July Technology Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: July 14, 2020

It's been a busy month, with lots of changes. Some are accumulated reports and such previously held up by COVID-19 and some a direct result of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

? COVID-19 & Transit

Two sites are aggregating COVID-19-related responses for transit and mobility overall:

  • COVID Mobility Works brings together the efforts of NUMO, Urbanism Next Center, World Economic Forum, UC Berkely Transportation Sustainability Research Center, and others.
  • The Shared Use Mobility Center has a COVID-19 Resource Homepage

Up next at the MBTA: crowding alerts? by Adam Vaccaro Boston Globe

Amid a Pandemic, Transit Authorities Turn to Technology by Doug Johnson, Undark

"As Covid-19 rages on, cities are eyeing microtransit to create a responsive system. But experts say there are tradeoffs."

From Why To How Fast: Getting Contactless Payments Up To Speed In Public Transportation by PYMNTS.com

"COVID-19 is derailing public transportation the world over, but Fernando Souza, vice president at payments platform CyberSource tells PYMNTS it’s also creating a huge push toward replacing cash and paper tickets with contactless payments. The conversations with transportation systems are no longer about ‘why’ but ‘how fast.’ Here’s what it takes to answer that question."

TNCs/Ride Sourcing Companies

Many have noticed that Uber is working to move in on the transit operations support space.

Similarly, a couple stories about Uber acquiring food delivery startup Postmates.

How Uber Turned a Promising Bikeshare Company Into Literal Garbage by Aaron Gordon, Vice

"JUMP wanted to create a better, more bike-friendly world. Former employees told Motherboard how getting acquired by Uber led to JUMP bikes being destroyed by the thousands."

How transit, TNCs can collaborate post-COVID by Jason Plautz, Smart Cities Dive

"A new white paper encourages transit agencies to consider actions that ensure commuter safety, such as partnering with ride-hailing companies to transport riders from low-density areas."

Uber and Lyft pricing algorithms charge more in non-white areas by Donna Lu

Researchers "at The George Washington University in Washington DC have found that ride-hailing companies charge a higher price per mile for a trip if the pick-up point or destination is a neighbourhood with a higher proportion of ethnic minority residents than for those with predominantly white residents."

California regulators say Uber, Lyft drivers are employees by Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle

The implementation of California's AB5 moves forward.

Lyft pledges all-EV fleet by 2030 by Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive

Lyft's announcement is here.

TX: Ride-hailing nonprofit RideAustin to shut down by Ariana Garcia, Austin American-Statesman

"RideAustin, a local nonprofit that emerged as an alternative to ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft during their brief departure from the city but struggled to carve its place in the market upon their return, is shutting down for good."

Autonomous Vehicles

Amazon buys driverless start-up Zoox with ride-hailing plans, Associated Press via LA Times

"The deal could drive Amazon into an entirely new business: transporting people from one place to another. But some industry analysts think Amazon’s ultimate goal is to repurpose the Zoox vehicle for its core business, delivering packages to shoppers."

Robo-Cars Are Coming, But Probably Not Like You’d Expect by Skip Descant

In the short term, expect AVs to move more stuff than people.

Why the future of self-driving vehicles could create new forms of social inequality by David Rutledge, ABC News (Australia)

A brief review of the "interesting ethical issues exist around mobility, ownership and equality."

Autonomous public transport bus trials to launch in five European cities by Sarah Wray, Cities Today

The cities are Helsinki (Finland),  Gjesdal (Norway), Tallinn (Estonia), Lamia (Greece), and Helmond (the Netherlands).

Connecticut DOT to run first automated transit bus in US by Cailin Crowe, Smart Cities Dive

"The 'Integrated Mobility Innovation' grant will aid development of automated technology to be used on CTtransit's 'CTfastrak,' a 9.4-mile rapid transit bus corridor in central Connecticut. The automated technologies will include steering, docking at station platforms and platooning capabilities."

U.S. to unveil voluntary self-driving testing data-sharing effort by David Shepardson, Reuters

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is unveiling the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing, or AV TEST, Initiative, to provide 'an online, public-facing platform for sharing automated driving system on-road testing activities.'"

We’re never going to get meaningful data on self-driving car testing by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge

Regarding the "AV TEST" cited above: "DOT is asking for volunteers, but safety advocates say the agency is settling for ‘table scraps’"

Study Says Autonomous Taxis Will Cost Users More than Car Ownership by Matt Posky, The Truth About Cars

"The study essentially asserts that the entire concept of robotic cabs doesn’t actually serve poor communities any better than just buying one’s own automobile."

Daimler-backed Momenta says its robotaxis will be fully driverless and profitable in 2024 by Rita Liao, Tech Crunch

Momenta is "one of Asia’s most valuable artificial intelligence startups."

Vehicle Electrification

Two research documents on electric buses that complement one another very well. One analyzes cost, the other give a roadmap for implementation.

Rural communities to receive electric public transit vehicles by

Vermont's Agency of Transportation is receiving nearly $800,000 in federal funding to support the purchase of four electric transit vehicles for rural communities.

‘Million-mile’ batteries are coming. Are they a revolution? by Maddie Stone, Grist

They might help make electrification pencil out, but (of course) it's complicated.

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

This Startup Brings a Mobile Grocery Store to Your Neighborhood by Hörn Arnarsdóttir, Pop Up City

"The Toronto startup, Grocery Neighbour, is developing an app-based mobile supermarket that brings local groceries to your neighbourhood."

Enhancing American mobility by Carol Schweiger, Intelligent Transport

An update on FTA's Integrated Mobility Innovation program.

Cubic and Moovit to develop mobile MaaS platform by Adam Hill, ITS International

"In January, Moovit’s MaaS APIs were integrated with Cubic’s Traveler app and the companies now say they will leverage Cubic’s mobile payment and fare collection technologies and Moovit’s multimodal journey planner 'to create a platform that offers travellers a seamless and frictionless mobile experience'."

Three Signs This Might Be Micromobility’s Big Moment by Kea Wilson, StreetsBlog USA

There's so much change in the air an increase in ridership and industry consolidation that many are hopeful micromobility is turning a corner after a very tough few months.

Mobility on Demand in the United States by Susan Shaheen and Adam Cohen

"The growth of shared mobility services and enabling technologies, such as smartphone apps, is contributing to the commodification and aggregation of transportation services. This chapter reviews terms and definitions related to Mobility on Demand (MOD) and Mobility as a Service (MaaS), the mobility marketplace, stakeholders, and enablers."

TRB Research Circular Number E-C244: Mobility on Demand: A Smart, Sustainable, and Equitable Future

"The publication is the synopsis of a January 13, 2019, workshop that examined next steps for preparing for a transition to autonomy, and discussed ways to optimize sustainability and ensure equitability. The workshop emphasized the role of public transit, shared mobility, and automation in shaping the future of mobility."


New App Makes Mass Transit Accessible to People with Cognitive Disabilities by Melissa L. Weber, StreetsBlog USA

"Columbus, Ohio research team is getting closer to releasing an app that could soon give people with cognitive disabilities more independence on mass transit systems across America."

Google Maps may offer routes connecting bikes and cars to public transit by Jon Fingas, Engadget

"App sleuth Jane Manchun Wong has discovered that Google is exploring “connections to public transit” route options that would cover the 'first mile' transportation for certain trips, such as bikes, cars, motorcycles ridesharing services and even auto rickshaws."

Transit and Data

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Mobility Data Use by ACLU Southern California

"Renting an electric scooter should not give the government the right to trace your every move — where you start, where you end, and all stops, twists, and turns in between. But that’s the situation in the City of Los Angeles where electric scooter rental companies are required to provide real-time and historic GPS tracking data to city officials."

Uber Quietly Recruits Allies to Battle Cities Over User Data by Aarian Marshall, Wired

"Nonprofits and advocacy groups signed on to an organization called Communities Against Rider Surveillance—without knowing that the ride-hail giant was involved."

Draft California Minimum GTFS Guidelines

These draft guidelines released by the California Department of Transportation regarding use of the General Transit Feed Specification were developed for the "California Integrated Travel Program (Cal-ITP) dedicated to making travel simpler and cost-effective for all." Includes a good summary of current state of all the GTFS standards and standards-to-be.

Data Sharing Guidance for Public Transit Agencies – Now and in the Future by Cecilia Viggiano and Glen Weisbrod with Shan Jiang, Emma Homstad, Melissa Chan, and Sarah Nural

This report "is designed to help agencies make decisions about sharing their data, including how to evaluate benefits, costs, and risks."

TRB Research Circular Number E-C263: Conference on Performance and Data in Transportation Decision Making

"The e-Circular summarizes a conference from September 2019 that brought together practitioners involved in all aspects of transportation planning, programming, and the decision making process."



We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (kashner@ctaa.org).

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