5 Forces Shaping Mobility Technology

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Pepper Harward
Vice President, Transit Solutions at Routematch

New technologies and emerging trends have shifted the way in which people determine how and when they get to where they need to go. The impact this has on public transit is significant, and as a result, these forces are shaping the future of mobility technology for transit agencies.

Each force is important to understand and embrace independently, but the impact of all these forces collectively is essential to shaping an organization’s outlook and strategy. The five major forces we see having an impact are on-demand expectations, service personalization, customer transformation, inclusivity, and collaborative delivery.

Below is a brief description and the impact of those five forces on technology:

1. On-demand Expectations

As we continue to see an explosion of innovation in the private sector for on-demand mobility, expectations around specialized services moving in that direction grow stronger. Why wouldn’t services based on principles of equity, bridges of opportunity, or rider dignity eventually be held to modern standards? It may take a decade for this reality to fully take place, but the implications shatter existing foundations of paratransit scheduling algorithms and technology. A modern system fit exclusively for that purpose should fundamentally not be built off traditional paratransit paradigms, and this is perhaps the primary reason Routematch began developing a new technology stack nearly two years ago

2. Inclusivity

This is the core promise of public transit. We exist to build bridges often connecting the most disenfranchised, the most vulnerable, and the most marginalized individuals to the social and economic fabric of our communities. We cannot and should not lose sight of that promise, and the fast-developing, private landscape of mobility options (sometimes posing as competition) will increasingly remind us of how and why we should be different. This commitment to inclusivity should be front and center of everything agencies do – not a mere afterthought. And this has a tremendous impact on what a modern technology platform allows in terms of business process and accessible rider engagement tools.

3. Service Personalization

Some riders require different accommodations due to differences in ability. An agency might even sponsor or subsidize different service offerings to different riders based on those abilities. A modern trip planner or scheduling service, whether performed in advance or on-demand, must be able to personalize service levels or trip itineraries based on the individual rider. What should remain consistent is a trip planning or booking experience for all riders, but the individual trip rules and service levels might differ. Those differences extend beyond classifications designated by the agency to include potential preferences chosen by the rider such as bike sharing, car sharing, environmental impact, or cost burden.

4. Customer Transformation

Transit agencies typically view their business as a service that simply connects riders to other transformative services and experiences such as jobs, healthcare, or social engagements. However, there is no reason the transit service itself cannot be transformational. There are many opportunities available for transit agencies to make their own customer engagements transformative – to improve a customer’s dignity or sense of self-worth, to facilitate freedom and spontaneity, to have transit itself change behavior or attitudes and lead to improved, meaningful personal outcomes and ways-of-being that our riders aspire to. Agencies of the future will view their riders as their actual product much more so than viewing their services as their product. And the right technology can and must facilitate this change. Transformation should be the focus of future rider engagement applications and loyalty programs, and business innovations.

5. Collaborative Delivery

The potential for cost savings is primarily driving collaboration with other service delivery partners today, such as TNCs and taxis. But as we move further into an on-demand world, the practical challenges of matching supply with predictive demand will become another strong driver toward collaboration. Simply put, transit technology of the future cannot be constrained or limited to within the walls of the agency. Full flexibility of matching trips and their associated service levels to any provider within the mobility ecosystem of a community must be the goal, as well as full visibility and oversight of all trips being performed on the agency’s behalf in real time, standardized data capture and reporting, and fully automated clearinghouse and payment reconciliation functionality. The dynamic nature and depth of collaboration in the near future also demands a mindset and foundation completely divorced from a traditional paratransit paradigm.

Routematch lives and promotes these forces internally and externally. Our mission is not simply to be a bystander reacting to this future as it begins to take shape, but to be drivers of change, ushering mobility in a responsible and urgent manner. We are committed to empowering every ride, and crafting real human solutions with our partners to ensure accessibility, mobility and spontaneity are achieveable for every rider.