Owning and driving our own car is one of the greatest pleasures that many of us enjoy. Countless studies indicate that the majority of Americans still don’t want to ride in autonomous vehicles and certainly don’t want to give up their own cars for a number of reasons. There are forces though that are working together to make sure that the future of car ownership will be radically different for urban dwellers.
Carsharing company Zipcar Cofounder Robin Chase initiated a pledge last year after working with a group of NGOs on 10 Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities. In early February at a press conference, Chase announced that fifteen Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Companies have already committed to the pledge.
Lyft’s VP of Governmental Relations Joseph Okpaku said, “We definitely do envision a future where the vast majority of autonomous vehicle rides will be done as part of a shared network. We think that’s the best way to realize all of the benefits that an autonomous future can bring in terms of rebuilding our cities.” Chase had this to say, “Transportation is really a gateway to opportunity and cities really have to be places where you want to live, work, and play. These companies have taken an incredibly bold step by supporting these principles.”
Chase also said the following in a press release:
“For most cities, urban planners, legislators and residents, there is a cacophony of advice. Our goal is to align cities, the private sector and civil society around a shared vision to ensure we harness the good and avoid the bad of new business models and technologies. These companies represent some of the biggest players and we are thrilled to see we share common goals, like a commitment to zero-emission vehicles and efficient use of urban roads.”
The 15 companies that have already made the pledge are: BlaBlaCar, Citymapper, Didi, Keolis, LimeBike, Lyft, Mobike, Motivate, Ofo, Ola, Scoot Networks, Transit, Uber, Via, and Zipcar. They claim that together their companies account for 77 million passenger trips per day and inform the travel decisions of 10 million people each day. They also reiterate that city streets are a finite resource that are increasingly congested and polluted but in actuality much of that recent congestion is due to ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. In September 2017, San Francisco claimed that Uber and Lyft accounted for two-thirds of the congestion-related traffic violations in downtown.
Automotive News took issue believes that the pledge:
“…comes off as benign (People over vehicles! Promote equity!) but mask a deeper philosophical debate that goes back a century to the beginning of urban planning. Namely, how active a role should coordination and regulation play in our transportation, and what do services that get some degree of public support via roads or licensed monopolies owe their customers?”
If you actually take a look at the principles (see below), it seems this manifesto created by NGO’s pledged by profit-making companies are attempting to influence regulations to raise barriers to competition which will harm consumers. California based AV consultant Grayson Brutle says, “All this is doing is supporting a political ideology. I consider myself for the free market, but I think there will be shared and there will be private. What this coalition is proposing is anti-competitive, it’s eliminating choice.”
Principle number 10 is especially egregious: We Support that Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) in Dense Urban Areas should be Operated only in Shared Fleets. Why do these companies have the hubris to believe that they are the only game in town?
Consumers should have the right to choose whether one owns a car, leases, rents by the day, holds a subscription or pays for the ride. Cities should be in the business of building better transportation overall to meet the needs of everyone. Companies should be building better products that work and that consumers want. Privately owned vehicles should be a part of that overall mix and certainly should still be one of the choices.
10 Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities
- We Plan out Cities and Mobility Together
The way our cities are built determines mobility needs and how they can be met. Development, urban design and public spaces, building and zoning regulations, parking requirements, and other land use policies shall incentivize compact, accessible, livable and sustainable cities.
- We Prioritize People over Vehicles
The mobility of people and not vehicles shall be in the center of transportation planning and decision making. Cities shall prioritize walking, cycling, public transport, and other efficient shared mobility, as well as their interconnectivity. Cities shall discourage the use of cars, single-passenger taxies, and other oversized vehicles transporting one person.
- We Support the Shared and Efficient Use of Vehicles, Lanes, Curbs and Land
Transportation and land use planning and policies should minimize the use of each vehicle. We discourage overbuilding and oversized vehicles and infrastructure, as well as the oversupply of parking.
- We Engage with Stakeholders
Residents, workers, businesses, and other stakeholders may feel direct impacts on their lives, their investments and their economic livelihoods by the unfolding transition to shared, zero-emission, and ultimately autonomous vehicles. We commit to actively engage these groups in the decision-making process and support them as we move through this transition.
- We Promote Equity
Physical, digital, and financial access to shared transport services are valuable public goods and need thoughtful design to ensure use is possible and affordable by all ages, genders, incomes, and abilities.
- We Lead the Transition towards a Zero-Emission Future and Renewable Energy:
Public transportation and shared-use fleets will accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles. Electric vehicles shall ultimately be powered by renewable energy to maximize climate and air quality benefits.
- We Support Fair User Fees across all Modes
Every vehicle and mode should pay their fair share for road use, congestion, pollution, and use of curb space. The fair share shall take the operating, maintenance and social costs into account.
- We Aim for Public Benefits via Open Data
The data infrastructure underpinning shared transport services must enable interoperability, completion, and innovation, while ensuring privacy, security and accountability.
- We Work towards Integration and Seamless Connectivity
All transportation services should be integrated and thoughtfully planned across operators, geographies, and complementary modes. Seamless trips should be facilitated via physical connections, interoperable payments and combined information. Every opportunity should be taken to enhance connectivity of people and vehicles to wireless networks.
- We Support that Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) in Dense Urban Areas should be Operated only in Shared Fleets
Due to the transformational potential of autonomous vehicles, it is critical that all AVs are part of shared fleets, well-regulated, and zero-emission. Shared fleets can provide more affordable access to all, maximize public safety and emissions benefits, ensure that maintenance and software upgrades are managed by professionals, and actualize the promise of reductions in vehicles, parking, and congestion, in line with broader policy trends to reduce the use of personal cars in dense urban areas.
Let the NMA know what you think about this pledge by writing a comment below!
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