California Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative

The California Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative (CA RIMI) will serve as a living laboratory – bringing together university experts, policymakers, public agencies, industry stakeholders, and community leaders – to inform the state transportation system’s immediate COVID-19 response and recovery needs, while establishing a long-term vision and pathway for directing innovative mobility to develop sustainable and resilient transportation in California.

The CA RIMI comes at a pivotal time. California faces significant and escalating challenges where transportation plays a central role. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are not declining at the rate needed to meet the state’s climate goals, with transportation representing the hardest sector to decarbonize. More prevalent and severe natural disasters, such as wildfires, landslides, and chronic flooding, are testing the state’s ability to facilitate mass evacuations and protect infrastructure. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused one of the most dramatic shifts in transportation in the past century, leading to plunging transit ridership, instability in transportation financing, frayed supply chains, massive layoffs, and economic uncertainty for many vulnerable people. Conversely, the state has also seen a rapid decrease in vehicle miles traveled, congestion, and GHGs, which have led to unexpected progress in improving the state’s air quality and advancing climate goals. To that end, many incremental changes implemented during the COVID-19 response and recovery phases will become enduring and affect future GHGs and the adaptive capacity of the transportation system (e.g., telecommuting, telemedicine, demand for alternatives to single-occupant vehicles). Ongoing disruptions in transportation, such as innovative mobility (e.g., electric vehicles, automated and connected vehicles, app-based mobility, microtransit, drones, urban air mobility), may play an outsized role during COVID-19 through technology development, active response, and reinvention. California’s recovery from COVID-19 and future mitigation and preparedness to combat climate change and other crises will require strategies that leverage these mobility innovations and guide their benefits.

To respond to the current COVID-19 crisis and build a more resilient transportation system to face future crises (e.g., wildfires, pandemics, climate change), the University of California Institute of Transportation Studies (UC ITS) and the California State University Transportation Consortium (CSUTC) proposes to supply leadership and engagement through the California Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative (CA RIMI). The CA RIMI reflects a seamlessly integrated program between the UC ITS and the CSUTC to manage transportation and technology change through strategic research, policy action, and real-world technical assistance. Through this enterprise, CA RIMI aims to support the immediate needs of California and its constituent governments to restore safe and healthy mobility – essential to economic recovery – while also informing a longer-term transition to a more equitable, innovative, sustainable, and resilient transportation system for California.