Advocates for better public transportation and sustainable mobility need to bring imagination, courage, and determination to our work every day. Technology and business model innovation disruptions will not cease. Those who think that, like King Canute, they can hold back the tide will soon find themselves washed away by the relentless advance of modernity. The question for sustainable mobility advocates is whether that tide will also erode public transportation ridership to dangerously low levels, and whether 20th century auto-centric models that pass for 21st century mobility innovation will ultimately degrade, or at least frustrate our ability to improve, our quality of life. We are challenged as never before to think and act creatively.
It is more than ironic that well into the 21st Century, the one great disruptive change in personal mobility is built upon the increased use of the internal combustion engine. Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft have become major players in the provision of personal mobility, primarily in urban areas. The problem with TNCs – and I say “problem” because it relates to what I perceive as their most negative impacts – is the essential auto-centric nature of the industry.