Will New Transportation Technologies Worsen Inequality?


Edie Irons, Communications Director: 510-334-1344 (cell), [email protected]

(Oakland, CA) — New mobility options are quickly disrupting old transportation models, but groups are raising the alarm that these options may not be accessible to everyone. Today, as the Bay Area’s new bike share system launches in the East Bay, TransForm is releasing two new reports with solutions to make new mobility equitable and accessible for people that have been harmed by transportation planning in the past, including low-income communities of color, seniors, and people with disabilities.

The first report, A Framework for Equity in New Mobility, looks at the impact of emerging “new mobility” technology like bike share, car share, and ride-hailing services on disadvantaged communities. Portending even more rapid change once autonomous vehicles become widespread, the report presents critical recommendations to ensure these services are widely accessible and provide benefits for those with the least access to opportunity.

The other report is a case study of TransForm’s work to put some of those principles into practice. OakMob 101: A Case Study in Expanding Access to Shared Mobility, describes the potential benefits and risks of bike share and car share programs in Oakland. It outlines recent community engagement efforts in underserved neighborhoods, and new survey results with some surprising findings. The report includes recommendations to bring the benefits of shared mobility services to those who need them most.

“New mobility technology has brought transportation to a new crossroads,” says Stuart Cohen, Executive Director of TransForm. “In one direction we can see the potential to address injustices built into the current system and create more sustainable, affordable options for everyone. But if we’re not careful, we could face a future with more driving, more pollution, and unequal access that widens the inequality gap."

As state and local governments and transit agencies grapple with how to respond to new mobility innovations, TransForm’s framework and recommendations focus the conversation on social equity. An accompanying blog post lays out how the nonprofit will work to move the sector in that direction.

“Too often when people talk about new mobility, they talk about the technology more than the real human impacts it could have,” says Clarrissa Cabansagan, Senior Community Planner at TransForm and co-author of the framework. “Our transportation system is undergoing fundamental change, and we have an opportunity to right some wrongs of the past and significantly improve peoples’ lives. We can’t afford to pass up this chance.”

# # # #