Delivering Equity in Mobility in 2021
Mobility is the lifeblood of a city– connecting residents with essential organs such as schools, hospitals, places of work and more. Where we go, how we get there, and what resources we use to reach a destination have huge influence over almost every aspect of our lives. The last decade has seen major transformations in this network. Cities and locales rely increasingly on digital solutions and must integrate advanced technologies into mobility and parking management. This shift towards digital management undoubtedly equips cities with new opportunities to leverage data, reduce friction in management and better understand issues like congestion. That being said, it is important to recognize that digital transformation, without consideration for how different communities access and use digital services, can exacerbate the inequalities we see in communities.
Data shows that movement and mobility in and around a city or community accentuate existing equity issues, particularly for low income residents and communities of color. The poorest 20 percent of Americans spend 40.2 percent of their take home pay on transportation (mostly for private vehicle expenses), while those who make $71,898 and greater only spend 13.1 percent. As a result, without careful planning, parking policy and technology can widen the digital divide for communities of color, disabled populations and communities of low means. At Passport, we recognize that this inequity has significant consequences, and we are committed to creating solutions to address these barriers.
To guide our approach to addressing equity, we have prioritized access. Access means making our products easy to use for those who are unbanked, have physical disabilities, or do not have a smartphone. We have developed the following solutions to increase access in relation to our products:
Solutions for the unbanked and underbanked
While cashless payments have significant public health benefits, we recognize that not all parkers will have access to a debit and/or credit card to pay for parking, citations and permits. In fact, a report from the Federal Reserve (2019) found that 22% of American Adults are either unbanked or underbanked. There is a high correlation between statistics on the unbanked and poverty; 75% of all unbanked people are low income.
With this in mind, we have enabled the following payment alternatives:
- Wallets: City-officials can load cash payments into a closed-loop wallet on a user’s Passport account which could then be applied to future parking payments within the Passport mobile application.
- Gift Cards: Pre-funded stored-value cards for all major card brands (pre-purchased Visa or Mastercard gift card) can be used to pay for parking sessions within the Passport mobile application.
- In-person payments: Payments can be made using cash at specific locations identified by cities for outstanding citations and parking permits.
Solutions for the smartphone inaccessible population
For many parking apps, owning a smartphone is an essential prerequisite for users to interact with the curb, however, roughly three-in-ten adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year (29%) don’t own a smartphone. Understanding this, Passport has developed other ways to pay for parking including:
- IVR: Users can dial a toll free number and initiate a parking session through an interactive voice response (IVR) call tree.
- Web Browser or In-person Payments: Payments can be made using cash at specific locations identified by cities or online through our online web based portal for outstanding citations and parking permits.
Solutions for the disabled
Access to parking is one of the biggest obstacles to independent living for 30 million Americans with disabilities that affect mobility. The Passport Operating System has the potential to make significant improvements in the lives of persons with disabilities, by promoting new ways to pay for parking through our open parking ecosystem including:
- iAccess Life App: Users will be able to pay for parking directly through the app, which historically has let users with disabilities rate, review and research the places they go regularly to easily ensure that the space is accessible and can accommodate their needs. This new feature will provide people with disabilities easier access to parking.
These solutions just scratch the surface as we continue to partner with mobility officials to address the diverse needs of their residents. As we strive to close the digital divide, we will remain committed to working towards a future where the needs of vulnerable populations are an essential component of building mobility solutions for the future.