The Last Mile
Many people know that transit and transportation is a huge topic everywhere. Closer to home, everybody has heard about Uber and the taxi drivers having disputes involving many events including petitions and lawsuits, as well as protests like these ones. Not that we don't have it but the development of newer, more convenient ways of transportation is hugely disrupting industry today. Mobility was being dominated by two parties: public transit or private cars. But with the increasing number of developing transportation companies, many of them don't quite fall into either category anymore. Most fall into somewhere in between the two, a middle-tiered area known as "microtransit".
These companies that sit in between the two extremes are companies that offer carpooling like Carma, cab-sharing like UberPool, or others like Leap, Bridj, or Chariot: commuter buses that provide different options like comfort and luxuries or service to places in cities that are more difficult to reach by taking public transit. By servicing areas that the major public routes don't reach, these microtransit companies have realized that it could be the answer to the overpopulation of the roads. Reducing the amount of cars driven because public transit is less reliable in certain neighborhoods, these companies offer the best option.
Instead of trying to beat each other out on prices and travel times, if microtransit companies were to work with the public transit companies, we could cover the coverage issues that are the most difficult for public transit companies that service commuters. These microtransit companies could act as feeders for commuters into the main public transit lines where service is most reliable. It saves the commuters time/money and increases the amount of people that public transit can service. Bridj was a company which was designed to be a transit competitor, but instead now they focus on creating good partnerships with cities.
If these microtransit companies can provide a way to the main lines of public transportation, the public transit companies can focus their resources on improving the existing system instead of attempting to spread out to all the different areas. There are obvious reasons why there are less serviced areas; but if microtransit companies provided a reliable on call system to pick these commuters up and drop them off at the best location to transfer onto the transit system, the opportunities that microtransit provides is ever increasing. If the amount of cars on the road are reduced, it benefits everyone still driving and taking public transportation.
The way Eric Jaffe at CityLabs puts it is like this: The longer cities wait to address the rise of microtransit, the harder it becomes to implement the type of coordination or regulation key to any strong mobility network. And it's entirely true. The longer we wait to implement improvements and adjustments, the farther away we are from successful results; the only way to achieve a good system is to give authority, implement the system and maintain coordination. Each and everyday new companies join into the fray of gaining and retaining their own customers, it only gets more complicated and competition increases.
If both the public transportation and the microtransit companies would take the time to consider a collaboration, they just might realize the incredible possibilities. Of course this is much easier said and done, integrating the two separate systems together is a much bigger task than it sounds in a simple blog post. But if cities pull together and truly want to make a change, perhaps it could actually reach the last mile.