Uber and Lyft move beyond out-competing Big Taxi, as they now start to revolutionize entire public transit systems - AEI
It's killing transit.
"Uber and Lyft are looking beyond competition with traditional taxi services. They may be creating the first practical, affordable personal rapid transit (PRT) systems that will compete with buses. In 2014, Uber launched UberPool, enabling multiple parties to share a ride along similar routes. The following year, the company announced uberCOMMUTE in China, which they described as ” carpooling at the press of a button.” In the U.S., it’s being tested in Chicago. Then, in December, Uber launched uberHOP in Seattle, which operates along pre-selected commuters routes.
Virtually all mass transit systems are publicly subsidized. Farebox revenues rarely cover more than 50 percent of expenses, which are labor and capital-intensive. In Pinellas Park, Florida—a Tampa suburb—has just replaced two bus lines with Uber service, subsidized to the tune of $3 per ride. It’s cheaper than running the buses. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority budgeted $40,000 a year. Running the two bus lines cost four times as much.
In the Denver suburb of Centennial, Lyft launched a program this month providing free rides to the Dry Creek light rail station. In this case, the program is designed to encourage mass transit use by enabling commuters to get to the station without having to park a car there all day."
Commuting offers a rich vein of dedicated riders, and offers drivers a secure payment stream. This sounds like something which will likely be successful, especially in the share ride concept. This will also likely create substantial pressure for new vehicle designed which maximize the utility, comfort, and privacy for these passengers.
Mark notes: "MP: When I’m in Washington, D.C. I frequently see many dozens of very large buses that pass by my neighborhood with almost no passengers, especially in the evening. When I’m in Minneapolis I frequently drive by the light rail transit system and see trains going by with 4 or 5 empty or nearly-empty cars. Those examples of “mass transit inefficiencies” that have to be very, very costly — 1 person riding on a large bus, and only a handful of passengers riding on 4-5 light rail train cars — seem to be exactly the type of inefficiencies that Uber and Lyft can help address as ride-hailing services help to revolutionize the future of ground transportation and public transit. Just as they out-competed Big Taxi, Uber and Lyft can certainly just as effectively out-compete Big Bus!"
I often notice that in Portlandia the buses, light rail, streetcars, and commuter rail are nearly always empty, except near rush hour. This means, lots of pollution, lots of fuel used, and few passengers to amortize these externalities. Self drive vehicles could significantly alter this problem, lower overall costs, reduce fuel use, and pollution, and provide better, door to door, convenience for passengers.