1. Autonomous Vehicles and Social Equity

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Critical evaluations of autonomous vehicles social equity impacts, Todd Litman, VTPI

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There are many possible ways to define transportation equity, many impacts to consider, and many possible ways to categorize people for equity analysis. This presentation investigates how quickly self-driving vehicles are likely to be deployed, critically examines their benefits and costs, and examines their social equity impacts such as their effects on independent mobility for non-drivers, transportation affordability, health and safety, public infrastructure costs, pollution, economic opportunity and employment, and land use development patterns. 

How elite transport visions could generate new geographies of inequality, Paris Marx, McGill Univers

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 In the 20th century, advances in transport technology in the form of mass-produced automobiles led to enormous structural and social changes. These changes led to a system of mobility tied to environmental degradation, unsustainable resource use, safety issues, and costs and benefits that are widely skewed throughout society. While inequities in mobility have existed for millennia, the car-centric 20th Century intensified these discrepancies. In recent years, the technology industry has offered a multitude of ideas for the future of transportation, including electric vehicles, ride-hailing services, autonomous vehicles, underground vehicle tunnels, and new visions for flying cars. In most cases, these ideas are meant to address the environmental and social impacts associated with auto-centric transport systems. However, this presentation, using the lenses of capitalist realism and mobility justice, will dissect the transport futures of tech visionaries and discuss how these predominately techno-optimist, auto-centric paradigms may in fact make many of these problems worse.  The importance of including voices, expertise, and perspectives from a variety of stakeholders and addressing questions such as whether these tech-driven visions can be socially just and benefit all members of society will be addressed.   

AVs & the battle/ballet of the street, Ann Kramer, McGill University

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In this thought experiment, drawing from pedestrian and cyclist fieldwork and street video, we consider the implications for freedom of movement when autonomous vehicles are ubiquitous. In the first part, the slower modes of transportation reclaim the streets as people unlearn their fear of traffic once the threat of violence is removed. The city slows down and mode shifts dramatically as cars become less competitive, with differential implications for accessibility in cities and suburbs. In the second part, the behaviours of pedestrians and cyclists are disciplined more completely than previously with physical barriers, further separation or banishment of alternative modes, and algorithms governing vehicle behaviour. These scenarios imagine how alternative possibilities for adopting artificial intelligence in vehicles correspond to transformations of governmentality in the public right of way. 

 

2. Shared Mobility and Social Equity

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Ride-hailing, but for whom? Mischa Young, University of Toronto

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  Convenience and low prices have enabled ride-hailing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to position themselves amongst the most valuable companies within the transportation sector. They now account for the lion share of activities in the platform economy and play an increasing role within our cities. Despite this, very little is known about the type of people that use them, nor the purpose and timing of trips. In addition to this, their effect on other modes, such as taxis and public transit, remains, for the most part, widely unexplored. By comparing the socioeconomic and trip characteristics of ride-hailing users to that of other mode users, we find ride-hailing to be a wealthy younger generation phenomenon. While our results show that ride-hailing is too minute and inconsequential to influence the ridership level of other more substantial modes of travel overall, when considering specific market segments, the rise of ride-hailing corresponds to a significant decrease in taxi ridership and a rise in active modes of travel. Moreover, due to the specific age, timing, and purpose of our sub-sample, we believe that ride-hailing may effectively reduce drunk-driving, and are convinced that as this mode increases in importance in the future, it will have a much more pronounced effect on the level of ridership of other modes as well. 

The adoption of shared mobility and its impact on travel choices, Giovanni Circella, UC Davis

Equity and on demand mobility? Adam Cohen, UC Berkeley

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 In cities around the world, innovative and emerging shared modes are offering residents, businesses, travelers, and other users more options to access mobility, goods, and services. On both sides of the Atlantic, two parallel approaches to multi-modal access to public and private transportation services are emerging. In North America, consumers are assigning economic values to transportation services and making mobility decisions (including the decision not to travel and instead have a good or service delivered) based on cost, travel and wait time, number of connections, convenience, and other attributes – a concept commonly referred to as Mobility on Demand (MOD). On the other side of the Atlantic in Europe, services that allow travelers to enroll for mobility services in one bundled service are gaining popularity – a concept known as Mobility as a Service (MaaS). This presentation would discuss similarities and differences between MOD and MaaS, as well as innovative and emerging mobility technologies on the horizon (e.g., shared automated vehicles, robotic delivery, and urban air mobility). 

3. Micro-transit, Bike Sharing and Social Equity

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Microtransit for transportation equity in Detroit, Tierra Bills, Wayne State University

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Recent studies on the benefits of shared mobility suggest that new microtransit services have the potential to help mitigate transportation equity issues. This may hold significant promise for addressing poor transportation accessibility experienced by disadvantaged communities, which has long been a pain point for cities like Detroit, Michigan.  However, the solution may not be as simple as installing the latest shared mobility service. Important questions remain about how well microtransit service can align with specific communities' needs and may affect the gap in accessibility between vulnerable and affluent communities. In this presentation, Dr. Bills will discuss her team's ongoing efforts to estimate the potential effects of microtransit on transportation accessibility in Metro Detroit. In the study, an accessibility measure is used to perform transportation equity analysis along two social dimensions; income and auto ownership. The analysis is performed using the Southeast Michigan Council of Government’s travel demand model for the Detroit region and the results so far highlight the significance of microtransit cost structures in reducing the accessibility gap between transport disadvantaged and more affluent communities.  

Investigating equity in bike share programs, Kate Hosford, Simon Fraser University

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 Bike share programs are now operating in cities worldwide but questions into the equity of these programs remain. Research into the social and spatial equity of bike sharing in North America has found that overall these programs largely profit advantaged populations, including those who are well-educated, younger, male, and have higher incomes.  Our research team has collected 4 years of data to better understand the users and use of the public bike share program in Vancouver. Similar to other cites, we found that members of the program tended to be more well-off individuals who already have a multitude of transportation options. However, amongst members, we found that those who used the program the most tended to have lower incomes and fewer transportation options available to them, suggesting that bike share may be serving those who need it to some extent.  This presentation will present findings from our research into bike share in Vancouver and share lessons learned and methods for investigating transport equity into other emerging mobility services and technologies.