If College and Healthcare Should be Free, Why Not Transportation?

First, A Mobility Wallet is Needed, Then Some Drive.

By Gabe Klein, Partner at Cityfi

Mobility What?

For the past 5 years, I have tried to get anyone that would listen, particularly in the mobility and real estate space to think about the importance of a “mobility wallet.”  Back in pre-pandemic 2017, I was working in West Palm Beach on the Downtown Mobility Plan with the city’s Mayor, Assistant City Manager, Head of Transportation, and a slew of great consultants. As we were meeting with the planning department, local developers, the Downtown Development Authority, and others, it became clear that there was a need to productize and simplify the mobility offerings in the city from the County’s transit services (Palm Trans) to the cities Circulator Trolley, the bikeshare system and so forth. The city’s first planned microunit development was also being planned (it did not come to fruition), which spurred the conversation, “Why are we going to build parking spaces that are the same size as the units themselves?” We then realized that changing zoning was (and is) hard but writing new zoning specifically for microunits was very practical and could require an alternative to building parking. But what would that be?

Like a game of telephone, I now realize that there are many variations of what a “mobility wallet” means, and what it can do for our communities. In the original context, we envisioned creating an environment where instead of a developer funding many millions of dollars in new parking, we would entice (carrots) and require them in some cases (sticks) to alternatively fund a mobility wallet for every household in their apartment building, with $150-$200+ of free mobility services including unlimited transit, bikeshare and some number of rides on Brightline rail, a ride…

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