San Francisco Bay Area’s recent subway system strike negatively affected hundreds of thousands of passengers, which encouraged heavy usage of ride sharing apps such as Lyft, Sidecar and Uber. These ride sharing apps could be considered as a better alternative to reduce car ownership and solve problems related to both parking and traffic congestion. While there are many critics, who believe that ride sharing discourages the use of public transportation and favors the higher income population, we asked our Zintro experts whether this alternative would add value to public transportation.
According to Lawrence F. Hughes, an expert in transportation law, ridesharing applications could be helpful in the short term to address the absence of public transportation, even though ridesharing will simply become a different type of transportation in the future. “Ridesharing applications such as Lyft, Sidecar and Uber are little more than electronic versions of raising one’s hand for a taxicab. For transportation needs where a taxicab is appropriate, such services may work well. The larger question of whether or not these services can overtake public transportation has probably already been answered: taxicabs have not replaced public transportation. Public transportation is almost always less expensive and operates on a regular timetable without pre-arrangement, whereas taxis either have to be hailed or pre-arranged,” Hughes explains. “Taxicabs typically offer quicker travel times and a trunk for hauling baggage, but at a much steeper cost. For day-to-day travel, most people will continue to use public transportation, not taxicabs.” As Hughes further describes, these new ridesharing applications could differentiate themselves from taxicabs by defining the services as being offered by neighbors, based on voluntary donation. “The companies offering the applications rely on donations to avoid the restrictive laws, which regulate for-hire vehicles. By advertising, that friendly neighbors are offering rides to people and with the absence of fare meters, these new companies are trying to distinguish themselves from the well-regulated taxicab industry. Making regular donations to the drivers using these electronic applications will be comparable to taxicab fares,” adds Hughes. “I do not foresee any substantial shift from public transportation. On the other hand, if these ridesharing applications offer benefits over taxicab services such as lower charges and more responsive service, I could foresee a shift from taxicab service. Before that happens I see legal battles as to whether or not these types of rides haring applications constitute for-hire services, which may be regulated.”
As Pavlina Tsvetanova, an expert in supply chain management points out, quick transportation is essential, taking into account the fast pace of business life and employee’s desire to have a more productive week. “In peak hours, finding an appropriate transportation vehicle is usually a challenge. Public transportation vehicles are full and own car or taxi is expensive. Here as a support comes the ride sharing. Ride sharing vehicles receive their licenses and agree their routes with the municipality of each town. If the major is clever, he will allow routes, which contribute to peoples’ transportation and do not cannibalize public transportation customers. Ride sharing apps are very useful for working people who do not want or can’t afford to pay for a taxicab,” notes Tsvetanova. “In resorts, during certain seasons, municipality must at least double the transportation in order to serve tourists properly; the easiest way is by share riding. The municipality does not need to hire drivers for a short period and later pay them social fees or buy buses just for the season and store them in garages afterwards. All this could be done by ride sharing apps.” Tsvetanova believes that ride sharing has countless benefits, some of which include faster transportation, lower price compared to taxis, specific routes that are not occupied by public transportation and stops chosen for the customer. “Every town will benefit from having ride share apps,” she concludes.
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