Growing up in a farming community outside of Columbus, Ohio, Meredith Klekotka took long bus trips to and from school and didn’t have many places she could safely walk to.
Frustrated by the lack of options, she developed an early interest in urban planning and transportation.
That interest has been evident throughout her career – as an advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, a proponent for high speed rail and, most recently, as a transportation planner in Indianapolis, Ind.
As Metro Transit’s new Shared Mobility Program Manager, Klekotka will work with staff and partners to help integrate new mobility options into the existing and planned transit network. Shared mobility refers to car, bike and scooter sharing services, on-demand transit and ride hailing companies like Lyft.
Klekotka recently shared some of her thoughts on transit’s role in the fast-changing transportation landscape.
Why is shared mobility important?
Shared mobility is about providing a multitude of options so people can leave their vehicles behind, and so those without a car have full access to their community. Everyone working in this space sees transit as the backbone of a multimodal system. Having a suite of options available to people can make them more comfortable traveling without a vehicle, which will ultimately help attract more riders to transit.
What can Metro Transit do to support shared mobility?
One of the things we can do is to expand upon our transit stations to create mobility hubs, where people can take transit but also access things like car share or ride share services to reach their destinations. We can also look at making payment systems more nimble, working with partners to package fares and other transportation options to provide travelers with a host of options to get where they need to go. We’re part of a community-led group, the Twin Cities Shared Mobility Collaborative, which allows partners to share ideas and information, advance regional shared mobility initiatives, and to work together toward common goals.
What challenges might arise as transportation options expand?
We need to define and aim to achieve equity so that no one is left behind. One of my friends has a saying about service with dignity – that people should have the freedom to choose and be able to travel with dignity no whatever mode they’re using.
We also should also remember that transit can move more people more quickly and more safely than any other mode. A key task is to work closely with our city partners to make sure shared mobility options work with transit and don’t impede our service or access to service.
So how do you get around the Twin Cities?
From where I live, I can walk just a few minutes to the Blue Line’s 38th Street Station and take the train to and from work. I also really love to bike, which is part of what brought me to the Twin Cities. My partner and I share a vehicle, but it’s almost always in storage.
To learn more about Metro Transit’s Shared Mobility Program, contact Klekotka at firstname.lastname@example.org. A summary of current and potential shared mobility options is available at sharedusemobilitycenter.org. The Twin Cities Shared Mobility Action Plan was developed by the Shared-Use Mobility Center, with support from the McKnight Foundation and input from local officials and transportation advocates.