Let's disrupt your daily commute
Reasons to be cheerful: one, two & three
Our national obsession with the weather is challenged only by our ability to launch into a compulsive rant about the state of the UK’s transport system. What’s left to say about fuming on the M6, rolling your eyes at train cancellations, or being anxiously delayed at the airport?
But Virgin Media Business is firmly in the camp that more transport disruption is a good thing.
One: making the best of what we have
Whim launched in Helsinki last month with, reports Curbed, the rather bold claim that it would “change urban travel forever”. It can’t prevent the delays. But it can navigate you around them. So you never again suffer the ignominy of a double-long commute. It brings together feeds from public transport including bus, train and shared bike schemes, with taxis, car shares and even an on-demand bus (more of that later). All of this data – and its real-time performance - is taken into consideration when you’re planning (and paying for) your journey. So you might end up taking a longer route. But you’re less likely to get stuck.
But if you’re determined to stick with the car, try Waze - the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Drivers share real-time traffic data, saving time and fuel on every trip.
Two: the sharing economy’s caring
Many transport experts point out that, despite our resistance, sharing is a necessary innovation in an increasingly crowded world.
And recasting mobility as an on-demand service is particularly attractive to sharing economy-savvy millennials - services like Air BnB and Spotify have familiarised usership over ownership.
So perhaps car sharing will finally have its day? It’s certainly enjoying a resurgence. As Nasdaq reports, Google is in on the gig, using Waze’s app to expand carpooling in the San Francisco Bay area. And carmakers are taking note. Here in London BMW reports its DriveNow car-sharing service is profitable, while Daimler’s car2go offers rentals charged per minute, hour or day.
And this isn’t the only way that long-established carmakers are cashing on the trend. Uber competitor Lyft attracted $500m from General Motors and the New York-based ride-hail service Gett secured $300m from Volkswagen. Uber itself received an undisclosed investment from Toyota, as Techcrunch reported earlier this year.
We reckon they’ll be more ways to share soon.
Three: on-demand buses (yes, really) and more
Transport’s tech revolution is impacting the use of large vehicles as well as small. TheVerge reports that none other than Ford has bought Chariot, an innovative bus shuttle startup in Silicon Valley.
As well as successfully trialling its own on-demand bus service in Detroit...
Ford has likely been inspired by the triumph of firms like Bridj, which runs on-demand buses across the USA. The app displays pick-up and drop-off points according to your location, and deducts the relevant fare.
Not everyone is pleased about transport being disrupted. Google and Tesla’s work on self-driving cars has been well documented, but it’s Uber that attracts the ire of Guardian writer Paul Mason, to whom driverless vehicles represent a dark future. He calls for more protection for workers who stand to lose out as disruption rages ever louder: “to protect the employment rights tech predators are trying to take from them”.
As in life, the disruption of transport will see winners and losers in the form of both enterprises and individuals. But surely the majority of us stand to gain?