Let me quote myself:

I’ve been predicting the rise of the “Transportation Service Provider” — a consolidator of every mode of movement imaginable, integrated with technology, and designed to provide consumers with a suite of services for which they pay (as with telecommunications) one provider with a lot of money.

This is based on the assumption a single provider or oligopoly can emerge. Look to see some of today’s giants try to get even bigger and more diverse as fast as possible in order to dominate the market.

Now it’s just a case of documenting how and how fast this is occurring.  Like this, from The Conversation:

High-tech companies and venture capitalists have been striving to break into the transport and mobility market. Between 2016 and 2018, venture capital investment in urban technology surpassed that of many other areas, including pharmaceuticals and artificial intelligence. Almost 70% of this investment was in mobility

There’s Google, of course.  And then our aggressive friend Uber:

 Uber was founded in 2009 as a peer-to-peer ride-sharing company. It has been one of the most successful startups. As of August 2018, it was valued at US$72 billion. In a recent interview with The Economist, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said his goal is for Uber to become the Amazon of transport. … 

Uber is involved in a range of transport-related offerings, including ride sharing, pooled ride sharing, share bikes and scooters, autonomous vehicles, food delivery and freight.

The company is looking to expand into public transit. Earlier this year, it created the Cincinnati Mobility Lab to conduct research and engage with employers to help Cincinnati, Ohio, develop a transport plan to increase public transport use.

And of course there’s the Chinese:

The third major player is Didi Chuxing. Established in 2012, the Beijing-based company has attracted venture capital funding and was valued at US$56 billion as of August 2018. Didi was a major competitor to Uber in China until in 2016 it purchased Uber’s Chinese operations for US$35 billion. Until recently it operated in China only, but is now branching out in Mexico, Brazil and Australia, with plans for further expansion into a number of other countries.

Like Uber, Didi provides transport services across taxis, minibuses, ride pooling and ride, car, bicycle and e-scooter sharing.

The public thinks this battle is mainly about providing another option to taxis.  The current coverage over allowing ride-hailing in BC is a good illustration of how we’re missing what this is really about.  The provincial government has been wise to take its time, but I don’t see much evidence that it sees the larger picture and is preparing the tools needed to ensure the public interest prevails.



  1. You are so spot on Gord!! Public transportation and public policy will be Balkanized, along with communities.

    It could further exacerbate disjointed, deregulated development patterns seen in the US where there is no emergency or fire services, ie, exurban and just regular plain old sprawl. While there is still a fair amount of car oriented development in the MetroVancouver and Fraser Valley Regional District, it is a BC scaled issue. What affects the rest of the province affects the lower mainland.

    1. I don’t know. Transportation – not just public transportation – is already balkanized. This Orwellian technology could bring things together nicely into a single mobility package, though the trade offs will be interesting. Have you ever been to Philadelphia or San Francisco, where different elements of the local public transportation system are not integrated? You get off a streetcar and have to buy a separate ticket for a connecting bus or subway because these are run by separate companies or simply have different fare structures? It’s Thunderdome. New York used to run like this, with three separate subway companies. There’s a lot to be said for the type of integration we take for granted: one fare system, one network, many ways of getting there. This just does the same thing for different modes: public bikes, public trains, public cars (Uber) all on the same system. The devil is of course in the details but in theory, as a regular user of these different modes I’m cautiously optimistic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *