How Will the Sharing Economy Affect Public Transit?

Posted on August 2, 2016 by Waylen Miki - Also by this author


Everywhere, evidence reveals how we’re moving into a less-consumptive, sharing-based society. Whether it’s people’s homes, torrent files or a car ride downtown, sharing is in. As environmentally conscious and economically prudent reducers and re-users, millennials are choosing non-traditional forms of transportation. This behavior has already had a huge impact on the way the transit industry is planning for its future. But the move away from vehicle ownership, taxi services and reliance upon public transit isn’t simply due to the affordability of new transportation technologies and ride hailing companies. It’s also due to the many added benefits and tools that technology provides to the average rider.

Statistics Reveal Growing Reliance Upon Mobile

According to The Pew Research Center, in 2014, 83% of millennials owned a smartphone and 98% owned a cellphone. Judging by the presence of Pokémon Go, it might seem that these statistics are underinflated, to say the least. The fact is, a great deal of information is currently being shared between mobile users. Social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter have become a major source of relevant, up-to-the minute, local and international news updates. What this suggests is that sharing isn’t just about transportation or pirated music, but also about sharing information in the form of alerts and updates to enhance both convenience and safety.

How Seriously do Millennials Rely Upon Technology?

Between social media updates, real time texting and live streaming, your riders will come to expect a high level of service when it comes to public transit. Since mobile technology is already the main point of contact between riders themselves, it’s not a difficult leap to the conclusion that it will also serve to connect you to your riders. Consider the ease with which you can communicate issues, provide schedule updates, bus arrival times, stop locations and more. Consider how quickly a rider will decide upon taking a bus over pushing a button to hail a ride. Can your riders pay for their fares as easily as they can pay for a cup of coffee? These decisions are made in a split-second and the winning choice is usually the one that provides the fastest answer. Consider how quickly you can reply to a call for “Where’s my bus.”

So What can Transit Do to Address the Future?

Depending upon when you’re reading this blog, you may already be in the future, for all I know. Hopefully, you’ve come to the conclusion that providing riders with passenger information systems for real-time updates and bus schedule information is the optimal choice for your agency. Sharing culture teaches us is that riders demand a high level of predictable, reliable and convenient service. But when it comes to affordability, public transit has always been the desired option. So in order to increase ridership, it’s really a matter of being able to provide the same level of service as ride hailing options, while keeping costs low.

The future may very well be a balanced combination of a variety of transportation options. But what is certain is that all transit agencies are going to need to address their technology demands now to be prepared for the long-term goals of their communities. If you’re reading this 10 years in the future, it may already be too late. But there’s no time like the present to consider the community transportation software solutions of tomorrow.

Waylen Miki is a content marketing specialist working at TripSpark Technologies, a community transportation software vendor. 

View comments or post a comment on this story. (1 Comment)

More Transit Dispatches Blog Posts

October 8, 2019

Toronto 'smart city' plan setting a precedent in approach to mobility

Aims to set standards which ensure that no matter where you are, you have access to a variety of transport modes within a certain distance.

October 1, 2019

Want to attract young talent to your city? Start thinking transit

Research suggests that when looking for a place to settle, the most important criteria for those aged 24 to 44 is easy access to transit.

September 17, 2019

Delivering 'clear, consistent message' during bus operator training key

Until this is the norm, confusion, frustration, and discouragement will set in and compromise the best efforts of a new candidate.

September 11, 2019

Unique solutions replace frequency vs. coverage debate

The way I see it, that’s the same as asking if you want an ice cream shop in your town to serve you faster or if you would you like them in more locations.

September 10, 2019

Amid automation trend, here's why we still need bus drivers

The driverless option will severely impact the four million commercial drivers working in the U.S., according to a 2014 Goldman Sachs report. These figures suggest the loss of 25,000 jobs per month during the height of the autonomous vehicles saturation into the industry.

See More

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (1)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation