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Smartphones May Help Reduce Traffic In the Near Future 144

Posted by timothy
from the watch-out-for-the-regulatory-capture dept.
crazyvas writes "From the New York Times: 'Experts say services that use smartphones to connect drivers and passengers could help end the reign of single-occupant cars (and unending traffic) in Los Angeles.' One would hope that combined with a recent article from Time stating that Generation Y doesn't think car ownership is cool this might pave the way for less car traffic, more efficient public transit, more pedestrians and bikers, even leading to a healthier population?"
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Smartphones May Help Reduce Traffic In the Near Future

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  • Link is broken (Score:4, Informative)

    by HalcyonBlue (596712) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @09:34AM (#44269251)
    • Re:Link is broken (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Flozzin (626330) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @10:03AM (#44269361)

      Thanks for the link.

      They are taxi's that found a loop hole and will soon be shut down. It's unfair to the real taxis and the government isn't getting their cut. This won't last.

      Also the article sites people using them as an alternative to taxis when coming home from the bar. Yes, that's a good way to watch a car trend. Since drunk driving is illegal, and these people are using 'taxis', they don't want cars and no longer ride alone...

      These articles are just writers trying to get out ahead of a trend. If they are wrong no one will remember, if they are right, they can point to how they saw the trend comming. They are BS articles filled with outlier data. I'd be more apt to believe Gen Y doesn't want cars because they are all deep in debt due to college and don't have jobs to pay for them.

      • What does it mean to be "unfair to the real taxis?"
        • Re:Link is broken (Score:4, Informative)

          by Flozzin (626330) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @12:23PM (#44270041)

          The ride sharing services, are trying to skirt the law. They are taxis but they try to act like they are somehow something else. As if they are just all friends giving each other rides, thus the name..

          from the article,
          "In addition to franchise and inspection fees, regulated taxis have to serve far-flung and low-income parts of the city where Lyft drivers need not venture. The city also requires cab companies to offer disabled-accessible vehicles, "

          The ride sharing services don't have to do any of that.

      • by Entropius (188861)

        Okay, what's wrong with "grey market" (or whatever you want to call them) taxis?

        A guy has a car and would like some money. Another guy has some money and would like a ride. They trade, and now both are better off than they were before. What's wrong with this?

        • by Flozzin (626330)

          And that is not a taxi service how? There are regulations set up for taxis that they must follow. The government and people of the city/state/

          If you want to argue on if the government should be involved in this sort of transaction, that's another conversation.

          Also, disagreeing with a law, doesn't give you the right to skirt it. We have a system in place to change laws. Use it. In the mean time if you wish to live in this society, obey its laws.(this is more of a general statement against a ton of people lat

          • by Flozzin (626330)
            erm...apparently i never finished my sentence... The government and people of the city/state/county/ect saw fit to put them in place to make sure the taxis would not descriminate against different classes of people.
          • Re:Link is broken (Score:4, Interesting)

            by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @01:09PM (#44270301)

            And that is not a taxi service how?

            It is not a taxi service because the transaction is pre-negotiated with a specific driver. When I hail a taxi off the street, I do not know the driver, he does not know me, and at least one of us usually does not want to negotiate the fare (me on a rainy night; him at a taxi-stand with twenty other cabs). So it is reasonable for the government to step in with regulations and standard fares. But with ride sharing, I can read the driver's reviews and ratings, and negotiate the rate in the comfort of my home or office. It is a different type of transaction.

            The real problem here is not "regulation", but pricing. In nearly all cities, taxi fares are far above what they would be in a competitive market, which results in under utilization. Maybe we should fix the taxi system instead of trying to outlaw the competition.

            • by Flozzin (626330)
              Well, it doesn't sound like its flying. I know of other articles that have talked about them getting shut down in cities. If the legal definition of a taxi relies on you not picking a driver and them having standard fairs, that strikes me as odd. I am open to being wrong. But I would have thought a taxi service is someone taking me from A to B for a charge.
              • Re:Link is broken (Score:5, Interesting)

                by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @02:16PM (#44270639)

                But I would have thought a taxi service is someone taking me from A to B for a charge.

                Nope. Limousine drivers provide that service, and they are not regulated or licensed as taxis, and there is no government price-fixing of their rates*. They do have to have a "chauffeur" driver's license, but that is just a little extra testing and a small fee beyond a normal driver's license.

                *One exception: There is usually a government enforced racket to jack up prices for limos and shuttles going to/from airports. So there is usually a special permit required for that. When I have taken a ride share to an airport, the driver usually asks me to pay before reaching the drop off, so the government goons patrolling the curb don't see the money changing hands.

          • In the mean time if you wish to live in this society, obey its laws.

            Wrong.

            Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it

            Often the first step of this Right (and duty) is to disobey unjust laws, created by a government that has passed laws to favor the wealthy and well-connected, instead of those in the best interests of the governed.

  • Lies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Flozzin (626330) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @09:44AM (#44269285)
    "If they had to pick between a smartphone or a car, they would pick the phone." What sort of choice is that anyway? They aren't comparable. A phone is a few hundred dollars. A car is thousands. Why would you have to choose between them? The second article is also riddle with 'Gen Y would'. Didn't hear from an actual Gen Y person. Just a bunch of old fuddy duddies trying to predict a future market, acting like they are in the know. That always works out. Some old guy telling you what kids think...
    • It's not always "old guys" saying this. Often, it also seems to be urban hipsters, living in a few selected enclaves where everything is within easy walking distance and/or with abundant public transport.
      Completely ignoring the reality of the other 99% of the country.
      • by jythie (914043)
        Meh, it is the old urban/suburban/rural divide. Each thinks they make up '99% of the country' and that their values/needs are the dominant one, thus people talking from the perspective of one of the other groups are ignoring the real world.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Agreed, choosing between a car and a phone is indeed stupid. You need both. Why would I want a phone built into the car when I have one in my pocket?

      My 26 year old daughter, in college in Cincinnati, hasn't had a car since the head broke in her old one a few years ago.

    • Re:Lies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @10:07AM (#44269377) Homepage

      As a "Generation Y" person (according to their stats) who lives in the UK , I can tell you that most people of my generation (that I've known/met across Europe), and the one below it (born mid-late 90's), would love to own a car. However many just can't afford it, the costs, the fuel, the taxes, the insurance (espcially this) are just too high.

      It isn't that they are not interested, just that they cannot do it. They are not stupid, they see what a money sink it has been turned into for them, and most just cycle, walk, take public transport, or use a car-sharing service if they really need a car (This is for those of us in the inner cities who have this alternative). Others have taken to using motorcycles as they are cheaper to run.

      I have a car, but then, my income is above average for my age, and the place I live was built in the 80's, when it was assumed everyone would have a car, so they made off-street parking available. A lot of newly built properties are "car-free", where if you buy/rent there, not only do you not get your own parking, you are forbidden from owning a car parked/registered at that address. The local council will not let you.

      Coolness has nothing to do with it. We are being forced away from them. Those old guys are telling us what kids think because it is those old guys who have made owning a car (or a home for that matter) impossible for us.

      Next thing I'll hear is how "Generation Y" thinks its uncool to own a home, and we'd rather spend our lives renting due to the "flexibility" it offers us.

      (Yes, I know this is somewhat UK/Europe centric, but I'm sure there are similar concerns across the pond as well).

      • by cjjjer (530715)

        Next thing I'll hear is how "Generation Y" thinks its uncool to own a home, and we'd rather spend our lives renting due to the "flexibility" it offers us

        Actually I thought you would just keep living at home until your parents died and then you would have a home.

        • Re:Lies (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @10:30AM (#44269473) Homepage

          Actually I thought you would just keep living at home until your parents died and then you would have a home.

          It makes it somewhat tricky to have relationships, or generally socialise.

          If I stayed with my parents, I'd have to share a room with my bro, and that would have made it a lot harder to bring a girl round.

          Indeed a lot of us do still live with our parents, but being cooped up in a little room when you're in your thirties with your parents is just a recipie for arguments and family disputes (I know, because I have an older friend in this situation). From things like going out, to bringing people home, to being able to live your life on your terms, it just doesnt work to live at home. I had massive disputes with my parents because they didn't approve of my lifestyle, until I left, and things calmed down.

          Especially now, as youth unemployment is really high. Of my friends only 2 of us have full time jobs. The others are either unemployed, or doing temp/part-time jobs for near minimum wage.

          That is why we tend to socialise at each others places, going out has become a luxury, and things like your own pad, or a car, are just waaay out there. If you have a job and are lucky enough to have friends with jobs, you can get together and house-share.

          Yes, I know very rich people who have like 5 bedroom houses, and yes, then those Gen-X'ers can just stay at home until they build up enough money to move out, or their parents die.

          However, I don't know about others, but me waiting till my parents die for a place to live is not appealing (especially as thanks to medical advances, I could easily expect to live to my 50's before my parents are likely to die).

          • by jythie (914043)
            Not as much as you might think.

            Keep in mind, this whole 'when children grow up they move out, often far away, get their own home' thing is actually pretty modern and is far from universal. In fact because of various immigration shifts home builders have started carrying standard designs for multi-generational homes since they found there is profit to be made by not providing 'assimilate in all ways' options to people with money.
            • Maybe so, but property here is expensive. I would probably not mind so much living in the same house as my parents if it was big enough for all of us to have "our space".

              However to get that in a city (where the work is) in a country in Europe that is not in crises... you'll be looking at 1 million Euros at least, most likely more.

              Way out of league of most people I know. The only ones who can do that are families that have lived in one spot for generations, so bought the place when it was cheap as chips. Th

          • (especially as thanks to medical advances, I could easily expect to live to my 50's before my parents are likely to die).

            I take it your parents didn't reproduce until quite late?

            I'm in my mid-50's, and both of my parents are doing fine - I'm expecting to be in my 60's before either of them die....

      • As a "Generation Y" person (according to their stats) who lives in the UK , I can tell you that most people of my generation (that I've known/met across Europe), and the one below it (born mid-late 90's), would love to own a car. However many just can't afford it, the costs, the fuel, the taxes, the insurance (espcially this) are just too high.

        As someone who has been working with 20-somethings from the UK for the past 5 years, I have to say overall they have been quite surprised as just how cheap many of the things are here when compared to the UK. Gas is cheaper by a significant amount sure, but even the base price of the car and the insurance tend to be significantly cheaper, and that is not even factoring in the dollar being worth less than the pound. A few of them have been sent to the US to receive training from the senior engineers over he

    • Didn't hear from an actual Gen Y person.

      There's not much useful information you can glean from "umm", "huh", "wtf", "dunno" and "whatever".

      • by C0R1D4N (970153)
        Hey daddy-o, dont have a cow just cuz us ankle-biters dont jive talk as well as our hip rents did!
        • Didn't your mom teach you to look at the person you're talking to? At the very least you could move your hair out of the way so I can tell if you are or not.

          And get a fricken job already!

    • by Aramis (18511)

      This seems ridiculous on the surface: a smartphone is $200 and a car is at least $12k. But if you look at the monthly cost of a cell phone( + data +plus more GB's + a tablet) vs a car payment, then you are looking at $150/month for a cell phone vs $180/month for a car. When they can't afford both, the younglings I know choose the cell plan.

      • by Flozzin (626330)
        Gas? Insurance? Repairs? You still think a 12k car is only 180 a month? Plus they do two completely different things. Now if you say Gen Y is giving up cars for bikes, mopeds, ect, I can follow that. But here you might as well say, Gen Y is choosing showering over visiting family.
    • "If they had to pick between a smartphone or a car, they would pick the phone." What sort of choice is that anyway? They aren't comparable. A phone is a few hundred dollars. A car is thousands. Why would you have to choose between them?

      Most smartphone with data plans end up being at least about $100/month. If it's a premium plan, they need coverage for multiple devices (tablet, etc.), it may well be over $150/month.

      The car payment on a relatively cheap used car -- such as the kind people in their 20s a generation ago would buy -- might be around $150/month, maybe even less.

      These actually are roughly comparable expenses for many young people today. Add in various other technology "needs" for the younger generation (gadgets, high-spee

  • Cars Not Cool? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by newcastlejon (1483695) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @10:09AM (#44269379)
    I don't drive to impress others, I drive because it's necessary. Give even the most pretentious hipster the choice between a one hour drive and a three hour bus journey to work (and back) each day, and we'll soon see how "cool" cars become.
    • by fermion (181285)
      It is really going to be a compromise between the expense of a car and the ease of other transportation. And it is not going mean people are necessarily going to own fewer cars, just that they will not use them to commute.

      For instance there has been times when a bus has been easier for than driving. So I take the bus. There are places where parking is simply not available,or very expensive, so people drive cars for part of the commute, then take a bus or train or whatever for the rest. So really this

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        It is really going to be a compromise between the expense of a car and the ease of other transportation. And it is not going mean people are necessarily going to own fewer cars, just that they will not use them to commute.

        It's also a compromise in choosing where you live. You can have the nice 4 bedroom 2000 sq ft house out in the suburbs with a big yard and a pool with an hour drive to work, or you could live in a higher density condo complex with a small 1400 sq ft 3 bedroom condo, shared pool, small patio or deck and an 30 minute train ride plus 15 minute walk to work.

        Many people don't want to give up that big house in the suburbs, but the younger generation is happy to live in a small apartment or condo in the city so

        • Wait till the kids grow up, pay most of their loans off, get married And get raises. They will buy cars again

          I live in NYC and transit costs a lot in subsidies. Fares only cover 25% to 50% of costs

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Wait till the kids grow up, pay most of their loans off, get married And get raises.

            I know plenty of $150K+ software engineers living in downtown SF condos with kids. Having a family doesn't have to mean moving to the 'burbs. I live outside of the city, but in a condo with a 5 minute walk to the train, or a 45 minute bike ride to the city.

            They will buy cars again

            I live in NYC and transit costs a lot in subsidies. Fares only cover 25% to 50% of costs

            Cars have subsidies too, but the subsidies are hidden. If people stopped using transit, even if NYC could afford to build new roads to accommodate them, where would they build enough roads and parking to accommodate the cars?

            • I take the train to work to. Lots of people in NYC have cars mostly for weekend travel

              Even inside NYC it may take 2 hours or more to go somewhere by train. Try that with kids

              Last week I was at the beach till 8:30pm. Drive back. Train ride would have been almost 3 hours and I wouldn't have stayed that long

          • If you lived in the city during the 2005 Transit Strike [wikipedia.org] you would know the amount of subsidy is irrelevant - without transit for three days the "local" (local being a population larger than the countries of Switzerland or Denmark) economy was massively disrupted.

          • by afgam28 (48611)

            I live in NYC and transit costs a lot in subsidies. Fares only cover 25% to 50% of costs

            I really don't understand why so many people insist that public transit systems should be a fully profitable business, independent of the government. Do you think that the roads are somehow not subsidized?

            • All the anti car people complain how their taxes pay to subsidize roads. Same with transit here. It's partly subsidized by a property transfer tax.

              My lirr monthly pass only covers 25% of the expenses

            • Do you think that the roads are somehow not subsidized?

              In the USA, most of the costs of maintaining the roads are covered by gasoline taxes.

              Which, oddly enough, are mostly paid for by the people with cars (the users of the roads).

              Which is why a very large fraction (how large depends on just where you live - there are Federal, State, and sometimes local gasoline taxes) of gasoline prices are taxes....

              • by hawguy (1600213)

                That depends on your definition of "most" since the USA average is 32% [taxfoundation.org] of road expenses covered by user taxes and fees. Locally, San Francisco just passed a $150M bond measure paid out of the general fund to repair their roads.

                Even if drivers paid 100% of the road costs, their commute is still aided by transit riders (and bicyclists), since there's not enough roads to support them all. The SF Bay bridge carries 250,000 cars each day, while the BART system carries 400,000 riders/day (not an apples to apples

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          It's also a compromise in choosing where you live. You can have the nice 4 bedroom 2000 sq ft house out in the suburbs with a big yard and a pool with an hour drive to work, or you could live in a higher density condo complex with a small 1400 sq ft 3 bedroom condo, shared pool, small patio or deck and an 30 minute train ride plus 15 minute walk to work.

          You are seriously tilting the scale towards public transportation with your exaggeration.

          In the Washington, DC, area, that condo in "close" would have to be a lot smaller to be the same price as the house in the "suburbs". In addition, the 30 minute train ride would mean you are still damn far out (and technically in the suburbs), but close enough to be in the "a lot more expensive" area. Meanwhile, out near the house, you can catch a train and get downtown in an hour. All this is assuming that a train i

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A car sharing company promoting the meme that car ownership is not popular with their target market to promote it. How surprising

  • 1) As I recall skimming in an article, in one city (SFO?) the taxi-drivers unions and lobbyists are fighting this tech tooth and nail. Given our predilection today for legalistically protecting the rights of the 'buggy whip makers' (as long as they donate consistently to the right legal campaigns) I'm not sure that there isn't going to be some Byzantine bizarre legal moratorium placed on such apps.

    2) humans are still not "safe". I can quite easily conceive of a system like this being spoofed in order for

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      There's a reason we still tell our children to watch out for strangers,

      Yeah, there is. Considering that the overwhelming majority of child murders and rapes are performed by members of the household or family (not necessarily the same thing), and a large proportion of the rest by friends of the family, then the obvious reason for telling children to watch out for strangers is to lull them into a false sense of security and make it easier for them to be raped/ murdered/ sold to foreigners and priests.

      Eviden

  • People driving while texting/updating their FB/watching movies etc crash and are injured or killed and therefore not driving anymore, therefore less drivers and less traffic.
    Takes a while though, and not reccomended to be on the road in the meantime'

  • Google Maps and the like presumably use feedback from smart phones (among other data sources) to build their real-time congestion maps.

    I use my smart phone's map app to decide what route to take and whether to delay my trip.

    So, even today, smart phones are helping reduce congestion even if they aren't actually reducing traffic.

  • This is, if I'm reading it right, just hitchhiking. Safe 99% of the time, which means you'll probably only get raped/mugged/beaten and left for dead once every 100 trips or so - maybe twice a year. Less if you actually die.

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      I've hitchhiked well over 100,000 km all over the world (including the United States, FWIW). Never have I seen a hint of "rape/mugging/beating". The only danger I have encountered is a few people who just don't know how to drive, but I could find the same thing getting a lift from a friend or relative. Experiences identical to mine are reported by the rest of the international hitchhiking community, it's a pretty organized community these days with resources like Hitchwiki and the Academy of Free Travel, so

  • A car sharing social network would make a great plot device for CSI:NY. And by great I mean stupid.

    • Seen It A Million Times. Any hitchhiking horror ever. This is no different. In fact it's safer because there is SOME interaction with the driver before getting in.

      • by he-sk (103163)

        Nah, it's different from hitchhiking horror movies because it's not random anymore as you've noticed. A serial killer could profile his victims using the car sharing social network.

  • I'm researching the casual carpool setup in the San Francisco bay area to find ways to make it work better. I do *not* nescecarily think this needs an app, in fact I'd be happy if this project didn't result in one, but one thing I've found is currently, there are none. No ride-sharing apps to facilitate casual carpool (or slug-line as they call it on the east coast). Kind of crazy right? If anyone out there is working on a similar project I'd love to share notes. I have some publicly funded studies in

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