How we get around is changing. The emergence of new business models and new technologies are providing people with new options to get from point A to point B. Uber and Lyft scaled ridesharing and brought it to previously unserved markets. Micromobility in the form of dockless scooters and bikes provide urban and suburban residents more options for their shorter trips. And the emergence of autonomous vehicles may radically transform not only how people get around, but also how the areas we live in are designed.
A lot of these changes are focused in areas with a high population density like big cities. However most trips, especially vehicle-based trips, occur in areas that are less densely populated. This means autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to bring big change to the transportation experience beyond cities. And because of the lower population density beyond cities and its implications for the desirability and viability of a ridesharing model, this technology will likely find its way into personally-owned vehicles as a new feature, as opposed to being the exclusive domain of ridesharing companies. This has strategic implications for both the autonomous vehicle technology developers and automakers.
While personal vehicle trips are the dominant form of transportation, there is variation in denser areas where the mix of modes is greater. In dense cities, walking is actually the most common mode of transportation, with public transit playing a relatively large role before a large drop off to taxis/ride sharing and bicycles. But given this data is from 2017, I suspect that the share of ride sharing trips and bicycle trips (via scooters and bike sharing) are higher today. With respect to ridesharing, it's within these denser areas that consumers desire the service being offered and where it's currently viable for the providers to offer it (though the validity of that point is open for debate).
Now let's briefly consider a supplier perspective and the viability of different methods of vehicle-based transportation. Traditionally automakers sold vehicles to consumers that they operate themselves to get from point A to point B. Once these companies sell their vehicles to consumers they are no longer involved in the act of transportation (aside from offering maintenance and other secondary services). This approach has been economically viable for some time with market caps of some automakers reaching into the hundreds of billions of dollars.
In areas with higher population density, there are alternative suppliers of vehicle-based trips - mainly taxi companies and ridesharing companies where the vehicle is both owned and operated by someone else. The viability of the taxi model has come under pressure with the emergence of ridesharing companies in the form of Uber and Lyft. While the viability of Uber and Lyft's business models in their current form may be uncertain, they both have market caps in the billions of dollars. Their business models are currently focused on areas with higher densities. From Lyft's 2019 Annual Report, "our ridesharing marketplace connects drivers in cities across the United States." And later on, they state their key value drivers for consumers are driven by "providing faster arrival times", the ability to "ensure that riders can get a ride when they want one", and allowing customers "to choose from a broad set of transportation options to optimize for cost". The viability of this business models in areas with lower population density is more challenged where these value drivers are less likely to be delivered to customers.
Recently released trip data from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission allows for an updated analysis of trip statistics through June 2017. The data shows the ride-hailing companies have been a boon for people living in the outer boroughs while also helping to grow the market in Manhattan.
During November and December 2019, riders used e-scooters and e-bikes for an estimated today of 7.7 million minutes across the eight providers. This translates to an estimated utilization rate of 1-4% across Jump, Lime, Bolt, Spin, and Skip. Read more to see the highest scooter utilization rate and how riders used scooters around Game 5 of the World Series.
By combining scooter data with publicly-available tax lot and property record data, areas of above-average usage are identified. Hotels generated the highest usage, followed significantly behind by office areas. Dense residential with property assessments in the $400k-$600k followed in third.