A Platform to Deal with New Mobility (Seriously)

Autor: Ciro Biderman


The term “New Mobility” is the most recent fad in transportation studies. After “Smart Cities” lost ground giving its overwhelming use as a marketing mechanism for companies attempting to sell their solutions, this is the “new girl in town”. Despite the incredible advances in computation power and storage capacity that were actually applied to mobility, it is still not clear what are the social gains, if any, from these innovations. Of course, e-hailing is indeed generating welfare gains for consumers that can now pay less or have a better quality service than taxi rides. Furthermore, in principle, not owning a car will make the person more likely to use sustainable modes to commute.

On the other hand, gains for society are, at least, debatable. Congestion is not getting better off and it might be worsening. Public transit is loosing the most profitable users (users doing short trips) making it less sustainable. Consequently the poor are probably getting nothing from all these innovations except for e-hailing drivers (and it is not clear if there would not be another option for a subsistence wage if driving an e-hailing car for 14 hours a day was not in the menu). There is also a relevant issue of labor rights losses associated with the industry of Transport Network Companies (TNCs).

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