The Risk of Trusting Mobility Services to the Ubers of the World

The potential risks of privatizing mobility are scrutinized in a Canadian city that subsidizes Uber rides.

January 22, 2018, 10:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Ontario

Lester Balajadia / Shutterstock

"Since last May, more than 25,000 trips have been taken with Uber in a town near Toronto, Ontario called Innisfil," reports Tracey Lindeman. "That number, provided to Motherboard by the town, is particularly significant because Innisfil only had around 36,000 residents in 2016."

The town of Innisfil is one of a few in North America that subsidizes ride-hailing trips—in this case to substitute for public transit. Other cities in British Columbia, where ride-hailing companies are illegal, are hoping to follow Innisfil's lead in subsidizing Uber and Lyft rides.

As Lindeman notes, however, "[h]aving a private technology company step in to provide essential services normally offered—and paid for—by governments is a potentially worrisome trend." The main concern Lindeman expresses is a concern that riders would be trapped in a number of scenarios, like the company suddenly goes out of business or raises prices dramatically. 

Paul Pentikainen, Innisfil’s senior policy planner, is on the record in the article claiming that the service is cheaper for the city than paying for bus service, but Uber won't say whether the program is profitable for the company. That's not the only reason to approach the long-term sustainability of this program with skepticism. Lindeman rightly points out many of the possible ways programs like Innisfil's could go wrong for residents.

Monday, January 22, 2018 in Motherboard

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

LAX Cars

Car Noise Is Killing Us

It’s not just traffic collisions that kill—a new study from researcher at Rutgers finds that the loud noises emanating from cars has direct impact on heart health in Americans.

May 6, 2022 - Streetsblog USA

A pair of crash test dummies in a car after a crash with air bags deployed.

Acceptable Deaths

What can we learn from our Covid response?

May 5, 2022 - Angie Schmitt

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

33 minutes ago - The White House

Washington D.C.

Fare-Free Transit Hasn’t Reduced Car Trips, Data Says

Fare-free transit isn’t the climate change benefit that many have hoped, according to recent writing by David Zipper for Bloomberg.

1 hour ago - Bloomberg

Cottages on Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Redevelopment Threatens Iconic, Affordable Chicago Homes

The ‘workers’ cottages’ are being replaced with larger, more expensive homes, threatening one of the city’s original forms of affordable housing.

2 hours ago - WTTW

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.