Research Roundup: Social Media For Public Transportation, Funding The Needs Of An Aging Population & An Overview Of U.S. Parking Management Strategies

Each and every day, social media tools change the way that organizations
interact with their users.

A recent report from the Center For Urban Transportation Research at University of South Florida titled Routes To New Networks: A Guide To Social Media For The Public Transportation Industry (66p. PDF) explains how these new platforms offer not only more personal one-on-one interaction than traditional media, but also represent the essence of niche marketing.

It is undeniable that social media is all the buzz. For some, utilizing new media tools may come as second nature. For others, however, entering the world of social media means taking a giant leap into the world of online communications.

One thing is certain – social media platforms are allowing a new opportunity for transportation providers to directly communicate with their target audiences. Communication is moving in this direction – with or without your organization.

The report analyzes the usefulness of and applications for social networks, written blogs, audio/video blogs, microblogs (e.g. Twitter), photo sharing, video sharing, user-generated content and mobile web content.

The report states that key points to consider when determining which tool(s) to use are:

1) Who is my target audience and what tools are they using?
2) What type of information do I want to communicate?

Content must always resonate with your audience. What can you provide that would be of value?

Earlier this year, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) published Funding The Public Transportation Needs Of An Aging Population (57p. PDF).

It explains how rapid growth in the number of older people in the United States during the coming decades will lead to greatly increased needs for expanded and enhanced public transportation services. This report:

a) identifies the range of actions that will be needed to expand mobility options for older people, including accessible public transportation services;
b) quantifies the demand for these public transportation services; and
c) estimates the funding that will be needed to provide them.

Needed actions have been identified by means of a review of the extensive literature on this
subject. The actions needed to expand mobility options for older people include:

  • Enhancements to fixed-route public transportation operations and planning such as additional bus operator training, incorporating travel needs of older people in route planning and stop placement, and coordination with other agencies and transportation providers
  • Enhancements to public transportation vehicles such as low-floor buses, kneeling buses, improved interior circulation, additional stanchions and grab bars, ergonomic seating designed for older riders, and accessibility features either required or encouraged by ADA like lifts and ramps, larger letters on head signs, and stop announcements
  • Actions to help older people take advantage of existing services, like presenting information in ways that are easy to read and as clear as possible, information and assistance programs to connect older people with appropriate services, and outreach and training programs
  • Expansion of supplementary services including flexible route and community transportation services, ADA complementary paratransit, non-ADA demand-responsive services, taxi subsidy programs, and volunteer driver programs
  • Application of universal design strategies at transit facilities, bus stops, and on streets and sidewalks in the immediate vicinity of transit facilities and stops

These are the actions of greatest concern to public transportation agencies, but they are not the
only actions needed.

Other important actions include assuring supportive services to caregivers
who provide transportation, encouraging further development of unsubsidized private
transportation services, increasing the availability of accessible taxicabs, coordinating with non-emergency medical transportation provided under Medicaid and Medicare, and supporting
modifications to automobiles and roadways to increase the safety of older drivers.

Finally, we wanted to take a closer look at U.S. Parking Policies: An Overview Of Management Strategies put out by the Institute For Transportation And Development Policy in New York.

This report highlights best practices in parking management in the United States.

In the last decade, some municipalities have reconsidered poorly conceived parking policies to address a host of negative impacts resulting from private automobile use such as traffic congestion and climate change. Unchecked, these policies have proven to be a major barrier to establishing a balanced urban transportation network.

Many aspects of current parking management in the United States do not work reliably or efficiently for anyone: Motorists find themselves circling for long periods in search of a place to park; retail employees take choice parking locations away from potential customers; developers are compelled to provide more parking than the market requires; and traffic managers encounter difficulty handling traffic generated by new parking as there is often no link between parking price, supply and the amount of available road space.

Finally, the old parking paradigm doesn’t work for the environment, as hidden subsidies encourage over reliance on private car use — a major, growing contributor to global warming and air pollution.

This report identifies core sustainable parking principles and illustrates how smarter parking management can benefit consumers and businesses in time and money savings, while also leading to more livable, attractive communities.