To help decrease reliance on cars, transportation authorities and private companies are looking at several solutions to address what is often a top barrier of local transit: the first-last mile challenge (how to get travellers from their transit stop to their ultimate destination) – particularly in ways that are convenient, low cost, and efficient for users.

In addition to the first-last mile challenge, there is also research that suggests that 50-60% of trips are less than 5 miles, giving rise to the “micromobility” market. Micromobility refers to trips that could be serviced by modes other than automobiles. The US micromobility market is currently forecasted to reach $200-$300 billion by 2030.

Recent research by Northstar identified speed of service as being the biggest influence in determining what mode of transit Americans take for local transport. Additionally, providing door-to-door service is particularly important to older Americans.

current interest in micromobility is limited

Current penetration of micromobility options sits at:

  • Dockless bikes – 55%
  • Scooters – 37%

However, overall interest in using these modes of transit is currently low, especially in smaller cities and communities. In these locations, and where geographies are more widely distributed, dockless bikes and scooters aren’t yet available. Furthermore, over 50% of Americans reject the idea of dockless bikes and scooters as a transit mode.

micromobility use will be driven by young people

However, some interest for micromobility exists among younger commuters (18-34-year olds). 40% of this demographic consider using dockless bikes and scooters. Younger commuters are already heavy users of public transit, including subways, LRT, buses and use ride sharing services, (e.g. Uber). This suggests that 18-34 year olds are open to, and looking for, alternatives to self-owned cars.

grow micromobility as an extension of the public transit network

The initial opportunity for micromobility options (e.g. dockless bike and scooter services) seems modest. However, there is genuine consideration, especially among younger commuters, and particularly those already using public transit.  Additionally, the potential growth in bike and scooter sharing options appears to exist within the same target population. ¾ of those most interested in bike sharing are also interested in scooter sharing.

Micromobility can reach potential users (mostly younger people) through the existing public transit network. Furthermore, transit agencies and the private sector should explore cross-over marketing and partnership opportunities to grow micromobility transportation, particularly among 18-34-year-olds.

While micromobility options have already arrived in many larger, urban, US markets (and are now making their way into Canada), it will be interesting to watch how transit agencies, municipalities and the private sector move to offer these transit options and meet traveller demand as part of a full integrated total transit solution, especially in mid-sized and smaller communities.

By Matthew Denomme, Senior Vice President & Canadian Managing Director

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