March 2021 Tech Updates for Mobility Managers

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: March 25, 2021

This month’s tech updates brings news of AV consolidation, EV growth (and growing pains), and a raft of new research involving public transportation technology.

TNCs/Ride Sourcing Companies

Can Shared Mobility Survive the Pandemic? by David Zipper, Bloomberg
“Even before Covid-19, many Uber and Lyft users avoided pooled trips. Asking people to share rides with strangers in autonomous vehicles may face the same resistance.”

Uber, Lyft to share safety information on deactivated drivers by Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive
“Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft announced a partnership late last week on the Industry Sharing Safety Program, an effort by both companies to share information about drivers who have been deactivated for the most serious safety incidents including sexual assault and physical assaults resulting in a fatality.”

Autonomous Vehicles

Have the wheels come off investment in autonomous vehicles? by Lara Williams, City Monitor
“The development of autonomous vehicles continues, but are a lack of public trust, issues regarding liability over accidents and financial woes linked to Covid-19 putting off would-be investors?”

Cruise acquires Voyage in another autonomous vehicle merger by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“Cruise, a majority-owned subsidiary of General Motors, will acquire self-driving startup Voyage in another major autonomous vehicle merger.”

Vehicle Electrification

From Amazon To FedEx, The Delivery Truck Is Going Electric by Camila Domonoske, NPR
“All major delivery companies are starting to replace their gas-powered fleets with electric or low-emission vehicles, a switch that companies say will boost their bottom lines, while also fighting climate change and urban pollution.”

Electric Buses Update: Lots of Progress and Some Challenges by TriMet
Portland Oregon’s transit agency shares an update about its multi-pronged approach to bus electrification, including converting diesel buses.

EV rollout will require huge investments in strained U.S. power grids by Nichola Groom and Tina Bellon, Reuters
“During several days of brutal cold in Texas, the city of Austin saw its fleet of 12 new electric buses rendered inoperative by a statewide power outage. That problem will be magnified next year, when officials plan to start purchasing electric-powered vehicles exclusively.”

To go electric, America needs more mines. Can it build them? by Ernest Scheyder, Reuters
“‘There is no way there’s enough raw materials being produced right now to start replacing millions of gasoline-powered motor vehicles with EVs,’ said Lewis Black, CEO of Almonty Industries Inc, which mines the hardening metal tungsten in Portugal and South Korea.”

VW to ramp up battery cell production with six ‘gigafactories’ in Europe by Anmar Frangoul, CNBC
“Volkswagen is looking to ramp up battery cell production for electric vehicles in the coming years, with the German car giant announcing Monday that it was aiming to establish several “gigafactories” in Europe by the end of the decade.”

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

Federal judge dismisses lawsuit against LADOT data sharing requirements by Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive
“The lawsuit, brought by dockless scooter riders Justin Sanchez and Eric Alejo, alleged MDS violated their right to privacy under the U.S. and California Constitutions, and the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act. LADOT had already prevailed in an appeal brought by Uber over MDS compliance, which found the department was justified in suspending the company’s permit for bikes and scooters.”

Via buys mapping startup Remix for $100 million by Kirsten Korosec, Tech Crunch
Remix, the startup that developed mapping software used by cities for transportation planning and street design, was born out of a hackathon during a Code for America fellowship. Nearly seven years later, the San Francisco-based startup is being acquired by Via for $100 million in cash and equity.

MaaS transit: The business of mobility as a service by Jason Plautz, Tech Crunch
“Amid declining ridership, transportation agencies find new software partners”

Other Noteworthy Transit Technology News

VIA to test new technology to keep visually impaired riders up-to-date on routes by Jackie Wang, San Antonio Report
“VIA [Metropolitan Transit] will embark on a six-month pilot program using an app from Spain-based company NaviLens, which uses QR code-style technology to help visually impaired people navigate cities and transit systems.” Thanks to Steve Yaffe for sending this link.

An Interview with Matthew Barnes and Sarah Hackett: How ODOT Uses GTFS Data for Planning & Analysis by Chris Perry, Trillium
“The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)’s recently released Key Transit Hub Report and Transit Network Report mark two more milestones in their utilization of GTFS data for planning, analysis, and coordination. […] To learn more about the Key Transit Hub and Transit Network Report’s goals, findings, and what it means for the future of transit in Oregon, we spoke with Matthew Barnes (Public Transit Network Manager) and Sarah Hackett (Public Transportation Network Coordinator) at ODOT.”

Small cities are better suited for smart public transit by Miroslav Katsarov, GCN
“despite having less funding and resources to improve public transit, smaller cities have inherent advantages in bringing modern technologies into their existing networks. With less existing infrastructure and smaller populations, integrating new smart technology is much quicker and requires less education and engagement to get the public, quite literally, onboard.”

Research into Technology for Transit Operations

Older Adults, New Mobility, and Automated Vehicles: A Framework for Harnessing Emerging Technology for Individual and Societal Benefit by AARP Public Policy Institute, Urbanism Next Center, University of Oregon, and RAND Corporation
“This report offers a framework that can serve as a tool for public- and private-sector actors in ensuring the equitable development of these new forms of transportation focusing on consumers and the local mobility ecosystem.”

Modernizing Demand-Responsive Transportation for the Age of New Mobility by Jana Lynott, AARP Public Policy Institute
“This paper recommends several steps for achieving [modernization] and offers case studies of existing models. One important model is FlexDanmark, a publicly owned IT company in Denmark with two decades of experience coordinating rides using a transactional data standard. In overcoming the challenge of siloed technology companies, FlexDanmark is the exemplar for what could be achieved in the United States by embracing modern technology and market competition.”

TCRP Research Report 223: Guidebook and Research Plan to Help Communities Improve Transportation to Health Care Services
We first posted the pre-publication draft back in November. The final version has now been released. It contains many descriptions of how technology is being used to improve medical transportation.

Forging Links: Unblocking Transport with Blockchain? by International Transport Forum, Corporate Partnership Board

Automated Bus Rapid Transit: A New Mode for High-Quality, High-Capacity Transit Corridors by Richard Mudge, Ph.D. and Jerome M. Lutin, Ph.D., PE, AICP, F.ITE, Robotic Research

Driving Low-Income Mothers to Greater Success: The Impact of Ridehailing on Income and Employment by Lee Branstetter, Beibei Li, and Lowell Taylor

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).