If it feels like your commute is getting longer and more crowded, you’re right. As urban populations grow, congestion and commute times rise. Subways, trains, buses, and ferries will be even more critical in offering the kind of affordability, efficiency, and social cohesion that automobiles—as they most commonly exist today—cannot. It’s no coincidence that many of the tactics employed by personal, on-demand transit, like Uber’s Smart Route and uberPOOL, strikingly resemble those of mass transit systems.
At the same time, mass transit currently lacks the same comfort, convenience, and privacy of an owned or hailed automobile. Additionally, public transit has not necessarily seen the same meaningful innovation as on-demand services have in recent years. Breakthroughs in digital and service design offer a way to change this. By incorporating some of the advantages of personal, on-demand transit into mass transit systems, we can combine the best of both worlds to redefine the future of urban transportation.