Fully private multimodal transportation centers are currently nonexistent due to land costs and the need for connection to public transit. Fully public operation can certainly work but does require multi-departmental cooperation, the institutionalization of program management and coordination of maintenance and procurement. Often the most feasible management approach is public/private partnership. Such a partnership, in which each partner is responsible for their areas of competence, can reduce costs, share risks and enhance the operation of the facilities day-to-day.
As was stated earlier, the biggest deterrent to the use of multimodal transit centers is the availability of large amounts of free auto parking. This factor also affects attitudes about pricing. Customers feel they shouldn’t have to pay to park their bicycle if they can park their car for free. If encouraging use of alternative transportation is a goal then reducing the desirability of car parking must also be a priority.
With that said, it’s important to note that even in programs where increasing multimodal use is a top priority, it is not necessary to make the multimodal transit center free. Studies show that people value what they pay for and bike and electric vehicle parking is no exception. While membership fees in such systems today seldom exceed $100 per year, this will be a moving target. As transit networks become more seamless and sophisticated, demand and consequently prices will increase. The future is bright.
Higher system use, reduced emissions, lower infrastructure costs, improved quality of life and health — these are goals that can be directly impacted by every transit authority in America. And in a sea of possibility, one clear, concrete, achievable step is the creation of multimodal transit facilities to solve the problem of the first and last mile. How a transit customer gets to and from the station should not be an afterthought or a one-size-fits-all approach. Planning for such facilities can be well underway in weeks and funding is available. Truly, the time is now.