4.2.19

THE TRANSACTION COSTS ARE NOT TRIVIAL.

Five years ago, we noted Jeremy Rifkin hoping for improved information technologies leading to reduced pressure on resources as households didn't all have to have one of every possible convenience.
The distributed, collaborative nature of the Internet allows millions of people to find the right match-ups to share whatever they can spare with what others can use. This is a different kind of economy -- one far more dependent on social capital than market capital. And it's an economy that lives more on social trust rather than on anonymous market forces.
Duplicate stuff, whether it's lawnmowers or back yard swimming pools or kitchen appliances, has long been a talking point of the environmentalist left, although the idea of easier sharing thanks to reduced transaction costs also appeals to the libertarian Mike Munger.  "In Tomorrow 3.0, homes will contain vastly less stuff. By definition, they continue to contain some people."

Perhaps so, and yet the ability of people to hire transportation rather than own a car isn't reducing the fleet of cars on the road.
The report in the Daily Bruin revealed anew that Uber, Lyft, Via and the like are massively increasing car trips in many of the most walkable and transit friendly places in U.S.

It comes after a raft of recent studies have found negative effects from Uber and Lyft, such as increased congestion, higher traffic fatalities, huge declines in transit ridership and other negative impacts. It’s becoming more and more clear that Uber and Lyft having some pretty pernicious effects on public health and the environment, especially in some of the country’s largest cities.
Yes, and people who want to buy a car in order to get into the ride-sharing business might want to think carefully about the idle time involved.
The promise of companies such as Uber and Lyft was that they would “free” city dwellers to sell their cars or not acquire them in the first place. And car ownership has declined among higher wage earners.

But a University of Chicago study found the presence of Uber and Lyft in cities actually increases new vehicle registrations. That’s because the companies encourage lower-income people to purchase cars, even advertising in some markets how people should put that new car to use — as an Uber.

For every mile a Uber or Lyft car drives with a passenger, it cruises as many miles — if not more — without a passenger, a practice known in the industry as “deadheading.” Estimates of total deadheading time vary from 30 percent to as much as 60 percent.

Uber and Lyft’s policies make this worse by encouraging drivers to constantly circle to reduce wait times for users, according to John Barrios, the researcher at the University of Chicago, who has studied Uber and Lyft.
Let's suppose that a practical autonomous car is feasible. How much deadheading and circling will the owner of a fleet of such cars be happy with?

Oh, and the existing taxi companies and transit authorities have their own fiefdoms to protect.  Thus, in San Francisco, which is to say, in the citadel of Information Technology, the taxi medallion is back.  But only for taxis serving the airport.  There's a loophole in the regulations big enough to drive a jitney through.

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