The “frictionless” aspect of app-based ride sharing disruption is, in itself, the first barrier to use for large swaths of society. Those who don’t use a smartphone, or a credit card, or simply don’t have access to their smartphone when they need a ride are shut out of these app-based “solutions.” Public transportation that can’t actually be used by every member of the public isn’t. We shouldn’t even consider planning urban futures around door-to-door transport that users can’t hail or call, or even easily arrange with someone else’s phone.
Cities need robust, low cost, mass transportation first and foremost. Individuals in individual vehicles, with or without drivers, should be a shrinking aspect of our cities, not treated as integral. And where services are providing such transportation, they must be accessible to all.
The energy we’re devoting to seemingly endless discussions, policy and court battles over Uber (and their idea of a driverless fleet) is diluting the discussion about urban transportation serving the whole public, and is soon going to be used as an excuse for suburban & rural Republicans who dominate legislatures to intensify their ongoing efforts to starve cities of transit funding.