Filling up seats in cars: The future of driving

Every day, millions and millions of car seats are shuttled through cities and communities, completely empty. Within them lies untapped potential for behavioral changes that could make our transportation system more efficient, less polluting, and cheaper.

Sharing rides – bringing back the once-popular carpool option – has become easier and easier as attitudes and technology change. By moving a few commuters into those empty seats and getting their cars off the highways, cities can start to see much larger reductions in rush-hour congestion.

Load factor

With ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, people have demonstrated a growing willingness to accept rides from strangers in exchange for a flexible transportation option. The growing ubiquity of smartphones means that in most urban areas, getting a shared ride is only a matter of opening the right app. And the amount of data on people’s driving and commuting habits (think Waze) now available to developers means that pairing up similar commutes is far simpler for companies.


We spoke with a number of transportation experts and companies about where they see ridesharing going as these trends continue, and as autonomous vehicles enter roadways. Watch the full video above.

Featured in the video: Tyler Duvall, McKinsey & Company; Emily Castor, Lyft; Howard Jennings, Mobility Lab; Stefan Heck, Nauto, Stanford University; Joshua Schank, LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and Chris Hamilton, Active Transport for Cities, Key West Bike/Ped/Transport Coordinator.

Directed by Will Chilton of Astro Cinema.

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Robert DeDomenico

15% of US miles are driven with ALL seats in the car EFFECTIVELY EMPTY! I’m talking about shopping, etc. Even if four persons carpooled to the convenience store, none of the people actually needed to make the trip, it was the goods that they wanted to move. We need to stop using 4,000 pound cars to carry home an 8 pound gallon of milk, and there is a good way to do it: CargoFish Physical Internet. It’s a utility concept wherein the utility can move a standard mini container. What’s in it for mobility lab members? It’s transportation demand management. Fewer cars using roads to pick up small payloads means less wasted fuel, road space, etc, and more free time for human beings to things other than sit in a moving vehicle.



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