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The Age of Uber

June 29, 2017

Lyft is the Glad to Uber’s Ziploc. In some ways, it can be frustrating to be the number two brand in a category. In other ways, it can be beneficial. Like when a category is taking heat from regulators or consumers, much of that ire is placed on its top brand.

When consumers protest GMOs, they are going after Monsanto. Have you ever heard of anyone getting riled up over BASF? I haven’t.

All of which is to say, please remember that when I say it’s the Age of Uber, it’s also the Age of Lyft. As a headline, The Age of Ridesharing doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. But at least in theory, early this morning the apps went live in the Capital Region for the first time ever. And I can’t wait to see how this works out in practice.

I have some thoughts, and some concerns.

For the past ten years, I have been lamenting the state of public transportation in the Capital Region. Yes, it’s great we have a bus system which connects the cities of the Capital District. Truly. And I’m in constant amazement that at one point in time the many municipalities were able to get together and create something for the greater good.

That said, especially for a place that occasionally tries to market itself as “Tech Valley” the fact that our bus system doesn’t have an app with real time GPS location of our busses and to the minute time estimates of arrival at bus stops, is a real head scratcher.

One of my hopes is that as ridesharing comes into the market it will put competitive pressure on CDTA to improve its service offerings, and upgrade its technology.

But I am unabashedly thrilled about the prospects of being able to get a car home from the airport or train station, that won’t be filled with other passengers, and will just take me directly to where I want to go, without trying to pull some kind of shenanigans on the rate.

I’m looking forward to being able to take a car home on one of those rare late nights after some beer dinner. The days of having to leave a party in order to catch the the last bus home are over.

These are all great things.

What remains to be seen is how quickly the people of the Capital Region will adopt this new technology, and what the supply and demand in the market will look like.

It’s funny to say that new technologies are easy to bring to a region, considering how long and hard the fight has been to get ridesharing to the area. My hat is off to Vic, Matt, Joe, and everyone else who has been leading this charge to push our elected official to do the will of the people.

As hard as that was, it’s still an easier task than changing a region’s culture. Because as a market that’s been deprived of reliable cab service for a long long time, even though there is a hunger for something better, people have found work-arounds out of necessity.

Inertia is a powerful force. I’m not immune to its pull. Even though I have gotten emails from Lyft and Uber, I still haven’t fully activated my Lyft account. And I haven’t restored my deleted Uber account.

Everyone is sharing their Lyft invite codes these days. Mine is DANIEL51557 and I think that means if you use that link to download the app, you get something free and I get something free. But I have no idea. I’m old. And this technology is still new to me.

My interest in sharing that link, is to help you and me displace a little bit of that inertia, and get our collective feet wet in this ridesharing era. Because like all great things, if people don’t use it enough, it will go away.

Speaking of which, I’ve got to head out to The Flying Chicken. It’s last day will be Friday, July 7 and I need to make sure to get my fix before it closes its doors. You should too. But I’ll have more on that later.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2017 10:55 am

    Nice how you eventually worked in a mention of food. Speaking of which, I have found that Lyft drivers are consistently nicer than Uber drivers. Even when they drive for both, as soon as they put on that pink mustache (which is virtual nowadays, so nobody will know what I’m talking about) they become nicer.

  2. Greg permalink
    June 29, 2017 11:15 am

    CDTA provides realtime estimates of bus arrival times in the iRide app. I use it often, and I’d say the estimates are often correct to within 1-2 minutes. https://www.cdta.org/application-center/2914

    • June 29, 2017 12:00 pm

      Thanks for the link to the iRide app. I just started playing around with it again, and am pleased to see that it’s better than I remember it. The thing that killed me was when I was waiting for the 10 bus and it was significantly delayed. Amazingly, when I called CDTA I was able to speak to a human being. But even he couldn’t tell me where the next bus was or when it would arrive.

      Given the ubiquity of mobile phones and the low cost of the technology, I was flabbergasted that the real time location of the next bus was a mystery.

  3. Shawn permalink
    June 29, 2017 5:55 pm

    Google Maps works amazingly well for getting around on CDTA buses and has real time updates. Just put in where you want to go and see whether taking the bus is viable option. I much prefer it over the CDTA app.

  4. David E Nardolillo permalink
    July 2, 2017 2:44 pm

    I am very glad we now have Uber and Lyft, and I’ve already taken advantage of it. But I think we had a shot to get it last year had the rhetoric not gotten so unnecessarily ugly. This year, without those accusations and recriminations flying about, the deal got through with only minor stalls along the way.

    Now that Uber and Lyft here, can we please call the service Ride “hailing” instead of Ride “sharing”? The latter can mean you are sharing a ride with another passenger going to a different location. Call me a cynic, but I think there is a reason why Uber and Lyft use this terminology, as some commentators are pointing to a true cost of a ride that far exceeds the fare you currently pay, and the future possibility of forced ride pools to create profitability. It will be interesting to see how the economics play out here, especially with the surcharges that are added on.

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  1. 7 and 7 on Saturday, July 1 ,2017 – Chuck The Writer

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