Uber and Lyft Worry They'll Be Forced to Share Ride-Hailing Data After Sharing Scooter Data

A fight over the travel data of shared use mobility companies is just starting in Los Angeles.
May 17, 2019, 11am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Alexander Torrenegra

Where are those scooters going? Los Angeles is looking to get travel information from scooter shares, but Uber, which provides scooter services through its company, Jump, has voiced concerns. The city has created a data standard called the Mobility Data Specification (MDS) to deal with concerns about privacy and proprietary information, but TNC companies like Lyft and Uber still claim this standard doesn’t do enough. Scooters may seem to be a small piece of the transportation universe, but "Eight scooter- and bike-share companies are permitted to operate up to 36,170 vehicles within Los Angeles county," Aarian Marshall reports for Wired.          

Trip information from those companies could be very useful for improving travel in the city. "Data on where those scooters are parked, and where they travel each day, could help officials plan for the future. Over time, the data also could provide the foundation for an app offering residents real-time info about their favorite transit modes," Marshall writes. It could also expose some negative impacts of shared use mobility companies.

Some speculate that after getting data from scooter-share operators, the city will turn its attention to the ride hailing services that Uber and Lyft offer. This information could do more to confirm findings about how much TNCs are adding to congestion and pulling riders out of more sustainable transportation modes like public transit, walking and biking. "Lyft, which also operates scooters in LA, also submitted objections to MDS during a public comment period," Marshall reports. Uber attempted to deliver data on its own terms with its program Uber Movement, but the city complains that this data is too limited to offer the public the information the city needs to improve its transportation resources.

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Published on Monday, May 13, 2019 in Wired
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