2018/10 – Mobility as a Service

The Port Authority must support the rise of bike share, and its evolution to “mobility as a service,” with robust and expanding infrastructure at its terminals and crossings.  


Remarks to the Port Authority of NY&NJ, October 25, 2018

Over the past five years, a host of bike share providers have taken up operations across the Port District – two that have just been acquired by Lyft and Uber.  They are evolving into full-service providers that promise cheap, flexible commuting options for the public; enhanced efficiency and resilience for the region; and new revenue streams and cost savings for the Agency.  

But their success will require adequate and growing infrastructure.  However, some Agency actions, including its 2013 authorization to restore the GWB paths to a pedestrian standard, have been counterproductive. 

For a sense of scale, and to underline the need for robust crossings, annual CitiBike trips doubled to 16 million since 2013.  To prepare for the L-subway shutdown, CitiBike will bracket the Williamsburg Bridge with an additional 2500 docks, stepped up valet service and a fleet of 500 E-bikes.1

image1-1CitiBike 12-unit transporter.  Photo by Susan Brennan.

Today, a host of providers operate in NYC’s five boroughs and North Jersey:

Motivate/Lyft operates CitiBike in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, providing access to Penn Station and the Bus Terminal.  It also has operations in Jersey City connecting to NY Waterway; and in the Bronx around Fordham University. 

P3GM/EYSA operates JerseyBike in Hoboken, Weehawken, West New York, Guttenberg and North Bergen, providing access to NY Waterway.

P3GM has operated for a year in Bayonne. In 2019, they will begin operations in Point Pleasant Beach and Woodbridge which, with Bayonne, will enable access to Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and bike commutes to Wall St. via the Bayonne and Goethals bridges.

Jump/Uber, operates on Staten Island’s North Shore and is the likely candidate to provide service between the Bayonne-Goethals bridges and Staten Island Ferry.

Lime operates bike share in the Rockaways connecting to Wall Street via SeaStreak ferry. 

Pace also operates in the Rockaways as well as Morristown, East Hanover and Denville, NJ.

Bird provides e-scooter service across the U.S. and is looking to set up in the NY/NJ area.

Eventually, (e)bike-scooter-ride-car-share, plus mass transit, trip planning and billing will be integrated into a single “Mobility as a Service” (“MaaS”) modelwith potential to generate millions of dollars in licensing and use fees.

Screen Shot 2018-10-22 at 10.56.47 PMMulti-modal “Mobility as a Service”  Illustration MaaS Global.

By drawing down demand on aging bus and train terminals, these services can extend their useful life.  Also, to help insure their replacements don’t fall victim to early obsolescence.  Over decades, even incremental reductions can forestall billions of dollars in capital expenditures.   

MaaS would increase throughput on existing infrastructure; extend catchment on underutilized routes and stations; bridge “transportation deserts;”4 enable plans for congestion pricing; help the region achieve “80 by 50” emission reductions;validate investment in cycling infrastructure; and enhance resilience to widespread, and unforeseen, transport outage.6

Lest anyone still think that the rail tunnel failure is some remote and manageable event, this September, an overhead metal bracket pierced the roof of a moving train.  Had that incident resulted in loss of life, those tunnels would be closed for a very long time.7 

We don’t know if MaaS will operate as a public or private entity, or if an app will function as “aggregator.”  Nor will the public care so long as it works.  But these providers will all have to offer cheap, efficient two-wheeled service in their packages to remain competitive.

Which is why the Agency must support requisite infrastructure at its buildings and terminals, and robust capacity on its crossings.  Failure to do so will “collar the baby,” ensuring that the precocious infant chokes on its own growth.

And we wouldn’t want that to happen.

Neile Weissman, 2018


[1] Citi Bike will expand in Manhattan and Williamsburg during L train shutdown, Curbed New York, https://tinyurl.com/y9faxhw8180627-citi-bike.jpgImage Associated Press.

[2] What Mobility as a Service (MaaS) means for the transportation industry, GreenBiz, https://tinyurl.com/y7z8y8mr

[3] Mobility as a Service, the Netflix of Transportation, MaaS Globalhttps://tinyurl.com/y8gavgjn

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 8.48.46 AMCompeting provider models. llustration MaaS Global.

[4] Bike-share for all New Yorkers: Citi Bike isn’t cutting it, so let other companies reach more neighborhoods, NYC Councilman Justin Brannan, NY Daily News, https://tinyurl.com/y8y7q476 

[5] 80 by 50, Complete Georgehttps://tinyurl.com/yawf962h

[6] Op-Ed: With tunnel repairs in offing, bikes are key to keeping people on the move, NJ Spotlighthttps://tinyurl.com/yave2bmy

[7] Where did the metal pole come from that punctured an NJ Transit train? nj.com, https://tinyurl.com/y9xfns6a

dmizdfsu8aaaesuImage nj.com.