The transportation sector today is in constant flux and innovation. In Los Angeles, city planners are connecting transit to affordable housing. The City of Chicago just launched an e-scooter pilot program. Audi developed a “carbon-neutral” factory to produce electric cars. This, amidst a growing reality that transportation has become the number one source of carbon pollution in the country and communities of color are disproportionately impacted.
Transit has become a public health, disability-rights, housing, and equity driver. Lack of reliable access to transportation is one of the biggest barriers to employment for Americans today. Lack of transportation options worsens social isolation for older adults.
The Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC), headquartered in Chicago and working nationally, is tackling these issues and more by applying innovative solutions that address the environmental impact, accessibility, and cost of transportation. SUMC is a public interest nonprofit dedicated to creating a multi-modal transportation system that works for all. Founded in 2014 by Sharon Feigon, SUMC has grown from a startup to a nonpartisan leader bringing together public and private sectors with cities and local communities. Through piloting programs, conducting new research, and providing policy and technical expertise, SUMC acts as a knowledge hub and prepares businesses, policy makers, and community organizers to handle rapid changes in the transportation sector.
“Transportation is the leading source of carbon pollution, one of the biggest expenses for families, and is a leading barrier to employment,” says SUMC Executive Director Sharon Feigon. “These are critical issues we have the power to change by creating a multi-modal system that’s affordable, equitable, and environmentally sound. Mobility enables everyone to live well.”
SUMC’s research has been integral in developing an understanding of how the advent of new transportation technologies such as ridehailing and bikesharing can complement our existing public transport systems. In a 2016 study for the American Public Transportation Association, another Davidoff client, SUMC found that the more people used shared mobility, the more likely they were to use public transit, own fewer private vehicles, and spend less on transportation. SUMC’s research uncovered that rather than acting as a competitor to public transit, ridesharing and ridehailing technologies mobilize users to adopt more environmentally and financially sustainable transit options. This finding has encouraged collaboration and cooperation between the public and private transportation sectors. Through its ability to create and influence strong partnerships, SUMC ensures that equity remains a top priority for decision-makers and consumers.
SUMC helps ensure that affordable, accessible, and environmentally-sound mobility options exist for all communities. In California, partnering with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), SUMC will serve as a co-manager of CARB’s Clean Mobility Options program, directing $17 million over the next two years into shared and electric pilot projects in low-income neighborhoods. Through this initiative, SUMC and CARB will address both environmental and equity challenges by reducing carbon emissions and providing more equal access to affordable transportation.
BUILDING A LEARNING CULTURE
This spring, with SUMC’s growth, Executive Director Sharon Feigon engaged Davidoff to help unify team members from across the nation to define the organization’s vision, mission, and identify key strategic priorities that will guide SUMC to the next level of impact. Davidoff led the team through discussions and exercises to apply lessons from current projects to future research, policy, and program approaches. The SUMC team focused its leadership and built a learning culture in which the team is aligned to address the environmental impact, accessibility, and cost of transportation by connecting the public and private sectors, building knowledge, and developing solutions that achieve shared mobility for all.
“The retreat was a rewarding experience and Davidoff brought a positive spirit. It brought us together to grapple with the important issues of today,” reflected Feigon.
Learn more about SUMC and subscribe to the weekly newsletter with the latest shared mobility news at sharedusemobilitycenter.org