Multimodal: More Than A Buzzword

Policies are in place to support multimodal transportation networks that offer users convenient and efficient options for navigating their communities

What Happened?

New policies are in place at the local, state and national levels to support multimodal transportation networks that offer users convenient and efficient options for navigating their communities.


The U.S. Department of Transportation's 30-year transportation policy lays out strategies for transit improvements and innovations for all levels of government. The goal of the policy is to guide decision makers toward more efficient transportation projects that incorporate multiple methods of transit to support a growing population of carless Americans.

According to the public draft of the report, the future of U.S. transportation networks center on providing residents with several options for moving around. Ensuring public transportation options, bike resources and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure are available and interconnected with one another is vital to a complete, multimodal transit network.

As a result, the federal government launched a six-year infrastructure program in 2015 totaling $478 billion dedicated to building and maintaining the necessary transportation infrastructure needed to support the multimodal future.


According to Smart Growth America , investment in transportation infrastructure is more than just a federal concern. Many states are struggling to maintain their roads and assets in line with expanding transportation networks.

Between 2009 and 2011, for example, states spent 55 of their road budgets ($20.4 billion) on road expansion projects and just 45 percent ($16.5 billion) on maintenance projects – which impact the vast majority of roadways. State decision makers are encouraged to focus on:

  • Investments in heavily used roads
  • Aggressive targets for pavement conditions
  • Cost-benefit analysis to prioritize investments across multiple networks
  • Asset management practices

The Smart Growth data suggests states would need to spend at least $45.2 billion annually on road maintenance to keep the infrastructure in operational form.


With an anticipated 700 million automobiles expected on the roads by 2019, the need for multimodal transit to lower emissions and congestion is underscored. As a result, many cities are not only realigning their transportation policies to include maintenance priorities, but also investing in technology to increase efficiency.

The Innovative Transportation Index reviews the availability of 11 tech-savvy transportation services in 70 cities across the country to determine which localities are leading the way in transportation accessory innovation. Analyzing the implementation of technology-enabled transit tools – such as ridesharing, taxi hailing, real-time transit information, multimodal maps, virtual transit ticketing – the index found each tool works better when it is part of a tech-savvy network of multimodal transit options, rather than alone.

San Francisco, for example, launched an interactive map that illustrates how far throughout the city public transit riders can reach via trains and buses throughout the day. The tool was originally created to help transit officials track network performance, but it has recently been made available to the public to better connect residents to their public transit options.

Juniper Research forecasts smart city traffic management and parking projects will reduce global emissions by 164 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2014 and 2019. Sensors and software solutions will help public agencies reduce high traffic levels and monitor city infrastructure through real-time data collection and analysis. This information can easily be shared with pedestrians, bicyclists, passengers and drivers via live updates to help them find the most efficient route.

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