In 2016, a Pew Research Center survey found that 4 percent of adults aged 65 or older had used a ride-booking service like Lyft or Uber. On a local level, Dakota County officials want more older adults to know these apps could be used as another option for getting to their destination when they can’t or don’t want to drive. Residents of Apple Valley and other Dakota County communities can learn more about Lyft and Uber during an upcoming training hosted by Apple Valley Senior Center Education and Service Committee and GoDakota. Sharing information about the ride-booking apps is important because Dakota County is a large area that’s spread out. There are limited transportation options in some parts in terms of fixed bus routes. A growing number of older adults are also using smartphones, said Jess Luce, program manager for the county’s Communities for a Lifetime Initiative.
If you’ve ever waited for a bus, you probably wished you could summon it to show up the moment you needed it. Now, San Mateo’s public transit system is planning to do something close to that. Ripping a page from Uber and Lyft’s playbooks, SamTrans is launching an app that will allow residents to request a pick-up for short trips from their homes in Pacifica begining next year. The idea is called micro-transit. SamTrans spokesperson Dan Lieberman described it as “moving away from fixed route service with large vehicles, and moving to something that’s more on demand with a smaller and more nimble fleet.”
When Uber and Airbnb first appeared on the scene, they pitched themselves as part of the “sharing economy,” along with other platforms that let people lend out their tools, toys and even pets. These projects promised to share resources, reduce consumption and improve people’s lives. Then came stories of racial discrimination on Airbnb, of Uber drivers unable to make ends meet, of worsening traffic and mounting housing costs, and of these multibillion-dollar companies strong-arming and tricking regulators. Clearly, there was a gap ― between the talk of sharing and the behavior of corporate organizations designed to make their investors richer at any cost. But recent moves by Uber and Airbnb hint at a fuller kind of sharing. In letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the companies have each asked for a rule change that would enable them to distribute stock to the drivers and property hosts who make their platforms possible. They could then get a payout when the company goes public or is sold.
On Monday, after the great Scooter Wars of the spring and the hotly contested permitting process of the summer, e-scooters will relaunch in San Francisco. The SF Municipal Transportation Agency blessed two companies—Skip and Scoot—of the 12 that applied for a license with the right to operate a pilot program within the city. Starting now, residents and visitors will get to see what a regulated scooter system looks like. The rollout will be smaller and more controlled than last time, when the scooters were described as a plague, a nuisance, and a piece of a “zombie apocalypse thriller.” Skip and Scoot’s regulated adventures will be a test case not just for San Francisco and these particular contraptions and companies, but for how cities, generally, will incorporate all the new “micro-mobility” options into their established transportation systems.
Xcel Energy is taking a deeper dive into electric vehicles, providing charging infrastructure for fleet cars and participating in the creation of 70 public charging stations. Hourcar, a nonprofit car-sharing service, would be the anchor tenant of the community mobility hubs. The public generally would be able to use the hubs, too, as would Uber and Lyft. It also would accommodate electric scooters and other “micromobility” modes of transport, according to Xcel.
The number of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roadways is set to climb now that the U.S. Department of Transportation has updated guidelines, easing federal oversight. Americans are far from sold on either the safety, or the benefits of self-driving vehicles. If anything, there’s a deep distrust of the technology, surveys have found. Changing their minds may prove more difficult than the industry might hope — a potentially serious problem considering that, by various estimates, spending on autonomous technology will run as high as $100 billion over the coming decade.
For many drivers, Waze is the go-to app for circumnavigating pesky traffic jams. Now, the Alphabet-owned company is making a risky move into ride-hailing — or, more specifically, carpooling. On Wednesday, Waze announced the nationwide rollout of Waze Carpool, a dedicated app that lets drivers offer rides to people who are traveling on a similar route. First launched in the Bay Area in 2016, Waze Carpool has since expanded to five additional states in the US as well as Waze’s country of origin, Israel. The company says it wants to leverage its “superior routing technology” to help commuters fill empty seats in their cars and, in the process, hopefully reduce the number of cars on the road. And with a community of 100 million active monthly users worldwide, Waze Carpool has big ambitions about its impact on daily transportation habits.
Detroit’s Spirit Plaza transformed into a showcase of mobility, from flashy driverless shuttles and planes to the traditional bus and bicycle. Fourteen companies are set up for year two of the Detroit Moves mobility festival, taking place Wednesday and Thursday, giving passersby a glimpse into the future of transportation and industry leaders a look at the competition. “The future of mobility is definitely shared,” said Aaron Foster, technical sales manager for Navya. “This technology will reduce traffic and the stress of driving and make it overall more enjoyable.”
Stop to consider the people you care about most. Some are no doubt only alive today because of advances in science and technology. Today, the average life expectancy in the U.S. has risen to nearly 79 (despite falling behind the rest of the developed world). But even with the additional years of life that so many of us enjoy due to advances in medicine, trust in the healthcare system is in marked decline. Contrast that to the sharing economy. Every day, we put our trust in connected services that suggest we and our children hop into cars with complete strangers, help us to invite strangers to stay in our homes, guide our love lives, and allow delivery people to open our front doors to drop off packages. Meanwhile, we are seeing ever-decreasing trust in a highly regulated industry populated by people who have dedicated years of their lives to becoming experts, and who regularly save our lives. Why is this? And what can the healthcare industry learn from the sharing economy?
If people can hop on an app and subsequently jump in someone else’s car for a hired lift, how does that bode for vehicle sales? An auto-industry fear is that people won’t own cars for purposes other than to drive other people around. Sam Mylrea, CEO of PureCars and a tracker of the developing shared economy doesn’t see it that way. He says Uber and Lyft may fill certain transportation needs, but they are not going to drive the auto industry off a cliff.