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Miami-Dade County Demonstrates How to Overhaul Urban Mobility Through Integration

Miami-Dade County, along with the City Innovate Foundation, is releasing a playbook for local governments that adds ride-hailing and bike-sharing to the mix in the quest for truly multi-modal mobility.

SAN FRANCISCO — Miami-Dade County in Florida is overhauling its transportation system and sharing that knowledge with cities across the country. Working with the City Innovate Foundation, a group that specializes in bringing technology companies and solutions to local governments, Miami-Dade has produced an Urban Mobility Playbook on how to integrate public transit and private transportation services for true multi-modal mobility in cities.

The playbook, which uses Miami-Dade as the use case, will be distributed to Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., Chattanooga, Tenn., and other City Innovate partners. The goals set forth in the playbook include reducing road congestion, digitally connecting all transportation services in the county and creating a seamless transit experience for citizens.

The program began last fall, when both parties saw an opportunity to help provide equitable transit options that take advantage of tech-oriented transportation and infrastructure innovations, including ride-sharing, integrated payment solutions and optimized public transit services.

Speaking at the BRIDGE Spring 2017 conference in San Francisco, Assistant Director for Miami-Dade County's Department of Transportation and Public Works Carlos Cruz-Casas spoke about the transportation needs of residents in his county.

While traditionally transportation has been kept in separate silos, whether it's personal vehicle ownership, traditional ride-hailing or public transit, local governments are increasingly moving toward consolidated multi-modal systems. “People don’t care about the specific model of transportation,” said Cruz-Casas, “they just want a reliable service that will get them to where they need to go.”

The county has already consolidated mobility agencies including the department of transportation, public works and Miami-Dade Transit into a more efficient and centralized transportation department. The county is now working to integrate private ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber and integrate a payment system with help from Cubic Transportation Systems.

Miami-Dade is working on taking advantage of all available transit options, because simply, “more transit is better transit,” said Cruz-Casas. The integration of payment systems is a crucial aspect of revolutionizing transit in the county. Similar to the Bay Area’s Clipper Card and Los Angeles’s Transit Access Pass (TAP), Miami is expanding this concept for both ride-hailing and bike-sharing programs. “In order to make the most out of the mobility mix we are creating, we need to make sure that we have one place where people can go in and get a trip.”

“The mobility industry will be at its most efficient when we break down traditional silos to create a unified and frictionless user experience that is built upon unified solutions,” said Boris Karsch of Cubic in the release.

“New technologies are emerging which can vastly improve access to transportation services in cities,” Cruz-Casas said in the release. “We can’t keep our transit mindset on a 20th-century model. It is a fundamental issue of equity.”

Equity is key to this plan. While some may confuse equality, or providing the same service to everyone with equity, or tailoring services and programs to ensure underserved populations benefit from the new technology entering the transportation landscape. “We have a responsibility to make sure regardless of physical or economic ability or digital literacy level, that you can get from one place to another,” said Cruz-Casas.

While the population continues to grow and put pressure on the traditional transportation system, Miami-Dade is working with both public and private partners to ensure that the infrastructure network can keep pace. “Moving around should not be an obstacle,” said Cruz-Casas. “Moving around should be easy, seamless and fast.”

Ryan McCauley was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine from October 2016 through July 2017, and previously served as the publication's editorial assistant.