Connecting Mobility and Social Access

Chicago, Illinois, USA

This work proposes to rethink the ways transit infrastructure can expand access to food, health, learning, and mobility services by creating multimodal hubs—or transit nexuses where existing and new mobility modes converge. At a large scale, these can also include services such as medical clinics, grocery stores, and more. At a smaller scale the team is examining new formats of technology-enabled service delivery coupling private enterprise and nonprofit entities to produce new models of infrastructure.

Mobility Theme Social Theme

Funding Sources

$35,000 from Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning / UMOR

$75,000 from US Department of Transportation Nextrans Center - Region V

About the Project

This project is predicated on the hypothesis that beyond the delivery of mobility by facilitating the operation of various modes of transportation, the public transportation network constitutes a particular spatial asset for cities and municipalities that recommends itself as an apparatus for the delivery of enhanced connectivity and social access.

How might we rethink the design and delivery of New Mobility Hub (NMH) facilities to prioritize the provision of access as an essential dimension of their goals, configuration, design and operation? This seemingly simple concept is at once straightforward, and on the other hand, a radical proposition within the contemporary context of siloed infrastructure, service planning and delivery.

In approaching this question, we work from both top-down and bottom-up perspectives within a complex ‘systems of systems’ approach. New forms of policy regarding the design and implementation of linked transit hubs (or connection points) within a given metropolitan area have the potential to produce massive system-wide impacts within a given transportation network. On the other hand, solutions to questions of access are unlikely to come from a top-down approach alone. Multiple NGO and private partners, multiple programs for the delivery of social services and an evolving ecology of new mobility technologies and options already exist within cities, supported by multiple funding sources and an evolving marketplace, increasingly informed by the sharing economy, transformations in user preferences and behaviors, and the emergence of “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS) models. The efforts of this project aim to capture and engage these potentials through a design-research method that incorporates a top down, data-driven approach with bottom-up stakeholder perspectives to develop prototypical scenario-based design solutions that can provide city and industry leadership with a model process to pursue the development and delivery of access-enabling transportation infrastructures through NMH facilities. A central thrust of this work is to provide legible examples of how NMH solutions might be designed, and how they might be produced within existing urban systems, funding frameworks, and policy related contexts.

This study is grounded within the Region V metropolitan area of Chicago, which possesses an extensive and varied multimodal transportation system which, when studied across the spectrum of communities served, offers a diverse set of contexts to test the project hypotheses to serve multiple constituencies and offer a range of spatial typologies through which to test these principles at several scales of implementation.

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