Decreasing Dependency on Personal Vehicles

In recent years, the City of Columbus has greatly benefitted from the addition of the C-Bus as well as Uber, Car2Go, and CoGo establishing operations in the market.  This diversification of transportation options has given residents more options for getting where they want to go when they want to go and most importantly without the hassle of owning a car.

Amidst the ongoing planning processes occurring in the community to improve public transportation, the Create Columbus Commission recognizes that the reality today is that you cannot depend on one transportation alternative to get anywhere you want to go.  This causes a personal vehicle to be more often than not a necessity among residents and hikes the cost of living significantly.  The Urban Land Institute found in their “America in 2015” study that less reliance on a car appeals especially to millennials and renters, almost two-thirds of whom (63 percent and 64 percent, respectively) would prefer to live in a “car-optional” place.  Approximately 60 percent of the residents of big and medium-sized cities, as well as African Americans and Latinos, are in favor of car-optional living.

Rather than waiting for long-term improvements to existing systems, to attract and retain talent today, the CCC believes there should be a sense of urgency applied to adopting technological improvements that ease multi-modal route planning, simplify payment processes, and maximize rider convenience.

Furthermore, as we look to the future of transit from a technological point of view, driverless cars have arrived.  The bigger task is for cities to integrate them.  Chicago is quietly preparing itself to be a testing ground for driverless cars as officials are currently in the process of identifying “innovation zones” within the city that could pilot autonomous vehicle projects and other new technologies.  This summer the University of Michigan opened a 32-acre facility to give the auto industry a hub for researching self-driving vehicles, an investment that could boost Detroit’s ability to compete in the auto industry’s emerging tech war.  Uber Technologies has quietly set up shop in Pittsburgh partnering with Carnegie Mellon to establish its Advanced Technologies Center, where the company will test autonomous cars. Columbus needs to boldly get in the game to compete for the economic benefit of this disruption.  The region is well positioned to be an early adopter of the technology and forward thinking about the applications due to the density of world-class research institutions in our community.

The CCC sees the disruption in the automotive industry as a significant shift in the way we will commute.  Young professionals are attracted to forward-thinking and affordable cities, and the incorporation of driverless car technology in a city will be a desired qualification for future and current residents.  The driverless car presents a myriad of consumer benefit including a dramatic improvement in safety, inevitable boost in convenience, as well as exciting enhancements to one’s ability to digitally socialize and work while traveling.  All aforementioned benefits are desires identified among millennials for what they want from alternative transportation in the Transit Center’s 2014 survey about the attitudes of riders.

Decreasing the need for a personal vehicle would lower the cost of living and facilitate a lifestyle desired by young professionals.  In summary, the city of Columbus would be more competitive for talent by becoming a more “car-optional” city by

  • Continuing to support and invest in the diversification and expansion of transportation options (Ex: Co-Go, Car2Go, Uber, COTA, C-Bus, bike lanes, ect.)
  • Fiercely prioritizing the user experience in all alternative transportation improvements, expansion, and additions
    • Create a unified information portal that provides residents and visitors a comprehensive view of transportation options in the Region to simplify route planning, access purchase, and understanding
    • Adopt technology solutions that establish automative, on-demand, and mobile payment processes
    • View the various transportation networks as part of a regional network of transportation options
    • Seek regional solutions for consolidating processes and connecting the user experience in order to simplify the transition between bus lines, modal types, and vendors/platforms.
    • Ensure a safe and connected rider experience for all entities in the Regional Transportation Network
  • Being open and ambitious about adopting forward-thinking innovation and technology advances in transportation (Ex. Driverless cars, car-sharing)
    • Position Columbus as a hub for the future of transportation by aggressively marketing our research assets and test-market attributes
    • Adopt technology solutions that make navigating Columbus easier and more efficient for the rider
    • Work collaboratively with industry to develop model policies that pro-actively invite autonomous vehicles to the Columbus market