I’ve been predicting for some time that we will see the rise of the Transportation Service Provider: a single company or agency that will integrate every conceivable mode of transportation that has the potential of a cash flow, and then package them in the way that telecommunications is offered – a range of services, all integrated, never separately charged, accessed with, likely, your phone, and billed monthly and almost invisibly through your credit or bank account.
Well, here we go.
From Geekwire, via Peter Berkeley:

… Google’s sister company, Sidewalk Labs, is convinced it can also be part of the solution — if we bridge the digital-urbanist divide.
Earlier this month Sidewalk Labs secured a massive workshop to test its theory on the Toronto waterfront. The project is a partnership between Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto — an organization created by the local government to represent the public’s interests. …
(Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff) used transportation as an example of a system that could be more affordable with improved technology. He envisions a network of self-driving cars, bike paths, and smart mass transit that are packaged and sold as a single service. He predicts it would save the average Canadian family $6,000 per year.


Now is the time for government to think about how this service is going to emerge and be regulated.  This should not come as an Uber-like surprise.  In particular, who will control the data? How will these services be charged for the use of public infrastructure?  How will they (or consumers) be taxed?
If the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission’s mandate was expanded and extended, these would be useful questions to address.  Road pricing is just one the issues related to TSPs, and secondary to the jursidictional ones.
The commission, for example, should as a recommendation establish the principle that TSPs, or any company like Uber, must as a condition of operating provide the public managers and regulators with their data – just as New York has.  Data is power, and without it, we’d be ceding one of the critical functions of cities to the private sector – and the behemoths like Google.

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