From 2016 through 2021, the Smart Columbus Program demonstrated smart city concepts, comprised of eight transportation, mobility and data projects in Columbus, Ohio. These projects were aimed at improving access to jobs, enhancing tourism, stimulating the economy, connecting residents to safe and reliable transportation, and supporting efficient and sustainable movement of people and goods. One proposed project, the Multimodal Trip Planning Application (MMTPA) / Common Payment System (CPS), was designed to allow travelers throughout the Greater Columbus area to plan and pay for multimodal trips using a single, account-based system. The resulting mobile app, branded “Pivot,” provided end-to-end trip planning, booking, ticketing, and payment. This app capability supported Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in order to increase transportation efficiency and improve access to jobs. Due to a change in priorities, the CPS portion was not deployed, but the MMTPA portion of the project continued until the program’s conclusion in March, 2021.
During the MMTPA demonstration, data were regularly collected from the Pivot application website to evaluate the deployment and its performance metrics. These data included number of downloads, number of registrations, how many accounts were linked, use of trip planning tools, use of booking tools, booking locations, points when users clicked on deep links for trip planning, active users within time periods, retention rates, engagement with users, and cohort analysis (timeframe of user acquisitions).
After launch, a digital campaign was created to encourage people to download the app, create an account, book a trip, and respond to the in-app survey, including a $25 reward card incentive for completion. For accessibility evaluation, a space-time accessibility analysis was conducted using single-mode travel (baseline) compared with multimodal trips that were discoverable via the Pivot app (treatment). These regions were joined with georeferenced employer and health care provider data to assess the accessibility impacts, as measured by the number of healthcare locations and jobs within the accessible region.
- Survey respondents who had used the Pivot app reported a significant increase in ease of access to healthcare on a 7-point scale, where lower values represented easier access. Baseline ratings averaged 4.33 while treatment responses had a rating of 3.27. For entertainment trips, respondents reported a significant improvement in ease of access (baseline: 3.36, treatment: 2.63). A marginal increase was observed in ratings of the ease of getting to respondents’ primary workplace (baseline: 3.9, treatment: 2.93).
- The accessibility analysis also revealed that the increases in accessible jobs and health care services using the app were up to 21.6 percent and 49.3 percent, respectively, depending on time period and skill class.
- App users reported significantly higher scores for ease of transferring modes, compared with those who had heard of but not used Pivot.
- Over 97 percent of users found the Pivot app easy or very easy to use. The survey results also indicated a significant increase in satisfaction with transportation options, travel time, travel distance, and flexibility as well as a marginal increase in satisfaction with comfort while using the app.
- The Pivot app running at interactive kiosks brought the city’s transportation options together at a single location, where travelers can find mobility options quickly and efficiently.