What can government do about the coming disruption from automated taxi fleets?

Re-posted from John Niles, End of Driving, 3 Nov. 2017

Last week, an unusual report was released by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO): “Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation: How Skilled Governance Can Influence its Outcome.”  What makes this report so unusual is that it proposes a solution to the uncertainty about the nature, timing, and diffusion of automated vehicles in the form of a relatively simple feedback system.

The “Harmonization Management System” creates a performance-based public mobility market designed to encourage commercial mobility operators to monetize all the desired behavioural aspects of good public transit under the evolving guidance of the local jurisdiction backed up by a system of subsidies and road-fees in lieu of a medallion system.

This HMS is a control system for cities to nudge* fleets toward the transportation features it sees as critical for livability and social equity. These commercial fleets would be self-configured, scaled, marketed and deployed in a way that produces the required jurisdictional outcomes.  Specifically, commercial fleets are gradually tailored with respect to fleet makeup, vehicle types, local mobility needs, and geographic specifics in order to avoid over-, under- or miss-scaling as is so common with today’s TNC, taxi, and bus fleets.

* The HMS would shape commercial, owner-operated public transportation fleets in 2020 and 2030 in the same way that LA Express Park™ and SFpark cleverly shaped parking prices just a couple of years ago. They gradually shifted parking prices street-by-street until each respective city arrived at the parking congestion balance they desired.

Click here for a copy of the report

Click here for a copy of the press release

Click here to view the animated video 

Figure 1: What’s key about HMS is that together with MaaS it forms the complete new mobility management system:  MaaS manages mobility (choice, scheduling, payment) for the user and HMS manages mobility for the jurisdiction (city, county, region, etc.), by balancing occupancy, disability, wait times, job access, transit drop-off, and many other criteria to the jurisdiction’s specification.

Figure 2: The two dotted black lines are the two critical feedback loops. The bottom-left loop tells the fleet manager how to configure a fleet to maximize shareholder value while satisfying the city’s demands. And the upper right loop tells the city how to raise and lower subsidies and road-taxes for better performance (in lieu of a medallion system).