Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Turn your car into public transportation

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A decidedly jaded look at a new car sharing scheme called Avego from Mashable.

Avego lays out some great arguments for using their product, including:

-85% of cars travel with just one driver in a five seat car. That’s simply an inefficient use of our resources

-It saves gas and reduces the cost of rides
-No more public transportation-related stress

-Your commute becomes faster

-It’s environmental

-You make money by splitting the cost of the ride

And of course, this is aimed at Americans. Here such schemes have been tried in various forms and soon fall foul of our regulatory mechanisms once they start getting well known. A number of such ideas have fallen to legal actions brought by taxi and longer distance (private) bus firms.

Actually I am not against the idea of more car sharing – and I think the schemes that are promoted by the public sector – such as Translink’s rideshare – could probably be enhanced by a savvy IT firm. It is also a good intermediate step for areas which currently have very poor transit service, and little prospect of improvements any time soon. As usual, the best is often the enemy of the good. We stop people from ride sharing but fail to provide a better alternative, and in the suburbs and exurbs, smaller vehicles than bsuse are needed to better match the many to many trip matrix. It is also the case that ridesharing was the sector at UBC which was hardest hit by UPass. Ride share can also work as a feeder to rapid transit. Van and car pools should be getting the best spots reserved for them at the Park and Ride.

Unfortunately, our regulatory frameworks date back to the years when transit had to be protected from competition from unregulated jitneys and the beneficiaries of that protection are obviously very reluctant to give up that privileged position.  But we need to review these rules and regulations to make sure the public interest is protected, and in general the need for reducing gas consumption and all that goes with single occupant car use trumps the benefits of safeguarding bus and taxi operators.  Although they may need some other form of support in the transition to prevent undue hardship. The invisible hand of the market not being especially wise in terms of social (and other external) costs.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 9, 2008 at 9:59 am

Posted in cars, Transportation

Tagged with , , ,

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