2018 Champion City

South Bend, IN : 2018 Winner

Providing Affordable, Reliable Transport for Low-income Workers

  • 101,735

  • James Mueller

  • Directly Elected Mayor

    Type of Government
  • 4 years

    Length of Term
  • Jobs

    Issue Area

The Problem

The lack of reliable, affordable transportation is a primary barrier to finding and maintaining employment for approximately 10,000 South Bend residents.

The Idea

The City of South Bend will help low-income and part-time workers with unreliable transport options commute to their jobs by partnering with ride-share companies and employers, who will help offset the cost.

What Pete Buttigieg, Former Mayor
of South Bend, IN is saying:

We are thrilled by this partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies to address a major challenge in our time: overcoming the transportation barrier for low-income workers. We believe our city’s innovation on this issue can create major new opportunities for inclusive economic growth, not just in South Bend but for many cities like ours–and now we will have the resources to develop this approach at scale.


Our Prototyping Journey

    Let's Go

  • How we are testing our idea

    Our idea will positively impact employers, employees and the community at large by having a more stable workforce.

    Santi Garces, Chief Innovation Officer

    South Bend will use simulations and observations to assess: whether low-income and part-time shift workers will commute directly to work; whether they will show up on time for Uber; whether they have sufficient access to smartphones and Wifi; and whether employers are willing to pay.

  • Ideas into action

  • What we're discovering through testing

    South Bend is balancing the rigor of randomized controlled trials with an iterative design approach. The team gave a cohort of shift workers Uber cards to transport them to and from work, and measured them against a number of metrics. One finding that surprised them was the discrepancy in the length of time spent on shift when employees had Uber cards compared to when they didn’t. The team found that once an employee knew they had a ride home, they didn’t feel the need to leave early.

    It's messier to look at the problem and ask citizens what they think the solutions are, and even though its messier, it's much more impactful.

    Genevieve Crum, Project Manager

    The team had envisioned giving employees Uber cards, but now they've realized that participants don't need the ride every day, just in times of "emergency'' - for example, when their own car breaks down. They are now testing an insurance model where they give employees 16 cards that they can use over 4 weeks, only when they need.

  • Reflections

  • What we've learned

    The program has allowed the team to forge relationships with the largest employers in the city. Through face-to-face meetings and “getting to know people as people”, the team involved these key stakeholders from the very start, and have genuinely co-created the program. Stakeholder buy-in is key in the sustainability of their idea, as it means employers will be more likely to adopt the program going forward.

    We’ve formed deep relationships with stakeholders, and helped them to see this is a city wide issue.

    Genevieve Miller, Project Manager