Can rideshare services solve our public transportation problems?
Perhaps, but only if government gets out of the way.
David Boze tackled the emerging rideshare industry, enabled by phone applications like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar.. These services allow ride-seekers to request rides with their smartphones. Then an ordinary car owner, an independent contractor, arrives to give that person a ride.
Cab drivers and governments are upset about these apps. That’s because the government makes millions off of exorbitant taxi medallion fees, and, of course, cabbies have to pay those exorbitant fees. Rideshare apps exist outside the traditional cab rules and regulations.
But if – and it’s a big if – government can forgo those fees, rideshare apps might be the future of public transportation.
“It looks to me like this could be the kind of technological innovation that will make a lot of government plans obsolete; it could make transit facilities obsolete,” Boze said.
That’s because, the more rideshare programs that are available, the cheaper they become. These services are far more flexible than traditional bus routes, and certainly more flexible than fixed-track trolley or light rail lines. Rideshare programs may meet the needs of low-income commuters better than traditional government-run transportation.
“It’s another way of providing these same services at a lower cost,” Boze said. “This technology might be an open door to ideas that could dramatically move low income people from point A to point B. It could really transform the way people move.”