Minneapolis Considers Plan for In-Depth Study on Shared-Use Mobility in Private Sector Collaboration

The Transportation Committee heard a presentation for a shared mobility action plan for the Twin Cities by Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC) on Jul. 11. Minneapolis was selected for a more in-depth study to increase understanding for the opportunity and pressures the market faces.

SUMC’s action plan for the the Twin Cities is in the final draft stage and is expected to become public later this month. They’ve also put together an action plan for the City of Los Angeles, which will also be revealed later this month. Both plans will specifically target disadvantaged communities.

SUMC is a nonprofit company based in Chicago that seeks to foster collaboration on shared mobility services, like bike, car, and ride sharing, between the public and private sector. The company’s goal is to extend the benefits of shared mobility to all.

Program and development director, Creighton Randall, highlighted the recent exit of Car-2-Go and cited the lack of public service leadership as the reason for failure during the presentation.  Randall said that current trends are redefining vehicles from ownership to a utility and that “there’s a real opportunity for the public sector to define what that utility is.”

During the interviewing process of their initial research, SUMC said the notion that the “car is king” was what stood out to them the most. They found there were “few disincentives to single occupancy travel” and that “as long as parking is less expensive than transit it’s going to be really tough to convince people not drive in single occupancy,” said Randall.

The plan’s goal is to take 20,000 cars off the road within five years, which is about a five percent reduction in total vehicles, and 50,000 within 10 years region-wide. To achieve this goal, the aim is to attract 30,000 new riders, sustain 600 vehicles in car-sharing programs, add 800 bikes to bike-share networks, and recruit 1,000 additional vanpool users around downtown sites.

SUMC conducted studies that found significant gaps in transportation coverage within a growing region, particularly service to jobs in the suburbs, and conducted research on the metropolitan area’s ability to grow and sustain shared-use mobility networks. This makes the Twin Cities an ideal market to conduct the research for a national project, says the company.

The map represents the coverage of shared mobility services in the Twin Cities. The blue areas are where SUMC sees opportunity for expansion of shared mobility services. SUMC noted during the presentation opportunities along planned lightrail expansion. Courtesy of Shared-Use Mobility Center

Randall chose to discuss important aspects of the plan because time was limited and there was not a quorum (there were not enough members present to take action on an item). The exit of Car-2-go from the Twin Cities means that there currently isn’t a one-way car-sharing program available in the area, and it was suggested that this failure was due to a lack of leadership from the public sector.

Randall also noted the need from broader engagement from the community on transportation projects and advocated again that the public sector needs to take a more hands-on approach, involve community organizations early on in the process, and put “social equity front and center”.

Council member Bender said that they looked forward to seeing the final plan when it was available but noted that a significant amount of the region’s growth is projected to occur outside of their borders. The region is projected to grow by 800,000 by 2040, but only 125,000 of that will take place in the urban core. Bender questioned how implementing the plan in Minneapolis and St. Paul would be able to address the emission increases the growth will create.

SUMC said that Minneapolis and Saint Paul were the two most likely markets where such an action plan would be implemented by a city government, and taking this approach would influence the surrounding area to implement similar plans.

The Transportation Committee approved the item at an adjourned meeting on Jul. 13 and the City Council will consider approving the study at its regular meeting on Friday, Jul. 21.

The presentation and all City Council meetings can be viewed on Minneapolis’ YouTube channel. History of the council’s actions on this item can be found on the City’s website.

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