WASHINGTON — Instead of getting an ambulance, some 911 callers in the District could be sent a taxi or a Lyft. It’s part of an effort to free up ambulance crews for the most serious emergencies.
“More frequently than any of us are comfortable with, the calls that we get are in fact not emergencies,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, “and those calls are taking up an ambulance and taking up space in an emergency room.”
Under the program launched Thursday, callers with issues that are not life-threatening will be directed to a medical clinic or urgent care facility; 23 of those facilities around the city are taking part in the program.
Decisions on whether to send a patient to a doctor’s office instead of a hospital will be made with the help of a new “nurse triage line.” Emergency call-takers will be able to transfer callers who meet certain criteria to a nurse who’s experienced in emergency medicine. The nurse can then decide if the caller should be directed to a clinic or urgent care and can arrange transportation.
“For most of our callers who go through the nurse triage line, they’ll actually be sent a vehicle to pick them up right away,” said Dr. Robert Holman, medical director for D.C. Fire and EMS. Either taxis or Lyft vehicles would be provided.
Some policymakers are increasingly concerned about the concentration of power in a small number of companies, leading to calls for more expansive antitrust policy or stricter regulations across a range of industries. However, government policies create barriers to entry that lead to the market concentration that fuels their consternation.
The most recent example is in Washington D.C., where Mayor Bowser’s office recently said that ride-hailing company Via had 90 days to broaden its coverage areas to comply with a District law. If not, Via would face penalties in the form of fines or even the loss of its license. While the law, and D.C.’s new commitment to enforce it, is designed to ensure more access to ride-haling for all District residents, it is more likely to contribute to higher barriers to entry for ride-hailing companies. These barriers would only further entrench established incumbents.
The new warning stems from officials recently learning that Via’s sphere of operation does not extend to the entire city, with Wards 7 and 8 east of the Anacostia River and neighborhoods in the upper Northwest and Northeast falling outside of the sphere. The limited sphere of operation runs afoul of provisions in the Vehicle for Hire Innovation Amendment Act of 2014, which requires ride-hailing companies using digital dispatch to “provide service throughout the entire District.”
Automakers will increasingly find themselves in a complicated relationship with ride-hailing companies such as Lyft and Uber. The latter will be competitors but also customers. In the next few years, sales to drivers for Lyft, Uber and others will almost certainly offset declines in car purchases by users of the services. As shared mobility services expand, auto manufacturers will likely start producing customized vehicles for ride-hailing companies — even as their own mobility services compete head-to-head.
Today, Lyft and Uber have almost no hard assets and are essentially internet-platform companies. Managing and owning vehicles clashes with their current business model. But once level-5 driverless cars come on the scene, they will have little choice. It appears inevitable that they will embrace a new business model that involves ownership of vehicles. A huge part of the success of demand-responsive, app-based ride-hailing companies will be their ability to profit as proprietors of capital, which will mean owning and operating a fleet of automated electric cars. So just as self-driving cars have pulled Detroit into the Silicon Valley game, the power of fleet ownership will likely force ride-hailing companies into partnership with manufacturers.
WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals’ home opener Thursday is the first of many days this year that parking rules, traffic and transit will change in areas around Nationals Park due to crowds of fans.
With ongoing construction around the stadium, the District Department of Transportation warns that Nationals fans and commuters near the stadium should add extra time to their trips. The delays could also slow commuter buses that stop nearby.
“Heavy traffic and delays are to be expected around the ballpark and on busy routes such as I-295, I-695, I-395 and the Southeast/Southwest Freeway,” DDOT said in a statement.
Continued work to build over the Third Street Tunnel could also add to delays.
Before and after games, traffic signal timing is changed at dozens of intersections in an effort to reduce the backups.
The rapid growth of transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Lyft, Uber and Ride Austin creates a unique opportunity for vehicle electrification, with benefits to cities, drivers and riders. In New York and San Francisco, TNC and cab rides account for 19 percent of all local vehicle miles traveled during weekdays. If half of these TNC drivers went electric, they would offset 1.5 billion pounds of carbon from the atmosphere each year and improve local air quality within the city.
In addition to these environmental benefits, electric vehicles are also significantly cheaper to operate than gas vehicles, despite having a higher upfront price tag. This can be attributed to savings in fuel and maintenance, which scale by how much the vehicle is driven. Highly active TNC drivers are ideal candidates for EVs because they put more miles on their car each year than the average driver. Based on our calculations, full-time TNC drivers working 50 hours a week can save an average of $5,200 per year in total vehicle expenses with an EV as compared to a typical gas vehicle.
The mobility team at Rocky Mountain Institute has been targeting high-utilization vehicles for electrification, as they demonstrate the best economics for EV operation and the highest potential for carbon offset. For the past two years, RMI has partnered with the City of Austin, Texas, to support its mobility goals toward developing shared, electric and autonomous mobility services. Austin offers unique EV charging programs that further bolster the economic savings of driving an electric vehicle.