The Washington Post has a fascinating article on how technology is ripe to disrupt public transport just like it did for taxis with the arrival of Uber and Lyft:
The new venture-backed private transportation service Leap began offering rides in San Francisco last week in a swanky shuttle meant to feel “more like a living room than a bus.” A ride with the service, which costs $6 one-way or $5 in bulk, comes with WiFi, USB ports, a laptop bar and locally made pressed juices (for sale on board, that is).
Public transit is ripe for disruption — that’s why investors are backing these ideas. If you were to look around any city and try to identify a problem in need of lucrative new solutions that emerging technology might provide, the dreaded commute is an obvious one. Public transit can be inefficient, unpredictable, slow, crowded, or on its worse days downright broken. Transit needs a shakeup.
The fear is that new service would be only for the wealthy. From Anacostia, current Metro peak fares to Farragut West are $2.50, and $5.00 per day, probably cheaper than Leap. On the other hand, peak fare from Shady Grove to Metro Center is already $5.90 each way during peak hours. If you need to park, the daily cost rises to $16.90. So the difference in price in our area is cloudy, especially if competition enters into the game.
Government heavily subsidizes government-provided public transit and could subsidize rides for shuttles. Except that these subsidies could be targeted directly a lower income riders rather than to everyone regardless of income. Considering the cost of the DC Streetcar, Purple Line, and Baltimore Red Line, it would a lot cheaper.