Thursday, January 29, 2015


The power of digital connectivity is disrupting old patterns of life midway into the second decade of the 21st century. Individuals are in touch with the whole world with their increasingly smarter devices. The future of urban mobility doesn’t look much like the past. Uber is making waves.  Today plus ça change, plus ça s’accelère!

Here’s an early sign of upheaval in urban mobility. Taxi drivers fear their livelihoods are being undermined. They see Uber growing by leaps and bounds.  Some are counter-attacking, comparing Uber drivers and their cyberlord to infamous Chicago mobster Al Capone!  Boston’s Carriage News has called taxi owners and drivers to mobilize against Uber founder Travis Kalanick’s “arrogance and contempt” for common people. Uber is not just a bully: it’s a “$40 billion bully” operating “outside the law”!

Taxis. Taxis. Uber-where!
Such words don’t come lightly! Taxi interests are worried: taxi medallion prices are falling.

Long-Term Impacts

Beyond these immediate knee-jerk reactions, forward thinking may make taxi folks happy. John and Jane are getting car-free. That’s getting easier with Uber as another mobility option. If more people are car-free, there will be more demand for taxi trips. Taxi folks should welcome car-free life styles that Uber can bring, as transit operators and fans do.

Car-free voters will push for better mass and extensions into under-served areas.  Violà -- la grande ouverture for podcars. It’s enough to catch investor interest in Berlin, London and Paris as well as Asia. Smart new mobility models are getting serious attention because of identifiable new project where people live comfortably sans voiture.  

The highest density of moneyed digital innovation is in California Silicon Valley.  No coincidence that PCC9 -- the 9th annual Podcar City conference -- is there. Mark your calendars -- Nov 2-4, 2015 -- somewhere in a cyber-cloud near San Jose!

Previous Podcar News

The USDOT spent half a billion dollars in the 1970s (so about $1B in today’s terms) to demonstrate automated, elevated transit, supposedly to revive and sustain declining CBDs (downtown business districts).  None has been built since. Singapore in the 1990s spent about the same amount to bu... more
For the last several years, Silicon Valley was the main source of American news about podcars. This interest in next-gen mobility is shifting east in at least seven places. Northern California has a Skytran prototype hanging in a NASA facility at the sourthern tip of San Francisco Bay. San Jose ... more
Trans.21 -- the clearinghouse of information on automated people movers established in 1983 -- is cleaning house. Several dozen video cassettes on various kinds of advanced, automated transit as well as scores of slides and other material are available. They can be useful to researchers, historians ... more
The world of advanced mobility spoke a Swedish-accented English early this month at PCC8 at Arlanda Airport.  Where are the metro-loving, transit-exporting French in these exchanges?    The 8th Podcar City conference in Stockholm (Sept 3-5) emitted strong signs that PRT (aka ... more
A significant report by the Mineta Transportation Institute on the status and prospects of the podcar “industry” is to be released this fall as a peer-reviewed USDOT document that will be freely and widely disseminated. It advises that a 5-10 station Automated Transit Network (ATN) project is withi... more
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