After many decades of a single dominant city-shaping transportation pattern – i.e., for those who could afford it: owning and driving our own cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles, getting into taxis by ourselves, riding in streets that are designed for cars and not much else — there is considerable evidence accumulating that we have already entered into a world of new mobility practices that are changing the transportation and city landscape in many ways. It has to do with sharing, as opposed to outright ownership. But strange to say, this trend seems to have escaped the attention of the policymakers in many of the institutions directly concerned. Continue reading
* Click for 4 minute video: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/video/2014/03/17/gender-public-transport-in-nepal
If I live outside of a city — say, in a classic spread suburb, rural area, commuter town or other hard to serve low density area — and if I happen not own a car, or on days when my car is not available, I am going to have an extremely hard time getting to work or wherever it is I need to go this morning.
In principle I have a few choices, for example: (a) Get down on my knees and beg for a ride from family or neighbors. (b) Try to find (and somehow get to) a bus or local pubic transport (in a period of ever-decreasing public services and budget cuts, so good luck!). (c) Search out a taxi if you can find one, call, wait for it eventually to show up and then pay a hefty amount. (d) For work trips, and if I am lucky, there may be a ride-sharing scheme. Or, for many less comfortable but still possible, (e) the hitchhiking option. (f) Or do like an increasing number of my fellow commuters and buy a cheap motorcycle. And perhaps most likely of all (g) be obliged to reschedule or forget the trip. But at the end of the day, and all things considered, I am forced to conclude that the reality of life in suburbia and rural areas today is: no car = no mobility. Harsh!
But stuff changes.We are entering a new and very different age of technology, communications and mobility, and as American writer Josh Stephens reminds us in the following article, things are starting to look up.
The purpose of this first exploratory workshop hosted by the European Citizens Mobility Forum (ECMF) is to solicit peer reviews, critical commentary and action recommendations on the part of the expert participants on the ideas and proposals set out for the group by the invited speaker. Observations and recommendations both from the vantage of their specific organizations, and more generally to the ECMF as a major organization responsible for collective land passenger transport. The complete text of this working presentation follows.
All of the protests taking place at varying levels of violence in different parts of the world against Uber and Uber-like taxi and shared-transport services are definitely not just an example of a one-shot phenomenon that will resolve itself in different ways in different places, and then shortly go away, leaving things largely as they always were in our sensationally inefficient mobility arrangements in and around our cities. there is a revolution going on in our world’s streets, and once this has advanced far enough, it is going to change the paradigm for mobility in and around cities forever. No less!
The following article by the international expert Richard Darbéra makes this point clearly and from opening shot in which he announces no less than “taxis as we know them are expected to disappear “. We invite you to have a look at this posting and to share your comments and/or challenges either here in world streets or on the associated Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/WorldStreetsOnline
There is a revolution going on that is going to change the face of transport in and around cities in a way that no other has in the last century. The starting point is that humble taxi that you cannot always find when you need it most — that is to say a rolling metal box with rubber tires, a human being at the wheel, and some kind of engine propelling it along, with or without human cargo. But this thing, this taxi as it is called, is in the process of being reinvented as a rolling, pliant always-on 21st century information system. And of course we are looking into this closely in the pages of World Streets.
“Regulations that prohibit shared taxis are an example of worst practice.” – Ann Hackett
In eleven short words Ann Hackett has put her finger on one of the most egregious “Worst Practices” in our field. And, as it happens, one that we know enough about to easily resolve.
In response to our New Year’s annual roundup of the library of striking and informative videos assembled over the last years by the editor and readers of World Streets, one just came in today from New Zealand, thanks to Paul Minett, Chairman of the Ridesharing Institute. To contact him directly, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reaching new fundraising heights, Uber is now seeking to conquer the world — willingly or by force. Neither white knight nor bloodsucking scoundrel, Uber is posing tough questions to our culture of innovation in Europe
The smartphone-driven rideshare and taxi alternative service company Uber, founded in 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco, has announced for the second time in 2014, a billion dollar-plus fundraising! The company, which offers applications linking customers with drivers, now overtakes records previously held by Facebook: € 2.7 billion raised (with $ 600 million of additional potential), and a market valuation at $ 40 billion.
Yet if Uber is known to the public it is more for the controversies it is raising in its “war” against the taxis, which has in recent months turned into a crusade against all comers and for “free mobility”: against street taxis, against national governments and regulators, against local governments, and even against less controversial private hire services (in France the so-called VTC hire services have joined a lawsuit against Uber).
World Streets is today kicking off a series of invited articles by authors from different countries and backgrounds, presenting their views on the topic of “The Uber Generation: Rogue Capitalism or Critical Paradigm Shift”. It is expected that this series will continue over the months ahead. The present posting is being circulated to friends and others who have expressed interest in this particular angle of the New Mobility Agenda as an advance announcement and call for criticism, ideas and contributions.
This out of control bulimic spiral begins with man’s uncontrollable tool-making itch, and from there, and utterly unknown to us at the time, to tools which take on transforming lives of their own — one of which in the domain of mobility being ever-increasing speed, which in turn leads to ever-increasing distances, and which finally and in largely unnoticed fatal tandem destroys the reality and oh-so important qualities of proximity and community. What we thought at the time was merely more convenient transportation, has snuck up on us and turned into very inconvenient and altogether unanticipated transformation — in fact one of the most intractable challenges of transport policy and practice of the 21sr century
How to break this vicious spiral? Well in cities anyway the key is clearly significant, strategic speed reduction in combination with a phased, multi-step systemic overall as needed to create a truly optimized mobility system for all. And happily we now have the technical tools (the technical virtuosity) to get the job done. We shall see this spelled out more clearly here over the course of the coming months, but before leaping ahead, let’s step back a bit in time and see what Contributing Editor Professor John Whitelegg had to say on this subject in the pages of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice, way back in 1993.
Small taxi operations could be eliminated with new regional taxi authority
City Pulse, Lansing MI USA. Wednesday, September 17,2014
A taxi authority that began with a goal of regulating ride share services like Uber could end up adopting rules that squeeze out the little guy.
The Greater Lansing Taxi Authority, already approved by East Lansing and awaiting the Lansing vote, would consolidate regulations and licensing for cabs and ride shares in both cities. Officials say the effort will improve service quality and ensure the safety of riders.
The rules would require annual vehicle inspections, background checks and minimum insurance requirements. Cab companies would be required to have at least three vehicles and meters on all vehicles (which could be actual or a smart phone app). Ride share services would be required to send electronic receipts and only take rides booked through a digital platform . . .
Read the full story here:
We are already close to one-seventh of the way through this very different 21st century: an era not of “order” in the older and more comfortable sense. But rather of chaos, that illusive universe that combines mystery and a certain sense of order . Chaos however is not the end; it is only a beginning. And while we are on the subject, this in from Jarrett Walker in his blog Human Transit in which he reminds us of the power and potential of informal transport. His concluding recommendation is especially interesting and to the point. The full original piece is available at http://goo.gl/TW5meY.
World Streets readers will certainly want to stay on top of this project of the city of Helsinki to come up with what we call a “better than car transportation system”. The excerpts just below taken from an article published in the Guardian yesterday will lead you to the full piece. There is a mild irony to the extent to which the “technological core” of the project has to do with the mobility arrangements which have been receiving steady, and happily increasing, attention since the mid-1960s, namely DRT or Dial-a-Ride. The massive change elements which fundamentally transform and scale up the basic DRT of long past operational system is a combination of close to universal mobile phones, abounding apps, and Big Data. That plus a good dose of public entrepreneurship and outreach changes everything. We invite you to have a look and to share your thoughts with us about this intriguing real world adventure.
Think you might wish to participate in a short collaborative survey in which we trying to improve our understanding of the relationship between carshare suppliers and local government in a cross-section of countries and environments? We are hoping to cover cities of a range of sizes, including both high performers and those as yet without much of a strategy. It will be important to cover both ends of the spectrum.
This article which recently appeared in City Lab gets straight to the heart of the New Mobility Agenda as we understand it, a critical and often ignored mobility category which we have long since dubbed xTransit, Third Ways of Getting around in Cities. Just below you will find some key excerpts from the article; for the full text click to http://goo.gl/hI8VI . If you are not familiar with the Matatu, you will find additional background in the short but quite useful Wikipedia site at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matatu. For more on our xTransit work, have a look at https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/category/xtransit and eventually https://www.facebook.com/groups/xtransit .
Our 21st century cities and those of us who live and work in them have transportation requirements that have little in common with the historical patterns. Our actual service needs are closer to what we can see in successful car-based systems than the patterns associated with traditional public transport. That is to say, user requirements in this new-life system are for the most part not linear (i.e., many-to-many) , nor strictly time-cadenced.
Fortunately Penang does not have to start from the beginning and all by itself reinvent its presently troubled transportation arrangements to create a beautiful and sustainable city. There are many cities in different parts of the world who have in the past addressed these same challenges, patiently, consistently and with continuity and excellent results. So in many ways there is nothing new; it all depends on how you put it together. And it is these cities and these projects that provide examples for Penang. All of these examples taken together constitute what we call the New Mobility Agenda. Let us have a look as been learned over the last three decades in these “cities that are rethinking themselves”.
Over the last decade carsharing has increasingly proven itself to be an effective mobility option in cities around the world, serving for well more than 1000 cities on all continents. A key element of an integrated mobility strategy for people and for cities, it is a thrifty transport mode and largely self-financing.
People choose to carshare not because they are obliged to, but because it offers a choice. They do it because they see it as a better, more economical way to get around for a portion of their trips. Properly positioned it has been shown that carsharing can offer significant potential for energy savings, pollution reduction, space savings on the street, and reduced requirement for expensive public investments in infrastructure to support cars and/or conventional public transport. However in the last several years the sector has begun to change in some unexpected ways.
We keep reading and are repeatedly informed that for carsharing to work there must be good public transport, cycling and other mobility arrangements as indispensable complements. In other words, for carsharing to work you have to be not only in a city, but in a certain kind of city. This position has been an article of faith for many carshare observers for more than a decade, and while there is a certain logic to it, upon inspection it turns out there is a lot more to successful carsharing than that.