If Uber says it’s not good enough for the job…
Also: Fixing infrastructure in a way that addresses racial inequalities
No, Uber isn’t more efficient than the bus
Some people feel like it would make sense to replace low-ridership transit routes with subsidized Uber. And you can see why: Running a big bus is expensive (also noisy and smelly), surely there are better and cheaper ways to move small numbers of people around other than those big buses so why not subsidize Uber for those passengers? I mean, obviously, right?
In a report done by Uber itself, it says replacing low-ridership routes with subsidized individual rides makes a lot of sense. But there’s a catch: by low-ridership routes Uber means routes that see fewer than 10 passengers per hour. An analysis of Toronto transit shows that there are zero such bus routes. I’d be curious to see numbers for Ottawa and other cities. Ten passengers per hour is… not that difficult to achieve even on non-busy routes.
What would make more sense is to encourage those who could easily take transit but choose to drive instead to ditch their car. For instance if we made parking rare and expensive, and started charging congestion prices to drive in the city centre, like they do in London and other cities, we’d make transit a more appealing option and gain in efficiency, fairness, and better air to breathe.
Yes, infrastructure can help alleviate racial inequalities
If you believe racism is systemic, as I do, then this story will make total sense. The way we have built common infrastructure over the years has impacted people differently. In particular, the building of the Interstate system but also many other roads and highways across the continent, have disproportionately benefited white people at the expense of people who are not white. This program aims to fix that. (In theory, anyway.)
WASHINGTON – America’s most celebrated infrastructure initiative, the interstate highway system, rammed an elevated freeway through the center of Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans in the late 1960s.
It claimed dozens of Black-owned businesses, along with oak trees and azalea bushes that had shaded Black children playing in the large neutral ground in the middle of the street, eviscerating a vibrant neighborhood whose residents fought in vain to stop the construction.
More than a half-century later, President Biden’s $2 trillion plan to rebuild aging roads, bridges, rail lines and other foundations of the economy comes with a new twist: hundreds of billions of dollars that administration officials say will help reverse long-running racial disparities in how the government builds, repairs and locates a wide range of physical infrastructure.
That includes $20 billion to “reconnect” communities of color to economic opportunity, like the Black residents still living in the interstate’s shadow along Claiborne.