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What We’re Reading: Tech’s Effects

Parking Lot

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), also known as ride-hailing companies, have solidified their positions as influential members of communities’ mobility networks. As a result, such companies, especially Lyft, are developing partnerships that look to connect more of their vulnerable citizens to the services that they need.

For example, the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization now works with Lyft to connect Medicaid patients to healthcare. The program should divert “the most frequent users of emergency rooms and in-patient care to rides with more appropriate alternatives.”

There is a strong business case for developing these types of mobility options, which result in better outcomes for all parties involved. Patient satisfaction increases largely due to improved access to care, while hospitals and insurers enjoy costs savings and streamlined scheduling.

 

Playing the Numbers

Tech companies certainly affect mass transportation in some form, and there is a growing body of research into how.

The University of Michigan released a report with evidence that ride-hailing companies contribute to decreased car ownership. Uber’s and Lyft’s suspension of services in Austin, Texas, provided an experiment to measure the companies’ effects on consumer behavior, and saw that car ownership rose markedly when the companies left town, while few people transitioned back to public transit. Food for thought.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, commissioned a report to examine transit ridership, and sees its system at odds with TNCs. One result is that ride-hail companies, at least in part, influenced the city’s decision to overhaul the bus system to improve ridership and, from its perspective, win customers back from the services siphoning off their riders.

In an unexpected twist, Citymapper, a tech company that developed a popular transit navigation app, will now actually provide transit in London, England. The company utilized its mountains of user data to identify areas of need in the city’s bus network, and now plans to fill the holes with its own bus services.

 

Public Mobility is Innovative, Too

Not to be left behind, plenty of public agencies are exploring myriad ideas to convince people to stop driving alone into work, creating options that make alternatives affordable and feasible to improve regional mobility.

Downtown Columbus, Ohio, hopes to draw in more businesses that so far have avoided moving downtown due to a lack of parking. To circumvent the “exercise in futility,” as CityLab puts it, of meeting parking demand,  the special improvement district wants to bring in workers without their cars by buying transit passes for up to 43,000 employees.

Nebraska’s Department of Transportation is piloting a statewide approach by partnering with Enterprise Rideshare to encourage vanpooling among commuters, who tend to drive great distances to reach work. The DOT estimates this could save long-distance commuters up to $10,000 a year.

 

Image Credit: Flickr, Public Domain

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Andrew Carpenter

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This post was written by on August 11, 2017 12:47 pm

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