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Here is Lyft's Grand Plan to Curb Traffic in Congested Cities

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【Summary】In a recently published MIT study, researchers pointed out that carpool services, such as UberPool and Lyft Line, could decrease the number of cars on public roads by a whopping 75 percent.

Original Michael Cheng    Jan 25, 2017 6:46 AM PT
Here is Lyft's Grand Plan to Curb Traffic in Congested Cities

According to New York Daily News, US residents spend up to seven days per year waiting in traffic. Because of this, over $160 billion in fuel costs and productivity is lost annually. John Zimmer and Logan Green, Co-founders of second-largest ride-sharing company Lyft, proposed a plan to curb this trend in urban locations, which includes "smart lanes" and carpooling.

In a blog post on Medium, the duo unveiled the proposal, suggesting that such lanes would only be activated during peak hours. Interestingly, the startup, along with Uber, already help ease road congestion. In a recently published MIT study, researchers pointed out that carpool services, such as UberPool and Lyft Line, could decrease the number of cars on public roads by a whopping 75 percent.

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Carpooling Incentives

Contrary to popular belief, adding more road lanes does not improve traffic conditions. The duo's proposition goes beyond this assumption by offering suggestions on how High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes should be managed. During peak hours, cars with three or more passengers will be able to use smart lanes for free. Those traveling with less than three individuals will have to pay a small fee for access. It is important to consider that this option won't be available 24/7. Smart lanes will only cater to carpooling vehicles during peak hours. Money raised from the use of smart lanes will be allocated to national infrastructure spending.

"Congestion charging has been shown to work because it forces people to make a decision about and gives them a precise benchmark against which to measure whether a given trip is worth it,'" said Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us).

Other countries, cities and states already implement a similar process. For example, in Seattle, the city's smart lane is free for vehicles with two or more passengers. If you haven't made the connection yet, let me make it for you Lyft is promoting this type of system because it offers carpooling services for common routes, which allows people going in the same direction to ride together, resulting in lower transportation fees.

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Road Infrastructure Issues

The duo's recommendation to invest in road infrastructure makes a lot of sense. First, the business relies on roadways for revenue - without roads, Lyft wouldn't exist. Moreover, US roads received a D+ rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ouch). Large investments in infrastructure could give this rating a much-needed boost, as the US needs a staggering $3.6 trillion by 2020 to prevent its roadways from crumbling. Zimmer also clarified that such funding projects may improve the national job market.

Other infrastructure-related projects that received a D rating from the group includes the following: energy, schools, wastewater treatment, aviation and transit. The highest rating was given to public parks and recreation, which received a C- (mediocre, according to the organization). With infrastructure spending at an all-time low, Lyft's grand plan could be the timely solution that could curtail the dilapidation of US roads.

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