Lyft has a growing service called Line that could make the long-unfulfilled dreams of carpool advocates come true. Users who request a ride through Line are paired with drivers going to the same general destination — a true example of ride sharing instead of the ride hailing that describes most Uber/Lyft rides. Rides might take a little longer if the driver picks up other carpoolers, but the cost is only 40 percent of a regular Lyft ride. The service is available in 19 cities to date and has proven particularly successful in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami.
Uber has announced that it plans to expand its app to offer a comprehensive transportation service. Users say where they want to go and the Uber app will give them options of Uber rides, bike sharing, rental cars, or even mass transit. All rides would be paid for through the Uber app, so Uber would get a share of revenues from any public transit agencies that participated.
Even if public transit is one of Uber’s options, these kinds of innovations will continue to whittle away transit ridership. People who now ride transit will be tempted to use Uber to pay for their rides, thus saving the trouble of dealing with ticket machines or exact change. Once using the app, they will also be alerted to alternatives to transit, and some will select those alternatives in place of the transit they were using. Continue reading
In the latest made-up panic of the year, ride sharing is supposedly “deepening social and economic inequity.” According to Tracey Lindemen, writing in Vice magazine, it’s doing that by stealing riders from public transit, which forces transit systems to cut their services, reducing the mobility of transit-dependent people.
In fact, Linderman has it backwards: public transit is the source of income inequality, while ride sharing can reduce it.
Linderman claims that “Public transit used to be the great equalizer,” but that was never true. Before cars, transit was used by the middle class, but the working class couldn’t afford it. The Model T Ford was the great equalizer, bringing mobility to those who couldn’t afford transit. In 1910, no more than a quarter of Americans regularly used transit. By 1926, over half of American families owned a car. Continue reading
Two weeks ago, the Denver suburb of Centennial announced it would subsidize transit riders to use Uber or Lyft to or from their transit stop from or to their origin or final destination. By solving the “last-mile” problem, they hope that this will make transit more attractive to Centennial residents.
A couple of days later, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority announced it would do the same for transit riders in Dublin and other nearby suburbs of San Francisco-Oakland.
Through such agreements, ride-sharing services are trying to persuade transit supporters that they aren’t competitors, but potential partners with transit agencies. Some of them are buying it, while others are more skeptical. The Antiplanner thinks this is just a transition phase before the complete elimination of transit in all but a few cities.