Trendspotting: Private Sector Will Lead Transit Improvements

There’s a notable difference between how businesses and governments are responding to transportation challenges.

Asher Meyers | May 22, 2018 | |

Trendspotting: the commercial private sector will be the biggest force in improving urbanism within American cities, because the planning establishment is intellectually hollow (at least in California?), and the public engagement process is dominated by misanthropy and xenophobia.

Not that I think this is optimal per se, but that’s things as they are. City governments in other countries are showing far more leadership.

Couple examples:

  • 2018 Bikeshare conference being sponsored by Uber and Lyft.
  • AT&T pushing for pedestrianization of Dallas downtown area.
  • California APA lobbying in favor of parking requirements and against housing near transit.
  • City officials starting turf wars with dockless bike and scooter share, out of fear that officials will become irrelevant. “Subsidize it if we control it, tax it if we don’t.”
  • Limebike partnering with landlords, and real estate firms.

You’ll see an increasing flow of local urbanists from press/advocacy/government to such corporations. Jason Islas, Caroline Samponaro, Kyle Rowe, Gabe Klein, Carl Hansen, their salaries initially paid by venture capital, and then by revenue from pro-urban for-profit services like bikeshare. It will be most pronounced in the ‘micro-mobility’ sector.

Pseudo-green electric cars captured the mainstream environmental movement, so there’s no reason genuinely urban commerce can’t capture the urbanist movement.


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