Testing Innovative Solutions in Transportation: SACOG Civic Lab

The way we think about getting to school, work, appointments, shopping, or play is going to look different in future years.

BLOG POST | Feb 2, 2018

Although driving alone is the preferred method for many Sacramento region commuters, this model doesn’t work for our infrastructure, our economy, or our environment. Providing new solutions to mobility issues - not just for those who drive alone, but for those who may not have access to transportation, for those who are excited at the prospect of exciting new technology, is at the forefront of conversation. Innovation in transportation can take many forms, and that should happen in the Sacramento region.  

So can the Sacramento region position itself as the home base for innovation? A region that takes risks and isn’t afraid to fail, as the testing ground for our state, and our nation? SACOG thinks so, and so do others. Partner agencies, local experts, national leaders, decision makers, and innovators are coming together in the Sacramento region to find creative solutions to mobility issues facing the region today, and in the future through Civic Lab. 

The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) has embarked on a new project to test innovative solutions and the latest transportation technologies to address mobility challenges around the 6-county SACOG region. The new project, called Civic Lab, is an academy style workshop format that pulls different teams from around the region to roll up their sleeves and attend monthly workshops over a 7-month timeframe.  

Civic Lab will focus on how can we make our transportation systems more effective, efficient, and equitable using disruptive technologies and design thinking. “Civic Lab is an experiment for us–just as much as the rest of the region. This should be the way we do business” SACOG CEO James Corless noted during the Civic Lab kickoff.  

In its initial year, Civic Lab is working with 9 different teams, covering 12 different jurisdictions, with representatives from 19 different agencies. Projects range from efficiently connecting neighborhoods to various transit options, to finding mobility solutions in rural areas, to connecting students to jobs. The 9 projects are:

Project Sponsors: Sacramento State University, City of Sacramento, Sacramento Regional Transit 

How do you best move students from the 65th street light rail station to the Sacramento State University campus? More specifically, is there an opportunity to pilot an autonomous shuttle between light rail and campus?

Project Sponsor: El Dorado County 

The agritourism area of Apple Hill receives many visitors year round, with major impacts occurring in the fall around apply harvest and the holidays. How can you solve congestion in this area, work with local and partner agencies, and maintain the local economy? 

Project Sponsor: Yuba Sutter Transit 

Residents in many rural and suburban areas have few options for taking alternative modes of transportation. While traditional transportation demand management focuses on how to get people to and from work, in areas with few large employers it’s difficult to create a strategy for reducing commute trips for people to not drive alone. Is there a residential transportation demand management solution for suburban and rural areas? 

Project Sponsors: Sacramento AQMD, and SMUD 

Emissions from vehicles are the largest contributor to greenhouse gases and air quality pollutants. These impacts are often even greater in areas of lower income and minority residents. Many of these areas already have poor transportation options. This project will explore how to provide zero emission mobility solutions in these areas, and help reduce the negative impacts of poor air quality. 

Project Sponsor: Yolo County Transportation District 

How people choose to get around is changing, yet traditional modes of transportation still need to be offered. Transportation network companies like Uber, Lyft, and Via; autonomous vehicles; car sharing; and increased walking and biking result in the need for different approaches to planning for mobility. Locating and designing a transit hub needs to consider how people will move around in the not so distant future. This project will look at siting mobility hubs that take advantage of disruptive technologies, and fit within the fabric of a city. 

Project Sponsors: Citrus Heights, City of Folsom, City of Rancho Cordova, and Sacramento County 

Sacramento county and the cities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, and Rancho Cordova are all served by light rail. However, for many residents living in these jurisdictions, getting to and from transit is not always easy and efficient. Providing local transit is an option, but can be expensive. Are there new and better solutions to providing transit access in these suburban areas? 

Project Sponsors: Elk Grove Unified School District, Paratransit 

There are many opportunities for local students to participate in the workforce, either via a job or internship. Many of these students, however, don’t have a viable mode of transportation to get to these jobs and internships. Is there a new mobility solution to pilot that will help move youth to jobs to insure their success? 

Project Sponsor: City of Davis 

Amtrak in the Sacramento region continues to be a good means of moving people longer distances for work and play. The city of Davis has a vibrant Amtrak station used by University of California Davis students and staff, and city residents. Because of the increasing use of this service, the car and bike parking at this station is heavily impacted. This project will explore how new mobility solutions can reduce parking impacts at the Amtrak station, and provide a viable means to get to and from the station. 

Project Sponsor: Yolo County Transportation District 

Many rural communities provide transit service to their residents. While these transit services are important to provide transportation options for people, then can be expensive and may have little ridership. With more mobility options coming to the market, like ride sharing, car sharing, and microtransit, there may be more options to provide mobility in these rural areas. This project will look at new mobility solutions that could help provide better transit service in rural areas.

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