Lots has happened since Move LA worked with the Shared Use Mobility Center (SUMC), NRDC, the TransitCenter and other partners on the Live Ride Share conference earlier this year — so much that the national nonprofit SUMC is staging another conference in their hometown of Chicago. Technology keeps pushing shared use forward and now there’s a plethora of apps to integrate ridesharing, bikesharing and carsharing with transit, and some 200 start-ups providing bus and shuttle services that fall somewhere in between public transit and the private car. There's increased interest in linking transit and shared use because it's clear they need each other. Have you read Nate Silver’s recent blog post “Public Transit Should Be Uber’s Best Friend”? If not, you should read it now!
Silver, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s 538.com blog and a celebrated statistician, says that in order for Uber to prove itself worthy of its $50 billion valuation, it’s going to have to cash-in on a much bigger market than the one served by taxis and limos — Uber is also going to have to win over transit riders who need to get to and from stations. And transit, he points out, should want to be best friends with Uber too!
This is provocative because people continue to question if shared-use will complement — or compete with — public transit. Nobody really knows for sure, and that’s definitely going to be a topic of conversation at the Shared Use Mobility Center’s 3-day conference.
But SUMC Executive Director Sharon Feigon says one thing is clear: Shared use mobility's promise lies in extending the reach of public transit to fill gaps, providing first and last mile connections, and expanding mobility options for all. New forms of shared transportation not only help to get people to and from stations, but also provide service in the evenings and on weekends, when fewer trains and buses are running.
This is the crux of it: Transit and shared use together make it easier for people to contemplate giving up their cars, and that could be good for Uber and the rest of the shared-use industry, the public and public transit too!
The second big topic at SUMC’s conference? The emergence of “microtransit,” including bus and shuttle services such as Leap Transit and Chariot in San Francisco, Bridj in Boston and Washington DC, “dynamic vanpools” like Via in New York, carpool start-ups like Carma, and “cab-share” options like UberPool and LyftLine.
CityLab’s Eric Jaffe noted in a recent post on microtransit that the Angel List website for start-ups and angel investors provides links to 177 projects on their public transportation page, and 1,000 ventures on their general transportation page, noting this is probably an undercount since many entrepreneurs don’t bother adding their company names to these listings.
“These days when I open my computer or email it’s not unusual for me to find out about 2 or 3 new services,” Susan Shaheen of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center told Jaffe. “I feel we are in the midst of a transition to a different type of mobility system.”
Jaffe points out that as new companies crowd into the market the possibility looms that traditional transit service — and the many low-income riders it serves — will suffer. But he also notes that a company named Transloc is developing a technology platform that will help transit agencies join the fray by integrating conventional fixed-route service with more flexible, on-demand services — just like all the new transportation start-ups do.
But if these 2 topics don't pique your interest, here are 9 more reasons why you should travel to SUMC's Move Together conference in Chicago on Sept. 28-30.