Eno Releases Policy Paper on Transit-MOD Contracting

In May 2016, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced $8 million in funding for its Mobility on Demand Sandbox Demonstration Program. The program is part of FTA’s support of transit agencies to experiment with on-demand mobility. Among the key features of the program is its focus on local partnerships and demonstrated solutions in real-world settings.

The largest project awarded was a two-region partnership between Los Angeles and the Puget Sound Region. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) collaborated with King County, Washington Metro Transit (King County Metro) and the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) on a project to contract with a transportation network company (TNC) to provide first/last mile service to select transit stations near disadvantaged communities.

The Los Angeles/Puget Sound project’s level of coordination of service parameters, data sharing, and fare integration to reach shared equity and ridership goals is unique. These elements underscore the need for a clear, robust contract as a foundation for this, or any, MOD partnership. The MOD Sandbox project in the Los Angeles and Puget Sound regions provides a valuable case study for contracting as the project includes public, private, and research organizations as well as two distinct local contexts under the same national program.

The Eno Center for Transportation worked with the other project partners to develop a policy report with lessons learned for contracting MOD services as a public transit agency.  The report provides five recommendations:

  • Public agencies should balance the benefits of multi-organization collaboration with the benefits of speedier implementation.
  • Public agencies should be aware that MOD service providers require quick turnaround, while MOD service providers need to recognize that contracting with public agencies takes time.
  • Public agencies should be resolute with service and data needs in contracting with private companies.
  • Public agencies and the FTA should recognize that special funding sources for testing and pilots can streamline procurement but can also introduce unique challenges.
  • Public agencies can design MOD contracts to have flexibility to allow for adaptable projects but understand that flexibility opens up opportunities for further deliberation.

The full paper draws recommendations from an examination of the contract development process. It discusses the nuances of interactions between private companies and public agencies, including non-disclosure agreements, data sharing, and the challenges and opportunities faced between the transit agencies and the MOD provider as well as between the other entities involved in the service provision and evaluation of the project.

The full paper was released on October 30th, and can be found here.

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