Pittsburgh Equitable Mobility Pilot, NUMO

Pittsburgh Equitable Mobility Pilot

Connecting Pittsburgh residents to accessible mobility through a multimodal network of mobility hubs.

In 2021, the City of Pittsburgh worked with the Pittsburgh Mobility Collective (PMC) and other community stakeholders to launch Move PGH, an equity-focused mobility pilot designed to connect residents to accessible mobility options through a digital platform and physically via a multimodal network of mobility hubs.

 

Connecting the Steel City Through Mobility Hubs

 

In the 21st century, Pittsburgh has transformed from a Steel City to a Smart City, becoming a model among cities in the United States and a hub for urban innovation. Despite these advancements, Pittsburgh remains largely dependent on cars. 23% of households lack access to an automobile, and nearly one-third are ‘mobility insecure.’ Even for those with access to cars, economic mobility is challenged by the fact that only 40% of the region’s jobs are accessible within a 90-minute commute.

 

These trends exacerbate existing systemic inequities, making it even more challenging for city residents to access opportunities, goods and services because of the lack of affordable, safe and reliable mobility. This reality impacts economic and health outcomes, as well as counteracting the city’s sustainability goals.

 

A New Kind of Partnership

 

Under the leadership of former Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility & Infrastructure (DOMI) formed to better serve residents and begin building a truly equitable, inclusive and sustainable city that enables all residents to access jobs, education, housing and food. 

 

In response to the eagerness of new mobility operators to launch electric scooter (which remain illegal in the state of Pennsylvania but were legalized in Pittsburgh in June 2021) and electric bicycle programs in Pittsburgh, DOMI sought a solution that would bring tech-based mobility innovations to residents in ways that provide first- and last-mile connections to the city’s transit (Port Authority of Allegheny County) and bike-share (Healthy Ride) systems, while also prioritizing the needs of vulnerable communities, which often experience the unintended consequences of tech disruptions that are not strategically integrated into existing systems.

 

With NUMO’s guidance, DOMI issued a request for proposal that sought a collaborative coalition of mobility providers to work in partnership with the city and communities to develop an integrated and organized system of transportation. The winning proposal was from the Pittsburgh Mobility Collective, which launched in July 2019 and comprises Spin, Waze, Zipcar, Swiftmile, Ford Smart Mobility, Transit, Masabi and Scoobi.

One of 50 mobility hubs being installed in Pittsburgh as part of the physical infrastructure of the Move PGH equitable mobility pilot.
One of the 50 mobility hubs constructed as part of the physical infrastructure of the Move PGH equitable mobility pilot. (Photo: Shafaq Choudry, NUMO)

 

The city’s vision of providing reliable, accessible mobility choices that connect all residents to opportunity involved a high degree of coordination among the PMC, DOMI, Healthy Ride and the Port Authority, as well as deep engagement with the community and the establishment of 'transit equity zones.' What emerged was an innovative and inclusive pilot program through which new mobility operators would establish a range of first- and last-mile transportation services that meet the needs of neighborhoods and residents and are accessible via a network of 50 mobility hubs located near transit stops and bike-share stations.

 

Prioritizing Engagement & Equity

 

Prior to the pilot launch, NUMO facilitated a two-year process involving greater collaboration, strategy and alignment among partners, and implementation of the program in the city. NUMO worked alongside CityFi to provide avenues for DOMI and the PMC to work effectively and collaboratively with the Port Authority, Healthy Ride, community-based organizations and other key stakeholders. Through this inclusive and transparent process, DOMI and the PMC deepened commitments to equity and engagement, which informed the city’s micromobility policies and helped to shape a plan for an ambitious integrated network of mobility hubs to increase access for lower-income communities.

 

Launching Move PGH

 

On July 9th 2021, the coalition of public, private and community stakeholders launched MovePGH, the first equitable mobility pilot designed to connect residents to accessible mobility options through a digital platform and physically via a multimodal network of 50 mobility hubs.

 

The July 2021 launch of the Move PGH equitable mobility pilot. (Photo: Shafaq Choudry, NUMO)
Former DOMI director Karina Ricks speaks during a launch event for Move PGH and the city's Universal Basic Mobility pilots on July 9, 2021. (Photo: Shafaq Choudry, NUMO)

Through Move PGH mobility hubs, city residents have access to multimodal travel that connects them to transit and bike-share stations, as well as existing and new services like:

 

  • A new fleet of shared low-speed electric scooters provided by Spin
  • Expanded car-share services provided by Zipcar
  • A fleet of electric mopeds by Scoobi
  • Carpool matching and commuting services facilitated through Waze Carpool
  • Electric charging for e-scooters provided by Swiftmile
  • Real-time transit and mobility information on TransitScreens at mobility hubs
  • Transit app trip planning and booking

 

Key to this effort is expanding access for vulnerable communities to convenient, reliable and affordable mobility. The Port Authority has reduced costs for qualifying riders, and the agency’s ConnectCard, a partnership with HealthyRide, provides 15 minutes of free bike-share use. Spin’s Access program further builds on transit equity in the region by offering discounted e-scooter rides for low-income riders and opening up access for unbanked users and those without smartphones.

 

The two-year (2021-2023) pilot aims to address lack of access to safe, reliable mobility, which impacts Pittsburgh residents’ ability to get where they need to go — to get groceries, get to work or go to school — without relying on a car. The launch of Move PGH also enables the city’s Universal Basic Mobility (UBM) pilot, which provides up to 100 low-income residents with monthly transit subscriptions and shared mobility services to address mobility insecurity for a period of six months.

A Move PGH mobility hub on the streets of Pittsburgh.
A Move PGH mobility hub on the streets of Pittsburgh. (Photo: Spin)

 

 

 

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Header image: Shafaq Choudry, NUMO