August 2022 Tech Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: August 31, 2022

Against treating AV development as a “race”, intercity electric buses, equity in digital ticketing, and the hope of an end to rural cellular dead zones through satellites. These are just a few of the over 25 articles on transit technology aimed at mobility managers, brought to you by the National Center for Mobility Management.

TNCs

Uber’s seeing positive cash flow for the first time ever by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“Knowing that profitability in a traditional sense may remain elusive for the company, Khosrowshahi had instead set the goal of achieving profitability on a free cash flow basis rather than adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), noting that is what the company’s institutional investors expected.”

Disability rights groups battle Lyft for wheelchair accessible vehicles — again by Char Adams, NBC News
“Lyft officials said the company is exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act and doesn’t have to cater to people with nonfolding wheelchairs.”

Autonomous Vehicles

Driverless Cars Shouldn’t Be a Race by Shira Ovide, New York Times
“The danger is that an artificial sense of urgency or a zeal to ‘win’ could create unnecessary safety risks, give companies permission to hog more of our personal information and prioritize corporations’ self-interest at the expense of the public good.”

Autonomous Vehicle Fleets for Public Transport: Scenarios and Comparisons by François Poinsignon, Lei Chen, Sida Jiang, Kun Gao, Hugo Badia, and Erik Jenelius, Green Energy and Intelligent Transportation
“Based on the results and considering the long transition period to fully autonomous vehicles, it is recommended that public transport should consider a gradual introduction of AVs with more detailed analysis on different combination and integration alternatives of bus services and AVs.”

California DMV accuses Tesla of making false claims about Autopilot and Full-Self Driving by Emma Roth, The Verge
“In the filings, the DMV claims the names of Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD features, as well as the language the company uses to describe them, wrongly imply that cars equipped with the technology can operate autonomously.”

Forget those Tesla crashes: GM says you can trust its autonomous vehicles by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“The second-largest automaker in the world is still bullish on AVs”

Argo AI assembles panel of outside experts to oversee safety of its autonomous vehicles by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“As autonomous vehicle testing ramps up, Argo AI announced the formation of a panel of outside experts to oversee the safe deployment of its technology.”

Waymo designed new features to improve AV access for passengers with disabilities by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“The new features are sure to draw attention when they start hitting the streets. They include displaying the rider’s initials on the rooftop dome as a visual way to identify their assigned vehicle at a near-to-medium distance. Another feature offers turn-by-turn navigation to guide the rider on the most appropriate path to their awaiting robotaxi, utilizing data on sidewalks, crosswalks, and other terrain features to provide the most suitable route.”

Vehicle Electrification

Intercity bus lines begin trying out electric buses by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
“Battery-powered electric buses are growing in use among transit agencies, but intercity bus operators have been slower to adopt the new technology. That’s beginning to change, industry leaders say.”

Could trolleybuses be the incredible solution for greener public transit? by Henry Pan, Guardian
“Replacing the beloved transport vehicles with battery electric buses, experts argue, could be more polluting”

Senate calls USPS bluff with $3 billion for electric trucks – will it go 100% BEV? by Jameson Dow, electrek
“The US Senate has allocated $3 billion in additional funding to the US Postal Service for electrification of the nation’s delivery fleet, as part of yesterday’s massive climate bill. It’s the latest move in the long saga for postal service electrification and effectively “calls USPS’s bluff” by supplying as much funding as the USPS claimed a 100% BEV fleet would cost.”

Electric bus orders surge, but deliveries lag by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
“Critical parts shortages continue, but one bus manufacturer sees demand for zero-emission transit buses growing to 50% of the market.
Transit bus manufacturers New Flyer and Proterra reported continued growth in new orders for battery-electric buses but deliveries slowed due to component shortages, the companies said in earnings announcements last week.”

US: Ride-Hailing Is Becoming More Electrified, Despite the Barriers by Skip Descant, Government Technology, via Mass Transit
“Today, one out of 60 miles traveled in a ride-hailed car in major cities in the United State and Canada — such as those arranged through the Uber or Lyft platforms — are made with a zero-emission vehicle.”

Electric Car Batteries Lasting Longer Than Predicted Delays Recycling Programs by Carlton Reid, Forbes
“The worry was once what the world would do with millions of spent electric vehicle (EV) batteries after they no longer powered the cars and vans they propelled. But this glut of EV batteries has not yet materialized—Nissan has been making the electric Leaf since 2010—and automotive industry initiatives to recycle the lithium-ion cells bundled in EV batteries are slow to go mainstream in Europe and the U.S.”

E-buses are great, but Climate Reality Project should also push for effective bus lanes by Courtney Cobbs, StreetsBlog Chicago
“Climate Reality Project is right that Chicago should pick up the pace of electrification. But there are other things the transit agency can do right now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by converting more car trips to bus trips. Speeding up CTA bus speed and reliability would go a long way to boost ridership.”

Why golf carts—golf carts!—are a transportation mode of the future by David Zipper, Slate
“It isn’t crazy in the slightest. In 2015, researchers at Harvard Business School investigated whether Tesla, the poster child of automotive innovation, offered a truly disruptive model for transportation. Their conclusion: A “souped-up golf cart”—not a Tesla—offered the most transformative potential.”

The bumpy road to electric buses in Madison by Allison Garfield, The Cap Times
“Madison Metro Transit was one of 50 agencies to receive a share of the funds from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No-Emission $55 million grant, leading the way in not only the state but the country. Over two years later, the three electric buses are sitting in a warehouse.”

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

Transit app Moovit rolls out more personalized trip-planning features by K. Holt, Engadget
“Transit app Moovit is aiming to be more helpful when it comes to helping users get to their destination. Starting today, the app is rolling out more personalized trip-planning features in 3,500 cities across 112 countries to build on its existing route suggestions.”

Can Uber-like Public Transit Replace Old-Fashioned Buses? by Jenni Bergal, The Pew Charitable Trusts
“Transit agencies say they want to be more flexible and responsive, offering an alternative to riders who may face long bus waits and transfers. They’re also hoping to attract new riders who may not live along bus routes. […] But some transit advocates argue that microtransit is a bad deal for public agencies because it’s costly and inefficient. They say transit agencies instead should focus on increasing ridership on their current routes by adding more frequent service and improving bus stops.”

Guaranteed basic mobility pilot offers near-unlimited transit access to 50 Pittsburgh residents by Danielle McLean, Smart Cities Dive
“Pittsburgh city officials and researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, in partnership with micromobility provider Spin, will study whether free transportation improves the economic, health and social outcomes of the people who receive universal access to transit through the program. At the conclusion of the ‘Guaranteed Basic Mobility’ pilot program, which will launch next month, the city will produce a final report evaluating the program’s success in improving access to jobs, education and services and ultimately elevating economic status”

VCs Squandered Billions On Scooter Startups. Markets Think They’re Worth A Pittance by Joanna Glasner, Crunchbase
“While scooters are still around, any expectations of solid returns from investments on the space are not.”

Bolt Mobility has vanished, leaving e-bikes, unanswered calls behind in several US cities by Rebecca Bellan, TechCrunch
“Bolt Mobility, the Miami-based micromobility startup co-founded by Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, appears to have vanished without a trace from several of its U.S. markets. In some cases, the departure has been abrupt, leaving cities with abandoned equipment, unanswered calls and emails, and lots of questions.”

E-bike, e-scooter use recovering after pandemic decline, NABSA shared micromobility report finds by Charles Pekow, Smart Cities Dive
“Following a severe drop in ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic, shared micromobility use is scooting back. Overall in 2021, ridership fell short of 2019 levels, but monthly ridership began passing pre-pandemic levels in the middle of last year, according to an annual report from an industry group.”

NEORide receives federal grants to develop on-demand public transit solutions by Justin McMullen, WKYC
“Two Department of Transportation agencies will give federal funds to NEORide programs establishing on-demand public transit, which could serve as a national model. Ohio’s NEORide, which works with governments to improve public transit services across multiple states, will receive over $1.83 million in federal grants to develop new technologies, including those that facilitate on-demand public transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced today.”

Autonomous shuttles will replace monorail system in Jacksonville, Florida by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
“The Jacksonville Transportation Authority plans to install 10 miles of automated shuttle service, in part by repurposing a 33-year-old monorail system, and potentially build transit-oriented development around stations in the expanded system for the north Florida city.”

How to Build a Transportation App Like Moovit? by Sudeep Srivastava, Appinventiv
An overview of what it would take to make your own logistics app from scratch. File under “Interesting but do not try this under any circumstances at home or at your agency”

E-fare

Maintaining transit equity amidst the transition to digital ticketing by Katherine Conrad, Intelligent Transport
“Katherine Conrad, Director at NEORide, sat down with Intelligent Transport’s Leah Hockley to discuss the significant role that smart ticketing plays in encouraging public transit use across the State of Ohio and beyond, as well as the work that is being done to ensure that those who are not digitally connected are still being considered and serviced as ticketing becomes more digital.”

The Case for Making Public Transit Free Everywhere by Nicole Kobie, Wired
“From Spain to Germany and Luxembourg to Estonia, more and more countries are experimenting with fare-free transportation.”

Should Public Transit Be Free? Freakonomics Asks the Experts by Melanie Curry, Streetsblog California
“Some have argued that free transit can’t work, citing a variety of reasons. As Stephen Dubner points out on his recent podcast for Freakonomics Radio, ‘it’s complicated.'”

Research

Draft Research Report 235: Improving Access and Management of Public Transit ITS Data
“The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program’s pre-publication draft of TCRP Research Report 235: Improving Access and Management of Public Transit ITS Data proposes a data structure for storing data from bus and rail intelligent transportation systems (ITS). With the proliferation of automatic vehicle location, automatic passenger counters, and automatic fare collection, transit agencies are collecting increasingly granular data on service performance, ridership, customer behavior, and financial recovery.”

Effects of autonomous first- and last mile transport in the transport chain by Mikkel Thorhauge, Anders Fjendbo Jensen, and Jeppe Rich, Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
“Exploration of AV shuttles as feeder modes to solve the first- & last mile problem. […] AV shuttles are more likely to shift bike riders to PT than car users.”

Other News Involving Transit and Technology

How T-Mobile and SpaceX are teaming up to give you coverage from space by Chris Velazco, The Washington Post
“Last week, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert and SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced a partnership that promises to offer at least some degree of cellular service ‘practically everywhere in the continental U.S., Hawaii, parts of Alaska, Puerto Rico and territorial waters.'” This could be big deal for rural transit operations.

Google’s Waze is shutting down its carpooling service by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“Google-owned navigation service Waze is shutting down its six-year-old carpooling service, citing shifting commuting patterns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Kirby Wilhelm (wilhelm@ctaa.org).

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