A Chocolate Chip Cookie or Integrated Mobility?


Imagine a chocolate chip cookie straight from the oven.  It’s gooey, buttery, a bit crisp around the edges, and warm. Sounds good, yes? Well, a chocolate chip cookie is really nothing more than the food version of integrated mobility. After all, butter is tasty on its own. As for the sugar, it is delicious by itself as well. And there’s nothing wrong with eating the chocolate chips right out of the bag (don’t judge). But combine these ingredients in a bowl and stick them in the oven, and they form something truly amazing. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle is credited with saying: the whole is greater than the parts. Voilà, that’s the principle behind chocolate chip cookies …  and integrated mobility.

Integrated mobility is a hot topic in the transportation industry today because it is the optimization of living in the city, breaking out of generational norms of destinies within your direct community and giving access to urban amenities and opportunities to make one’s own future better. Integrated mobility allows riders to access wider parts of the community than mass transit alone. It’s about connecting people and places seamlessly and efficiently even when those people and places aren’t located along a bus route. Fun historical fact: public transit came to life first as a commercially savvy business move, but a marketing fail, in early 1820s.  French public bath owner Stanislas Baudry established his business outside of the city center, he wanted to give a direct and fast access to his bath house at a low cost and thus put the first urban short distance 20 seats carriage up, to link the city center to his business. He later discovered that a majority of his carriage tickets were sold to clients who used them to go to other places than the bath house. Baudry therefore bought more carriages, hired more coach drivers, created more stops and routes across the city and later left the bath business to dedicate fully to his urban carriage business – providing the right supply for the demand. Demand responsive mobility services are key to a successful integrated mobility plan, because it produces meaningful benefits such as:  

  • Providing riders a variety of options and freedom to choose their travels based on the time they have on their hands, the level of convenience they’d like to have, and the purpose of their day’s travel
  • Enabling passengers to break out from the Auto-soloist vs. Bus-captive circle that’s been going on far too long, keeping operational costs low and ensuring the transit systems viability
  • Developing services rather than spend subsidies, with marketing savviness and a clear strategy

Integrated mobility is a way of extending your services by giving passengers additional travel options. So, try not to think of ride-hailing services as the enemy, because we need to partner with them and all other modes of transportation to make this a reality.  Just imagine – your passengers hail a cab – or an Uber or Lyft - on the way to work, then grabs a bike share on the way back home, because hey- it’s a beautiful day, stops by the grocery store.  Once they leave the store, trade the bike for the bus because they have shopping bags to carry home. All of this easily accomplished using their smart device and transportation app.

I know what you’re thinking – my customers can already do that. Yes, they can but it’s a hassle. If we want riders to take advantage of this kind of system, we need to make the journey uncomplicated and effortless. There are two basic keys to implementing integrated mobility: (1) ease of use, and (2) ease of payment. Riders need to be able to easily plan their ride from beginning to end (most likely on a mobile device), and we need to devise a simple one-step payment process that covers all modes of transportation used for the trip (again, most likely with a mobile device). RATP Dev can work with you to make that a reality by offering a variety of transport modes to fit particular needs instead of an operational agenda: increase headways on high demand corridors, replace inefficient fixed routes by demand-responsive services, ensure that transfers are made thoughtfully for riders to have enough time to switch lines (>5’) and not being kept waiting too long for their next ride (<10’), develop customized trip planners that integrate a wide range of modes.

It is the connection that links a host of transportation options and provides the widest possible access to the greatest number of people and places. It is an integral part of the whole - It is a chocolate chip in the integrated mobility cookie. Yum!



Photo Credit: Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/macro-photography-of-pile-of-3-cookie-230325/



Brent Leland