City of Pittsburgh and partners launch MaaS-focused, basic mobility initiatives

July 12, 2021
The city is working with several private partners to integrate multiple transportation modes and will target efforts toward local, low-income residents.

The city of Pittsburgh, Pa., the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) and private company partners celebrated the launch of two innovative initiatives – MovePGH and Universal Basic Mobility – aimed at easing access to mobility options.

MovePGH utilizes 50 physical and digital “mobility hubs” where transit and shared mobility options are integrated into a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) system. Travelers can find a bus, bike, scooter, moped, car or shared ride using the Transit app or by visiting one of the mobility hubs.

The second program, Universal Basic Mobility, ensures low-income users can easily access these integrated mobility services. The Universal Basic Mobility initiative will provide up to 100 local low-income residents with monthly transit subscriptions and shared mobility services to address mobility insecurity for a period of six months. Grant funding will cover the cost of monthly subscriptions for the program and the Manchester Citizens Corporation will further support these individuals with “trip coaching” to ensure they know how to use the various services.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto told a press conference that more than 65 percent of low-income families in the city do not have a car and with mobility being a key indicator to social mobility, the question becomes ‘how do you help?’

“If you want to break the cycles of poverty, you do it by allowing people to get to the doctor, to get to their food, to get to a job and if you create a program that takes away income as an issue and you make it free, you can show how we can break the cycles of poverty by direct investment in mobility,” said Mayor Peduto.

The initiatives support the city’s equity principles which include access to fresh food, affordable basic transportation and safe travel without reliance on a vehicle for all city residents.

The city explains that in addition to improving transportation flexibility and resiliency for the general public, the Move PGH and Universal Basic Mobility demonstration will specifically test if reliable access to transit and a range of shared mobility options improves employment and health outcomes for low-income workers and their households.

Mayor Peduto notes Pittsburgh is the first city in the United States and the second in the world (along with Helsinki, Finland) to develop this type of MaaS system.

"Transportation mobility is key to economic mobility and a major determinant in household health, education and welfare. In Pittsburgh, too many residents are one missed bus or one flat tire away from losing their job or missing a critical appointment,” said Mayor Peduto. “Universal Basic Mobility, using the services of Move PGH, will demonstrate that when people have a readily available transportation back-up plan, they are able to access more opportunities and climb the economic ladder.”

The program is led by DOMI and was developed and planned over more than two years of work with private-sector partners. Those partners include:

  • A new fleet of shared low-speed electric scooters provided by Spin;
  • Expanded carshare services provided by Zipcar;
  • A fleet of electric mopeds by Scoobi;
  • Carpool matching and commuting services facilitated through Waze Carpool;
  • Electric charging for e-scooters provided by Swiftmile;
  • Real-time transit and mobility information on TransitScreens at mobility hubs; and
  • Trip planning and most trip booking available through Transit.

"Real accessibility means having the freedom to go where you want to go and the ability to get there,” said Port Authority of Allegheny County CEO Katharine Kelleman. “Port Authority is proud to provide the access and we're excited for Move PGH, together with Transit, to offer the options. We may be the primary agency that moves our region forward, but we're happy that our riders have so many other reliable transit options that allow them to be able to access our region.”

Move PGH and the Universal Basic Mobility demonstration are funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation and Spin, in partnership with InnovatePGH.

"Making mobility cleaner, more equitable and more reliable is central to Spin's mission; participating in this first-of-its-kind project gets us that much closer,” said Spin CEO Ben Bear. “What I’m most proud of is that the city is pioneering a universal basic mobility pilot that will give a group of low-income residents access to Move PGH. We hope Move PGH can become a model for how micromobility operators can collaborate with cities and other mobility companies to better serve the public."

Spin is providing funding to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and will also be working with Urban Institute to evaluate the demonstration to potentially serve as a national model.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.