Urbanism Next
University of OregonUniversity of Oregon

Mobility Hubs

Clustering transit, new mobility services, and pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure expands transportation choices and facilitates more efficient transfers.
Photo of man on cell phone waiting at a bus depot.

Photo by Mak on Unsplash

The promise of mobility hubs is more reliable, convenient and sustainable travel. Cities are planning for and piloting mobility hubs to address many issues: to improve first-last mile connectivity to transit, address transportation inequities, reduce congestion, and make transit a more appealing alternative to driving a private car.

Issues & approaches

Geofencing: To ensure that these shared spaces are used effectively, geofences for TNCs, AVs, and micromobility devices can be employed at mobility hubs. Geofences limit or restrict access of specified geographic spaces to designated vehicles only, thus reducing congestion and prioritizing the use of mobility hubs by shared, lower-impact, and higher efficiency vehicles.

Local Context Determines Mode: Mobility hubs can include many different modes of transportation (car share, bike share, e-scooters, TNC, microtransit, bus, rail) but more isn’t necessarily better. Modes should respond to the existing built environment and networks of transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure as well as reflect community transportation needs and behaviors. An example of this approach is Austin’s Mobility Hub Flipbook which includes mode recommendations for specific mobility hub locations in higher and lower density areas. 

Mixed Motivations: Local governments, non-profits, and private mobility companies are studying or piloting mobility hubs for a variety of reasons. Motivations range from boosting transit ridership, to testing a new mobility service, to increasing transportation equity. With few mobility hubs built and documented, it is still unclear how mobility hubs can deliver on desired outcomes. 

Mobility Hub Elements: Mobility hubs should balance transportation and non-transportation elements and amenities. Transportation elements support efficient, reliable, and easy travel whereas non-transportation elements create a sense of place at mobility hubs. SANDAG’s Mobility Hub Features Catalog breaks potential elements into the following categories: transit, pedestrian, bike, motorized, and support services.

Mobility Hub Outcomes: With a variety of modes from public and private entities, mobility hub outcomes and tracked metrics should be beneficial for all parties. Structuring and evaluating public and private partnerships for mobility hubs should balance community, public transit and private mobility company needs. For example, the outcomes of a Minneapolis mobility hub pilot focus on implications for future mobility hub design, implementation and maintenance. 

Mobility Hub Typologies: Regional planning for mobility hubs typically creates a typology, such as neighborhood, central, and regional in Los Angeles or neighborhood, anchor, and gateway in Austin. Some plans, like LA, recommended specific elements by typology, whereas SANDAG studied eight prototype sites to show how mobility hub features can be tailored to community needs.

Mobility Hubs as Places: In addition to delivering on transportation goals, mobility hubs are an opportunity to create hubs of community activity and identity. Non-transportation amenities make mobility hubs more convenient and welcoming places. Mobility hub pilots are experimenting with food, local vendors, package lockers, public art, furnishings and landscaping to create mobility hubs that are destinations in their own rite.

Mode Integration: The potential to ease and encourage transfers between modes makes mobility hubs appealing to both transit providers and private mobility companies. Mobility hubs are an opportunity to expand the catchment areas of transit lines particularly around less dense transit areas, i.e. by adding car share, TNC pick up/drop-off, or e-scooters. In more urban, transit-rich areas, there is more ambiguity on how consolidating various new mobility services with transit stops will achieve transit, private mobility, or public realm goals. How these modes complement or compete with each other likely varies greatly by local conditions and needs further study. For example, a study in Budapest suggests that bike-share and Uber were acting as complements for those with regular bike-share passed, but as competitors for single-ticket bike-share users.

Securing Private Sector Participation: Cities are considering regulations and incentives to ensure private mobility companies locate at mobility hubs. Pilot projects with clearly defined goals and robust public-private data sharing are needed to shed light on how many different providers should be located at one mobility hub for the success of all modes and providers.  Whether cities, transit agencies, or the private sector should fund mobility hubs is still an open question. 

Transit as a Backbone: The key to creating efficient and lower-impact mobility hubs is to design them with transit as the central mode of transportation. Whether building on existing transit lines and hubs or creating new ones, using mobility hubs to support transit by integrating first- and last-mile options can help promote reductions in personal vehicle usage by providing effective, efficient, and convenient transportation alternatives.

Examples/case studies

2019 Minneapolis Mobility Hubs Pilot

View - City of Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis conducted a mobility hub pilot in 2019, setting up 12 mobility hubs across the city. In this report, the City of Minneapolis described the impacts of this pilot on mobility in the city.

Reimagining the Urban Form: Austin's Community Mobility Hub

View - The Rocky Mountain Institute

The Rocky Mountain Institute launched a mobility hub in Austin, Texas and detailed the process and outcomes in this report.

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Mobility Hub Elements

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