By Laura Bliss, CityLab, November 11, 2021
In Oakland, “one of several pilots in U.S. cities testing the concept of ‘universal basic mobility,’ up to 500 residents will [soon] receive prepaid $300 debit cards for transit and shared mobility services. Los Angeles is preparing a similar grant-funded program focused in south L.A.”
“The goal is to understand how a minimum guaranteed level of transportation could change outcomes for people who have previously gone without it. Across the U.S., poorer households spend far more on transportation as a percentage of their incomes than more affluent ones.
“Interest is strong. Oakland officials received more than twice as many applications than it could take for the city’s grant-funded pilot. [Five hundred east Oaklanders] will be able [to use] debit cards on public transit, car share, bikeshare, and scooters from multiple operators for as long as the $300 lasts.
“That will likely be no more than a few months, said Quinn Wallace, the Oakland transportation planner who originally designed the program to strengthen access to a new bus rapid transit line. Now the goal is to [see] how a small amount of extra money can change how, and if, people opt to travel.
“ ‘Increasingly, this project is about reducing financial barriers to … transportation…’ she said. ‘So if we give you $300 on a prepaid card and you … put it all on a transit pass [or] you use it to replace a few vehicle trips with bikeshare… that’s a win.’
“The programs come in the wake of guaranteed income pilots in cities such as Stockton … that support … guaranteed cash flow for vulnerable residents. Oakland recently launched one such study on low-income families of color, separate from its $300 mobility pilot. …Transportation is closely tied to economic success in the U.S., and … providing discounted access to multiple services beyond public transit for disadvantaged riders is something that’s been discussed … for years.”
Read the full article here. (~6 min.)