Safe Shift will use Port Authority’s Access Vans that are not utilized at night. Nighttime use of the vans creates a double value for Port Authority. This is also something Port Authority has looked into to maximize their existing fleet. Moovit’s multi-modal app integrates all existing transit services in the area, which makes it easier to get around in one comprehensive night time system. The shuttle routes will be mapped out based on the needs of the employees to either connect with existing transit when possible or a designated shuttle stop.
2. Responding to your comment “This proposal assumes that low-income service workers are going to shuttle collection points, so either they are driving to a park-and-ride with their own vehicles, or they are taking public transit to get to those shuttle stops. It's not clear to me what great mobility problem this proposal solves, besides the technology to better coordinate and educate users about publicly operated and privately operated transportation options.
If the goal is in fact to provide greater transportation options-- affordability or accessibility-- rather than simply improved user convenience, we might talk instead about how corporations and our region could be fund more robust public transit service that operates 24/7.”
We recognized this very issue as the team talked with prospective anchor companies and shuttle operators. We found that there is little analytic data on the movement patterns for this demographic. We need a clear picture of the “How, Where, and When” for Pittsburgh’s night time commuters to make a recommendation on solving the problem with the best transportation option. With this in mind, we focused Phase 1 on gathering data, analyzing, and documenting the problem so we can better collaborate with the community, employers, and the current public transit operations.
Thank you very much for your thoughtful feedback. We updated our published proposal to reflect changes since our first submission (we didn’t realize that we could make edits) We welcome you to check out the latest updates. The more dialogue, the better!
Before, beginning to address your concerns, I will provide some quick context about our team and where the inspiration for Safe Shift came from. Safe Shift was an answer to the needs expressed by the local community (employees and employers) at the Pittsburgh Mobiliti event in early October. The Mobiliti workshop focused the responsibility for specific mobility needs of Pittsburgh residents on employers. Through multi-sector dialogue and problem solving, the participants worked together to find solutions within that space. Our team is comprised of people from all walks of life who at the time hadn’t known each other longer than 24 hours. We identified a common need echoed throughout the workshop: Transportation late at night has large gaps in service leaving people to walk long distances on dark roads late at night, and feeling unsafe. Some take rides with a passing jitney, which are typically low-budget, “fly by night” operations or ride-hailing services, both of which add to commute costs. Women are more prone to do this due to safety concerns, which results in another form of the “pink tax.” Working within the context of Mobiliti, our focus was to find the employer who could have the most impact addressing this need. We garnered interest from local stakeholders at the event and leaned into it.
1. Responding to your comment “Major employers in the densest urban areas should be paying into public transit, because they disproportionately benefit from public transit, and that the operations of private microtransit shuttles cannibalize riders that could be combined into larger trips through public transit. If the idea is not merely to better coordinate existing transportation options but rather to run (or incentivize) more privately-operated microtransit trips, that is not a particularly "green" or sustainable urban solution.”
This is an issue we are conscious of and we see Safe Shift as enhancing the current transit system on multiple levels: FIlling existing gaps in transit overnight. Port Authority buses run every 2 hours overnight, which is a big challenge for UPMC employees - we spoke to a UPMC Manager about this. For that employee, public transit is not a good option. As a manager, it is not an option to show up late to work if the bus doesn’t come on time, or to wait long periods of time at a bus stop in the middle of the night (not to mention in the winter). Safe Shift, is a microtransit system to that is optimized for the employee’s/company’s needs. Night time shift workers do not receive the same benefits as their daytime counterparts despite being a major part of every city’s economy. Safe Shift wants to address the needs of this underserved population now. Our solution can be implemented faster and more economically than government financing, by leveraging Moovit’s expertise in Mobility as a Service, activating latent public transit assets for night time use, employer sponsorship and continuous user feedback. Additionally, by going the route of the private sector i.e. employers, we hope to demonstrate that the financial model actually benefits companies with night shift employee retention/transportation issues. Ultimately, Safe Shift seeks to flip the script on privately-owned microtransit trips, and just like you suggest, coordinate safer trips for night time employees in partnership with public transit.