OakDOT Distributes Prepaid Debit Cards to 500 East Oakland Community Members, Launching ‘Universal Basic Mobility’ Pilot

Date Posted: January 6th, 2022 @ 11:43 AM
Last Updated: January 6th, 2022 @ 11:46 AM

UBM pilot community engagement at Foothill Square

As part of its innovative Universal Basic Mobility pilot, the City of Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) announced today that it has successfully distributed 500 prepaid debit cards to East Oakland residents and employees. These cards are restricted to use purchasing trips or passes on public transit, bikeshare, and shared e-scooters. Program participants began with $150 available on their cards. After recipients complete a survey in January, the second and final disbursement of $150 will be loaded to their cards.

The goal of the Universal Basic Mobility pilot is to increase walking, biking, public transit, and shared mobility trips in East Oakland while reducing drive-alone private vehicle trips. To accomplish this goal, the pilot uses a personalized marketing approach and partnerships with community-based organizations to educate participants about transportation options and reduce financial barriers. Grant funding for the pilot comes from Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC).

“Poverty is not a personal failure – it’s a policy failure. We must continue to tackle these issues aggressively to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable neighbors,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “Oakland is a place where our drive to innovate with our public services matches with our community values, and I’m so proud that OakDOT is proving the value of that pairing once again with this pilot effort.”

“Alameda CTC is pleased to help fund this innovative program that supports multimodal transportation options to improve mobility and access for residents of East Oakland,” Alameda CTC Executive Director Tess Lengyel said. “Advancing sustainable transportation options and reducing financial barriers to mobility in historically underserved communities is a priority for Alameda CTC and we look forward to working with OakDOT as they implement the pilot.”

“The Universal Basic Mobility Pilot leverages the tremendous investment in the East Bay’s first bus rapid transit (BRT) line by making rides on public transit, bikeshare, and e-scooters available at no cost to participants,” OakDOT Director Ryan Russo said. “Eliminating financial obstacles to mobility is critical to supporting the needs of East Oaklanders who most struggle with the twin costs of housing and transportation.”

OakDOT will evaluate participants’ survey responses and anonymous, aggregated prepaid card data to better understand how trips can be equitably shifted from private vehicles to sustainable modes in Oakland. A potential long-term iteration of this pilot program would seek to continue and expand this program to the entire City of Oakland.

The Universal Basic Mobility Pilot is funded by a $243,000 grant from ACTC. Over 60% of the grant funds were spent on prepaid cards for program participants; the remaining grant funds covered labor, marketing materials, and related expenses. The grant funding expires on December 31, 2021, and the pilot program will be evaluated in spring 2022.

Earlier this year more than 1,000 applicants expressed interest in participating in the program. A representative sample of 500 recipients were randomly selected. Applicants who were not selected to receive a card have been placed on a waitlist and will be contacted first if the pilot program receives long-term funding.

More information about the Universal Basic Mobility Pilot is available on the City’s website: oaklandca.gov/topics/universal-basic-mobility

The Universal Basic Mobility Pilot is one of several ongoing transportation demand management efforts. Commute options and resources for employers and employees can be found here: www.oaklandca.gov/topics/tdm

More resources and travel options are available through the Bay Area’s 511 website: www.511.org/employers

To request more information about the Universal Basic Mobility pilot and the City’s transportation demand management efforts, contact the project team at parklandish@oaklandca.gov.

(Contributed by Debbie Notkin)

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