Smart Mobility

What are we doing?

Smart Mobility is our term for our Silicon Valley commute-focused project to improve options besides driving alone. Smart Mobility dissolves the boundaries between different transport modes, providing a more customer-centered, seamless experience while improving the efficiency of the entire transport system. Bay Area employers provide a range of customized employee programs to facilitate commuting: transit passes, Wi-Fi motor coach service, last mile shuttle buses from transit, payroll subsidies and more. Our Smart Mobility Project aspires to accelerate software integration between mobility apps and employer programs. Smart Mobility consists of:

smart mobility tree chart

  • Enterprise Commute Trip Reduction (ECTR) software that: a) meets the needs of employers in assisting employees, b) expands upon current payroll commute benefits programs, and c) provides real-time commute metric dashboards. ECTR software vendors include Luum, RideAmigos, and RideScout.
  • Mobility Aggregation (MobAg) provides a smartphone app with a seamless combination of public/private transit, bikeshare, rideshare, carshare, vanpool, future robo-taxis, and electric scooter/bike “loan-to-own,” with smartphone payment, integrated ECTR subsidies, and commute mode detection. MobAg vendors include Moovit, Transit App, Urban Engines, TripGo, RideScout, and Xerox (GoLa app).
  • “Pricing experiments related to revenue-neutral workplace parking Feebate.” Stanford University has an exemplary commute program. Stanford’s $3.60/day parking charge that funds such incentives as the Marguerite shuttle bus and Caltrain GoPass has reduced single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuters to 48 percent and has eliminated the need for $107 million in new parking structures. Working with employers, Joint Venture will undertake various revenue-neutral pricing experiments to accelerate Smart Mobility adoption.
  • Gap Filling.” As part of the comprehensive approach, geographic information system (GIS) analytics are used to: a) map employee home locations, b) identify commute gaps, and c) improve options for select commute origination locations. Solutions may include VTA Flex, e-scooters, e-bikes, VTA Subscription Express, Lyft Carpool, etc.
  • According to our major employer partners, a comprehensive commute solution must also address some “Systemic Obstacles” to provide: a) more effective public transit routes that cross county borders, b) public transit fare integration for multi-agency trips, c) public transit electronic fare payment, and d) a healthy, interoperable mobility software ecosystem.

Our goals

  • Make it more convenient for anyone, anywhere, at any time to have a competitive option to driving alone
  • Measurably increase mobility, convenience and productivity
  • Reduce stress, congestion and GHG emissions
  • Make mobility service software more interoperable and better integrated
  • Break down barriers that reduce user convenience

Action Plan

  • Pursue an entrepreneurial, lean startup approach with a series of pilots, technology accelerations and hackathons
  • Explore ways to provide faster, more reliable employee commutes
  • Maintain and expand our regional Mobility Ecosystem partnerships with selected cities, agencies, vendors, employers, and NGOs.

Why are we doing this?

The Bay Area now has the nation’s second worst traffic, behind only Los Angeles. Finding new ways to reduce Bay Area vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and associated GHG emissions is a regional priority.

Our effort provides a missing puzzle piece that is synergistic with other important efforts:

  • California Transportation Plan 2040 (increase per-mile driving cost by 75 percent, convert all HOV2 to HOV4, double transit ridership and biking, stop highway expansion)
  • Highway 101 Smart Corridor / AB 378 (increase transit, carpooling, ramp metering, and park and ride)
  • VTA technology projects (VTA+ last mile, Subscription Flex line haul, EventTIK payment, 311 VTAlert, HOT app, mobility app, trip planner, hackathons, Innovation Center, and Call for Transport Innovations)
  • Caltrain Commuter Coalition’s initiative to double Caltrain ridership
  • SPUR’s Seamless Public Transit Project (make 24 transit operators appear as 1; rationalize fares; modernize payment, transfers, regional network, traveler information, and marketing)
  • Open data/interoperability efforts by Portland TriMet, Finland Tekes, Rocky Mountain Institute and others

Who’s involved?

In June, one of our recent grant proposals drew more than 30 partner letters from: cities, agencies, NGOs, employers, and vendors. In February 2015, Joint Venture’s Climate Prosperity Program formed a Smart Mobility collaboration with the cities of Palo Alto and San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Palo Alto City Manager James Keene chairs the Climate Prosperity Program. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo co-chairs the Joint Venture board.

What are the latest developments?

  • Joint Venture is working to mature the Mobility ecosystem and solution, to the point where success cases can inform public policy-making. There are six key stakeholder groups in the commuting mobility ecosystem {cities, transit agencies, ECTR software providers, mobility service providers, large employers, small employers}. Joint Venture is proud to have uniquely developed a scalable business model that benefits all six. The business model has energized the industry.
  • We hold regular Mobility Ecosystem Convenings to discuss key Smart Mobility facets and issues. Our last convening drew 75 attendees.
  • With vendors, cities, employers, and agencies, we undertake collaborative Design Sprints to design the ideal software feature set.
  • We average about one one-on-one meeting per day with ecosystem stakeholders.
  • We undertake original Smart Mobility research on ridematching probability, winter bike commuting, geographic commute pattern, and the commute impacts of working and living by Caltrain.
  • We make frequent presentations: US Department of Commerce, City of Mountain View Council Transportation Committee, City Innovate MaaS Summit, Transportation Research Board, League of Women Voters, San Jose Mayor’s VMT/GHG Workshop, Association for Commuter Transportation

Next Steps

  • Provide pilot project management, encompassing: collaborative application design, collaborative commute benefits options design, collaborative employee commute solutions “gap analysis,” focus groups, survey research, decision-ready feasibility analysis, alpha test, beta test, pilot rollout, training, support, performance measurement.
  • Persuade employers to undertake Smart Mobility pilots. We have persuaded 11 public and private employers already.
  • Identify barriers to user convenience and develop solutions.
  • Author Smart Mobility white papers.
  • Undertake additional Mobility Ecosystem Convenings

Where do I find out more?

To learn more about the Smart Mobility initiative, please contact:

Melinda Chacon


Joint Venture is actively involved in addressing the transportation challenges facing our region by creating partnerships among communities to work on mobility issues across multiple jurisdictions. Projects include bike share programs, walkability options, improved transit, traffic signal coordination and other “smart” approaches to travel on the major arterials, across all modes.