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.”
Uber is officially a multi-modal transportation platform. On the heels of its acquisition of bike-share startup JUMP, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi today announced Uber Bike‘s expansion into Washington, D.C., along with two key partnerships in car rentals and public transit.
Dubbed Uber Rent, the platform taps into Getaround’s existing marketplace of cars that are available for instant rentals. Uber Rent, which will launch in San Francisco later this month, lets people book Getaround cars directly from the Uber app. Once Uber feels solid about the product market fit, it will expand the program nationally.
After finding a Hailu Mergia tape in a shop in Ethiopia, then Googling a phone number to get in touch, Brian Shimkovitz reissued the dreamy, hypnotic 1985 solo album, Hailu Mergia And His Classical Instrument back in 2013 on his label Awesome Tapes from Africa. With it, he introduced the snake charmer synths and psychedelic-kitsch accordion sounds of this legendary Ethiopian bandleader and jazz musician to a whole new young, hip audience. It was followed up by reissues of Mergia’s 1977 beautiful Ethio-jazz albums Tche Belew and last year’s Wede Harer Guzo, built on moody ancient scales and standards.
Mergia, who was working as an airport taxi driver at the time, loved the out-of-the-blue comeback and the opportunity to tour the world, and now at 71, is keeping the momentum up with new writing. In February, Awesome Tapes released Lala Belu, Mergia’s first new album in over 15 years, recorded in London and mixed in Washington DC, near his home in Maryland.
JUMP Bikes, an on-demand biking service that has a partnership with Uber, is trying to decide between a possible acquisition and investment offers.
Sources have told TechCrunch that the company is looking into a possible sale to Uber for more than $100 million, or a venture investment round, with one of the possible investors being Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital.
In addition, there are reports that other parties have been increasing their offers over the past week in a bid to secure ownership of JUMP.
JUMP and Sequoia were unavailable for comment, while Uber declined to comment on the reports.