While all eyes are on electric scooters, bus startups are quietly making moves.
Uber has been in discussions to acquire Skedaddle, a crowdsourced bus company, for more than a month, according to an Axios report.
Skedaddle first crossed my radar in January 2017 when the startup was set to transport more than 11,000 people to and from the Women’s March on Washington. At the time, CEO Adam Nestler said, “The alternative for many of the people in these communities is trying to figure out carpools or chartering buses on their own.”
Here’s how it works: To book a ride, a user logs into the Skedaddle app and puts in a route (i.e. New York City to D.C.) as well as a desired pickup location and time. As long as nine other people sign up for the same route ahead of the departure, the ride is booked.
At the time, I described Skeddadle as “the Uber Pool of buses, shuttles, and other large vehicles.” The startup’s goal is to make city-to-city travel easier for users and take advantage of the glut of charter vehicles that sit underused in parking lots most of the time, Nestler said in January.
The company known for ridesharing announced the acquisition of Motivate, which operates Capital Bikeshare and services in multiple other cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago. Motivate’s name isn’t on many of the systems it operates, but the company said it provided 80 percent of bikeshare trips across the country in 2017.
“Introducing Lyft Bikes,” an announcement issued Monday by the company states.
WASHINGTON — Lyft drivers in the Washington area can now use what Lyft calls the Lyft Amp, a dashboard mounted light bar with a “beaconing” feature that makes it easier for riders to spot their car.
The LED light bar reads “Lyft” on the front and changes colors to match the color displayed on the Lyft app the passenger who the driver is picking up is looking at.
The idea is to make it easier for riders to identify their ride — a feature that could be especially helpful outside of bars, restaurants or events where multiple people are waiting for their ride-hailing driver.
WASHINGTON — The United States’ 242nd birthday brings fireworks, music and parades — which in turn bring crowds and road closures.
The National Park Service has announced the schedule for July 4 festivities around the National Mall and Capitol grounds. Events include:
Smithsonian Folklife Festival: 11:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
(National Mall, between 12th and 14th streets Northwest)
National Independence Day Parade: 11:45 a.m.–2 p.m.
(Constitution Avenue Northwest from 7th to 17th streets Northwest)
A Capitol Fourth concert: 8–9:30 p.m.
(U.S. Capitol West Lawn)
Fireworks display: 9:09–9:27 p.m.
(Over the National Mall)
Note: Transit use is encouraged. The park service suggests using Metrorail stations other than Smithsonian or Federal Triangle, which typically have the most traffic on July 4. The National Mall area immediately outside the Smithsonian station is also closed due to a re-turfing project.
There are few things more properly in the public sphere than urban transit. Yes, private transit — personal cars requiring expensive parking, limousines with chauffeurs — has always been a feature of urban mobility for the few. But publicly directed and publicly funded means of getting around our cities (such as public buses and subways, and publicly regulated taxis) have made modern urban life possible for the many.
That may be changing. The latest example of the paradigm shift is appearing on the sidewalks of Washington and other cities. Walk down any street in downtown D.C. and you will see them: electric scooters and dockless bikes — parked everywhere and nowhere in particular. This is “public” transit, available for use by subscribers to various private services.
The new two-wheeled transportation options are no casual amusement. In the past few weeks alone, private venture capital firms have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in their deployment at a time when subway systems in New York and Washington are struggling with operational woes and funding deficiencies.
Billions more are likely to pour in soon. Who decided that our urban transportation grid needed scores of buzzing scooters and free-range bikes, instead of (for example) newer and cleaner buses or better- functioning subways? Who weighed the respective claims of youth-friendly scooter-filled sidewalks against the desires of senior citizens or the disabled for more accommodating passage in our public spaces?
The answers to these questions point to how much we have privatized “public” transportation and the subtle but important impact this shift can have.