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Uber Transformation

uber-taxiCar-sharing services like Uber “could well transform transportation the way Amazon has altered shopping,” writes Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times (6/12/14). It’s the combination of “slick, user-friendly software and mountains of data” that is “ultimately making many modes of urban transportation cheaper, more flexible and more widely accessible to people across the income spectrum.” The net of this, so to speak, is “the potential to decrease private car ownership.”

If this happens, Uber, Lyft and other car services “could help lower the cost of living in urban areas, reduce the environmental toll exacted by privately owned automobiles … and reallocate space now being wasted on parking lots to more valuable uses, like housing. Paradoxically, some experts say, the increased use of ride-sharing services could also spawn renewed interest in and funding for public transportation, because people generally use taxis in conjunction with other forms of transportation.”

Ride-sharing could also benefit the poorest consumers most, as they “rely heavily on taxis for trips that aren’t practical through public transportation.” As ride-sharing services grow and compete, prices should decline, which could also enable two-car households to “get by with owning just a single vehicle.” For now, however, Uber is “the target of protests across Europe … has been accused of a reckless attitude toward safety, of price-gouging its customers, of putting existing cabbies out of work and evading regulation.”