New Mobility For All: Can Targeted Information And Incentives Help Underserved Communities Realize The Potential Of Emerging Mobility Options?

Nathan McNeil, Portland State University



Technology enabled new mobility options such as ride-hailing (e.g. Uber, Lyft), car-sharing (e.g. ReachNow, Car2Go and Zipcar), and micro-mobility (e.g. bike and scooter sharing), along with services such as ride matching, online/mobile travel information and payment platforms are transforming how people conceptualize and navigate cities. These options and services offer the potential of connecting people to jobs, education and social opportunities on an efficient on-demand basis, an outcome that offers particular promise to those who may have fewer transportation options currently, including lower-income residents, immigrants and communities of color. Knowledge of available options and how to access them, being able to pay for services, and geographic access are among key barriers that may could prevent these communities from participating in new mobility services and maximizing the value of set of available transportation options. 

Two Portland initiatives are about to launch that will test new ways of connecting traditionally underserved communities to comprehensive set of transportation options represented by new technologies.  Metro’s PILOT program in funding pilot initiatives designed to provide personalized transportation planning services (trip planning, education, outreach) in combination with free ride or drive credits from ride-hail and car share services (Uber and Car2Go, respectively) to help connect residents to travel opportunities. The PILOT program is also funding an effort to provide real-time transit arrival information via display screens near bus stations in east Portland to aide in travel planning for residents. Finally, the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is offering residents of affordable housing through seven partner organizations access to its Transportation Wallet program - a set of transportation incentives including TriMet transit credit and enrollment in a discounted fare program, free bike share membership, a Streetcar pass, and credit to be applied to e-scooter, ride-hail (Uber, Lyft), taxi or car share trips. 

Using surveys and focus groups of program participants, interviews of implementation partners, and subsidy and service use data, the project will assess how to cater information and access to new (and existing) mobility options to underserved communities by evaluating the implementation of these programs. The evaluation will include working closely with the PILOT grant recipients and Transportation Wallet partner organizations to document their implementation approach and to survey their clients. Surveys conducted upon enrollment and at the end of a period of participation will help to assess how participants travel options and behaviors changed. We will explore how the personalized information and planning they received (which will vary from location to location), and the incentives available to them (which will vary between Transportation Wallet and PILOT program participants) affected their transportation decision-making. Further we will explore their use of the ride-hail, carshare, and other services to assess when and how the services were used, and if they provide new access to key opportunities such as jobs, education, or health. The project directly addresses the NITC themes of increasing access to opportunities and improving multi-modal planning and the NITC priority area of mobility of people.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
December 31,2021
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Round 3
UTC Funding:

Other Products

  • Tan H, McNeil N, MacArthur J, Rodgers K. Evaluation of a Transportation Incentive Program for Affordable Housing Residents. Transportation Research Record. March 2021. doi:10.1177/0361198121997431 (PUBLICATION)