By: David C. Smith, Vice President, Americas Head of Occupier Research
Shifts in mobility are all around us. In addition to traditional modes of transportation—such as cars and public transportation via train or bus—there are new offerings available to commuters, residents and tourists. This includes ridesharing, which has experienced a dramatic rise this past decade. Additionally, there has been a significant shift in micromobility over the past 24 months.
While station-based (or docked) shared bicycles became common in some American cities a decade ago, electronic scooters have revolutionized micromobility in just the past two years. In fact, electronic scooters accounted for almost half of the 84 million U.S. micromobility rides in 2018.
This sudden rise in eScooter ridership is due to the wide accessibility of dockless scooters made available by various electronic scooter providers in nearly 150 U.S. cities in a relatively short time frame. There are now more than half a dozen eScooter providers in Atlanta alone. The large supply in denser parts of the city and along the Beltline have boosted eScooters’ popularity by increasing the relative ease of accessing a ride at any time of the day or night. Additionally, eScooter ridership has grown because they are:
- Affordable. A typical trip of under two miles can cost $3-4 less than ridesharing.
- Popular. Seventy percent of Americans have a positive perception of micromobility. Their popularity is even higher in Atlanta (79%).
- Just fun! Ridership increases by 18% over the weekends, peaking on Saturday afternoons. During the week, eScooters are most commonly used during evening commutes and for getting around after work.
The potential impact on commercial real estate is large as eScooters reduce the friction of last-mile transportation in dense submarkets such as Midtown and Buckhead. Scooters max speed (15 mph) is five times that of the average human walker. This means people can easily access greater amounts of office space, multifamily units, retail space and restaurants/entertainment. Utilizing eScooters to connect workers from train stations significantly increases the inventory of Class A apartments and office space available in proximity to MARTA.
Currently, a five-minute walk from Atlanta’s MARTA stations will allow someone to access the 20.3 msf of Class A office space that is within 0.25 miles. On an eScooter, an employee could access three times as much high-quality office space in less time (four minutes). And, 7,600 Class A apartments are within a five-minute walk from MARTA, but there are over 36,000 Class A units (+376%) within an eight-minute scooter ride of the train stations. Young workers and their employers can reduce costs substantially by accessing this space that is slightly further away from public transportation, as the average rents for office space and apartments drops by 10% and 20%, respectively, as you move from 0.25 miles to one mile away from Atlanta MARTA stations.
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David Smith is the Vice President, Americas Head of Occupier Research. He produces occupier thought leadership content for the Research Center of Excellence and directs a program of market presentations, written analysis, surveys, forecasts, and data collection that supports Global Occupier Services and the brokerage business, as well as advance the strategic plan in Americas Research.