The best summary so far:

Over the years, Vancouver has watched as its peers have dealt with the darker sides of Uber and Lyft: muddy passenger safety records, negative impacts on congestion and emissions, flouting of local regulations, and widely criticized labor practices.

Now B.C. transportation leaders are cautiously optimistic that being a last-adopter will prove to be a virtue. They hope that strict data-sharing requirements, a stringent licensing scheme for drivers, and a long-term vision to mitigate added traffic with fees on curbside access and downtown streets at rush hour will help make ride-hailing more sustainable here. …

Meanwhile, TransLink’s buses, trains, and ferries are swelling with riders: Vancouver’s system-wide boardings jumped more than 7 percent in 2018, following nearly 6 percent growth in 2017. …

Somewhere in this mix of ingredients for transit’s success: the absence of Uber and Lyft, which have proven to be mortal foes of many transit systems in North America. … over an eight-year span, TNCs might be responsible for nearly 13 percent of declining bus ridership in a given city.

Those extra car trips have led to measurably more traffic. In San Francisco, a study by the SFMTA found that 50 percent of increased traffic delays between 2010 and 2016 in that city could be linked to Uber and Lyft. …

Local officials are also intent on mitigating congestion impacts or negative effects on transit ridership. To keep an eye on how many cars are on the road, B.C.’s new regulations require ride-hailing companies to share data upon request, including trip rates, wait times, and the times and locations of pick-ups and drop-offs. Over time, local and provincial governments may consider pricing schemes that encourage certain types of ride-hailing trips and discourage others, such as charging fees to access curbside pick-up zones, said McCurran.* The revenue could potentially help subsidize certain types of ride-hailing trips, such as those that connect to TransLink stations. …

(Andrew) McCurran is hopeful that Vancouver will be able to pull off something that no city on the continent has really been able to do—welcome ride-hailing as a complement, rather than a competitor, to public transit. …

In contrast with U.S. cities that have rushed to be first to the table with new mobility offerings—be they autonomous cars, hyperloops, or drones—Vancouver may prove that is pays to be last.

Full article here.


  1. If you do the quick back-of envelope math, ride-hailing may only need to lure 10% of transit trips on an annual basis to pull in more than the whole taxi industry. For-profit companies like Uber and Lyft cannot survive if they only take over the taxi industry. While they were the natural target, taxis were just the first in line. These TNCs are effectively boundary and fleet-less so they have an insatiable appetite. After the taxi appetizers, they will go onto the next course which is transit. And this isn’t just a coincidence. It had to have been planned all along because companies worth billions that run on big data do not accidentally encroach into a new market.

    In fact I saw it in the data almost 2 decades ago and unfortunately projections coming in from various metropolitan regions are bang-on.

    1. We do have tools to keep that in check if there is the political will to use them. I get why there have always been boundaries for cabs but it is completely wasteful to dead-head from a distant municipality. Boundaries should be eliminated for cabs too and other mechanisms should be used to ensure distribution. Fleet limits are also problematic. I’m hardly a neoliberal but I do think markets largely work and balance themselves – sometimes requiring a little nudging – without top down over-regulation.

      Ride-hailing began as ride-sharing, which would have been a positive thing instead of the questionable thing it has become.

      To keep transit ridership up and limit the proliferation of ride-hailing we need to add road pricing and keep transit cheap and reliable enough to compete in it’s own way. One funds the other. Geographically variable road pricing could be a tool to ensure appropriate distribution. Cabs can keep one advantage they have over ride-hailing in being permitted to use transit lanes where appropriate – and only with passengers on board. Cabs have stricter economic and bureaucratic conditions and should have some advantages that ride-hailing doesn’t. If transit priority lanes get congested because of cabs I’d prefer expansion and improvement of those lanes and/or tweaking the road pricing rather than restricting cabs. Ultimately that uses road space more efficiently and still ensures predictable transit speeds and schedules.

      I was originally opposed to cabs being allowed to use transit lanes but it seems to have not become a problem. Leveraging their use to improve those lanes seems like it could be a win-win.

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