Getting from Point A to B May Not Involve Your Own Car
We are evolving into a better cared for society. What we used to do for ourselves, such as take care of the lawn, plant the flowers, fix the plumbing, change out the light switch, we are more and more hiring others to do. Others who are experts in their jobs. This is clearly evidenced by the older generation moving into gated communities, active adult communities and assisted living facilities. At the same time, however, in a much less noticed trend, a younger generation is forsaking the suburbs to repopulate urban environments. Both of these trends suggest a more localized, service-laden existence and significant changes in the patterns of moving from point A to point B.
Do you still need a car?
The new trend is moving from “Do It Yourself” to “Let others do it for you”. Sounds almost Biblical. Will vehicle ownership be on the list of letting others do it for you? What would you be giving up by getting from point A to point B via an on-call mobility service, rather than using your own vehicle? Well, you would be giving up having to be careful to charge your vehicle at the appropriate time interval, undertaking battery maintenance and replacement, and having to take the vehicle in for repairs and upkeep. You could also rid yourself of the attendant costs of the items just mention, as well as license fees and vehicle registration, where these are required.
Is On-Call mobility used already?
There are actually places in the universe where vehicle ownership is something of a rarity. New York City is a good example. It has a well-developed commuter system servicing the suburbs and an extensive underground subway system. The vast majority of New York City residents do not use an automobile to get to and from work and do their grocery shopping at neighbourhood stores. It is likely that a considerable majority of these New Yorkers do not even own a car.
Thus, the idea of a shared transportation system is hardly new. New York may be somewhat unique in this regard because of the extensiveness of its system, but virtually all major cities and even small towns have some form of shared transportation system, either privately-owned or publicly-supported. So, what is new?
What is new is individualized, on-call fleets serving specific point-to-point mobility
“Individualized, on call fleets” is too many words to keep repeating, so let’s give it an acronym. How about, “IOF”? (IOF is Individualized On-call Fleet) With an IOF system, vehicles are parked in strategic locations so that anyone, for a fee, could use them to drive to wherever they want to go, repark the vehicle and forget about it. If a return trip is needed, that vehicle or another would be available for that purpose. Vehicles and parking spots would be located by a smart phone app.
In the years ahead, driverless vehicles could be a significant characteristic of an IOF, thereby allowing users to hail a scooter and wait for its arrival.
Such IOF systems are, in fact, in use. Some systems use bicycles (Citibank has such a bicycle fleet in New York City) some use electric scooters right now.
OK, so what about gated and planned communities? The first point to be made is that mobility as an individualized service, replacing vehicle ownership, is rapidly taking hold. And the second point is that gated communities are potentially good environments for IOF systems.
Would gated communities offer a favourable environment for an IOF operation?
In so many ways, the answer must be in the affirmative. Residents might find the IOF vehicle down the block very handy for picking up of groceries, it would be an easy round trip from the parking station to the market, back to home.
It should be noted that while distributed parking slots would be part of the system, with the advent of autonomous systems, a centralized parking system could also be established. In this case the app feature on the smart phone would be used to call a scooter vehicle to your doorstep. You would then jump on, do your errands, return to your abode, and direct the vehicle to return to central parking. There, of course, the vehicle would be recharged and otherwise maintained as needed.
(source: Steve Metzger)