Ann Hackett comments on “Traffic is people. (And people are smart)”

Hi Eric,

I’ve been meaning to respond on other issues as well so I’ve added in some thoughts about taxis.

Congestion contributes to both public health and environmental emergencies. My understanding is that global warming and its effects are the new mobility paradigm, rather than smart phone apps and their technological interface with mobility. In fact, by focusing on ride-sharing apps, many people are even further marginalized.

The public needs an evolutionary viable alternative that will significantly reduce Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT). The new “ride-sharing” taxis do not do this in any significant way and they are not “sharing”, (a misnomer), when they are not truly shared .
The only way I see massive VMT reduction happening is through a dual process of: eliminating 100% of on-street parking and making streets one-way. One former parking lane is replaced by a contiguous city-wide bicycle lane. The other side of the street is dedicated to public transport, taxis and service vehicles.

All taxis should be mandated to be shared by passengers, transporting to their maximum capacity. The public can easily hail a taxi from designated service-side areas (remember the simple change through paint?) or use their ride-sharing apps. Will this change public transport? Certainly it will, and it can even enhance it because with this system, one can now get to the bus stop, train station, and the proverbial first and last mile.
The allure of these new apps is their convenience and response time and this can be achieved with traditional, designated, and orderly taxi street-hailing as well. Sometimes the easiest solution is the best.

I applaud Paris’s efforts but I disagree with both the City Engineer and you, Eric. If true alternatives existed, smart people would of course use them, but to date, they don’t exist in most cities in significant quantities and so we have ubiquitous congestion, and public health and environmental emergencies. Insufficient alternative transport is certainly a reality in most cities contributing to congestion and this is why the “ride-sharing” “non-taxi” apps, an alternative, have exploded, but once again, some people are further marginalized as they are excluded from using apps for many reasons.


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Ann Hackett –

2 thoughts on “Ann Hackett comments on “Traffic is people. (And people are smart)”

  1. Another thought about taxis. Driverless vehicles are likely to emerge soon. All existing modes of motor transport — private cars, goods vehicles, sole user taxis, shared taxis, buses and trains — have the potential to benefit from this. But for shared taxis there is a problem which doesn’t affect other options — namely will people worry about personal safety if they have to use such a vehicle accompanied only by a fellow passenger who is a stranger ? This doesn’t apply to buses where one is likely to be in a “crowd” which will deter assault.

    Does this mean that solutions involving shared taxis need to be thought of as not future proof?

  2. Simon,
    I agree there is an issue of personal safety with driverless taxis and therefore I see driverless vehicles (taxis) as not future proof. They neither consolidate riders nor lessen congestion. They simply replace a personal car under the guise of the first / last mile. They certainly can be of some benefit in rural areas but as a force for congestion reduction they are limited and will actually add to congestion.
    Taxis with a vetted driver are capable of carrying a significantly higher ratio of passengers than a driverless taxi and can respond to situations that no algorithm can predict.
    Additional benefits could be mandates for new taxis’ use of alternative fuels and very importantly, keeping transportation under local control. Add into the mix the overall benefit of employment verses unemployment.


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