For two days last week Miami became the epicenter for public transportation hosting the first-ever shared-use mobility summit called “Live.Ride.Share.Miami” and with the launch of “Miami Mobility Fastrack” by the Fastrack Institute
Live.Ride.Share was a unique opportunity that brought professionals from all across the industry to share and discuss strategies, trends and opportunities to improve public transit.
Among the several topics discussed along the day, TECHNOLOGY and FINANCING seemed to be the most intriguing and contentious themes.
Technology is changing EVERY aspect of the transportation industry and transforming the way we behave and interact with our cities. More impressively, it is disrupting the foundation of our current mobility: automobiles and combustion engines.
The combustion engine has become obsolete. It simply too inefficient and has too many moving parts. The question now, is how fast will it take for electric vehicles to be fully adopted. Even the concept of vehicle ownership is changing as people are rapidly embracing the sharing economy.
In the near future we could potentially even see a world where cars will drive themselves. Vehicles will be automated and people will be able to enjoy their commute instead of driving. Cities will be able to repurpose their garages and potentially even eliminate the need for parking.
All these sounds great, but the bigger question is how do we solve the needs of TODAY? How do we tackle our transit crisis NOW if the technology is still being developed? More importantly, how do we fund these endeavors so we can get real solutions implement efficiently and quickly?
How to pay for public transportation has become one of the biggest handicaps to the industry. Public transportation systems are expensive to build and maintain. They also tend to be financially unprofitable to operate requiring large subsidies.
Governments are infamously bad managing money and incredibly slow in adopting new technology. Despite their good intentions, they also implement regulations that can restrain innovation and deter implementation with lengthy approval processes. The private industry also has its negatives, but they do seem more adept to tackling these issues. The reality is we won’t see any progress until the two collaborate seamlessly.
So the question becomes: How can these Public Private Partnerships (PPP) be streamlined and simplified to create a more transparent and efficient process?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball and we will have to see what the future awaits.
Overall I think the conference was a success and believe it is crucial for this discussion to continue. However, I must admit I couldn’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed by the complexity of the problems and the uncertainty of the solutions.
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