THIS IS HOW quickly transportation has changed in urban America. In July 2010, a service called UberCab went live in San Francisco—that’s fewer than eight years ago. Washington, DC’s Capital Bikeshare, the country’s largest bike-sharing program, really got off the ground in 2010. Austin became the first US city to host car-sharing service Car2Go a few months into the same year. Lyft launched in SF in June 2012.
That’s a ton more travel options in a short time, most of them enabled by the explosion of the smartphone and fostered somewhere in the Bay Area. Some have indubitably made it easier, cheaper, and safer for residents to travel through dense cities. But for city governments that feel responsible for getting all their residents around, the sudden burst of diversity has confused the whole picture.
Many cities have bus systems, but they’re not always well-utilized by the majority of residents. The city of Arlington, Texas, located just outside Dallas, for example, had a single bus route — and discovered that most of its riders were students at the University of Texas branch there.
So, late last year, Arlington voted to end the route and replaced it with a ridesharing service in December. Like a few communities in the U.S., Arlington went with Via, a technology developer and provider of dynamic on-demand shared rides, to provide the network technology.
Using the Via technology, riders in Arlington are able to get a seat in one of 10 six-passenger vans roving city streets for a $3 fare. Riders who don’t have a smartphone can use a dial-in phone number, which is available in addition to the app.
Uber’s CEO is making a bold prediction, stating that within the next decade, ride-sharing customers will be chauffeured around in flying cars.
“There will be people flying around Dallas, Texas,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at the DLD tech conference in Munich, according to Bloomberg Technology. “I think it’s going to happen within the next 10 years.”
Five years ago, when she was still an insurance broker with Marsh, Kate Sampson called insurance underwriters at American International Group (AIG) and other insurers with a new concept.
“I’m working with this company and this is what they’re going to do. They’re going to be the first in peer‑to‑peer ridesharing and everyone will have an app and you can share a ride with a stranger,” she told the underwriters.