New technology is bringing fleets of on-demand vehicles and shared cars, bikes and scooters to communities throughout greater Portland. And it’s becoming easier than ever to learn about and pay for different travel options online or with mobile apps. These innovations offer people more choices for how to move around our region. But not everyone has access to them for several reasons, including:
–New shared and on-demand services aren’t always available in the communities that are most in need of better transportation options.
–Many people lack the resources or technology – including bank accounts, smart phones and data plans – needed to use these services.
–New services and online tools aren’t always designed for people with disabilities and special needs.
Metro’s Partnerships and Innovative Learning Opportunities in Transportation program has awarded grants to four pilot projects that will test ways to better serve people who have barriers accessing emerging technology services around the region.
Because these advances in transportation tech are so new, regional leaders have limited information on how they affect communities. And public agencies and community-based organizations typically lack relationships with the companies working in the rapidly-changing transportation sector that can help bring these services to a broader group of users. These pilot projects will support new partnerships and try novel approaches to making emerging technologies more widely accessible.
“If we want to stay on top of innovation and shape how technology serves our region, Metro and our partners need to play an active role in testing new ideas and services,” said Eliot Rose, Metro’s senior technology strategist.
The projects will help inform Metro and its partners how to harness innovation to meet our regional goals and adapt a transportation system that is evolving more rapidly than it has at any point in the past 70 years.
“Cities across the country are grappling with how to make the most of new transportation technology, but Metro is one of the only regions with a grant program like this that’s focused on equity,” said Margi Bradway, Metro’s planning deputy director. “We’re excited to learn from our partners how these services can benefit their communities.”
Tenants of a new affordable apartment building in Portland’s Jade District will have free access to Car2go. The nonprofits APANO and ROSE Community Development Corporation teamed up with the car-sharing company to offer free car-sharing trips, along with technology and multi-lingual education to help people access the service, in a location at the edge of Car2go’s current service area. This project will explore how subsidized car-sharing trips, culturally-responsive education, and travel assistance can help to provide better travel options for affordable housing residents.
Latino Network: $55,000
Latino Network is partnering with Uber to help Latino parents be more involved in their children’s education. They’ll offer ride-hailing credits and culturally-tailored trip planning to and from schools and other destinations throughout the region. This project will explore whether trip-planning assistance and free-ride hailing improves travel options for Latino families and helps them participate more in community activities.
Portland Transport: $30,000
Transit riders who live in East Portland will start seeing screens showing real-time transit arrivals at community centers, businesses, and other housing near lines with new or increased transit service. This project will explore whether real-time information on transit arrivals improves the experience of riding transit for underserved communities.
Ride Connection: $35,000
Ride Connection and its partners are working to develop a trip-planning tool that would provide information on buses and trains as well as the many on-demand services that people with disabilities, transit-dependent people and older adults rely on. This project will explore whether providing better information makes it easier for riders who use these services to understand, book, and access their options.
Metro’s PILOT program focuses on using technology to improve equitable, shared, and active transportation. These are pressing outcomes for our region, which is experiencing increased collisions, traffic and displacement, and areas where new technology has the potential make a big difference – both for better and for worse.
Learn more about how the PILOT program’s goals align with Metro’s 2040 Vision and the goals in the 2018 Regional Transportation Plan.