Multimodal Transportation (Safety, Road Capacity, and Pricing)

While traditionally we have operated our transportation system in silos, technology has begun to help us break down the divide. This area of study explores topics that cut across both freight and passenger delivery. 

Vehicle and pedestrian safety

Traditionally, vehicle safety has been measured by the safety of individuals within the vehicle. Yet, this approach misses the safety of the most vulnerable road users- the people outside of the vehicle. And the introduction of autonomous vehicles further complicates this traditional notion. We think the emergence of this new technology is an opportunity to reimagine safety metrics for autonomous vehicles and human driven vehicles to measure vehicle safety from a more holistic perspective. Key questions we will ask in this sub-topic are:

  • What are the appropriate safety metrics for autonomous vehicles?
  • Can we consider vehicle safety in terms of non-traditional factors such as: emissions and air quality, data security and privacy, and appropriate use of artificial intelligence?
  • What can we do to accelerate vision zero and enhance pedestrian, micromobility, and bicyclist safety?
  • How do we balance the need of designing roads and cities for people in addition to automobiles?
  • Is there an opportunity to reimagine vehicle design standards to provide a space for potentially safer modes?

Managing road capacity

In transportation, one of the key challenges policy makers typically face is limited capacity of public space. This can often be seen in cities with increasing road congestion. In 2019, in the United States alone, each American on average spent nearly 100 hours in congestion, costing $1,400 per person annually.[1] Congestion is also expensive from the perspective of carbon emissions, ambient air quality, equity and access, and potential future economic opportunity. For this topic, the Commission seeks to explore mechanisms for managing access to public space. Specifically, we propose studying pricing vs. regulation and mobility-as-a-service. The following sections provide additional detail on each sub-topic.

This sub-topic will explore pricing and regulatory mechanisms that can be leveraged for more optimal use of a transportation network. Questions this sub-topic will explore will include:

  • What are the trade-offs between regulatory or pricing mechanisms for optimizing use of public space? Specific mechanisms to be explored will include vehicle miles travelled fees, gas taxes, congestion fees, and no emissions zones among other pricing and regulatory mechanisms.
  • What lessons can we learn from cities that have implemented effective solutions? How can we use their experiences to develop an implementation playbook?
  • What regulatory or legal barriers exist in moving forward with any specific solution?
  • Can one reduce regulations or mandates if a correct pricing signal is achieved?


Mobility (or freight)-as-a-Service

Policy makers and digital technologists alike have sought ways to decrease barriers to accessing a multimodal network. They envision a single application that allows customers to plan, book, and pay for their full end-to-end trip in a seamless way would increase the utilization of modes that are not single occupancy vehicles. This concept is often called mobility-as-a-service or MaaS. There is also potential to apply similar concepts to our freight or infrastructure network. This sub-topic seeks to explore the viability of this concept and better define the public and private sector roles. The Commission will seek to explore the following:

  • What is the viability of the X-as-a-service model? What do customers desire and need in their transportation experience to opt away from a single occupancy vehicle?
  • What’s the viability of X-as-a-service from a business perspective? What are the roles of the public and private sectors in supporting the implementation of X-as-a-service?


Increasingly, companies are exploring the lifecycle of the materials used in their products to both project and manage for future materials supply as well as to mitigate potential environmental impacts of their products. This section will identify specific portions of the industry to evaluate the cradle to cradle lifecycle and define best practices. Key areas of inquiry are:

  • What is the cradle to cradle lifecycle for various components of the transportation industry? Which portions are at greatest risk from a materials perspective? How can we mitigate potential negative externalities?