For public transportation, a new concept of mobility has emerged over the last year. As reduced traffic demands and altered usage patterns have evolved, transportation agencies have had to adapt their approach to transportation planning. During a recent Q&A with Government Technology, I discussed how access is the new mobility, and its impacts on how we perceive the role of public transportation in our everyday lives.

Changing behaviors in public transportation

In a relatively short span of time, transportation demand has been turned upside down. The concept of a peak hour has disappeared as mid-day travel has grown. And if the short-term trend of work-from-home and distance learning holds in the long-term, those who manage and plan our transportation systems will face some interesting challenges.

Our new normal means many people are no longer driving, or driving much less often or shorter distances. They’re driving at different times, visiting local retailers or groceries at times that are less crowded. And they’re increasingly relying on delivery of goods and services, resulting in an increase of delivery vehicles on roadways during daytime hours. This has greatly reduced revenue for transportation via gas taxes.

Leveraging existing infrastructure

Going forward, access will expand beyond whether the modes get us to where we want to go to include accessing our opportunities (employment, learning, and healthcare) without leaving our homes. That is another disruptive force. A practical example was my commute to work this morning. For me (and millions of others) it meant walking across the hall to wake up kids so they can go to school online. And then walking a bit further down the hall to a home office. This means accessibility is now more than just physical connections; it’s also digital. This opens up an array of opportunities to leverage existing infrastructure, like right-of-ways, to expand this new concept of access and empower broadband and other technologies.

Opportunities for monetization in public transportation

Monetization is an issue that should also be looked at closely as the lens of public transportation continues its rapid shift. But this will have to be done via a state-by-state regulatory analysis of how best to leverage existing infrastructure. And it will require keen awareness of what infrastructure comprises the public transportation network as well as the policies that prohibit or encourage that infrastructure to be used for other things, like education.

At Cisco, we’re working with the public sector to actively develop and implement innovative and secure solutions that can scale with the needs of government and enhance resiliency in times of stress. And together with our partner Government Technology, we’re exploring strategies for building the next generation of government (learn more here). We invite you to join us.

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Michelle Maggiore

Business Development Manager

Industry Solutions Group - Transportation