Ride-sharing ap allows private cars to easily become taxis

Those of us interested in how Uber or Sidecar or whatever on-line dispatch system you use might impact your transportation alternatives might be interested in this on:  http://www.lyft.me/.

As I read it, Lyft hooks up with folks who own cars, gives them magnetic pink mustaches to mark their cars and then drivers and would-be riders use smart phones to connect for rides. With over a million rides and an operation in Boston, as well as in almost a dozen other cities, Lyft is not really a new comer but I hadn’t been aware of it previously but I’ve started to hear it is operating in Cambridge as well.

You can read another account of it here: http://blogs.kqed.org/pop/2013/08/13/behind-the-pink-mustache-is-lyft-good-evil-or-something-else-entirely/.

How the License Commission, or any other City department, develops regulations for programs like this one, or really anything that involves space or resource sharing, without killing the flexibility the program offers by providing the official oversight that, arguably, public safety demands, is something we have not yet solved. Feel free to log in on my blog and share your thoughts.

Thanks. Craig

One Response to “Ride-sharing ap allows private cars to easily become taxis”

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  1. Craig Kelley says:

    FYI, folks:

    I am forwarding the relevant part of an email from City Manager Rich Rossi about the License Commission discussion tonight about, essentially, smart phone dispatch services like Uber. I have attached the meeting notice and draft regulations and here is the link to the License Commission’s website. Not to pass the buck, but it is the License Commission, not the City Council, that is exploring the issue of how these dispatch services might work with ‘new’ technology. It is important you share your thoughts on the subject with the right body, so in addition to emailing the Council, you’ll want to email the License Commission at ELint@Cambridgema.gov. The Council is the overall governing board of Cambridge and while we don’t pass the various regulations that Departments have to run the City we are ultimately responsible for them.

    But please, be civil in these emails and at any public meeting you might attend. The abusive emails I got from lots of people accusing the Council of corruption, personally insulting the City Manager and more were hugely bothersome. I doubt many of those people would say the same thing to my face, but somehow over email it is okay to be super insulting based on no evidence or facts. This immediate dive to disrespectful dialogue is not good for the democratic (small ‘d’) process and I’d like to think that we’re better than that. At least be involved in a discussion long enough to become disillusioned before thinking, and saying, the worst of people. I would be glad to talk with people personally about this issue and how best to communicate about it if anyone wants to meet with me.

    Also to the point, Uber and its look-alikes are only the first step in rethinking how our zoning and licensing regulations need to change to reflect changing technology and our ability to better share expensive resources whether they be livery services, office spaces or bedrooms (as with Air B&B). We should not be married to the way things were done in the past simply to protect vested interests, but, similarly, we must look at new opportunities through a regulatory focus on the public good. If folks using these new technologies meet whatever safety and training and insurance requirements and so forth deemed necessary to public safety, it seems reasonable to figure out a regulatory system that accommodates them, but it’s not as simple as just saying ‘yes” or ‘no” to an idea and the vitriol in many, many of the emails I received was very detrimental to carrying out what is a very important discussion that deserves a lot of thought.

    That being said, I do agree that the City, and Councillors such as me in particular, own much of the responsibility for the sudden and huge jump in angst over this issue. We should have known it would be a sensitive issue (it was last time it came up as well) and we should have been clearer about what was being considered and what this meeting would be about. I cannot fault the public for being concerned but that concern does not excuse the tone of much of the communications sent on this subject.

    Again- I would be happy to meet with people personally if anyone would like to continue this discussion.

    Thanks a lot.

    Craig

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