Consider Third-party Accessibility Testing to Enhance Digital Accessibility and Ensure Compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Screen Readers.

Lessons Learned from Federal Transit Agency (FTA)’s 11 MOD Sandbox Demonstration Projects Designed to Improve Connection, Accessibility and Mobility for Public Transportation.

Date Posted

Synthesis Report: Findings and Lessons Learned from the Independent Evaluation of the Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Demonstrations

Summary Information

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA)'s Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Demonstrations aimed to explore strategies to create a multimodal, integrated, automated, accessible, and connected transportation system, focusing on personalized mobility solutions. A total of 11 MOD Sandbox Demonstration projects were piloted, showcasing the potential for innovations to support the enhanced public transportation services. Broadly, MOD Sandbox projects explored various approaches, such as enhancing trip planners, integrating innovative mobility services with traditional public transit, and implementing new payment and incentive structures. Some demonstrations focused on improving first/last mile access by collaborating with private sector operators like bikesharing, carpooling, ridesourcing/TNCs, and other shared mobility services. Site-specific findings were summarized, along with analysis on user impacts, system operations, institutional factors influencing outcomes, and considerations for future mobility innovation programs based on interviews with project partners.

  • Consider third-party accessibility testing to enhance digital accessibility and ensure compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and screen readers. Valley Metro employed a third-party tester to ensure WCAG compliance, while another demonstration had visually impaired staff test their trip planner for screen reader compatibility. 
  • Tackle challenges in collaborating with private vendors and managing data sharing. Many demonstration sites encountered difficulties working with private vendors in contracting and data agreements. To overcome these challenges, ensure that both parties can agree on terms and adopt strategies for data sharing requests that balance the need for information with the protection of consumer and proprietary vendor data. This can include less frequent reporting, more aggregate data reporting, and higher levels of geospatial data.
  • Exercise patience when integrating trip planning and fare payment, as it can be a complex process. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) MOD Sandbox demonstration highlighted the importance of tackling various obstacles to achieve a seamless multimodal system that combines trip planning and fare payment services, of which the process could be time-consuming. 
  • Closely oversee public-private partnerships to mitigate unexpected risks such as mergers and acquisitions. In the CTA MOD Sandbox demonstration, a unique risk emerged among other demonstrations - the acquisition of a primary project partner/vendor by another company. While these acquisitions were outside CTA's control, they significantly contributed to the project's delay.
  • Align project scope and feasibility with a clear and well-defined vision. Pilot projects such as MOD Sandbox projects often faced downsizing or rescoping, causing implementation delays. Enhanced public-private relations and well-established vision can help create realistic project scopes, considering constraints like cost and technology. 
  • Raise awareness on mixed-use land and keep demand as a key factor when building ridership service. For instance, Tucson's MOD demonstration, deployed and located within a low-density residential neighborhood, experienced low service use as residents often traveled beyond the service area. In cases where service areas were chosen based on low-frequency public transit rather than demand, MOD demonstration services also experienced low ridership. 
  • Consider trade-offs related to equity outcomes. In some instances, demonstrations faced concerns that their MOD program unintentionally favored higher-income areas due to its focus on serving lower-density, more affluent suburban and exurban regions. Balancing private sector goals with equity-related objectives is also needed.
  • Raise awareness for non-traditional users of trip planners. The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) supports the notion that trip planning platforms can offer benefits to travelers in rural communities, even when they access trip information via phone, to improve their mobility information.
  • Expedite education, outreach and knowledge of consumer services in marketing. For new projects, agencies need tailored marketing, focus on customer "mobility relationships," and implement community engagement strategies like education to promote app-based services and encourage MOD strategy adoption.   

Synthesis Report: Findings and Lessons Learned from the Independent Evaluation of the Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Demonstrations

Synthesis Report: Findings and Lessons Learned from the Independent Evaluation of the Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Demonstrations
Source Publication Date
Cohen, Adam; Elliot Martin; Susan Shaheen, and Les Brown
Prepared by University of California, Berkeley for FTA and USDOT
Other Reference Number
FTA Report No. 0242

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