July 2019 Technology Updates

Author: Kevin Chambers

Published: July 9, 2019

This is the first in an ongoing monthly series covering technology relevant to mobility management. Though conceived to be a news summary, as a new format there’s room for adaptation and input from readers. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see explored at the intersection of technology and mobility management, you can send me an email at technologist [at] nc4mm [dot] org. Likewise, please email me if you come upon news that you think would fit in well here.

The Introducing the NCMM Technology Podcast Playlist

If you’re a podcast listener like I am, you may be wondering where all the podcasts about mobility management and technology are. While I know of no podcasts focused on this topic yet, I’m finding scattered episodes here and there, which I’ve assembled together as a playlist. As with news articles, if you find something that would be a good candidate for adding to the playlist, send me an email.

The playlist is hosted on the ListenNotes service. From the playlist page located here, you can listen to the episodes directly from your browser or click “subscribe” button to add it to your podcasting app.

In this first installment: Transit professionals will make or break the planet, the war over urban mobility data, ITS futures, and a deep dive into real time transit data. Thanks to The Overhead Wire and the Autonocast for providing such quality content.

And Now on to the News...

Acquisition Roundup

I find acquisitions to be one way to home in on where there’s a lot of activity, interest, or reorganization going on in the tech sector.

Bird Confirms Acquisition of Scoot by Megan Rose Dickey, TechCrunch.

A possible driver of this acquisition is for Bird to gain Scoot’s license to operate dockless scooter sharing in San Francisco.

Fast-growing DoubleMap, maker of transit software, merges with Utah company by John Russell, Indianapolis Business Journal

Back in January, DoubleMap, based in Indianapolis, merged with Ride Systems of Salt Lake City.

ParaPlan Software Joins the Passio Family

ParaPlan Software, a longtime provider of scheduling and dispatch software for NEMT and paratransit services, has been acquired by Passio Technologies, itself owned by the Solstice Transportation Group.

Fleet Electrification

The world’s largest bus system is starting to go electric by Rosamund Hutt, World Economic Forum

Jakarta is trialling electric buses. Also in the article, an overview of the state of bus electrification globally.

Washington State Going for Electric Transit Buses with Volkswagen’s Settlement Funds by Sandy James, Price Tags

The Washington Department of Ecology distributes the first diesel emission settlement payment to 6 transit agencies. A fitting use of funds from the Volkswagen scandal.

Why U.S. Cities Aren’t Using More Electric Buses by Linda Poon, CityLab

Getting electric buses is just the tip of the iceberg. Getting the infrastructure in place to charge them is far from trivial.

Autonomous Vehicles

These days, no discussion of mobility technology would be complete without at least one highly opinionated piece about automated vehicles.

The Auto Industry Is Nowhere Near The On-Ramp For Self-Driving Cars by Jim Collins, Forbes

For cars operating in mixed traffic, that is. Nestled in this article is the fact that for “passenger shuttles on fixed routes, AVs are functioning today”. Also of note is the author’s perception of what comprises mobility as a service, which appears to be a self-driving taxi.

An MIT-trained Intel autonomous-driving exec explains why Tesla, Uber and Lyft are in a robo-taxi race for their lives by Eric Rosenbaum, CNBC

Meanwhile, Uber, Lyft, and Tesla stake much of their future profitability on the bet that it’ll take much less than 50 years to work out AVs in mixed traffic.

Florida will no longer require human drivers in AVs by Jason Plautz, SmartCitiesDive

Florida positions itself to be a hub for testing AVs by allowing them on public roads without a human driver.

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

MaaS and new mobility are both hype-driven and slippery terms. If you’re confused as to what MaaS means, I recommend checking out my own take on it, aimed at mobility managers.

Deloitte: Majority of consumers will be open to mobility changes in 5 years by Cailin Crowe, SmartCitiesDive

Deloitte conducted a survey wherein 68% of respondents expect changes in how people get around. While expectation of change may be positive for MaaS, many are no doubt expecting flying cars.

MaaS: Are cities going to miss the bus? by Sarah Wray, SmartCitiesWorld

At a roundtable of European city leaders, there was a great deal of interest but still no consensus on how to move forward on implementing MaaS schemes.

There's an app for that: Transit agencies tackle MaaS platform development by Katie Pyzyk, SmartCitiesDive

Transit Authority of River City (TARC) of Louisville, Kentucky jumps ahead of the pack to become one of the first US transit agencies to offer it own MaaS app.

Uber adds Boston transit info to app by Katie Pyzyk, SmartCitiesDive

Uber continues to create its own walled garden version of MaaS. The addition of Boston’s transit data to the Uber app follows the addition of Denver and London. Previously Uber acquired bike- and scooter-share company Jump.

Via launches microtransit for seniors by Katie Pyzyk, SmartCitiesDive

Newton Massachusetts is replacing its taxi voucher system for adults 60 and older with serviced contracted to new mobility provider Via. This continues the trend of new mobility moving into the human services transportation sector. Last year Uber formed Uber Health, and Lyft has made a similar push into the non-emergency medical transportation space.

Uber teams with start-up Grand Rounds to give big-company employees free rides to the doctor by Christina Farr, CNBC

Uber Health goes after providing medical transportation as a benefit provided to workers at large employers.

Could NEMT's pivot to the commercial sector be a wrong turn? by Rebecca Piker, HealthcareDive

Looking at the same news as the article above, but with a more incredulous eye.

15 cities join Open Mobility Foundation by Katie Pyzyk, SmartCitiesDive

A new group has formed to manage data standards and open source software for "new mobility". It appears to be squarely focused on micromobility and the LADOT-sponsored MDS data format. Not one mention that I could find in any of its materials about transit, public transport, buses, or trains.

States Authorize Ridesharing for Medical Transport By Kate Elizabeth Queram, Route Fifty

Arizona now allows Lyft rides for Medicaid transportation. Texas and Florida will be partnering with TNCs soon. Other states appear likely to follow.

E-Fare

One metro card to cover 260 cities in China by ECNS

Next year China will join the ranks of several countries in Europe and Asia that have a national transit fare payment system.

Facebook announces Libra cryptocurrency: All you need to know by Josh Constine, TechCrunch

Uber and Lyft have both backed Libra, the new cryptocurrency created by Facebook. Transaction giants Visa and Mastercard are also on board, as are a range of NGOs hoping that the platform will increase access to the financial system among the currently unbanked.

Could NEMT's pivot to the commercial sector be a wrong turn? by David Zipper, Wired

One thing profile-based e-fare opens the door to is the wild world of rewards programs. Some agencies have high hopes for them as ways to recruit and retain riders.

Hero photo of electric bus by Ryanmirjanic, Wikipedia

We’d love to hear from you!

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