Ross: Why Americans will never warm up to Uber carpooling
A piece in the Wall Street Journal blames Uber for making commuter traffic worse, because most trips carry a single passenger who might otherwise take a bus, and then the car stays in traffic roaming around.
But that’s a little unfair. Uber founder Travis Kalanick has tried to push carpooling.
“With the technology in our pockets today, and a little smart regulation, we can turn every car into a shared car,” Kalanick said recently.
He was talking about “Uber Commute.” Instead of professional drivers, ordinary suburban commuters would get up, head to their cars, press a button…
“And all of a sudden you become an Uber driver, and we’ll match you up with your neighbors on your way to work,” he described.
You’d get paid per-mile, and at the end of the trip, the car parks, and is out of traffic.
It’s been working in India. But here in the U.S., most Ubers drive a single passenger, then spend 40% of their time roaming in traffic for the next fare. And that, says the Journal, is why Uber is making traffic worse.
But that’s not all Uber’s fault. Carpools are a tough sell for Americans. We just don’t like sharing space with strangers. The small talk is awkward and God forbid they change the radio station.
So yes, traffic is bad, and Uber may be adding to it. But it’s because we want it that way.
We are told to love thy neighbor, not commute with them.
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