know, when we were young, you had a bus driver, you knew. And so I think we have to see if we can … I appreciate all the technology you brainiacs are bringing to this. But there’s also just the human piece. There’s the human piece of someone helping us figure this out and help us navigate. And then we get the hang of it we can do it. Justin is back. Justin, your your Internet is magically restored itself. Why don’t you finish where you were? And then I appreciate Wendy having all of us on the screen like this so we can all see each other. This is the bun fight section where everybody gets to interrupt everybody else. So you don’t have to wait for me to call on you, but I’ll ask a few questions and then you can all head in. Justin, finish where you were …
Justin Trevan [00:28:06] Thanks .. I mean, I think you’re talking about technology being the solution. We just discovered first hand that it it can be a bit of a challenge. But I think what I was saying was, you know, technology being the solution what was the question … I really like the point that Matthew made about the prototyping actually perhaps just jump to that a little bit. And they often describes these big social political issues as wicked, wicked problems in messy contexts. And there’s this idea that just one person or body can just solve it by just thinking about it. And out goes the solution … Is no longer the way of doing it. And so I think back to the Smart Cities challenge five, six, seven years ago, and I was involved in the West Coast looking at mobility to service for connecting First Nations to education, really good social outcome kind of piece there. But for all those are sitting and thinking about it, it wasn’t until you could actually get to the pilot stage and try it, would you discover the things that did or didn’t work. And so I think we’re talking about maybe solutions here, but I think the process is actually the most critical piece. How are you going to get down to there? Because the piece that you discover at the end of it might not be the thing you thought you were going to solve at the end of the day, you know, there’s so many things get accidentally solve and loads of theories that you prove wrong and so we’ve just got to be able to set up in a way that allows this iterative prototyping, as Matthew said. And I think that’s more important than imagining a solution itself.
Mary W. Rowe [00:29:29] The thing that I love about this notion, fancy term, theew Justin, iterative prototyping, is basically, let’s try some stuff, right? And how do we do it in small enough scales that if it fails you, you know, you haven’t inconvenienced tens of thousands of people, you’ve affected a smaller number. Ooops, tried that, didn’t work. So I think, you know, I lived in New York for a number of years, and that was the kind of magic that Jeanette …Kahn introduced. She said, “we’re going to pilot some stuff in limited …” and people could tolerate that. Okay? we’ll put up with the pilot. Invariably, of course, the pilot sticks, but still, it’s an iterative prototyping approach and it makes it … gets it into smaller pieces. So I’ve got all of you here. We’ve got lots of people in the chat asking questions. Here’s my sort of first open question: what are we not doing in Canada that we need to do to enable more mobility as a service approaches? What are the impediments or the constraints preventing us from wrapping our arms around it and trying it? And Americans never need to hesitate about telling Canadians what they think. So feel free to speak up and tell us what you’ve learned in your jurisdiction. What do you think? Or tell us where to start? I guess.
Justin Trevan [00:30:46] I’m happy to sort of throw comment in … You know, I think technology problems are often people problems too, or more people problems then they are technology problems. And it’s that coming together piece that was mentioned earlier. We’ve been … around the region here and plenty other places where we’re trialing parts of it, whether it’s a micro mobility solution or even to your points about, you know, personal interaction. The TTC’s got a great wheel trans program that you can phone up via a phone if you can’t operate the technology, but everyone’s got their own little version of it. And it reminds me a little bit of a few years ago when I had all these health apps on my phone, one for running, one for eating, one for something else. And I had all these little nuggets of information, and if I wanted to feel fit, I looked to one app and if I wanted to feel like I need to do more, I looked to the results of another, but none of them came together until Apple said, Here’s the way that we can connect them all together and you can talk about it in the same manner. And I think we need to parallel that to the cityscape. We’re in the place where everyone’s trying to do really good things and they got these micro solutions. But until we bring them together and everybody collectively says, “okay, this is the one version, this is one flavor we’re going after first”. That’s when the success starts to happen. And I think that’s where we are with the MaaS thing. Everyone’s trying little pieces, but we need to come together and have ownership as well.
Mary W. Rowe [00:31:59] So maybe there’s both, right? There’s … I mean, we often say at CUI, we’re in the connective tissue business. You want to have Antigonish trying some stuff and you want Abbotsford to try some stuff. And then part of what we do is say, Hey, did you know what each other is doing in opposite parts of the country? So it’s kind of both. You don’t want to … because that’s what I always worry about, is if we want to sit back and wait for a big grand solution, we lose that iterative prototyping. Deborah … What in your experience do you think is the place to start?
Deborah Wathen Finn [00:32:28] Well, actually, this is just wonderful. I’d like to make a couple of comments about the iterative process in the pilots. What I’ve seen be really successful is when the agencies that are rolling out a high tech, a technology solution, like when Omni was rolled out in New York, was contactless payment. They did it as a pilot with the employees and some of the contractors. And they documented that and they improved it. But there’s … sometimes there’s a concern about, well, if we do a pilot, it doesn’t go well, everyone’s going to criticize the agency. So we have to be able to celebrate what Justin just said and say pilots are great, let’s do this and experiment and share those experiences. And Mary, they had the low tech when they started to roll it out on certain lines, they had employees out there as ambassadors that still work ever since I was early days of my transit life. That’s what we would do. And it’s still … people want to see somebody. But I think that there’s a couple of other things we need to talk about. And I’m not going to tell Canada how to perform, but I’m going to say what we struggle with in North America is we have … Congestion pricing in New York. [You blipped out, say it again …] I think the challenge is that we want to provide mobility for the autos. Can you hear me now? No, you can’t hear me. Can you hear me now? Okay. So it’s linking the public transit, as Leandro said earlier, but it’s how we link it to the highway system so we can manage the capacity and do trade offs. And you all are … Toronto is one of the most congested regions, and it’s growing faster than any place. Right. Watch New York congestion pricing. We’re having a hard time coordinating. New Jersey has taken New York to court on this, and that’s not even linking it to transit. But imagine how you could run your system if we were coordinating that on days that we don’t have capacity on the highway. “Oh, we’ll give you… We’ll give you a discount if you get on the transit system” Or whatever. That’s the real frontier in managing, particularly the big urban areas. And that’s what I think is very exciting. But that’s going to take what we have said collaboration and good governance around talking about what the customers and the community needs, not what all those different agencies.
Mary W. Rowe [00:35:11] And what’s interesting, of course, is that people want to get into places, want to move across jurisdictions. You know, if you take I mean, you’re quite right, the congestion challenge, you can see the chats blowing up because everybody in the GTHA is mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. But, you know, when you go from one system, thank God we now have fare integration. But when you go from one system to another, you don’t know if you’re a traveler, you don’t really care, frankly. You just want the system to work. So I guess that’s maybe … I saw Mark … saying we need a democratization of infrastructure. Matthew, when you’re looking at the sort of underpinning conditions that need to be in place to enable the kind of connectivity and coordination Deborah’s mentioning, where would you start? What are the enabling conditions to get that kind of coordination?
Matthew Palm [00:35:56] I mean, I’ll actually riff on a technology where we do know a little bit more about what it takes, which is congestion pricing. And, you know, one of the things that that shows out in the research is strong political leadership from senior levels of government is essential. A lot of the cases where congestion pricing came into being or even just like cordon pricing schemes, they have political champions who were willing to spend some political capital to bring all of the different levels of government involved in place. And I also want to riff on something else Deborah said about just bringing the automobile into the conversation more. You know, one, there are certain private companies out there who will benefit a lot if mobility as a service takes off. That’s car insurance companies, right?
Mary W. Rowe [00:36:43] Why would they benefit? Why would they benefit?
Matthew Palm [00:36:46] Because we’re going to be … Because if I’m driving less, I am less of a risk to them and less of a risk in their insurance pool. And so, you know, there’s been some research and conversation out there about how you bring them in to this conversation as well, that because, you know, because we’re at a point now where a lot of car insurance companies will actually track people’s driving. Right. Pay as you go drivers insurance. And so if they can see that, you know, okay, this person is using this … They’re driving less and they can see in the data this person is taking transit more. I mean, that person is less expensive to insure. And so, you know, maybe they can help offer some incentives to help make that happen.
Mary W. Rowe [00:37:29] That’s a great idea. I mean, it’s a bit like getting the insurance companies to pay for retrofits if you’re making your home less susceptible to hurricanes and different kinds of disasters. But we’ve had a hard time getting that industry to move. Anybody here having any success talking to the big bad car companies and the insurance companies about how this could be in their interest … Tosh? Anything to throw in on that. Have you tried this in Pittsburgh?
Tosh Chambers [00:37:52] Not so much, admittedly, looking at some interesting AV partners here who we had some interaction with, but there wasn’t really that much to glean from that. I mean, back to the original kind of question of what suggestions I may have … I think, like what we’ve learned here is that, you know, there’s a lot of low hanging fruit and wins. I don’t think you need to look at mobility as a service as this massive program requiring a ton of funding. I think we, you know, pulled together a pretty low budget just to see how we could, you know, contribute some capacity to coordinating some of our partners. A lot of that was just done tactically. You know, we were creating mobility hubs without really breaking ground in concrete. We were just moving some of those elements around, moving around car sharing cars and bike sharing elements so that we were creating these kind of welcoming spaces to shared mobility. And also just like, you know, seeing what we could get from all of these operators in terms of equity pricing, in terms of … some of that, you know, strategic deployment of connecting some of these options. And Matthew mentioned, you know, the equity pricing that we designated certain areas of priority in the city. You know, I think like those are all things that you really just need … you need capacity … like people to have those conversations and, you know, policies to be able to enforce your operators t play along in that way. So, yeah, I just wanted to say that, you know, it doesn’t have to be the hardest thing. You know, it can be pretty tactical.
Mary W. Rowe [00:39:43] Mm hmm. I’m seeing in the chat here that Kimberly Nelson is saying that in the old days, back in the old days when she had a car, doesn’t have anymore apparently, Intact would provide a discount to you if you drove less, your insurance would be cheaper. So I think this is a very interesting conversation. If there’s anybody from the insurance industry willing to expose themselves in our chat, come on in and tell us what the obstacles would be to that. Because if we could create more and more of those financial tools … Go ahead, Matthew.
Matthew Palm [00:40:09] I was just going to add that, you know, there is an equity link here in that, you know, this is a way of reaching a lot of folks in what we call forced car ownership. In the GTA as well as here in the States, we have a lot of folks who live in outer suburban communities who aren’t necessarily driving by choice. They can’t afford it. So they’re buying older cars, older cars that are less safe, that break down more. And that can be a huge sort of quality of life barrier. But because there’s no alternative services, they don’t have a choice. And so, you know, I think there’s hope for mobility as a service to try and reach those folks by helping make things more affordable as a means of getting alternative modes into some of these communities.
Mary W. Rowe [00:40:58] You know, Matthew, can I just push back on that? And then, Justin, you can get in – just to say that I always feel that’s what happens, is that we end up … we take the hardest case. You know, I mean, I can speak as a woman, you know, a mom who’s got three kids who has got to get to hockey, and she’s moving between swim practice and hockey practice. And how is that person not going to function without a car? And I always worry that we then say, well, then, you know, that’s a non-issue. We’re somehow discriminating against people that have families, as opposed to what I see in the chat, people saying, let’s take people like students who somebody has just put in the chat here about your York and how York … They did a study and looked specifically at a student population where you could get them. So would we be smarter to do that, to be strategic about the folks that we know could leave their car more easily than the parent who is trying to get a kid to a practice? And that versus, you know what I’m getting at? Like, could we just go for the lower hanging fruit as they say in the business? Justin, thoughts on that?
Justin Trevan [00:41:55] I think it’s it’s certainly the starting point. I mean, if you if you’re trying to go for the all outcomes at the beginning, you’re probably going to struggle with it. But I think that was the thing that was that was coming up as part of the research we did was it wasn’t necessarily about totally removing cars per sé. Right. It was about how do we help people who are … maybe can’t even afford one and don’t have one already because they can’t afford it. Equity challenges connect to the opportunities because they can better connect to transit. And so perhaps it’s almost the other way around, which is there’s also people that can’t afford the car. How do we help them … starting there? And then over time, as you improve the network, people who do have them might start to test and say, well, maybe one day a week I can take my kids and give this a go and see how it works. And is this sort of gradual process rather than a big, big bang.
Mary W. Rowe [00:42:43] I mean, we know that during the pandemic, when people stopped commuting to work, the GHG levels just plummeted. Right. So we do know that if people move less, you’ll get less impact. But I don’t … we have to find a way to do that equitably. That doesn’t disadvantage people. Tosh, any other thoughts from you in terms of what you learned about the sort of partnership approach that you’re taking? You’re trying to get a whole lot of people to make this their problem to solve. Right. It’s not just one end.
Tosh Chambers [00:43:12] Yeah, absolutely. I think we’re now in this evaluation phase. So we’re looking to do a little bit of learning ourselves. But you know, how exactly we’re positioning this MaaS tool that, you know, works to benefit transit riders, but really everything else as well. You know, I think with our our pilot here, we we did a lot of deep link, which is kind of the lower level integrations into the transit app and a few payment level with our transit system and bike share. And we’re trying to learn, you know, what level of convenience you gain from having that payment integration. What level of uptake does that lead to? You know, we kind of struck a balance there. And, you know, whether we have an app that is a little more branded and, you know, has that full integration and more payment plans, if that’s something that can lead to better uptake of all of these modes, that’s … That’ll be great for us. Or is it more that, you know, you’re trying to align with some of the behaviors and patterns of the populace as they are? I mean, we chose the transit app because it was already very widely used in Pittsburgh prior to our pilot, and it has only, you know, improved its level of utilization. It’s … I think now from what we’ve seen, increase some of the utilization in those many modes and in bike share. And it’s now that, kind of preferred app for mobile payment. So, you know, there’s a couple of different strategies you can take here.
Mary W. Rowe [00:44:50] This is all about friction, right? You’re trying to decrease the friction. Just make it much easier to choose to do it than to not do it right. And I have a I have a sort of bugaboo question which I want to ask. But Justin, do you … I Think you’ve been waiting to get in, do you want to add something else in?
Justin Trevan [00:45:05] Oh, no, no, sorry. Just twitching around. But totally agree, the friction issue is a problem in all of this technology. Like, it’s fine if the back end solution works and nobody cares how it works or what’s happening it’s like, can I access it easily and is it simple to do? And if it’s more than two clicks, most people lose interest. And I think that’s that’s the challenge here, because if I’m going to load up an app and then I’ve got to pay through an Apple Pay and everyone’s like, you know what … Well, I’m getting in the car. And so that’s sort of where user interface and the can, I think, communication piece around what you’re trying to achieve. I’m really interested here coming out of the back of this study saying, Hey, look, we need to collaborate, we need to co-create, connect people … but wow are we communicating? What this is. There’s a danger here that we might silo ourselves because we’re saying, Right, well, we trying to help these people that don’t have cars connecting here and we lose the broader benefit. And so I’m really interested in the next step of that sort of communication, making sure we solve these social outcomes, but actually keep it open and make sure people don’t go well, It’s seven clicks on this and it’s not relevant to me. I’m never looking at it again. Because I think you really lose out if you lose people straight away.
Mary W. Rowe [00:46:10] You know, can we go back to the democratization question, which is a big, heavy duty word? But but I think what it is getting at is choice. You want to have many choices, more choices than we have now, I guess. And then it begs the question, if we really want to provide a range of choices, we have to, I think, be more accepting of a range of ownership models. And there’s been resistance to that, right, because it can’t all be publicly owned, publicly managed. How do you folks navigate that when people are concerned … Oh, it’s the privatization of transportation and mobility. And I mean, cars have been privatized forever, but you know what I mean. How do you reassure people that we’re going to still have access and that we can have the dynamics of the market and entrepreneurs trying new stuff and creating new stuff, but it will also still have accessible, safe services. How do you navigate that, Deborah? Come on. I gave you an easy one.
Deborah Wathen Finn [00:47:12] Oh, wow. Thanks for that one, Mary. You know, I actually think that post-pandemic, this is an ideal time to have those conversations. Right. In the U.S. through APTA. And … Is having this, too. The transit agencies are losing revenue. Right. Right. And when you lose revenue when you’re in the private sector, that means your product isn’t working. Right. So it’s requiring people to look differently at what the model is. And there’s lots going on at conferences. People are being challenged to do this. This is when you are required to talk to the other partners because there’s only so many resources. So it might be time to be thinking about that. And we’re seeing some good models. And on communication … to Justin’s point … Justin, we have to start telling these pilots and these models. But that’s where people need help thinking about that. So if we could look at and maybe Matthew’s doing some research on this too. If we can look at some of those models in those communities. I love Tosh’s … I mean, what they’re doing there, I just love that story. So start telling that with the not for profit … It’s not going to be the same way. And, you know whar, we’ve had to change the paradigm for some time. We work with a lot of agencies that are still adamant they’re going to provide the same type of service. So this is this is the golden opportunity. And those of us who are willing to help those entities, we can move forward some pilots. And that’s what I think, Again, we have to showcase those that are working and look at those opportunities.
Mary W. Rowe [00:49:04] And we need our government folks, Justin, we need our government folks, like I see, George Clayton and others from IMFC on this call. You guys need to be thinking imaginatively about how do you create the enabling conditions, the basic infrastructure, so that those kinds of smaller, smaller tries can happen. Go ahead, Justin.
Justin Trevan [00:49:19] No, I was going to say, I think the point Deborah made again about the communication is critical because I think you say, you know, public private partnership or privatization, everybody jumps to like a giant piece of infrastructure where they’ve lost all their taxpayers dollars. And we’re not even talking about that. We’re just saying, well, hang on, there’s a solution out there that’s doing a thing. Let’s bring it in. Right. You know, let let’s narrow it. And I think, frankly, you know, in the GTA as well, we were scarred by the idea of digital cities and, you know, the cyber glass thing. So everyone’s got this preconception and we can only break that down by trying to explain to them, what are we actually talking about? We can’t just throw around privatization and expect everyone to be like, Yeah, great idea. And we’ve really got to put more effort into that sort of … the communication part.
Mary W. Rowe [00:50:03] I’m interested in how Deborah’s just challenged us about if you were in the private sector and you were losing market share, you’d have to adapt and say, What the hell do we have to do differently? I think there’s a lot of hand-wringing that’s going on at the moment about how people are not on transit the way they once were. Public transit agencies are bleeding money, and it’s an interesting question you’re posing at us, Deborah, that you have to then offer a different service, because I think there are people who are quite afraid of transit at the moment in certain environments. It doesn’t feel safe to them. Publicly managed, publicly administered big, large transit systems to some people don’t feel safe. Tosh, any thoughts on that? And Matthew? Any thoughts on that? Can mobility as a service be presented as a safer choice?
Tosh Chambers [00:50:46] Yeah, I, I think transit can benefit from restructuring to allow more discounted passes so that you’re providing a sort of service to more people, you know, gaining more benefits. I think that’s something that we’re piloting here through a couple of different pilots of just creating those relationships with some of our biggest employers and just trying to get more and more people on the system. You know, we’re also having to just look at our city and how it functions in the wake of COVID and particularly looking at downtown and trying to transition that into a more residential space where it is almost entirely business driven. And I think when we look at downtown as being that hub to drive some of that transit oriented development, you know, we can hopefully have some gains. But yeah, we’re … I think we want to create some fun in riding transit again and getting out into public, like you were saying at the beginning. And we see all of these, you know, micro-mobility modes and, you know, some of our other transportation options in the city as ways to like create some joy in your commute a little bit. You know, there’s millions of ways to get around from A to B, using all of these systems and you can, you know, discover your city in a new way. So that’s, you know, some something that we’ve been thinking about and trying to communicate a little bit, but just one of many strategies.
Mary W. Rowe [00:52:24] You heard it here first, guys. Tosh is trying to put joy back in your commute. What a wonderful aspiration to have. Let’s put the fun back into getting … because when we were kids, I mean, I used to get on the bus and it was totally fun. So I’m with you on that. The spirit of that. Matthew, other thoughts from you in terms of safety, are we going to be able to position mobility as a service options as being safer? Is the … Maybe. Could you make that argument?
Matthew Palm [00:52:53] I think. I don’t know. It’s a tricky question. And I think I mean, speaking about wicked problems, right? [Yeah, I know] and, you know, the challenge is that one of the things that’s interesting is in this new world we’re in, in both New York and Toronto, it was weekend and evening travel that recovered first. Right. It was weekends and evening travel that recovered first on transit as well as in all the other modes. And so safety is going to be a more important issue because … for that reason, since more folks are … More of that demand that has survived, COVID is at night. And I think we have a lot of tools that are already out there that can help us with providing safe mobility options. We kind of know what it takes. We know that, you know, simply telling people, “oh, there’s cameras in the station” isn’t enough, because we also know who is more likely to actually be victimized by crime on transit. It’s often, you know, women with disabilities who are so overrepresented, unfortunately, and now being targeted. And so it’s just again, actually going back to the earlier part of the conversation, having the political will to invest in the resources that are going to make transit safer. And that, of course, that also includes a design component, right? Like there’s that one station on the UP line in Toronto, Weston Station. You’re getting off on the east side … There’s just a bunch of narrow hallways and tunnels that zigzag. That’s not safe. Nobody’s going to want to walk there, and then across an empty parking lot at 11:00 at night. Right. So.
Mary W. Rowe [00:54:52] So we need to call out our urban design colleagues and say, do better.
Mary W. Rowe [00:54:57] Make sure that we’re doing good, basic human universal design principles when we do these things. And then in the meantime, what do we need to do? Go ahead, Deborah.
Deborah Wathen Finn [00:55:06] I want to go back to the same comment Matt … so that’s struggling … We’ve done some … our company’s done some focus groups with some agencies, large agencies. And it was fascinating because we know that in COVID, people who had to commute commuted, but the the white collar workers could stay home and they’re still staying home. Right. Right. But what’s fascinating is we had people in some of those focus groups who said, I love transit. I used to love to do it. But you know what? The service isn’t quality. And I saw some of this in the chat thing and the report said that very well, we have to get back to the customer, wants a more reliable service and more improved. Okay. But the other thing that was fascinating to me is they said, you know what? If I go to the bus stop and it starts to rain, I go, I’m just going to go home because my boss will let me work from home today. So the choice riders … Who are the one … Will then return to the urban center are not going back. And that was that was maybe not a surprising finding. So I want to go back to your other question. You said. How do we do this as private sector? I believe public sector has to set out the standards and there has to be agreement, you know, leadership about what are the tradeoffs we want for our community around the quality of the transit system. And that’s what it’s going to cost. But you have to look at it. We used to do this. We go in and we do much more. The focus groups … we’d understand what people wanted. We’d talk to the employees. They know what the customers want. And then you develop your solutions to that. I mean, and that a lot of the people were talking about, you know, concerned about some of the stations. They’re not doing the lighting right. They’re not doing the the community policing in a way. We used to look at that so that people were looking at the higher points where there might be more perception that it was unsafe and start doing more community policing where it’s not happening in other parts of the line. I know we’re doing that with another agency on the West Coast. So it’s hard work. You have to look at the patterns. But that’s what private sector … That’s because they have to get the bottom line. But we have that responsibility as transit leaders too … To figure that out and frame it that way. There’s room in the funding. If you do it right.
Mary W. Rowe [00:57:28] You’re navigating in a very mixed, heterogeneous space now, it used to be much more monoculture, publicly operate … certain limited kinds. Now you’ve got all these options of different things. In the last few minutes that we have left, What would you say would be the boldest thing that we could be doing to really solidify the future of mobility as a service in the cities in which we’re locating? What are you lying in bed awake thinking that’s the next opportunity. Matt, what is it?
Matthew Palm [00:57:57] Sorry. Can you come back to me?
Mary W. Rowe [00:57:59] Yeah, I’ll come back to you. I also want to just say that I teased Matt that he had an empty bookshelf behind him. He’s just moved into a new place. And I said, Keep that backdrop, and everybody here is going to send you a little note telling you what books you need to put in that backdrop behind you. So before we sign off, folks, put a book suggestion, so Matthew knows what books he’s going to get or borrow or have on the bookshelf the next time we see him. Who’s ready? Deborah, what, are you staying awake at night thinking about?
Deborah Wathen Finn [00:58:26] When we work with our agencies and their boards, it’s leadership. It’s been so politicized in our industry. There used to be, I can tell you, people who you’ll know that are legends, they were able to frame the issues and be with the business community talking about this. We need people to stand up and talk about it from the business community and the leaders at the transit agencies and the boards. That’s what will change it. I’m with you, Matt.
Tosh Chambers [00:58:57] I’m glad Deborah went before me because I totally echo that as being uber important. I think about just information on your transit system, when you’re bus is delayed or just not coming. I think when somebody has been burnt by transit, that really impacts whether they will ride it in the future. And that’s one of those low hanging fruit things, I think. So just giving more tools to your riders, to have information available so that they can plan their commute. That’s what everybody wants, right? And we can make that happen.
Mary W. Rowe [00:59:34] So predictability, not even just predictability. Just if you know if so, that’s why I like the people in the pinnies. They just tell me, = here’s what you’re going to do. Matthew, are you ready? Have you got something that you can volley out?
Matthew Palm [00:59:46] Yeah. I think we need to fight to save transit service and restore transit service and prevent COVID 19 from being one of these permanent breaking points in in sort of what what has been this up and down battle of trying to save transit in North America.
Mary W. Rowe [01:00:04] Yeah. Yeah. And how do and I think you’re right that we have to just assume that transit is part of our lives and that we need new kinds of arrangements and a new kind of understanding. I’m really going to continue to be provoked by Deborah’s challenge to us. If people aren’t taking transit, what are we doing to make to understand why and what do we do to make the service more appealing So they will? Or maybe it’s a different form of transit. Maybe this is a new … a modal shift and it’s going to not necessarily mean we stop, we just do it differently. Justin, what’s keeping you up at night?
Justin Trevan [01:00:32] Well, I think if you think back to why this report was done again, creating this kind of common language, a way to talk about this issue in the same way across all the people that see it. The one for me is similar to Deborah is leadership … Is the next step, that is political will. How do we get the political will behind this to make it not just a nice conversation and then it goes on the shelf but actually goes into the solution thing. So maybe courage too … Political will and courage.
Mary W. Rowe [01:00:56] Yeah. And maybe some imagination that there’s not only one way. Right. Which is why we are very appreciative of the report and the effort and the time that a number of you participated in the report, contributed to it. As we always say, this is … you know, we do provocations. We’re in the provocation business at CUI, we appreciate having a comms partnership to help lead this and to just say what’s next? You know, we’ve been talking about what’s working, what’s not. Now we have to talk about what’s next for transit and for mobility as a service. So thank you very much for joining us. Make sure that you look at that report and continue the conversation about what we think the next set of steps should be as we open up this conversation to look at all sorts of options and be responsive to what people need in their communities and how important mobility is to that being realized. Next CityTalk is going to be about the case for libraries and the importance of libraries and civic institutions, particularly on Main streets and downtowns. And that’s actually linked to mobility because that’s where people need to go, is to their library. And also, I think most of you know at the end of November, we’re busily working on the State of Canada’s cities, a big national report and a national convening in Ottawa on the 30th of November. So you’ll be hearing lots about that. But for now, thanks for joining us. Great to see you, Deborah. Matthew, Tosh, Justin … Have a good day, everybody. Thanks for the production team. Great to see you.
Transcription du chat
Note au lecteur: les commentaires de chat ont été modifiés pour plus de lisibilité. Le texte n'a pas été modifié pour l'orthographe ou la grammaire. Pour toute question ou préoccupation, veuillez contacter firstname.lastname@example.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject line
00:42:19 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Welcome everyone! We invite you to say hello in the chat before we get started. Tell us where you’re watching from!
00:42:30 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Please change your chat settings to “Everyone” so that everyone can read your comments.
00:43:05 Isabelle Poirier: Good afternoon,
00:43:14 Isabelle Poirier: Isabelle Poirier from Toronto
00:43:33 Mark Hafen: Mark Hafen, Toronto
00:43:42 David Zurawel: Hello Everyone, looking forward to an interesting presentation and discussion.
00:43:49 seyedmohsen Alavi: Hi, My name is Mohsen from Toronto. My research focuses on Shared mobility, travel behaviour and equity.
00:43:58 Andrew Robertson: I am Andrew, also watching from Toronto 🙂
00:44:07 Carolyn Whitzman: Carolyn Whitzman from the unceded territory of the Anishnawbe Algonquin people, colonially known as Ottawa.
00:44:13 David Zurawel: David Zurawel, in Toronto
00:44:13 Leah Thomas: Hello from Leah Thomas in Argyle of London, Ontario
00:44:14 Don McConnell: Don McConnell, Sault Ste. Marie
00:44:18 Liz Hoffman: Liz from Saskatoon, SK
00:44:21 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Amplify the conversation on social media! @canurb #citytalk
00:44:24 Luisa Trevisan: Hello from Calgary!
00:44:42 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): We are recording today’s session and will share it online at canurb.org/citytalk-canada/
00:44:44 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): We have closed captioning enabled for today’s session. If you would like to turn it off, please click on the button at the bottom of your screen and disable
00:44:51 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): We hope this session is as interactive as possible, so please feel free to share comments, references, links or questions in the chat.
00:44:55 Ivana Spasovska: Ivana Spasovska, Toronto
00:45:04 Lauren Patterson: Lauren Patterson from Halton!
00:45:21 Heather McGeer: Hello! Heather from Toronto, ON
00:45:32 Alison Stewart: Alison Stewart from Cycle Toronto. Urbanists unite indeed! 🙂
00:45:40 Shilpa Dogra: Shilpa Dogra, Ontario Tech University in Oshawa
00:45:43 Cameron MacLeod: I’ll use #citytalk on Mastodon (I’m @c_9 and @CodeRedTO on mstdn.ca), looks like CUI is only on Elon’s awful site and not Mastodon yet.
00:46:05 Kaiden Gartry: Kaiden from TransLink in Vancouver
00:46:08 Morgan Vespa: Hello! Morgan from Winnipeg which is in Treaty 1 Territory and the National homeland of the Red River Metis
00:46:11 Nada Djokic: Hello everyone! I’m Nada Djokic from Edmonton. I lead our Vehicle for Hire Program.
00:46:30 George Claydon: George from Infrastructure Canada in Ottawa- Hello everyone!
00:46:44 Joe Loreto: Hi all! Joe Loreto, Architect from Toronto
00:46:54 Alannah Webb: Alannah from Edmonton, permit coordination
00:47:06 Stephan Dery: Hello! Stéphan from Toronto.
00:47:09 Mauritz Kruger: Mauritz from the East of Toronto
00:47:20 Niklas Kviselius: Niklas, TransLink, Metro Vancouver
00:47:25 Luis Patricio: Hi everyone. Luis Patricio, Pillar Nonprofit (sdgcities.ca) and Huron University from London Ontario.
00:47:52 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Leandro Santos – Research Planner, Applied Solutions, Canadian Urban Institute (Toronto, ON)
00:47:55 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Leandro is a Research Planner at CUI Applied Solutions. At the Canadian Urban Institute, he has worked on a series of city-building projects addressing post-COVID urban recovery, housing, and community engagement processes. He has conducted research informing federal housing programs, highlighted best practices in Windsor, Victoria, and Halifax for Canadian city builders, and strives to meaningfully elevate the voices of communities marginalized by colonial systems, institutions, and urban planning processes. Leandro holds a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning from Toronto Metropolitan University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations from Carleton University. He firmly believes that for cities to prosper, they must be created by everybody, for everybody.
00:48:09 David Scrivener (CUI): Here’s a link to the Mobility as a Service report from CUI and AECOM: https://aecom.com/gta-maas-study/
00:48:45 Patricia Taylor: Hi, Pat Taylor from York Region Social Planning Council
00:48:48 Anne Marie Aikins: HI everyone…it’s Anne Marie Aikins in Toronto. I always learn a lot from these events so thank you to organizers and speakers
00:50:37 Graham Beck: Hello – Graham Beck, Regional Development, City of Edmonton
00:51:53 Emilie Charlebois (CUI):Please note that given the limited duration of these sessions, we are not able to answer to raised hands. Do you have specific questions for the panellists? Post them in the chat, and we’ll try to answer as many as possible.
00:52:04 Krista Gladney: Hi! Krista Gladney, Healthy City Development Coordinator with the City of St. John’s
00:52:07 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Responses to questions and additional resources will be provided in the chat by CUI staff.
00:53:19 David Scrivener (CUI): In case you missed it from earlier, here’s a link to the Mobility as a Service report from CUI and AECOM: https://aecom.com/gta-maas-study/
00:53:59 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Justin Trevan – Vice President, Cities Growth Strategy at AECOM (Toronto, ON) Justin is a Vice President and Growth Strategy lead for AECOM in Canada where he is focused on the development and use of new innovative services, thought leadership and strategic relationship management to embed a growth culture within AECOM. An industry leader in digital consulting and advisory services, Justin has worked at the intersection of technology and the built environment for over 20 years. He has worked on all sides of the technology fence, ran a start-up, been accepted to a US-based tech accelerator, and has advised organizations and boards on digital transformation. He intimately knows all sides of the innovation agenda for various market segments and client types.
00:54:16 Mark Hafen: Lost him
00:54:16 David Zurawel: Bandwidth a problem…
00:56:35 Richard Gould: You mention equity. What about working conditions and economic security for drivers working for companies such as Uber, etc.?
00:57:04 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Deborah Wathen Finn – President, The Wathen Group (Morristown, NJ)
00:57:27 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Deborah Wathen Finn has 35 years of experience in the transportation industry. She has held executive level positions with major private sector infrastructure firms, leadership positions in public transportation authorities, and operational oversight for commuter rail, light rail, bus, and paratransit operations. She has conducted due diligence and peer reviews for various agencies with a special focus on operational effectiveness and system and operating safety.
00:57:29 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): As President of The Wathen Group, Ms. Wathen Finn provides strategic consulting assistance to clients on strategic planning, crisis management, and negotiations, as well as transit and rail operational issues. Having served as part of APTA’s trade mission to Asia to observe models in Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore she is additionally familiar with other models for improving mobility in various metro areas. Ms. Wathen Finn serves on various advisory boards and is active in community and trade organizations.
00:58:03 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “Everyone” so we can all see your comments.
00:58:59 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Tosh Chambers – Senior Program Director, Move PGH (Pittsburgh, PA)
00:58:59 Kirsten Watson: Hi everyone, Kirsten Watson from AECOM joining from Toronto.
00:58:59 Leandro Santos (he/him): Richard, while I would’ve loved to explore workers rights in the gig economy, it was outside of the scope of our research. But definitely a great question, and a major concern!
00:59:00 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): As the Senior Program Director of Move PGH, Tosh Chambers worked to coordinate a consortium of transportation service providers to produce a Mobility as a Service offering in the City of Pittsburgh. In his previous role with Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI), Tosh drafted formational policy related to the regulation of shared mobility services including scooter, moped, and car share. Many of his efforts were dedicated to planning for integrations between mobility applications, and the placement and creation of multi-modal “mobility hubs” throughout Pittsburgh. Prior to his time with DOMI, Tosh worked in mapping and analysis of Autonomous Vehicles, Public Transit, and curbside infrastructure.
00:59:17 Mark Hafen: Native of Pittsburgh here, now in Toronto!
00:59:25 Glenn Asano: Glenn Asano, Leaside Business Park Association, Toronto
01:00:03 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): The CityTalk chat is as lively as ever. Amplify the conversation on social media! @canurb #citytalk
01:00:07 Dan Hoornweg: Hello everyone. Here’s a back-up report from ON Tech highlighting that a shift to MaaS in Ontario would save households $8000 and reduce CO2 emissions by 25Mn tonnes per year. https://sites.ontariotechu.ca/sustainabilitytoday/blog-posts/blog-posts/2018/11/driving-made-in-ontario-solution-to-congestion-climate-change-and-economic-prosperity.php
01:00:54 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Please note we are recording today’s session and will share it online within a week at canurb.org/citytalk-canada/
01:00:58 Leandro Santos (he/him): Thanks for the link, Dan!
01:01:34 Michael Nyormishie: I am an Assistant Development Planning Officer in Ghana and have special interest in this subject area. How can I get involve so we talk the African perspective as well? I can be contacted via email: email@example.com
01:01:57 Cheryl Braan: Cheryl Braan from the Region of Waterloo. (Finance)
01:03:16 Kimberley Nelson: How do systems meld social enterprise ventures with private for-profit scooter / bike share and city run transportation? How do those relationships form?
01:04:00 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Matthew Palm – Research Coordinator, Mobilizing Justice Project (Toronto, ON) Matthew Palm is a researcher affiliated with the Mobilizing Justice Partnership based at the University of Toronto Scarborough. The goal of the partnership is to advance transportation equity through innovative research and knowledge mobilization. Dr. Palm is also an incoming Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. For Mobilizing Justice, his research focuses on evaluating the equity impacts of new transportation technologies and innovative policies.
01:04:11 Mark Hafen: Democratization of options requires democratization of infrastructure to support them.
01:04:23 Richard Gould: Be happy to use my bicycle more to get to destinations. But I want to be sure that my bike is safe and still there when I want to head home. What is being done to better protect bikes when parked?
01:04:24 Matthew Palm (he/him): I run the innovative pilots program at Mobilizing Justice. We partner with cities and regions who are piloting new services, technologies, or infrastructure and conduct before/after studies of equity impacts. Check us out and email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your region has a project you’d like to nominate! More info: https://mobilizingjustice.ca/working-groups/technologie-de-mobilite-et-pilote-de-politique-innovante/
01:04:36 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): The CityTalk chat is as lively as ever. Amplify the conversation on social media! @canurb #citytalk
01:05:27 Michael Nyormishie: City mobility issues in Ghana can include traffic congestion, inadequate public transportation systems, lack of proper pedestrian infrastructure, and limited cycling facilities. These challenges often lead to longer commute times, increased air pollution, and overall difficulty in moving around urban areas. Efforts to improve city mobility might involve investing in better public transportation, promoting non-motorized modes of transport, and implementing effective traffic management strategies.
01:07:09 Leandro Santos (he/him): We found that in order for micro-mobility modes and active transportation to be viable alternatives to personal automobile ownership, there really needs to be the physical infrastructure in place to support those modes so people feel safe to adopt them.
01:09:16 Luis Patricio: Absolutely Leandro. Safe, convenient and reliable!
01:10:25 Michael Nyormishie: Collaboration between the West and Ghana to address mobility issues can involve various approaches: Knowledge Sharing: The West can share their experiences and best practices in urban planning, transportation infrastructure, and sustainable mobility solutions. This could include workshops, seminars, and technical exchanges to help Ghana learn from successful projects and strategies.
01:11:01 Cameron MacLeod: Shifting the prioritization from moving cars to moving people. We need to shift that base assumption.
01:11:40 Mark Hafen: @Cameron Absolutely.
01:11:47 Anne Marie Aikins: Most agencies thought they could make things more convenient (which they do) by digitizing everything related to transit and then with smaller government support for operating dollars they also figured they could save money by removing the staff. They soon figured out they needed to bring the frontline staff back especially as people return to transit after a long time away.
01:12:01 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Friendly reminder to attendees to please change your chat settings to “Everyone” so all can see your comments.
01:12:10 Leandro Santos (he/him): Michael, I love the idea of sharing practices.
01:13:44 Michael Nyormishie: Leandro how can I get direct chat with you. I want us to get connected. I work with local government service and want collaboration with your team
01:13:59 Alannah Webb: Better to spend a small $ on a pilot that might or might not work, than have a large $ failure
01:14:16 Leandro Santos (he/him): Michael, you can reach me at email@example.com
01:15:27 Cameron MacLeod: A comment from a follower on Mastodon in response to my posts there: “Please bring up the serious need of physically disabled people to be actively included in accessibility consultations before any new infrastructure is designed/changed. It saves everyone time/money/stress. We’re often consulted for remedial help, after the fact.”
01:15:31 Kimberley Nelson: @Alannah Also makes it easier to walk away if not working, instead of doubling down on bad decisions based on prior investment
01:16:48 Stephen Marano: In the GTA, transportation planning is highly political. There is much bickering amongst the politicians, which leads to delays and frustration.
01:17:09 Stephen Marano: Canadian politicians love to pass the buck regarding funding and responsibility.
01:17:15 Mark Hafen: 👍
01:17:26 Cameron MacLeod: @Stephen: absolutely agreed.
01:17:41 Leandro Santos (he/him): Cameron, thanks for bringing up the need to engage folks with disabilities. I find that in any policy or program consideration, engagement with diverse communities really needs to happen at the beginning of the process, with regular check-ins throughout, for real opportunities to co-design and meaningfully integrate feedback into decision making.
01:17:52 Alannah Webb: Pilots can also be a great way to test accessibility of new systems while paralleling the existing system, it doesn’t feel like the rug is being pulled out from under those with less accessibility
01:18:14 Kimberley Nelson: Intact was willing to offer reduced rates if you drove less than 10,000K a year I think
01:19:05 Kimberley Nelson: And I haven’t owned a car in 10 years so would have been some time ago they were doing that
01:19:07 Luis Patricio: Leadership in government really makes a difference. Many politicians will be open to those ideas but afraid this would jeopardize their political careers. Initiatives that can help shift the public perception of people oriented mobility technologies and policies is crucial.
01:19:14 dorian moore: Key question: How (and) can we synchronize and integrate mass transit with micro-mobility? And, if so, what kind of entity controls the coordination?
01:19:44 Stephen Marano: I can think of the King Street Pilot project in Toronto. It was, and is a success. The only issue is that the police do not enforce the rules as much as they should regarding the cars.
01:20:12 Leandro Santos – CUI (he/him): Read CUI and AECOM’s joint report, which includes a case study on what Tosh is talking about, re: MovePGH: https://aecom.com/gta-maas-study/
01:20:17 seyedmohsen Alavi: Info: At York University, we conducted a comprehensive research study examining shared mobility and post-secondary students’ travel behavior within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). Our findings reveal that since the onset of COVID-19, shared mobility has notably risen in popularity among these students
01:20:26 Andrew Robertson: King St in Toronto suffers from a lack of permanent installation
01:20:31 Cameron MacLeod: @Stephen: key point! It was a huge success per dollar and is being left to rot.
01:20:55 Andrew Robertson: The temporary infrastructure is still not being replaced despite it being the third-busiest route in the city (including subways!)
01:21:06 Kimberley Nelson: To the equity piece, most of the areas lacking in public transit are also missing in active modes infrastructure…. it is much larger ask to build all in underserved communities, but they desperately need it
01:21:15 Luis Patricio: I know in Brazil, some insurance companies are the ones who sponsor bikeshare programs
01:22:04 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): As always, the The CityTalk chat is thoughtful, provocative and dynamic! Amplify the conversation on social media! @canurb #citytalk
01:22:11 George Claydon: Or moving from 2 cars to 1 car
01:22:43 Leandro Santos – CUI (he/him): When I was visiting Amsterdam, I noticed many families with young kids biking around the inner city. Was really eye opening considering the North American narrative of families requiring a car for daily tasks.
01:22:49 Kimberley Nelson: Hitting the kids early to expose them to alternative modes is key https://www.youthenroute.ca/infrastructure-reports-for-a-safer-calgary/
01:23:01 Torshie Sai: Great point Matthew about the equity of accessing these alternative modes, and the options they do have available to them (e.g., older vehicles that might impact their own personal health, and the health of the environment.)
01:23:12 Luis Patricio: Good point Mary. And we know from research that important life transitions are good opportunities to change how they get around: moving to a new city, starting a job, getting married, starting school…
01:23:20 Stephen Marano: @Cameron I worked near King Street and saw numerous cars driving through the intersection when they should have turned right. The cops are not there to enforce it. I will concede that there should be a more permanent installation.
01:25:14 Matthew Palm (he/him): Transit App is a wonderful resource. They are helping communities do public engagement more too.
01:26:23 Kimberley Nelson: Incorporating bike share / scooters into the monthly bus pass would be a game changer – it becomes expensive to do multi-modal trip-chaining when you are paying each leg separately based on availability
01:27:33 Richard Gould: Automated cameras at the intersections on King. If you go straight through you get a ticket and fine (hopefully large).
01:28:58 Leandro Santos – CUI (he/him): Kimberly, subscription models that offer blends of mode options have been implemented in MaaS systems we looked at overseas.
01:29:22 Stephen Marano: @Richard That could work. Some advocates would despise this, but community safety is important too.
01:30:12 Kimberley Nelson: @Leandro Very cool! Any you remember that I can look into?
01:30:52 Leandro Santos – CUI (he/him): Without going into my notes, top of mind, Whim in Helsinki.
01:30:53 Cameron MacLeod: Never accept a framing that puts transportation as a service connected to profit, though.
01:31:23 Alannah Webb: Municipalities would never have gone for a risky venture like scooter rental, and were skeptical, but as a private enterprise, they’ve had great success in Edmonton. But muni’s can borrow massive capital costs for infrastructure/fleets, that private can’t necessarily. We have to work together
01:31:31 Cameron MacLeod: Transit is the region’s blood system which powers the economy and academia and night life etc. It is not a profit centre.
01:31:38 Mark Hafen: The TTC’s solution to reduced ridership and revenue was to cut service. That’s not the way to do it, and it amplifies inequity.
01:31:46 Cameron MacLeod: @Mark exactly right
01:32:13 Cameron MacLeod: Private companies can adapt for sure – Communauto for example has greatly benefited from being adaptable to users’ needs.
01:32:14 Stephen Marano: The media is partly to blame for the fear of public transit. You hear stories about people getting assaulted all the time.
01:32:15 Judith Norris: As a non-driver public transit user, I am frustrated by constant TTC delays making my late for work and appointments, as well as just trying to get home. I find I use GO transit more to avoid the TTC delays. That is part of the problem to me.
01:32:55 Cameron MacLeod: @Judith: yes, TTC service reliability has degraded a huge amount. Impacts choice riders too.
01:33:11 Alannah Webb: Every dollar spent on transit is $3 back in the economy as mobility encourages economy. So just looking at ridership/fees doesn’t show the whole “profitability” picture of transit
01:33:43 Mark Hafen: @alannah Exactly
01:33:49 Kimberley Nelson: Compared to playing non-consensual bumper car lottery that occurs daily on roads, it already is safer
01:33:55 seyedmohsen Alavi: We found shared mobility and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) play a crucial role in aiding people with disabilities and promoting social inclusion
01:33:57 Shilpa Dogra: Lack of reliability of service and poor perceived safety are why people will end up switching to micromobilities… or stick with their cars. Especially true in mid-sized/smalller cities.
01:34:04 Luisa Trevisan: I totally agree of creating fun in commuting. I use the train to get to work, and to access the station I cross a huge parking lot, and to arrive at the office I cross another parking lot. It is sad and horrible doing that everyday. There is no city around, I feel vulnerable and the money spent on public transit are too much in comparison of what it has to offer.
01:35:13 Kimberley Nelson: In Calgary there was a kid that held his birthday party travelling with a pack of kids on the Ctrain, went viral! Super fun
01:36:14 Anne Marie Aikins: For GO Transit, weekend ridership is well beyond pre-pandemic levels mostly related I think to the weekend fare details. Ridership during the week remains low because of WFH. And the same fare deals are not offered
01:38:00 Matthew Palm (he/him): The demand is less mono-culture too
01:38:36 Stephen Marano: Many employers want their employees in the office due to productivity concerns.
01:38:50 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Keep the conversation going #CityTalk @canurb
01:38:51 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): If you have any questions you would like us to follow up on, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
01:38:52 seyedmohsen Alavi: @Matthew, absolutely right. I found that safety concerns have significantly influenced travel behavior and mode choice, especially among non-male participants in the GTHA
01:38:55 Stephen Marano: Also, because they can.
01:39:34 Judith Norris: @ Matthew, The Celestine Prophecy, basically there are no coincidences book.
01:39:51 David Zurawel: Thank you for the interesting discussion, I have to drop off for another meeting.
01:40:10 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Thank you for joining us! We have recorded today’s session and will share it online along with the chat transcript and key takeaways within a week at canurb.org/citytalk-canada/
01:40:16 Stephen Marano: Thank you for the discussion, everyone.
01:41:01 Luis Patricio: Thanks for the great conversation. CUI always hosts insightful discussions. I learned a lot today.
01:41:12 adriana dossena: Thank you for discussion – humbly recommend latest book(s) by Jeremy Rifkin
01:41:24 Dinesh Burad: Thank you for the insight and discussions.
01:41:35 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Stay tuned for our September CityTalk on Public Libraries and updates for our State of Canada’s Cities conference on Nov. 30!
01:41:36 Leandro Santos – CUI (he/him): Thank you Matthew, Deborah, Tosh, and Justin!
01:41:38 Caroline Taylor: Great discussion. Some great takeaways. Thanks.
01:41:39 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): https://canurb.org/subscribe/
01:41:44 Matthew Palm (he/him): Thank you!
01:41:45 Kirsten Watson: Great discussion today! Thank you!
01:41:45 Leandro Santos – CUI (he/him): And everyone in the chat!
01:41:47 seyedmohsen Alavi: Than you all
01:41:50 Luke Grazier: Thanks everone!
01:41:58 Mark Hafen: Thanks everyone!
01:42:16 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): CUI/AECOM MaaS report: https://aecom.com/content/gta-maas-study/
01:42:16 Joe Loreto: Thanks everyone! Great conversation
01:42:17 Kevin Bailey: This was a really really great session, appreciate all the contributors
01:42:18 Luisa Trevisan: thank you everybody! great talk!
01:42:24 Kaiden Gartry: thank you
01:42:27 Emilie Charlebois (CUI): Thank you Everyone!
01:42:28 Cameron MacLeod: Thanks!