WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than a dozen global companies pledged on Thursday to work together on issues cities face as fast-emerging transportation technologies outstrip regulation.
Fifteen technology and transportation companies including Uber, Lyft and Zipcar said they will support a framework known as the “Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities”, aimed in part at reducing climate-changing emissions.
Uber’s long-term goal is “obviating the need for car ownership and making our transportation system safer, cleaner and more efficient,” said Andrew Salzberg, the company’s head of research.
Two major cities networks have already backed the principles, which were released in October, but Thursday offered the first such announcement from private transport companies including BlaBlaCar, Citymapper, Didi, Keolis, LimeBike, Mobike, Motivate, Ofo, Ola, Scoot Networks, Transit and Via.
Besides reducing emissions, the 10 principles, whose yearlong development was spearheaded by Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase, include aims such as to “prioritize people over vehicles” and “promote equity”.
Their backers said they would lead efforts to reach a “zero-emission future” and “support fair user fees” such as congestion pricing, in which drivers are charged during rush hour in an effort to reduce traffic congestion at busy times.
They also said new self-driving vehicles being developed should be shared – rather than privately owned – when they are released, at least in dense urban areas.
The U.S. city of Pittsburgh, a test site for Uber’s self-driving cars, also backed the principles Thursday.
“As this transformation is happening, we have to have proactive commitments in place that will benefit the entire community,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in a call with reporters.
The rise of ride-hailing already has raised worries that it could increase rather than reduce traffic, said Dario Hidalgo, a Colombia-based transportation expert with the World Resources Institute, a Washington think-tank.
But the mobility principles appear to align with some of the companies’ values and business goals, said Hidalgo, who helped in the framework’s development.
“They may not agree with the whole package,” Hidalgo told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Bogota. “But Uber and Lyft are willing to pay (to limit) congestion, for instance. Individual users may not be willing, but these companies are thinking their business can be better if there’s less congestion.”
“Transportation is the key to whether you get a job or go to school or see your friends — transportation is really the gateway to opportunity,” Chase said.
In December, Uber, Grab, and Ola joined the International Association of Public Transport, an organization with around 1,400 members that aims to unite key stakeholders from across the transportation spectrum.
The principles don’t include specific metrics for transportation companies to hit in the coming years. But Chase says success will be evaluated based on whether the U.S. and other countries start to shift away from personal car ownership and rely more on shared transportation modes — which she and other participants say is the best way to ensure that cities become more livable for all in the future.
“There’s an enormous inefficiency that we’ve built into personal cars,” Uber’s head of transportation policy, Andrew Salzberg, said on the call. “We also think there’s huge benefits to teaming up with companies in the space to reduce the need for people to own and operate their own personal vehicles.”
Another principle that’s sure to ignite controversy is the support for fair user fees across all models, which would disrupt the way that many people get around today.
“Right now, we let a person drive their personal car during peak times in cities like New York or Paris, taking up a huge amount of space and making buses that are carrying 50 people much slower. That is not a fair user fee across all modes,” said Chase.
Geekwire, Feb 1, 2018
Back in June, Pittsburgh and Paris were unwittingly connected by a comment from President Donald Trump defending his decision to pull out of the international Paris agreement on climate change. “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” he said. The mayors of each city responded quickly, showing unified support for action against climate change.
Today, leaders of Pittsburgh and Paris are once again jointly committing to sustainability, this time of their own volition. They are supporting an agreement by 15 leading transportation technology companies to commit to 10 Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities.
Some of the principles are obvious goals that already dominate the discussion on the future of transportation: equity, efficiency, and environmental sustainability. But one principle stands out as novel: “We support that autonomous vehicles in dense urban areas should be operated only in shared fleets.”
“We definitely do envision a future where the vast majority of autonomous vehicle rides will be done as part of a shared network,” said Joseph Okpaku, Lyft’s VP of government relations, on a press call Wednesday. “We think that’s the best way to realize all of the benefits that an autonomous future can bring in terms of rebuilding our cities.”
The signatories announced today represent Zipcar, Uber, Lyft, LimeBike, Ofo, BlaBlaCar, Citymapper, Didi, Keolis, Mobike, Motivate, Scoot Networks, Transit, Ola, and Via. The joint vision is supported by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Deputy Mayor of Paris, Jean Louis Missika. Peduto and Missika are involved because of their cities’ civic innovation initiatives.
“We’re now working on our smart city corridors,” Peduto told GeekWire in an interview this week. “Using solar power; creating sensors and the smartest traffic signals in the world and adapting this whole technology change to make mobility easier throughout the city.”
The principles were originally developed by Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase and a consortium of transportation leaders. The goal is to cut through the noise surrounding the future of transportation and provide some guidance as cities figure out how to manage new technologies and increased competition for curb space.
“Transportation is the key to whether you can get a job or go to school or see your friends,” Chase said during the press call. “Transportation is really a gate to opportunity and cities really have to be places where you want to live, work, and play … These companies have taken an incredibly bold step by supporting these principles.”
The Shared Mobility Principles are:
- We plan our cities and their mobility together.
- We prioritize people over vehicles.
- We support the shared and efficient use of vehicles, lanes, curbs, and land.
- We engage with stakeholders.
- We promote equity.
- We lead the transition towards a zero-emission future and renewable energy.
- We support fair user fees across all modes.
- We aim for public benefits via open data.
- We work towards integration and seamless connectivity.
- We support that autonomous vehicles in dense urban areas should be operated only in shared fleets.