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Transportation consultant Joe Sulmona is looking at the impact of ‘Transportation Network Companies’ (TNC) like Uber.

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While mass transit will remain valid in various corridors for primarily historical investment reasons, on-demand automobile-based services, especially when automated, will make the public transit monopoly harder and harder to support. The TNC economics of cherry-picking high-value routes that generate significant profits now for public transit to offset loss making routes needs early attention by all urban leaders. As before, what is needed in Metro Vancouver is a thorough public policy debate involving both civic and provincial leaders to discuss what kind of transportation network may emerge with new TNC and automated systems – time is now for this debate.

BTW, the evolution of TNC will also mean the potential to enter other urban transportation markets, so why is the Canada Post monopoly for first class mail in urban areas remain valid. If the public is willing to trust TNC with passenger services, without the existing regulatory safeguards, why should moving mail (and increasingly only  the junk variety) have a dedicated and expensive delivery system.

Again, I challenge all to pursue with community leaders the need for a  forward looking debate on our transportation system, and challenge the status quo everywhere, and not just the current issue around taxi services.

Dr. Joe Sulmona

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While with caution it must be noted the following survey (below) was commissioned by a Toronto taxi operator, the observations are consistent with my previous blog that Transportation Network Companies (TNC) will completely re-shape for-hire urban transportation services, including the way we see public transit.

Transmitted by CNW Group on : September 25, 2015 07:11

Poll suggests UberX is decreasing TTC and GO transit ridership

TORONTO, Sept. 25, 2015 /CNW/ – About one-third (32 per cent) of Toronto UberX users who also use public transit say that they’ve decreased their usage of TTC or GO Transit since they started using UberX.

“Toronto’s taxi industry is constantly being pitted against UberX as if we’re the only ones that should be worried about a black-market for-hire vehicle service,” said Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager at Beck Taxi. “Our city needs to take a moment of pause to consider how the TTC and GO Transit could be negatively affected by the continued growth of a black-market taxi service.”

A survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Beck Taxi also found that among respondents who use UberX and also use public transit, one-fourth (25 per cent) of them expect their public transit usage will decline because of UberX in the next six months.

“Toronto’s transit champions should ask themselves what we need to do to protect the future of public transit,” said Hubbard. “It’s disconcerting to hear that anyone is willing to deregulate transit and possibly put the TTC and investments in transit at risk. What will happen when Uber decides to provide cheaper transit services on popular TTC routes?”

In recent months, Uber has been trialing a “smart routes” service in San Francisco that has been compared to a bus service in media reports. The service discourages transit use by attracting Uber customers to travel along specific routes like a bus, for a competitive price.

Toronto has the highest number of taxis per capita compared to any other city in North America. In order to protect and strengthen public transit in Toronto, Beck is calling on councillors to think carefully about allowing an unlimited number of UberX cars on Toronto’s shared roads.

Research:

The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Beck Taxi  among 702 adult residents of Toronto familiar with Uber, of whom 116 use UberX and public transit, from Sept. 4 to Sept. 10, 2015. The survey data are not weighted and therefore representative only of those surveyed.

About Beck:

Beck is a family-run business that has operated in Toronto for 49 years.

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UPDATE: Joe adds this example:

Real changes are happening out there, and this DC service has mirror in the UBER-Pool product.

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Bridj

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Metro Vancouver is way behind with too much focus on protecting monopoly for conventional transit.