Captain Obvious Returns: Studies Say Ride-Hailing Apps Cause Pollution
As luck would have it, hiring thousands of drivers to cruise around a city in search of their next fare has some negative environmental impacts. That’s the word coming from expert researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, who we can only hope are prepared to tackle similarly impossible quandaries — like establishing what happens to an object when it’s dropped or reaching a final determination on the wetness of water.
The study is inextricably linked to one we covered in 2018 asserting that ride-hailing services actually created more traffic congestion because it treads extremely familiar ground and seems like something that we should have already figured out on our own. But it’s also at odds with the years of messaging we’ve gotten from technology firms that have promised on-demand services (like Uber or Lyft) would usher in a new era of urban transportation striving for clearer roads and cleaner air. Based on little more than the conjecture of executives, we’ve generally accepted ride-hailing as “greener” than the alternatives and it’s well past time that we started actually thinking about it.
You're All Driving Quite a Bit These Days
Without getting into the thick, tangled weeds of various coronavirus-related controversies, let it be known that, in some states, the streets and highways have returned to traffic levels seen before “lockdown” became common verbiage.
Yes, a good many of you are really putting miles under your belt (and tires). It’s summer, it’s hot, and lockdown measures are mainly a thing of the past, despite the rising levels of COVID-19 reported in regions that initially escaped the worst of the initial wave. But just how much are you driving?
Do You Use Any of These 'Freeways Without Futures?'
Urban transportation is a slippery fish. No two cities are the same, and most need to harmonize foot, rail, bike, bus, and automobile transportation to ensure everyone can get where they’re going in a timely manner. Unfortunately, as the constantly changing recipe varies significantly between towns, some projects can hamper a city’s wellbeing.
Take New York as an example. The city’s subway system is well on its way to becoming an unmitigated disaster as more and more disgruntled residents lean on ride-hailing services as an alternative. This has increased on-road congestion, without making the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s underground option cheaper, less crowded, or more reliable. The city has since decided to enact congestion charges for Lower Manhattan.
Other towns face similar issues, with the presiding logic frequently being little more than “let’s just cram a highway through there.” Unlike in past decades, cities are increasingly hesitant to enact such plans. An ill-placed freeway can spell disaster for local communities, just as a well-placed one can help bedroom communities thrive. Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) recently released a list of 10 highways it would like to see demolished in order to create more walkable, connected neighborhoods under the banner of promoting “great urbanism.”
New York Becomes First U.S. City to Introduce Congestion Pricing
It was a bit of a struggle, but the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo have signed on a (decidedly progressive) $175 billion state budget. While the deal has a number of noteworthy inclusions, spurred by the newly elected Democratic majority in the State Legislature, the one we’re most concerned with involves charging motorists for the privilege of driving on streets of lower Manhattan.
Along with interesting initiatives to ban plastic bags and impose new taxes on high-end homes, New York has decided to become the first American city to introduce congestion pricing.
QOTD: What's Your Ridiculous Solution to Our Traffic Woes?
Sitting motionless in traffic can be almost as painful as slogging through a live feed of one of Elon Musk’s futuristic transportation reveals. In a desperate bid to eliminate daily blood pressure spikes, some of us stagger our commute times (a rare option), some take public transit (often, a grim compromise), others car-pool (like it’s WW2), and those living close enough to their jobs swap the car for a bike and the often insufferable lifestyle that comes with it.
Others dream of something better. You’ve dreamed of something better, and it probably wasn’t any dumber than the lackluster tunnel The Boring Company showed off this week.
Is Musk Planning a New Way of Getting Around for Us Plebs?
Not everyone can afford a Tesla, even the lower cost Model 3, so what is Elon Musk going to do for the public transit set?
Something, apparently. The Tesla founder coyly hinted at a next big thing during a talk in Norway, according to Bloomberg, leaving many wondering whether he had a plan to do away with buses.
Report: Uber Hasn't Made New York Traffic Worse, But It Could
Over the summer, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Uber drivers were making Manhattan traffic worse and commissioned a $2 million study to prove it.
Except it didn’t.
According to the Wall Street Journal, findings from the report will show that ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft haven’t significantly increased congestion in Manhattan, but it might if it continues its current trajectory.
So, what else do you have?
Paris Bans Cars With Even Numbered Plates To Cut Pollution, Congestion
Municipal authorities in Paris banned cars with even numbered license plates from entering the city, in a bit to limit traffic and ease record levels of pollution.
TTAC Dossier: Chinese Roulette, Or The Tao Of Beijing Car Ownership
This is the first in an infrequent series of pieces that take a step back from breathless blogging. They look at a phenomenon over the longer term, they have more in-depth research, they are hence a bit longer. We will run them on weekends, when some may have the time for 1,200 or more words.
Imagine, if you dare, you live in China’s capital, Beijing. It’s a nice place, actually. The population of Australia crammed into one sprawling city. Good food. Nice people. Great nightlife. As cities go, it covers a lot of space. Beijing proper is a bit less the size of Kuwait.
Now imagine you have your eyes set on a new car. Chery QQ, Chevy Escalade, whatever. What do you have to do to get behind the wheel? You have to win the lottery. Not to buy the car, a QQ goes for a few grand. You need to win the lottery for the same thing that keeps felons employed back home: A small piece of blue and white tin, a license plate.
Your chances of winning are rotten. Imagine you go to Vegas, you put a chip on a single number. If that number comes up on the first spin of the wheel, you may buy a car. If not: Better luck next month, ta-dah!
Federal Agency Pushes States to Toll Existing Roads
The Federal Highway Administration recently held out $10.5 million to bribe states into turning freeways into toll roads through fiscal 2011. As part of the so-called Value Pricing Program, which Congress introduced in 1991, the agency will take taxes paid by drivers at the pump and underwrite projects designed to charge motorists more for driving on existing roads or increase other fees imposed on drivers.
“These projects show that states are developing new ways of thinking about how to manage congestion,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement on projects selected in August.