May 2022 Technology Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: May 30, 2022
Tech Update Headlines

Hard times and “fake” financials for Uber and Lyft, a new universal mobility pilot in L.A., AV buses will still need operators, and ransomware is on the rise. Just a few of the transit technology headlines in May, selected for mobility managers. 


The Decade of Cheap Rides Is Over by Henry Grabar, Slate
“Uber has lost an astounding sum since its founding in 2009, including more than $30 billion in the five-odd years since the company’s finances became public. Together with earlier losses and a similar strategy at rival Lyft, this has amounted to an enormous, investor-fueled subsidy of America’s ride-hailing habit. Those days are over, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told employees in a memo last week. “

Your Next Uber Could Be the Bus By Laura Forman, WSJ
“The cost of rides might be pushing some to more economical transportation”
“As dreams of world domination fade and investors watch the bottom line, the cost of that ride might be pushing some potential customers to more economical forms of transportation.”

An original Uber, Lyft competitor still trying to build a new rideshare model by Alexis Gebhardt,
“Getaround’s idea of rideshare is still more rooted in the original concept of individuals sharing cars than the gig economy giants that Uber and Lyft have become, though the lines are blurry.”

Lyft continues its COVID recovery, but investors are far from impressed by Alex Wilhelm, TechCrunch
“In GAAP terms, an acronym that denotes standard American accounting methods, Lyft had a very unprofitable quarter, posting a net loss of $196.9 million. Though an improvement from its year-ago GAAP net loss of $427.3 million, the company’s Q1 2022 net loss represents a material percentage of its revenues.”

Uber Takes a Victory Lap While Lyft Shares Fall Off a Cliff by Kevin Hurler, Gizmodo
“While Uber seems to be having a better morning than Lyft, the Journal highlighted the fact that both companies are down around 30% this year. And, as always, remember that both companies’ financials are mostly fake.”

Lyft brings carpooling back to more US cities by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“Lyft Shared rides, the ride-hail company’s carpooling service, is returning to more US cities this month. The return of carpooling comes as the company struggles to rein in its spending in response to an ongoing driver shortage and high gas prices.”

The costs of driver incentives are weighing on Lyft, Uber by Alex Wilhelm, TechCrunch
“It’s not cheap to get non-employees to do what you need, when you need it”

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous transit buses will still need skilled operators, researchers say by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
A new report finds automation can’t handle all the situations a driver may encounter and would add stress to human operators who might have to react at a moment’s notice.”
“Even with advanced automated driving technology, transit vehicles including public transit buses and vans are ‘highly likely’ to require the presence of a qualified human operator, according to a report issued Thursday by Traffic21, a transportation research institute at Carnegie Mellon University.”

Argo AI, Zoox and Coalition for Reimagined Mobility to discuss what makes a ‘good AV citizen’ by Kirsten Korosec, TechCrunch
“We’ve invited three experts to our stage to sift through this complex subject and talk about how design, the vehicle’s self-driving system and a developer’s approach to operations can affect the accessibility, equity, safety and usability of AVs.”

Aurora expands autonomous freight pilot with FedEx in Texas by Rebecca Bellan, TechCrunch
“Aurora Innovation, an autonomous vehicle technology company, has expanded its self-driving freight pilot with FedEx to include a new lane from Fort Worth to El Paso, Texas.”

Vehicle Electrification

Biden Releases $500 Million for Electric School Bus Plan That Could Help Save Thousands of Lives by Kristi Pahr, Fatherly
“The $500 million is a part of $5 billion initiative to provide school districts around the country with low or no-emissions school buses, replacing nearly half a million buses that run on diesel.”

The Trouble With Lithium by Annie Lee, Bloomberg
“The electric car market is driving insatiable demand for lithium. But a supply crisis of the wonder metal could dent the world’s chances of meeting its climate goals.”

Why Lithium Mining For EV Batteries Should Be Our ‘Absolute Last Resort’ by Kea Wilson, Streetsblog USA
“Lithium mining is having a devastating impact on local and indigenous communities as well as ecosystems around the globe, and reducing dependence on automobiles must be a key part of our strategy to curb the damage, a new report says.”

Georgia woos a second electric vehicle plant with $5.5 billion Hyundai factory by Molly Samuel, WABE
“Hyundai announced Friday it is planning a manufacturing facility for EVs and electric vehicle batteries in Bryan County, near Savannah. The company says it’s a $5.54 billion dollar investment, expected to create about 8,100 jobs, and pull in another billion dollars’ worth of investment from suppliers.”

If Europe and Japan can have small, cheap EVs, why can’t America? by Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica
“Europe’s VW ID.1 will cost $18,000; Japan’s Nissan Sakura is just $14,000.”

Paris suspends electric bus fleet after two fires by Le Monde with AFP
“149 electric buses will be taken off the streets of Paris temporarily ‘as a precaution’ after two of the vehicles caught fire, public transport operator RATP said Friday, April 29.”

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

Here’s how transport apps have highlighted the gender imbalance in the transport sector by Maurizio Catulli, World Economic Forum
“Mobility as a Service’ (MaaS) encourages people to share transport rather than use private cars. But women typically have different transport needs than men, something often overlooked by transport apps. Uptake among women is low, with safety being one of the primary issues.”

Los Angeles Department of Transportation Unveils Universal Mobility Pilot by Yen Ocampo, OpenGov
“The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has begun its ground-breaking Universal Basic Mobility Pilot in South Los Angeles, one of the country’s largest initiatives of its kind, providing thousands of Angelenos with more transportation options. The pilot will include e-bikes, shared electric vehicles, and an on-demand EV shuttle service, as well as a partnership with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) to subsidise transit fares for 2,000 residents in the pilot area who have previously lacked safe transportation options.”

Are We Still Doing Scooters? by Ira Boudway, Bloomberg
“While the number of people using services like Lime and Bird is rebounding, the companies are now framing themselves as a vital aspect of climate policy.”


Fare Capping Is Ushering in the Future of Commuting by Julie Scharff, VP, Visa, for Metro Magazine
“When a transit agency offers fare capping, in addition to allowing customers to pay as they go with their own contactless card or smart device (also called open loop payments), the benefits multiply.”


USF-invented software improves worldwide transit operations by Mark Parker, The St. Pete Catalyst
“The governments of France and California recently began utilizing the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) Realtime validation tool, enabling transit agencies to publish data in a standard format easily adopted by various travel planning applications. Sean Barbeau, principal mobile software architect for research and development at the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR), created the GTFS validation tool.”

Other News Involving Transit and Technology

Lessons from California: Tips to keep transit projects on time, on budget by Julie Strupp, Smart Cities Dive
Much of this article applies equally well to technology investments: “Local agencies tend to poorly plan infrastructure work and don’t have enough capacity to manage megaprojects, and the typically-used procurement methods create a management bottleneck, according to the Ethan Elkind et al study.”

Ransomware Attacks on Governments More Frequent, Damaging and Costly by Susan Miller, Route Fifty
“Attackers targeting states and localities demanded the lowest ransom payments of any sector surveyed, but victims were more likely to pay, according to a recent report.”


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