Friday, September 30, 2016

Uber transit?

There was a time when I thought that PRT was the answer to the gaps that were left in traditional public transit systems. But now it seems that companies like Uber and Lyft are beginning to fill those gaps, and in some cases, even replacing inefficient transit systems through cooperation with local governments and subsidized rides.

There are now partnerships between towns and cities and companies like Uber where rides are offered at a discount, subsidized by money that would have otherwise gone toward more (expensive to operate) bus services. Examples were given where people were able to get places that would have taken over an hour by bus and walking, but Uber got them there in 5 minutes, for $4, or twice the price of a bus trip.

There are many developing high density areas in cities that exist in a transit vacuum, and services like UberHOP and UberPOOL have been able to serve those areas for reasonable fees. UberHOP functions as a bridge ride service, getting you from a designated pickup point in one neighbourhood to a designated drop-off point in another.

Companies like Uber have hinted that once self-driving cars become ubiquitous, using these services should be even more affordable due to the lack of a paid driver.

The only down sides, that have to be worked out, is the inability to hail an Uber without a mobile phone and Uber's general lack of accessible vehicles for the handicapped. Both of these factors are something the services do intend to address once their business model becomes sustainable.

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