No Time Like the Present

By Casey Jones, CAPP

We live in exciting transportation times, where the pace of innovation, creativity, and effort by the technology powerhouses such as Google and Amazon are at a breakneck pace. In places large and small, on college campuses, at shopping malls, and at the airports we frequent, we’re seeing a surge of car-share, bike-share, and now shooter-share offerings that previously seemed unimaginable. But with every new technology and innovation there are unintended consequences–often positive but sometimes negative–that are a necessary and expected outcome of progress.

In our industry, we’re seeing this play out each day. Take car-share for example. New research reported in StreetsBlog NYC by transportation analyst Bruce Schaller recently revealed that 70 percent of trips by transportation network companies (TNCs) are occurring in nine major metropolitan areas, adding 5.7 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and adding still more congestion to the places already overwhelmed by traffic jams, pollution, and growing commute times. What’s more surprising and alarming is the impact of car-share trips on alternatives to driving. Schaller’s research shows that the bulk of TNC trips–60 percent–either replace transit, biking, and walking, or would not have been made without the availability of TNCs. The remaining 40 percent of trip displacement is split evenly between personal vehicle trips and trips previously accommodated by taxis.

The stakes are high for cities to address congestion, safety, pollution, and the viability of critical public transportation systems, and if TNCs wish to remain viable, they cannot compound the challenges cities face. Municipal government bodies must act now to put in place policies and management strategies to accommodate emerging shared-use transportation services in a manner that reduces their adverse impacts.

Casey Jones, CAPP, is vice president of TimHaahs.

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