Urban Mobility

TNCs fill transit gaps, cities consider taxes to pay for transit, AI alleviates traffic, and new plans for infrastructure

Welcome to Move Forward’s weekly news wrap-up, featuring the mobility stories you don’t want to miss. Today’s topics include how transportation network companies fill transit gaps during late evening hours, why cities are considering a tax to fund transit projects, a new AI product that will alleviate traffic congestion in southern Asia, and a revised infrastructure plan from the White House.


How TNCs fill transit gaps:

A new study from the Shared Use Mobility Center found that peak use for transportation network companies (TNCs) comes on weekends and evenings, not during rush hours when public-transit use is highest. According to Sharon Feigon, SUMC’s executive director, “TNCs fit into the gaps where the transit systems don’t work as well. People want flexibility and frequency and services like Uber and Lyft are filling in the gaps. We want to create an ecosystem of choices to create a multimodal system that can work for all.”

Shared-Use Mobility Center: “What Can Transit Agencies Learn from TNCs’ Late-Night Popularity?” by Collin Murphy, January 25, 2018.


Cities consider a new tax to fund transit:

Josh Colle, chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, believes that adding an additional fee onto ride-hailing trips to help pay for the city’s growing public transit network is a “fantastic idea.” These remarks follow news of Chicago’s recently adopted “Uber tax,” which officials believe will generate up to $18-million in new revenue for the city’s transit authority this year alone.

CBC News: “Added fee on ride-hailing trips to fund public transit ‘a fantastic idea,’ TTC chair says” by Staff, January 26, 2018.




The argument for TNC data:

Chris McCahill, an Associate Researcher at State Smart Transportation Initiative, explains that governments are trying to negotiate agreements with TNCs– like Uber and Lyft– for data sharing. McCahill argues that until laws and agreements are in place to enable data sharing with TNCs, second-hand sources, like application programming interfaces, are the only way to aggregate information to better understand the changing transportation landscape.

State Smart Transportation Initiative: “Tapping into TNC Data” by Chris McCahill, January 29, 2018.


AI alleviates traffic:

Quartz reports that Alibaba has announced its plans to use artificial intelligence to help alleviate road congestion in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Known as City Brain, the company’s traffic management system makes live traffic predictions, optimizes traffic flow, and detects traffic incidents using data from video footage, traffic bureaus, public transportation systems, and mapping apps.

Quartz: “Alibaba is reshaping city traffic with artificial intelligence” by Karen Hao, January 29, 2018.


Cincinnati – a center of innovation:

Together, Uber and the City of Cincinnati will study the impacts of shared mobility services on public transit, with an ultimate goal of making the city a “center of innovation.” Smart Cities Dive reports that Uber hopes this partnership will become a model for other cities, and is encouraging city leaders to reach out if they’re interested in collaborating.

Smart Cities Dive: “Uber partners with Cincinnati to study, improve public transit” by Kristin Musulin, January 31, 2018.




Falling ridership in L.A.:

A report from UCLA found that Southern California’s dramatic increase in car ownership is the primary reason for the region’s decrease in public transit ridership. The report also considers other factors for ridership decline, including the rise of rideshare companies, the level of service provided by transit operators, and perceived personal safety aboard public transit.

Curbed L.A.: “Transit ridership is falling because Angelenos keep buying cars, UCLA report says” by Matt Tinoco, January 31, 2018.


New plans for infrastructure:

In this week’s State of the Union address, President Trump outlined a high-level plan for fixing America’s infrastructure. Specifically, the President asked Congress to “produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment that our country so desperately needs. Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private-sector investment – to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.”

U.S. News & World Report: “Decoding Trump’s Infrastructure Plan” by Jeff Davis, January 31, 2018.