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robertogreco : carsharing   12

Beware the ethical car - macwright.org
"On Tuesday, Lyft released a dataset for self-driving car development, along with a blog post. Here’s a snippet:
Avoidable collisions, single-occupant commuters, and vehicle emissions are choking our cities, while infrastructure strains under rapid urban growth.

And that translates to an efficient ecosystem of connected transit, bikes, scooters, and shared rides from drivers as well as self-driving cars. Solving the autonomous vehicle challenge is not just an option — it’s a necessity.

And then the CEO’s quote:
Not only can self-driving tech save two lives every single minute, it is essential to combat climate change by allowing people to ditch their cars for shared electric transportation. Lyft is committed to leading this transportation revolution.

Here’s what’s they’re doing: by co-opting the language of climate change, companies are going to try and make cars ethical.

Evidence so far

We should be wary. First, because ridesharing has already claimed to reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and has done the opposite.

See, Lyft claimed in 2015 that their service harmonized with public transit, rather than competed with it. That didn’t work out. Not only have they stolen trips from public transit, they’ve reduced support for transit and replaced walking & biking trips, too. They’ve increased traffic deaths by 2-3%, while increasing the number of cars on the streets.

Improved cars are a suspiciously convenient change agenda

California, eager to top its subsidy of mansions as blindingly regressive policy, decided to subsidize electric cars to the tune of $7,500 each, in the form of a tax credit. Tax credits, of course, are wealth transfer from some taxpayers to others: and in this case, we’re transferring our money to the deserving buyers of $90,000 sports cars.

That isn’t enough: we also allowed electric cars to drive in HOV lanes for years, until too many did so, traffic built up again, and the perk was removed.

While we subsidize the rich, we subsidize public transit less than almost everywhere else and make a grisly show of cracking down on fare evasion.

Space and selfishness

Lyft links to two articles in their blog post - one to a Washington Post ‘brand studio’ (sponsored, ghostwritten) article, and the other to The Atlantic. The Washington Post article is there to substantiate the climate change claim and here’s the crux of its argument:
Fulton’s analysis found little societal or environmental benefit from driverless vehicles unless they are both electric and shared.

Which brings us to the question of self-driving technology: will it be used for shared, communal transit like public transit works today, or will it be a way for rich people to have private luxury rooms?

All current signs point to the worse scenario. Here’s the carpooling, from the Washington Post article:
Carpooling peaked during the 1970s energy crisis, then dropped to 9 percent in 2014 from 20 percent in 1980.

Here’s what Elon Musk thinks of public transit.
“It’s a pain in the ass,” he continued. “That’s why everyone doesn’t like it. And there’s like a bunch of random strangers, one of who might be a serial killer, OK, great. And so that’s why people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”

Would Musk encourage people to carpool in their self-driving Teslas? Do serial killers own Teslas? This hasn’t been an issue so far, because Tesla owners can drive by themselves in carpool lanes.

Or consider how people reacted to increasing vehicle efficiency, and were given the choice: save the environment, or bigger cars?
The global S.U.V. boom is a roadblock in the march toward cleaner cars that has been aided by advances in fuel-saving technology and hybrid or electric vehicles. Compared to smaller cars, S.U.V.s are less efficient, generally by about 30 percent.

*******

Cars are a broken format. We shouldn’t give them a lifeline, or a new coat of paint, and society shouldn’t find a way to assuage the guilt that surrounds them.

Sure, cars should be electric. There are a lot of places in the world where transportation infrastructure isn’t sufficient and cars are the native transportation medium. Maybe they should be self-driving too, if the technology is safer than human drivers. Right now, it isn’t.

But to a large extent this is a zero-sum problem. Ridesharing already has substantially hurt public transit. The blue sky dream of self-driving cars is spawning galaxy-brain reckons like replacing the subway with underground highways, or replacing the subway with tunnels. These dreams are built around selfishness: they always offer private pods flying through space. Hyperloop promotional material portrays it as an alternative to being on the surface, with all those other people.

Avoiding climate catastrophe is obviously necessary, and we should consider all the options. But it’s hard to believe in car-centric solutions that don’t come with a vision of social and cultural change."
cars  carpooling  carsharing  lyft  uber  elonmusk  electriccars  transportation  transit  publictransit  climatechange  technology  technosolutionism  space  selfishness  society  globalwarming  ethics  ridesharing  california  subsidies  policy  highspeedrail  trains  hovlanes  suvs  emissions  hyperloop  tommacwright 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Uber’s Path of Destruction - American Affairs Journal
"ince it began operations in 2010, Uber has grown to the point where it now collects over $45 billion in gross passenger revenue, and it has seized a major share of the urban car service market. But the widespread belief that it is a highly innovative and successful company has no basis in economic reality.

An examination of Uber’s economics suggests that it has no hope of ever earning sustainable urban car service profits in competitive markets. Its costs are simply much higher than the market is willing to pay, as its nine years of massive losses indicate. Uber not only lacks powerful competitive advantages, but it is actually less efficient than the competitors it has been driving out of business.

Uber’s investors, however, never expected that their returns would come from superior efficiency in competitive markets. Uber pursued a “growth at all costs” strategy financed by a staggering $20 billion in investor funding. This funding subsidized fares and service levels that could not be matched by incumbents who had to cover costs out of actual passenger fares. Uber’s massive subsidies were explicitly anticompetitive—and are ultimately unsustainable—but they made the company enormously popular with passengers who enjoyed not having to pay the full cost of their service.

The resulting rapid growth was also intended to make Uber highly attractive to those segments of the investment world that believed explosive top-line growth was the only important determinant of how start-up companies should be valued. Investors focused narrow­ly on Uber’s revenue growth and only rarely considered whether the company could ever produce the profits that might someday repay the multibillion dollar subsidies.

Most public criticisms of Uber have focused on narrow behavioral and cultural issues, including deceptive advertising and pricing, algorithmic manipulation, driver exploitation, deep-seated misogyny among executives, and disregard of laws and business norms. Such criticisms are valid, but these problems are not fixable aberrations. They were the inevitable result of pursuing “growth at all costs” without having any ability to fund that growth out of positive cash flow. And while Uber has taken steps to reduce negative publicity, it has not done—and cannot do—anything that could suddenly pro­duce a sustainable, profitable business model.

Uber’s longer-term goal was to eliminate all meaningful competition and then profit from this quasi-monopoly power. While it has already begun using some of this artificial power to suppress driver wages, it has not achieved the Facebook- or Amazon-type “plat­form” power it hoped to exploit. Given that both sustainable profits and true industry dominance seemed unachievable, Uber’s investors de­cided to take the company public, based on the hope that enough gullible investors still believe that the compa­ny’s rapid growth and popularity are the result of powerfully effi­cient inno­vations and do not care about its inability to generate profits.

These beliefs about Uber’s corporate value were created entirely out of thin air. This is not a case of a company with a reasonably sound operating business that has managed to inflate stock market expectations a bit. This is a case of a massive valuation that has no relationship to any economic fundamentals. Uber has no competitive efficiency advantages, operates in an industry with few barriers to entry, and has lost more than $14 billion in the previous four years. But its narratives convinced most people in the media, invest­ment, and tech worlds that it is the most valuable transportation company on the planet and the second most valuable start-up IPO in U.S. history (after Facebook).

Uber is the breakthrough case where the public perception of a large new company was entirely created using the types of manufactured narratives typically employed in partisan political campaigns. Narrative construction is perhaps Uber’s greatest competitive strength. The company used these techniques to completely divert attention away from the massive subsidies that were the actual drivers of its popularity and growth. It successfully framed the entire public discussion around an emotive, “us-versus-them” battle between heroic innovators and corrupt regulators who were falsely blamed for all of the industry’s historic service problems. Uber’s desired framing—that it was fighting a moral battle on behalf of technological progress and economic freedom—was uncritically ac­cepted by the mainstream business and tech industry press, who then never bothered to analyze the firm’s actual economics or its anticompetitive behavior.

In reality, Uber’s platform does not include any technological breakthroughs, and Uber has done nothing to “disrupt” the eco­nomics of providing urban car services. What Uber has disrupted is the idea that competitive consumer and capital markets will maximize overall economic welfare by rewarding companies with superior efficiency. Its multibillion dollar subsidies completely distorted marketplace price and service signals, leading to a massive misallocation of resources. Uber’s most important innovation has been to produce staggering levels of private wealth without creating any sustainable benefits for consumers, workers, the cities they serve, or anyone else."
huberthoran  uber  carsharing  taxis  transportation  2019  economics  technology  technosolutionism  huxterism  propaganda  regulation  disruption  innovation  scale  networkeffects  amazon  facebook  venturecapital  siliconvalley  latecapitalism  capitalism  exploitation  labor  growth  lyft  china  startups  cities  urban  urbanism  productivity  traviskalanick 
june 2019 by robertogreco
"Self-Driving cars are the answer. But what is the question?"
"Self-driving cars are a sticking plaster over existing conditions. They actually reinforce the 'Californian Ideology' that underpins today's mobility problems: suburban sprawl, based around the possibility of lengthy car-based commutes, in turn predicated on a highly individualistic view of society. It is an entirely conservative move. Self-driving cars provide a way of changing the veneer of this system, as no-one is brave enough to suggest changing the system itself. They replace who, or what, is holding the steering wheel, but not the underlying culture that contributes to mass depression, obesity epidemics, climate change and economic crises."



"Software-enabled sharing is far more radical than simply software-enabled driving. We have seen how bike-sharing schemes are beginning to redraw our urban fabric. We can see the growth in the community garden movements. We can see how shared space systems creates a safer, more engaged way of moving around. Self-driving cars have none of these dynamics, simply using software to reinforce what are actually pre-internet ideologies.

Folding self-driving systems into car-sharing schemes, as part of a wider rethink about how we live together in cities, however? I could share that vision. So again, what is the real question that suggests self-driving cars are the solution?"
danhill  carsharing  bikesharing  googlecar  self-drivingcars  cars  transportation  2013  software  systemschange  cities  urban  urbanism  parking  sharing  sharingeconomy  publictransit 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Scope, not scale - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
"Indeed, economies of scale work well in periods of energy "ascent", when the supply of energy increases, but work less well in periods of energy "descent". In these circumstances, economies of scope are needed. These types of economies are exactly what peer production (which encompasses open knowledge, free culture, free software, open and shared designs, open hardware and distributed manufacturing) is all about…

So what are the economies of scope of this new age? They come in two flavours: the mutualising of knowledge and the mutualising of tangible resources…

What will the new system look like if economies of scope become the norm, replacing economies of scale as the primary driver of the economy?

Global open design communities could be accompanied by a global network of micro-factories producing locally, such as the ones that open-source car companies like Local Motors and Wikispeed are proposing."
capitalism  ip  acta  pipa  sopa  medieval  guilds  democracy  carsharing  microfactories  resources  distributedmanufacturing  openhardware  peerproduction  shareddesigns  opendesigns  openknowledge  freesoftware  freeculture  opensource  wikipedia  cuba  michelbauwens  policy  production  2012  local  peakoil  scope  scale  rome  ancientrome  history 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Zipcar : iPhone app
"The new Zipcar App for the iPhone™ and iPod touch® is here. Now Zipcar members can find and book a Zipcar, honk the horn, even lock and unlock the doors—all from their iPhone. Not a Zipcar member? You can still download the app and have some fun. See which Zipcars live near you and learn what being a Zipster is all about."
iphone  applications  zipcar  carsharing  maps  mapping  transportation  ubicomp  ios 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Germany Imagines Suburbs Without Cars - NYTimes.com
"Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars. Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home."
bikes  cars  cities  communities  neighborhoods  walking  carsharing  germany  vauban 
may 2009 by robertogreco
After Bike-Sharing Success, Paris Considers Electric Cars - NYTimes.com
"pick up a car on Right Bank, snake up slopes of Montmartre, drop it off — pay only for minutes spent behind wheel...Autolib’, is expected to begin in late 2009 or early 2010 with fleet of 4,000 electric cars, 2,000 within Paris & 2,000 in suburbs."
paris  carsharing  transportation  cars  france 
july 2008 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Transport informatics
"quick survey of new informational approaches to transport, hinging on individual behaviour and engagement via public data. We'll travel from wifi on buses to designs for timetables embedded in the fabric of stations, stopping off at trams in Google Maps
cities  transportation  bikes  cars  rail  trains  helsinki  data  information  public  visualization  cityofsound  mapping  maps  design  carsharing  zipcar  walking  buses  transport  transit  urban  urbanism  urbancomputing 
april 2008 by robertogreco
WorldChanging: Saving Zipcar
"With 180,000 members & 5,000 cars in 50 US markets, Zipcar is product-service behemoth. But it knows its members are what keeps it going. If you're interested in improving Zipcar service, bringing Flexcar values back to company that absorbed it, now's yo
flexcar  zipcar  carsharing  business  transportation  economics  green 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Zipcar Makes the Leap -- Car-Sharing -- Reducing Cars on the Road | Fast Company
"The car-sharing darling makes its play for the mainstream by emphasizing economics and lifestyle over environmental impact."
zipcar  flexcar  money  economics  carsharing  cars  transportation  environment  sustainability  cities  lifestyle  us  uk  green  experience  simplicity  freedom 
february 2008 by robertogreco
TED | Talks | Robin Chase: Getting cars off the road and data into the skies (video)
"rose to fame founding Zipcar,...one of her smaller ideas...contemplating road-pricing schemes to shake up driving habits, no-fee mesh network as sprawling as Interstate system....how? finds answer in few short lines from The Graduate...not plastic"
transportation  politics  travel  energy  wireless  zipcar  carsharing  cars  roadpricing  internet  mesh  networks  opensource  technology  sharing  environment  buses 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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