The Future of Urban Mobility: 5 Transit Trends We’re Seeing for 2021

Published: January 12, 2021

While a lot still feels the same as 2020, change is coming to public transit in 2021. 

When looking ahead in the mobility sector, there is a lot of hard work to be done, but there are also exciting opportunities to transform mobility in our cities to create more livable spaces for everyone. No matter what, one thing remains true: Public transportation keeps our cities running. 

That’s what continues to keep us optimistic for the future. There is simply no better way to move people around efficiently, sustainably, and at scale than public transportation. This year, we have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to optimize and improve upon our current systems and move towards a more resilient one. To help achieve that, we see more cities and agencies honing in on upcoming technology and new mobility solutions. Here are the top mobility trends we see on the rise for 2021. 

1. Creating a more customer-centric rider experience

We’re getting closer to the ultimate passenger experience, and this year we’ll see more cities and agencies continue to improve theirs. The expectations of immediacy have grown considerably this year because of COVID-19, and the customer-led perspective is becoming a benchmark for sustained success. Customers want more control, period, and agencies can better compete with new mobility services if they meet customer expectations. 

What do riders want more control over? They want to know when their next bus is arriving and if it will be crowded. They want to be able to order a ride on-demand like they do with other mobility services. They want to know if their bus or train is canceled and what their other options are. How do we know this? We asked riders what they wanted in order to be enticed back to transit during COVID-19 – get all the answers in our report here

The transit industry will continue to try and meet heightened customer expectations throughout 2021, and we will see agencies take this opportunity to implement more customer-centric solutions and services. 

2. Harnessing the power of multimodal transportation

In 2021, we’ll continue to see riders choose single-mode transportation options, including micromobility, mainly on bikes and scooters. Agencies can encourage this behavior, which will help keep peak times from overcrowded buses, trains, and stations, and encourage riders to use public transportation during off-peak periods. 

An urban mobility trend within the MaaS experience is the emergence of micromobility solutions covering the last mile. Instead of covering the entire trip, these solutions, from scooters to bikes, can be rented to travel to and from public transportation and the final destination. In urban areas, these are especially useful to get from a subway or bus stop to their workplace and back, which may be just out of walking distance. 

Cities can help enable their citizens to take advantage of these eco-friendly services by dedicating more space to cyclists, pedestrians, and micromobility users. Agencies can help their riders by adopting a journey-planning app that includes micromobility and other popular modes of transportation, including, of course, public transit. By enabling riders with information on all possible modes of transportation, they’ll have all the data they need to make informed, safe decisions that work best for their needs. 

3. Sharing real-time data on everything, from arrivals to crowdedness 

COVID-19 showed the importance of getting data in real-time, and we hope that real-time information will finally be given its place in public transit this year. And it’s no surprise that real-time information is increasingly important for riders. With the amount of uncertainty in the air, knowing exactly when you can expect your ride offers passengers the confidence to continue relying on public transit – even in the middle of a pandemic. 

Providing your riders with real-time information has plenty of benefits for the agency, as well. A study in Chicago shows that ridership – and the agency’s bottom line – increased when they offered real-time data. 

Download our infographic to learn more about how real-time helps win back riders.

4. Employing on-demand transit services 

Cities and transit agencies around the world are beginning to understand the potential of on-demand services, a mobility trend we see continuing to rise as COVID-19 continues to shift demand unpredictably. The ability for agencies to use their existing vehicles and leverage smart routing algorithms to quickly revamp their services and switch to flexible, on-demand routes has been a lifesaver for many agencies and their riders, many of whom have been essential workers. 

From replacing legacy Dial-a-Ride systems to filling first- and last-mile gaps near transit hubs, agencies can more easily meet customer needs with innovative technology to continue optimizing service. 

Learn how Moovit On-Demand reduces private car usage and adds first- and last-mile access here

5. Integrating contactless fare payments

The move from paper-based tickets to smart-cards and mobile fares has sped up significantly over the last year to allow for safer, contactless payment methods, and will not slow down in 2021. In an effort to protect both employees and passengers from the risks of cash handling, agencies are integrating mobile payments for transit services. 

By giving riders a ‘plan, pay, and ride’ experience with a single platform for all their transportation needs, agencies can reap the benefits that come with better service: Increased riders and efficiency, more actionable data, new customers, and more. Additionally, moving away from legacy hardware and the timely, expensive updates they require is the cherry on top. 


As cities and agencies begin planning for a post-COVID recovery, it’s important to understand that there is no ‘going back’ to how public transit was before – and maybe that’s a good thing. Transit leaders face a difficult road ahead, though, with the help of emerging technologies and better use of data to refine our current networks, agencies will not just survive but thrive in 2021. 

Ready to move your riders into 2021? Get in touch with us here

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