Mobility vs. Transportation: Changing How We Talk About Movement

The words “mobility” and “transportation” are often used interchangeably. However, when we talk about how people move from place to place, these terms have very different meanings. At SHARE Mobility, we’re all about recognizing the nuances, because we believe this is the key to supporting a wide range of people, places, and circumstances. Join us now as we discuss the differences between mobility and transportation — and explore some emerging innovations that are available today.

What’s the Difference Between Transportation and Mobility?

Generally, when we think about the many ways in which people move from one place to another, we associate this with the word "transportation." While earlier forms of transportation included simply walking from point A to point B, modern transportation includes an evolving list of options including buses, plains, trains, subway systems, cars, and more.

Mobility, on the other hand, goes beyond basic modes of transportation. Instead, mobility serves as a broader perspective. By pivoting the discussion to the who, what, where, when, and how people move from place to place, mobility takes into account ease, efficiency, and accessibility for all individuals. The goal is to understand how people navigate their unique world, identify the challenges they encounter, and actively seek solutions. By shifting our focus from transportation to mobility, we acknowledge and address the unique challenges different communities face, opening the door to create opportunities and clear roadblocks.

So Why Does Mobility Matter?

A surface-level look at mobility may simply mean providing easier ways to allow people to get where they want to go. This may include obvious tasks like converting the 30% of modern roadways that are currently dirt roads into paved roadways or adding more stops to public transportation systems. However, creating equitable access to mobility goes much deeper. It means considering the limitations of all people including location, age, ability, and socioeconomic status, and then creating accessible transportation to their places of work, family, medical services, and more.

Foster Social Inclusion

Research has found that when communities offer a wide range of accessible options for people to move within their environments, the community as a whole becomes more prosperous and socially inclusive. A study by the World Economic Forum and the University of St. Gallen examined the mobility challenges in Berlin, Chicago, and Beijing. Despite the unique challenges faced by each city, a common thread emerged — the improvement of mobility options for the least mobile members of the community resulted in an overall enhancement in the quality of life for everyone. For example, well-designed infrastructure and transportation systems not only accommodated people with mobility impairments but also made daily commuting more convenient and efficient for the general public.

In essence, embracing accessible mobility options isn't just about enhancing individual lives; it's a catalyst for the prosperity and inclusivity of the entire community, fostering a more vibrant and connected way of life for everyone.

Unlock Economic Potential

The absence of dependable transportation options in rural communities significantly impacts individuals' income-earning potential. Lack of dependable transportation means longer and more challenging commutes, making it difficult for people to secure stable employment or take advantage of economic opportunities located farther away. Currently, it is estimated that 15.4% of rural households live in poverty compared to 12.8% nationwide. Addressing the mobility gap for underserved communities is crucial for fostering economic growth and enhancing the overall well-being of people who live outside of urban areas.

Keep People Employed

Whether people have access to transportation is shown to have a direct impact on the businesses they work for, too. When a business is located in a rural area or employs individuals from underserved communities, the challenge of hiring and retaining talent increases. When employees lack reliable transportation, turnover rates increase. This leads to decreased revenue for the business and a loss of income opportunities for surrounding communities.  This means that providing reliable mobility options isn't just great for a business; it also positively influences the stability and financial well-being of the individuals it hires.

Thinking in Terms of Mobility Drives Innovation

Fostering mobility within diverse communities is not just about physical movement; it’s about leveraging technology and information to optimize transportation systems. We believe in the power of communities and municipalities working together to find ways to integrate a wide range of transportation options that cater to everyone. By focusing on problem-solving, we can harness the power of emerging technology and offer a wide range of solutions that are both efficient and user-friendly for individuals and organizations alike.

Finding Solutions for Rural Areas with SHARE

Navigating the unique intricacies of mobility in rural areas can be tough — however, at SHARE, we see these challenges as opportunities for positive change. We understand the unique needs of rural communities and are here to provide customized solutions and innovative alternatives.

Through partnerships with communities, municipalities, and businesses, we have helped create sustainable and equitable mobility solutions. Examples include designing a solution that assisted a rural food producer with successfully filling 46% of their open positions within 3 months and partnering with a rural municipality to redesign routes to and from their underserved communities — creating access for all. Our commitment extends beyond solving challenges; it's about driving positive change and making a meaningful impact on rural mobility, one solution at a time.

Moving Forward With Mobility

While transportation generally has a singular focus on moving people or goods, mobility takes into account all the nuances of the communities being served. Embracing mobility as a holistic concept allows us to address evolving challenges, create opportunities, and foster an environment in which innovation and inclusivity work hand in hand.

At SHARE Mobility, our commitment to reshaping the mobility conversation is rooted in dedication to equity and community collaboration. Our all-in-one transportation program management platform embodies not just a solution, but a manifestation of our vision for a world of seamless, accessible, and sustainable mobility for all.

Whether you’re an HR professional seeking innovative solutions for your organization, or a municipality aiming to transform transportation within your community, we invite you to explore SHARE Mobility’s offerings. Feel free to connect with our team today and join us in redefining how we approach movement.

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