Yesterday, I spent a lively afternoon with a diverse group investigating the Future of Transportation at a workshop hosted by GovLab of Deloitte in their Arlington, VA, offices. The conversation was similar to many others I have been part of in the transportation industry. But the discussion confirmed that the vision of Arlington County's Mobility Lab is on the right track. Here are the ideas discussed at the workshop that I found compelling:
- Adam Greenfield of Urbanscale said that there is no such thing as a seamless transportation system. In fact, what we are trying to acheive is a system with "beautiful seams".
- Reducing waste, whether through Collaborative Consumption such as Avego's real time ridesharing community or through GM's EN-V, should be a focus in designing future systems.
- Improvements in connections and reliability through provision of real-time transportation information on multiple mode choices and advances in design of technology are of prime importance. While much can be done on the policy and funding levels to encourage innovation and advancement, there is no need to wait. All sectors, but especially the private sector, can start on this critical job today.
- Behavioral economics can help identify the reasons for mode choice by various types of travelers. This knowledge can help design a system that better serves travelers' needs, and help travelers make good mode choices for their trips.
At the end of the day, the most popular "solution" for the future of transportation was the one that was simple - one based on a single philosophy, easy to explain and understand, flexible enough to serve all types of trips, and as reliable as possible in a world replete with technology and information.
Sonali Soneji, AICP, Research Manager, Arlington County Commuter Services (ACCS). Mobility Lab is an initiaitve of ACCS.