September 2019 Technology Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: September 10, 2019

New In the Podcast Playlist

Although transit is never mentioned directly, a new episode from 99% Invisible podcast on the psychology of waiting does a great job explaining why real-time arrival information for transit can provide such high value.

The playlist is hosted on the ListenNotes service. From the playlist page located here, you can listen to the episodes directly from your browser or click “subscribe” button to add it to your podcasting app.

Acquisition and Investment Roundup

Mitsubishi Invests in an App That Wants to Replace Cars by Kati Pohjanpalo, Bloomberg

MaaS Global's Whim gets some funding from a car manufacturer.

TNCs/Ride Sourcing Companies

‘I’ve Never Seen a Cast of Characters That Willing to Kill Each Other’: Mike Isaac on Chaos at Uber by Brian Feldman, New York Magazine

On Uber during the Kalanick era.

Uber and Lyft just lost another battle in California by Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox

"Silicon Valley can’t seem to escape California’s crackdown on the gig economy."

RideOS CEO touts software's ability to build ride-hailing networks by Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive

The technology behind TNCs is gradually getting commodified.

Autonomous Vehicles

The Myth Of Substitution And The Mirage Of Driverless Cars by Mohanbir Sawhney, Forbes

"Rather than get caught up in the delusion of full autonomy, transportation providers would be better served by focusing on creating smarter driver-assistance systems with progressively advanced capabilities."

Autonomous semi-trucks have been driving along I-10 for months and no one noticed by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, Arizona Mirror

AVs will likely come faster to fleet-based transportation where there are fewer vulnerable road users to contend with. It will also be driven at least in part by the national shortage of long-haul truckers.

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

What is “Microtransit” For? by Jarrett Walker

A direct critique of the hype that technology-centric private transportation providers have generated around "microtransit". A great articulation of the limits of technology in this domain.

Expansionism vs. completism: two models for MaaS growth by Frank Jacobs, Fleet Europe

Can Mobility as a Service ever be a MaaS movement? by Jonathan Bray, Cities Today

Tech advances create MaaS without compromise by Colin Sowman, ITS International

A highly optimistic view

Report from the Urban Transport Group states that ‘the future of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is yet to be decided.’ by Intelligent Transport

A more realistic view

Should cities put mobility services on private MaaS platforms? by Rapahel Gindrat, Smart Cities Dive

This question cuts to the core of how effective MaaS will be in serving the public interest.

Mobility as a Service could convert car drivers to bus riders by Veronica Combs, TechRepublic

The best thing about this article on MaaS is the headline that doesn't dangle out the possibility that magical AVs will solve our urban mobility problems. (The rest of the article is good too.)

Making the Case for Standardization in MaaS by Philippe Martineau, Mass Transit

The writer represents the OSPT Alliance, an industry standards advocacy body comprised of vendors and transit agencies.

6 carmakers that are betting electric scooters and bikes — not cars — are the future of city transportation by Brittany Chang, Business Insider

Well, they're not quite giving up on cars, but they are actively investing in other modes.

The “Everything as a service” (XaaS) era is here by Hadi Khatib, AMEinfo

MaaS is just one of a raft of aaS's out there. We could also call it an attempt at the platformization of everything, or another version of how software is eating the world.

Google Maps adds multimodal trip planning feature by Katie Pyzyk, Smart Cities Dive


Best Practices: Mobile Payment by Rhyan Schaub, Eric Kaled, Toby Holmes, and Roamy Valera, Mass Transit

Technology, Generally

A couple pieces on how to build technology into your plans

Building Your First Product Road Map by James Turnbull, Kartar.Net

Not only good for thinking about software products. Good for thinking about building out new services or coordination projects also.

Most roadmaps are setting up their product teams to fail by Janna Bastow

A nice overview of how to build roadmaps and plans in a world where change happens to quickly. Thanks to Jarrett Walker for sharing this.

How One City Saved $5 Million by Routing School Buses with an Algorithm by Emma Coleman, Route Fifty

An interesting case study of the level of effort it actually took to apply algorithms to optimize a transportation service, and how much of the work was upended by the public engagement process.

Don't get locked up into avoiding lock-in by Gregor Hohpe,

Vendor lock-in is a big issue in the transit technology sector, but there's more than one kind of lock-in to consider. This article is focused on software development, but much of it applies to technology procurement also, especially two matrices that can help evaluate the risks associated with lock-in.

The Internet of Things: a roundtable discussion with Carol Schweiger, François Fischer, and Craig Fleming, Intelligent Transport

A roundtable on where IoT and Transit meet.

If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see explored at the intersection of technology and mobility management, you can send me an email at technologist [at] nc4mm [dot] org. Likewise, please email me if you come upon news that you think would fit in well here.

Hero screenshot of self-driving truck video by Tu Simple


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 (

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