One of the largest barriers to the mass adoption of regional public transit is what is often referred to as the commuter’s “last mile problem” — most public transit options do not reach the first or final leg of someone’s trip, from home to work, or vice versa. Federal and provincial governments have invested billions of dollars in regional transportation systems with hubs linking people between cities, yet the process of getting to and from those regional hubs remains an issue. Given Canada’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, it is essential that we better understand how the last mile problem can be addressed to meet the commuting needs of all Canadians.

One of the most promising and environmentally sustainable solutions currently being discussed by many municipalities and government agencies, are micromobility systems such as bike share and scooter share. While bike sharing platforms have been widely adopted in many large municipalities, smaller municipalities do not have the resources to study the feasibility of these services, let alone analyze and model the likely usage behaviour of commuters in their regions. Furthermore, commercial e-scooter operators have made substantial investments in major American and European cities, yet most Canadian municipalities have been wary of adopting such technology due to a lack of unbiased, evidence-based analysis and public consultation.

The primary objectives of this recently (SSHRC) funded research project are to

  1. Identify whether micromobility systems are an appropriate last mile solution for regional commuters in municipalities with small populations, and
  2. Determine which types of micromobility are most appropriate and where associated infrastructure should be installed.

To address these objectives, we have establish a data-sharing partnership with Metrolinx, Ontario’s regional transit authority. Through this partnership we will analyze the viability of micromobility for addressing the last mile needs of commuters in five small municipalities within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).