Public-private partnership to provide free transport to low-income residents in Pittsburgh
Spin, the City of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University’s year-long study will evaluate the impact of free transport in improving people’s economic, health and social outcomes when financial barriers to transportation are removed.
Micro-mobility operator Spin has announced that it has partnered with the City of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to launch a first-of-its-kind study that will give up to 50 low-income residents in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, free access to shared mobility and public transit services to evaluate its effects on participants’ socioeconomic progress.
Providing affordable and reliable transportation to all is considered one of the main factors that can enable upward socioeconomic mobility. The year-long research will study the potential of free transportation to improve people’s economic, health and social outcomes when financial barriers to transportation are removed, with a goal of improving access to jobs, education, healthcare, social services and recreational activities.
The trial will focus on residents of the Manchester and Chateau neighbourhoods of Pittsburgh, with recruiting and ongoing support provided by the Manchester Citizens Corporation. Carnegie Mellon University will evaluate the trial. Eligible participants will receive free access to the Move PGH transportation services, including public transit, Spin scooters, POGOH bikes and Zipcar. The pilot is funded by a $200,000 grant awarded from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, with Spin contributing an additional $50,000.
“Having access to affordable and reliable transportation is critical in helping families across our city find a pathway to prosperity,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. “This pilot programme will help us more fully understand just how much of an impact transportation has on the lives and wellbeing of people in Pittsburgh.”
In total, 100 people will take part in the pilot and will be randomly allocated to two groups: 50 of them will receive free access to Move PGH transportation services and 50 of them will not, to allow for comparison. Analysis will include survey and travel behaviour data collected from participants and the transportation service providers, along with anonymised details on participants’ income and use of various forms of public assistance from the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. The research is expected to conclude in summer 2022.
“Making mobility more equitable and reliable is central to Spin’s mission and we see great potential for positive impact in the Pittsburgh community and beyond,” said Philip Reinckens, CEO of Spin. “By piloting a wide variety of free transit and mobility options, cities and service providers like Spin are looking to support data-driven policy making that will ultimately improve people’s lives.”
The Manchester neighbourhood has been specifically chosen for the programme as the median income in this area is 14 per cent below median income in the City of Pittsburgh. The economic opportunity of the Central Business District, where there is a higher number of jobs and services is just out of reach for people living in the Manchester neighbourhood because of high transportation pricing and limited transit options. However, with better access to employment, education and various services comes the potential to improve participants’ quality of life and access to opportunities.
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