Steer aids the long-term future of clean shared mobility in California’s poorest communities

Steer has produced a white paper to help the California Air Resources Board (CARB) navigate the financial pitfalls of clean mobility programs in the state’s rural, marginalised and low-income communities.  

Clean and shared mobility programs like shared e-bikes, autonomous vehicles and ridesharing have been a huge success in major urban conurbations across the US, in part due to large scale investments by the private sector. However, in low-income communities and sparsely populated rural areas the circumstances have been more challenging. Here, lower user numbers and less spending power by potential riders means a lack of proven business cases, affecting private investment.

CARB is developing regulations and programs to support near zero emissions from the transportation sector. As in all climate change discussions, equity is an important consideration and to address this CARB supports clean mobility in the low income and disadvantaged communities through community-based programs like Clean Mobility Options pilot programs (CMO) and Sustainable Transportation Equity Project (STEP). Funding for which comes from California’s Cap and Trade program.

While these public funding initiatives have made a huge difference to the way Californians get around, in the long-term further financial solutions are required. This is particularly the case in low-income and rural communities where standard business models based on fees and revenue are less viable. Areas such as these arguably need shared mobility the most as they would benefit hugely from the health, connectivity and environmental improvements it can bring.

In response to these issues Steer has been working with CARB on research to find meaningful financial solutions that will help to create long-lasting shared mobility programs in the communities that need them most. We examined 30 innovative funding and financing tools from across the United States and the rest of the world and conducted in-depth interviews with program administrators. Our team then created an evaluation framework based on factors such as scalability, flexibility and costs to rank the strategies from low to high-risk.

We aimed to identify best practice by leveraging diverse business models and equitable access. There is no one-sized-fits-all approach and many of the solutions we identified need to be measured against factors on the ground including population density, the local economy, and demographics. Shared mobility program administrators should follow our three-step guide – understanding their local context, articulating their program goals, and customizing their approach –to use the evaluation framework to measure up which solutions and strategies will fit their locale the best.

The state of California has big ambitions for a green future, ambitions that shared mobility could play a huge part in realizing. California aims to be carbon neutral by 2045 and to achieve this goal and meet targets of reducing not just carbon emissions but improving air quality, the current private-vehicle centric infrastructure and mindset needs to change.

“In the net zero discussions the achieving of equity in terms of clean mobility for marginalized and rural communities is of paramount importance. At Steer our sustainability offer is rooted in a commitment to decarbonization via building equity and achieving clean mobility for all,” says Tanu Bansal project manager for Steer’s research project with CARB.

You can read the full report and policy brief

To find out more about our groundbreaking work in clean and shared mobility, contact Alia Verloes.

To find out more about our work in equity space contact Liliana Pereira.

To find out more about Steer’s growing sustainability offer contact Serbjeet Kohli.


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