Transportation and more

images-1We were driving through East New York Brooklyn, a neighborhood that has not changed as much as other neighborhoods in BK over the past decade.  I noticed a few downtrodden buildings and homes for sale along the road beneath the subway tracks and began to wonder about the future of transportation.  In addition, the zoning of East New York was just changed this past week.

The industry of transportation is been changing dramatically over the past 5 years and we have seen the beginnings of a movement.  Certainly Tesla and Uber come to mind first.  People and companies have been working on electric cars since the late 1800’s but as time went on the technology behind batteries did not outweigh the low cost and simplicity of gas.  Times have changed.  Electric cars are the future, batteries taking in solar power to heat our homes, planes (just saw a historic flight this past week) could stop burning through fuel and using solar power in the future.  It is good for the environment yet it is super scary for the Middle East and people who bask in their oil reserves.

Uber essentially found a void that we did not even realize existed.  The ability to immediately hail a car to drive you from one place to the next through an app allowing drivers to make an income in cities across the globe using their phone as their business was genius.  There are plenty of others such as Lyft, Hailo and other ride-sharing apps and each of them has changed transportation.  You can easily get an “uber” in a city without ever having to drive which is a big bonus going out at night or not having to rent a car when you go to a new city.  We used uber the entire time we were in Minneapolis and never even considered renting a car.  There are a slew of other positives and there will be a shift in the industry just as technology changes any industry.

I was talking to the founder of Scoot who will have 1000 electric Scooters on the roads of SF sooner than later.  He has changed transportation too giving people access to a shared electric bike to get where they need without having to own a scooter.  Soon they will roll out to other cities.  In full transparency I am an investor in Scoot and believed in what they are building from day one.

Thinking out there 10, 20 years I was wondering about those rails overhead.  Will we see light rail that branches out to the farthest reaches of each city so transportation becomes so easy that you might not think about ever owning a car? Will we ever see upgrades of all the trains through out country that get people from place to place at a high speed so everyone can live somewhere that is well suited to their needs, their income and be able to get to work without hours of unbearable commuting?  Will we see more Scoots, more shared transportation, all electric cars, less overhead clunky rails that are eventually turned into great community spaces?

I can certainly say that transportation today will not look like transportation in 10 years.  Where it evolves and how quickly it happens is the only thing we can really wonder about.

Comments (Archived):

  1. jeffgrillo

    I am really excited to see how Scoot does. I wonder if the next move is to bring to Portland, Oregon, which is where I lived before moving out here to NYC one week before storm Sandy. Ha! Granted Portland does not have hills like San Francisco does, which I imagine is the major benefit of a scooter. At one point I was thinking that it would be great to have scooters on large college campuses. It boggles my mind at how much students at ASU pay to park their car on campus when I bet they never use it. And in a perfect world the traffic in Manhattan could be reduced down to just scooters and delivery trucks that way I would never get stuck in rental cars trying to get from Brooklyn to upstate NYC.

  2. pointsnfigures

    Great leaps forward in mankind usually are predicated on a new form of transport. Electric cars are not as transformational as the first cars, but driverless ones are. Mass transit depends a lot on geography. In the Northeast corridor, it makes a heckuva lot of sense. On the Great Plains, not so much.

  3. Matt Kruza

    One interesting model / trend to think about is the “flipped city and suburb model”. Have done a lot of thinking and probably could / should right a big blog post on this, but here are the bullet points: 1. shareable self-driving cars and buses will be the future (whether 10 or 30 years is to be seen). 2. Demand for retail space willl collapse, especially in the food category as most would love to order and have things show up at their home, but currently too expensive (will change with self driving cars driving per mile cost down 50-90%) 3. With a ton (literally 10-30 billion square feet freed up, in primarily inner and outer ring suburbs, many downtown jobs will move to this underutilized CHEAP space, flipping the city. Model is now 20-50 minute drive to downtown / CBD, will be 20 minutes downtown to office park, inner burbs no commute, outer burbs 20minute, and even a new outer burbs with 40 minute commute willl arise. Massively deflationary for land / house prices. Great for the 90%, bad for the landed artistocracy.. our future looks great for average, normal, non-elite americans (and also will be great for the elites who don’t want to just gum up the system to keep their wealth through crappy political rules / zoning / institutional power)!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Very smart. I love this.

      1. Matt Kruza

        Thanks. I have spent inordinate amounts of time on this futurology angle here. Its the one angle of self driving cars that I have really heard no other experts (not that i am one.. certainly dont have the high profile yet lol) on this future change. I have a standing bet with JLM that comments here and at avc about real estate crashing over 10-20 year frame as a result. He wasn’t as impressed with this theory ..

        1. JLM

          .Of course, he was hampered by 40 years of experience getting in the way. Reuben sandwich coming my way soon?The disconnect between the burbs and the CBD is almost total and complete. It is both geographic, services, and now is becoming institutionalized.One thing you always have to remember about CBD v suburban office uses is the dearth and cost of CBD parking v the no cost of suburban parking. The operating expense differences are substantial.Colleges and gov’t are snapping up failed retail which has very adaptable space and great parking.In Southern cities — where there is no impediment to getting around in the winter and therefore they are 12 months cities — folks are beginning to live downtown as first houses. This will change the perspective from an institutional perspective.Home values are incredible across the country. ATX — best neighborhoods $500/SF. Savannah — similar neighborhoods $200/SF with good values in the burbs at $100-150/SF.My daughter lives in Savannah and the values are incredible.The burbs and the CBD are in for a wild ride.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. lisa hickey

      Thanks for sharing this. I love the idea of it. It makes me think—-wouldn’t it be cool if you thought of a city, and the arial view was like a bullseye. The city had a center circle, and went out in concentric rings. And right in the middle, it’s walking only—parks, and pedestrian malls and fountains. And the second ring was for human powered transport, bikes and scooters and Segways and skateboards. And then only the next ring out had cars and bus and trains (although you could have one subway dropping your off in the very middle of the city). And in the outer ring was the skyscrapers and office buildings.Very much appreciate your vision—and anything that makes the future look great for average, normal, non-elites is great for me.

      1. Matt Kruza

        Yeah, the future will be exciting. What i love most is in this vision you pretty much only get in a vehicle when you have to be PHYSICALLY at a place. So obviously work, or a doctor appt. But no more errands and unnecessary time in a car. more time for living. And more time for the vision you articulate.. the mixing of different enviroments and life styles. Fun times. Now we just need the vision realized!

        1. lisa hickey

          Agree! I used to have ideas and keep them to myself, which was not helpful. Now I try to continuously have a positive vision of the future and share it with people every day. Not just when I think of it, but literally every day. Because I think other people could benefit from learning *how* to be visionary. It is not really something we teach.”No more errands and unnecessary time in a car. More time for living.” That would be a YES.

  4. lisa hickey

    What is interesting to me is that I spent most of my life having/owning a car. The car was my default mode of transportation. It just always was a part of my life, never had to think about it. Having a car gave me a sense of security, it meant things were going well. It was the norm, so not haveing a car felt “abnormal”. And I equated having a car with freedom.Then– a few years ago, I moved to New York City. Like many people, I decided not to own a car in NY. And it was so easy! I could get almost everyplace in NYC either walking or with a CitiBike. I loved that Citibike. And when needed, I could always take a cab or subway. Despite being one of the most crowded cities in the world, it rarely felt difficult to get to the places .And then I moved to Pasadena California. I got off the airplane in a new city. I knew only a handful of people. I took my first Uber ride to my AirBnB. I had the Uber drop me off at a bicycle shop on the way from the airport and I bought a bicycle before I even checked into my new place. Everyone told me “you can’t bike in LA! you will need a car!” But I don’t. I bike 3 miles to my office, and it is gorgeous and exhilarating. I bike almost everywhere I need to go. For meetings in downtown LA, I usually go with the Light Rail / Uber combo. When I my daughter came to visit, I rented a car. But that was the only time I felt I needed one.I use the most appropriate form of transportation to get me from point A to point B. Whatever that might be, wherever I am.And just like that—-NOT having a car became the norm. NOT having a car means freedom.This is important, because if we are ever able to solve the problems of the environment, we have to solve the problem of what is the norm for transportation. And it needs to be alternatives that people don’t feel compelled to use because it is “good” or “the right thing to do” (although that can be part of it).Change will happen when the alternatives are exhilarating, and give people the freedom to enjoy live in ways they didn’t have before.PS: This is why I am excited by Scoot!

    1. Gotham Gal

      And just like that—-NOT having a car became the norm. NOT having a car means freedom.So good!