A Regional Approach to Mobility Management: Promoting Sustainability and Economic Growth Through Public Transit

A Regional Approach to Mobility Management: Promoting Sustainability and Economic Growth Through Public Transit

Morgan D. Vogel, Robert Blair, Jerome Deichert
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7396-8.ch001
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Across the United States there is increased pressure for communities, especially in states like Nebraska, to engage in sustainable transportation infrastructure development. Through a case study of an ongoing statewide transportation initiative in nonmetropolitan Nebraska, this chapter examines transportation sustainability and planning from a regional and collaborative perspective. The Nebraska effort can be adapted to other states with significant rural and dispersed population centers. Funded by the state and the federal governments, Nebraska's transportation initiative, using an innovative public-private partnership, is creating and enhancing regional transit services in small urban and rural areas, using public transportation as a means to promote long-term economic growth and sustainability. Smaller urban and micropolitan communities, often serving as regional growth centers, frequently are overlooked when it comes to research on transportation planning and policy.
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As defined by the American Public Transportation Association, mobility management “is a strategic approach to service coordination and customer service that is becoming a worldwide trend in the public transportation sector” (2018, para. 2). When implementing mobility management strategies and networks, transit providers will transition from their established roles as fixed route or demand response providers in order to collaborate with other transit providers and partners. Thus, the concept of mobility management begins with the creation of partnerships among a variety of entities in order to increase transportation options for communities (American Public Transportation Association, 2018). Often, communities implementing mobility management strategies designate a mobility manager to assist with the coordination of transit services between providers, customers, and other state and local agencies (Nebraska DOT, 2017). In short, effective communication among mobility managers, providers, customers, and other parties involved in the transit process is essential. Communication between actors enables the success of mobility management programs.

Although mobility management can be accomplished in a variety of ways, implementation through a regional approach creates more manageable geographic areas while still connecting communities across political boundaries. Additionally, a regional approach to mobility management creates transportation networks that promote long-term economic growth and sustainability in small urban and rural areas that, without regional transportation services, might otherwise become economically disadvantaged and unsustainable communities. As we will see, several Midwestern states already have some form of a regional transportation network in place.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Fixed Route: Type of public transit in which the vehicle operates on a regular basis with a designated route and fixed schedule.

Mobility Management: Strategic, efficient approach to transportation service coordination and transportation options in order to improve service delivery for members of the public.

Micropolitan: An urban area, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, containing a community with a population between 10,000 and 50,000 people.

Demand Response: Type of public transit in which the customer calls in advance to schedule a trip.

Economic Development: A process that enhances the economic, social, and political well-being of individuals and communities through the adoption of new techniques and activities and overall improvement of living standards.

Regional Coordination: A development and implementation process across jurisdictions in order to address issues of regional significance and devise efficient and effective solutions.

Section 5311: A federal program for capital, planning, and operating assistance to states in support of rural public transportation.

Section 5310: A federal program for specialized transportation for the elderly and disabled in rural areas.

Collaborative tools: A range of formal and informal mechanisms employed by local governments to coordinate the delivery of public services, including transit.

Public Transit: A system of public transportation, using vehicles like buses, Vanpools, etc., operating by demand response or by fixed routes that are used by members of the public.

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