Best of 2017: Transit trends

Posted by Rachel Karitis on 12/15/17 12:17 PM

The year is drawing to a close, and it was a big one for the mobility landscape. January 2017 feels like an awfully long time ago, so let's revisit some of the year's top trends.

Dockless bikeshare


Dockless bikes at the curb Three of the dockless bikeshare options available in DC: Mobike, Spin, and LimeBike. (Photo: Greater Greater Washington)

It would be impossible to write a year-end list without including dockless bikeshare, a trend that has overhauled the bikeshare landscape across the world. Beijing-based ofo takes the honors as both the first and the largest stationless bikeshare company, managing a fleet of 10 million bikes. LimeBike and Spin joined them to take Seattle by storm, replacing its former Pronto system after it shut down in March.

The same companies have now expanded to cities across the US, including Washington DC, Dallas, and the Bay Area. As we move into 2018, they’re heading to Europe. We still aren’t sure what this means for the future of bikeshare, but we’re excited to find out.

Expanding ridehailing options

This wasn’t a great year for Uber, press-wise. Is this part of what left the door open for other companies to come in swinging? Via, for example, hugely expanded its hours and service area in DC, moving past the 7-10 a.m. and 4-9 p.m. restrictions. BMW’s ReachNow has a beta app for its Ride program in Seattle. 

Man holds phone calling Via Someone calls for a Via to come pick them up. (Photo: TechCrunch) 

The tide is turning against traditional car ownership. Automobile companies have begun pivoting to providing other mobility services as a means of augmenting profits. We’re sure this trend will continue into next year, as we get closer to the presence of autonomous vehicles becoming a reality.

The bus network redesign

Cities have caught on — one of the best ways to increase transit ridership without investing in a years-long project is to redesign the bus network. In order for people to ride the bus, the service needs to be frequent, efficient, and walkable. Unfortunately, not all networks are designed this way, leading to a cycle of low ridership and low revenue.

A year after Houston redesigned its bus system, ridership was up 6.8 percent from the previous year. Following in its footsteps, Boston, Indianapolis, Columbus, Austin, and Philadelphia have all considered a revamp this year. We’re excited to see who else joins the list in 2018.

Car bans

Bikers on the road in Copenhagen In Copenhagen, bikes are given full priority on the streets. (Photo: Visit Copenhagen)

This trend mostly applies to Europe, where countries are paving the way for a more sustainable future. Several major cities are planning to ban diesel cars by 2020 — Paris, Oslo, Madrid. But in 2017, one city really took the cake: London.

London plans to make its very popular Oxford Street car-free by next year. Additionally, Mayor Sadiq Khan released a proposal to ban new parking for residential construction while doubling the available bike parking.

More real-time info

We’re excited about this one, for obvious reasons. In 2017, more transit agencies began offering real-time data for their services. Philadelphia’s SEPTA invested in location tracking for more accurate estimates; Pittsburgh has done the same for its light rail.

Real-time data is essential for so many reasons — but more than anything, it’s a huge factor in whether people take public transit. Knowing when a bus is coming creates a better experience and makes people more likely to take it. It increases confidence and ridership numbers, which increases an agency’s revenue, which then increases service quality. It’s win-win-win.

Anything else?

Think we missed something? Tweet us @TransitScreen and let us know!