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A new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group ranks Phoenix and other American cities on how many technology-enabled services and tools they have to meet transportation needs. The report, “The Innovative Transportation Index: The Cities Where New Technologies and Tools Can Reduce Your Need to Own a Car” finds that Phoenix ties for 32nd among the nation’s 70 largest cities.
The report compares cities based on the presence of new transportation technologies, including ride sourcing services like Uber and Lyft, car sharing services like Zipcar, bike share and ride sharing systems, apps for navigating public transit and hailing taxis, and virtual ticket purchasing, among others. It is the first study of its kind.
The research demonstrates how rapid technological advances have enabled new transportation tools that make it convenient for more individuals to live full and engaged lives without owning a car.
“Technological advances are giving people new and convenient ways to get around more freely without having the expense of owning a car or directly contributing to adverse public health impacts,” stated Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. Brown added, “Many new transportation technology tools have been in existence for less than a decade – some for less than five years – but they have spread rapidly to Phoenix and other cities across the country.”
“Expanding the availability of shared-use transportation modes and other technology-enabled tools can give more Americans the freedom to live “car-free” or “car-light” lifestyles,” said Jeff Inglis, a policy analyst at the Frontier Group and co-author of the report. "Smartphone apps and new transportation services are making it easier for people to get where they need and want to go, while avoiding many costs associated with owning, insuring and maintaining a private vehicle."
The top cities in the report offer abundant choices including open-data policies, which have led to the development of multi-modal apps that allow passengers to transition seamlessly through different modes of transportation. For example, switching from transit to bike share for the last mile of a commute.
Other findings from the report:
- Individually, transportation services and tools make a difference. But together, they are more than the sum of their parts. Someone considering riding public transit instead of driving, for instance, will likely want to know about complementary options for times when riding the bus or train wouldn’t be convenient.
- The cities in this report all host a variety of services or tools that make it easier for Americans—and Millennials especially—to lead a car-free or car-light lifestyle. Having a suite of options allows people to spontaneously choose the most convenient option for them.
- There is much that cities can do to encourage more and better use of innovative transportation choices. Just because these services are new shouldn’t stop officials from responsibly integrating them into their plans and policies.
Many newer transportation options involve sharing vehicles, or sharing space in a vehicle. “The shared mobility industry is growing and evolving at an incredibly rapid pace," said Sharon Feigon, executive director of the Shared-Use Mobility Center. "These innovative services not only provide riders with new transportation options but, by integrating with existing transit systems, they have the potential to offer tremendous social and economic benefits such as reducing emissions, lessening congestion and improving public access to transportation.”
“Local innovation and technological advancements help to create more transportation options for residents and tourists,” Brown added. “The Arizona PIRG Education Fund applauds Phoenix and the other cities in this report for promoting new transportation technology choices and creating a more dynamic place where people want to live.”
The report calls on policy-makers and elected officials in Arizona and across the country to continue to explore ways to tap the potential of technology-enabled services to address transportation challenges and to increase transportation options.
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