All posts by McKinlay

Lyft builds a legacy bridge. 

Lyft announced an interesting pilot program that allows seniors without a smart phone to utilize Lyft to get to medical appointments.  Lyft partnered with National Medtrans Network of New York, providing 2500 rides a week through the program, almost 10% of Medtrans’ weekly livery trips. 

Around 3 billion medicaid dollars a year is spent on transportation. Yet it’s not really solving a problem, it’s supporting an outdated and costly process. Call centers are very resource intensive and tend to encourage dependency. Funding for developing consumer directed on-demand transportation solutions is sorely missing. 

Lyft also needs to ensure a portion of their drivers are operating accessible vehicles. Using Lyft technology to directly schedule a portion of existing para-transit fleets would be really helpful. 

An issue that’s always gets raised—not all people have smartphones. The problem of the digital divide certainly needs to be addressed Now. However, the lack of access to modern communications services shouldn’t be used to justify keeping legacy systems on life support. 

Millennial public transport support didn’t translate to votes

Public Transport initiatives took a beating, against all logic and seemingly despite broad support. While Urbanful points the finger at Millenials not getting out the vote we shouldn’t forget that millennial are only one part of the equation. Voter apathy, especially among the more educated and informed citzenry, was very high. Maybe, just maybe, its more than just an issue?

So what explains the surprising defeat? It likely has something to do with the disconnect between millennials stated priorities and their commitment to bringing these to the voting booth. (Urbanful)

Breaking the dependence on single occupant transportation will require all voters understand the very real but hidden cost of single occupant transportation. We need to put a dollar value to the social costs request that users fully pay for the services received just as we request public transport users do.

Scary smart “Smart Cities”

Many cities are waking up to the power of using data, Urbanful.org asks “what are we doing with it?” Great question. However, the examples provided are either scary not smart or and who the heck cares? None of the technologies really help cities become more accessible for the most part, way too many are about enforcement or the even creepier notion of “predictive policing” which sounds more like a step toward a “Minority Report” society.

We need smart deployment of smart technologies. What are the important needs of citizens and their cities. It’s not enough to track weather or the number of pedestrians with overpriced sensors; we need to answering the questions like “what is the walkability of that sidewalk” to determine the type of data and sensor technology that needs to be deployed.

Thoughtful deployment of microlocation beacons could help visually impaired users (but not track citizens) move down streets. Another use would to alert users to changed states like if a restroom is out-of-order if they opt into the service, or if they are in “discovery mode” be informed of all services around them. Microlocation needs to provide end users with the option of data not track citizens. Traffic signals won’t need to noisily chirp at around 10 thousand dollars an intersection, instead they could inform users of their status directly to the person’s smart device, informing them that it’s ok to cross the street and that they have 22 seconds to cross. Indeed, with appropriate validation, some users should be able to lengthen the crossing period just by the acknowledgment of a need to cross and their physical presence.

Each of these smart not creepy scenarios has considerable potential to make our cities more accessible and not just about policing or counting. The scenarios need to be better fleshed out, use-case scenarios need to be developed with people who are visually impaired or have limited mobility. When talking about “developed with” it doesn’t mean just citizens advisory groups, it means employing people with disabilities to develop the use-cases, develop the apps and use the data to make public space usable by more people.

Of the eight examples Urbaful.org gives as example only the use of the Tranquilien app (developed by Snips.net) by SNCF do predictive modeling for train usage comes close to demonstrating socially significant usefulness,

Services to the blind Town Hall Meetings

NDALC (Nevada Disablity Advocacy & Law Center) held another of its Townhall meetings on services to the blind. Transportation and urban infrastructure issues were raised as being a significant issue. Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training, while missing in action for many users in Northern Nevada, is essential. Yet with out safe and enjoyable cityscapes just walking down the street is hazardous even with great O&M skills. Chicken and egg situtation indeed. People find it difficult to acquire new skills and to stay motivated when the built environment almost shouts “stay away”. Transportation begins at the street level, walk ability needs to become a central focus for all transportation solutions.

Disability and capability are not necessarily either or situations. Eligibility is too frequently treated as a static concept obligating providers and users to use paratransit or regular public services. When you can’t use the sidewalk to get to or from the bus you are forced to use the paratransit system. While the impact of inadequate streetscapes directly affects the individuals and also impacts other users by increasing the demand for para transit services by users who would be better served using fixed route services.

Bridj—on demand mass transit

The term disruption has begun to permeate everyday language as have the service changes. Bridj is another service that seeks to change the shuttle industry. Bridj also lays claim to being a mass transit solution. Bridj is, in many ways what paratransit services might wish to emulate, it’s not as far removed from the traditional paratransit model like Lyft and Uber.

Bridj projects costs to greater than traditional public transport but less than taxis or by driving oneself. Bridj basically sets routes based upon demand, where they are and where they need to be by time. Its still quasi-fixed route as it is still in beta.graphic showing route stops and times

The particular market Bridj is seeking to capture is composed of complex journeys, ones that involve transfers, thereby shortening commute times. Smartphone technology once more serves as the data source cornerstone and avoidance of traditional “booking” approaches such as call centers or even booking web sites.

It’s the technology that’s interesting. How it can be adapted to shuttle paratransit users would need to be explored, and the app would need to be fully accesible.

Safety, poor infrastructure and distance—the usual suspects

 

The issues facing “less cars” transpiration options are quite well know—old and poorly designed infrastructure. These are not only a problem for people with disabilities, they affect all of society. Universal design not guides solution it also informs us that the problems affect more than one segment of the population.

Why do minorities bike less is a great read as it connects the issue with the infrastructure deficits that are both cause and create the reduced usage. The moment to enhance biking options is the same struggle we have with walkable and usable streetscapes. Its also about the struggle to re-purpose existing streetscapes rather than just build new neighborhoods in gated communities. Reclaiming car centric urban areas, especially those that need community investment, is a critical task for transport activists.

B&W photo of a young child playing on a bike surrounded by buildings

Attending an RTC public meeting

Found out about the meeting early this afternoon. Meeting seems to have drawn a large number of agency and ancillary interests, doesn’t seem to be a large number of consumers here however. I wonder why?

Wide view of meeting room with about 50 peopleApparently, it was meant to be a smaller meeting focused on seniors but seems to have drawn a large crowd

Quick scan and OCR of the agenda that was not as widely circulated. As usual, no accessible version was offered. Text is in all caps, large point size and all bold font, The size is good for those with limited vision but all caps and bolding make it harder for scanning.

Agenda
REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION I, WASHOE COUNTY

COMMISSION OF SENIOR/DISABLED/INDIGEN1″ TRANSPORTATION UNMET NEEDS MEETING

AGENDA
TUESDAY. APRIL 15. 2014 2 ~4) p.m.
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA. RENO Joe Crowley Student Union. Ballroom B

1. INTRODUCTIONS
2. DISCUSSION OF UNMET TRANSPORTATION NEEDS 3.
COORDINATED HUMAN SERVICES PUBLIC TRANSIT PI,AN DEVELOPMENT
4. FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION SECTION 5310 FUNDING
5.TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATICES AND OPTIONS
6. NEXT STEPS

I was only able to attend during the introductions, had to leave the minute business started.

 

Tracking planes visually stunning, why not track Paratransit usage?

Just a neat example of giving life to massive amounts of geolocation data. Think about doing this with Paratransit journeys. Maybe showing distinct phases  or occupancy levels using distinct color. For example, how much is outbound travel verses actual miles with a passenger.

How might this be achieved?

I’m assuming that the RTC doesn’t GPS track its paratransit vehicles, if they did then use that raw data.

Maybe recreation from a log of dispatch, then use a mapping service to decide the route taken.

I wonder if something like Maptimize would be useful? They’re the ones behind the demo site one million tweet map that displays the last million tweets over the world in real-time.

split map showing two ways to graphically represent geo data
Ideas for mapping paratransit demand and delivery