One chapter in my Machinery of Freedom
proposed what I described as "jitney transit," organized ride sharing for pay, as a low cost form of mass transit. The capital and operating costs are already covered, since lots of people are already driving from one place to another with empty seats in their cars. All that is needed is some way to connect riders with drivers. I did, however, note one problem:
The other difficulty is political. Many large cities have regulations of one sort or another to control cabs and cab drivers; these would almost certainly prohibit jitney transit. Changes in such regulations would be opposed by bus drivers, cab drivers, and cab companies. Local politicians might be skeptical of the value of a mass transit system whose construction failed to siphon billions of dollars through their hands.
I just got an email from a friend, pointing to an article
on a modern version of the idea currently being implemented via a cell phone app. The entrepreneur responsible describes regulation as the key obstacle. Existing legal restrictions are avoided by making the payment nominally voluntary; the rider makes an offer of payment via the app, chooses how much to actually pay when he arrives. But there remains the risk of future regulation, pushed by incumbents to slow down innovation that competes with them.
Labels: jitney, mass transit, sidecar