Uber and Lyft say they want to improve public transit, but the focus on profit could have serious consequences.
E. Tammy Kim writes about the move by ride-hailing companies into the public transportation sector:
Uber and Lyft have been clear about their intentions. At Uber’s apex of candor, in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it identifies a "massive market opportunity" in the estimated 4.4 trillion miles traveled by people on public transit in 175 countries in 2017.
Ride-hailing services can supplement transit and help with the "first mile/last mile problem" of getting riders to and from stations and stops, and the companies see public transit as part of their potential business growth. But the long-term outcomes could pose problems, says Kim.
Uber and Lyft have been seeking out public-private partnerships with transit systems in cities such as Denver. The arrangements have often been advantageous for them because the discounted trips are subsidized by public money and drivers remain independent contractors without public-sector employee protections or benefits.
And the financial motives of Uber and Lyft often do not always align with the goals of transit as a public service. Ride-hailing fares in general are cheaper than they should be, argues Kim, and this siphons off riders from transit while the additional vehicle miles lead to an increase in congestion and pollution.
In addition, notes Kim, Uber and Lyft are not held accountable to the public the way public agencies are. "Nor are they required to serve low-income neighborhoods or cater to the elderly, non-English speakers or people with disabilities."
Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes
The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.
4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design
With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.
LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water
The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.
An Affordable Housing Model for Indigenous Americans
Indigenous people make up a disproportionately high percentage of the unhoused population, but many programs designed to assist them don’t reach those most in need.
Oregon Bill Would Ban E-Bikes for Riders Under 16
State lawmakers seek to change Oregon e-bike laws following the death of a 15-year old last summer.
Northeastern Waterways More Polluted After Wet Year
Intense rains washed more runoff into local bodies of water, while warmer temperatures contributed to the growth of an invasive bloom.
Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
City of Birmingham, Alabama
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
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.