Better living through transit: Detroit firm seeks to improve public transportation throughout region

Author: MJ Galbraith

How do you convince a region to embrace public transit when it’s been neglecting it for decades? That’s what Freshwater Transit is hoping to do. The Detroit-based transit firm is looking to produce a series of seven videos that demonstrate just how easy, beneficial, and indispensable public transit is in other metropolitan regions across the country.

The educational series is called “15 Minutes or Better.” The theory goes that since metro Detroit has no idea what a high-functioning public transit system actually looks like, how are we ever going to make the decisions necessary to putting one in place? Freshwater will be traveling to seven cities to show how key concepts of public transit actually work. They’ll then examine how those concepts are being expressed in metro Detroit.

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Data Mining Reveals When a Yellow Taxi Is Cheaper Than Uber

The crowdsourced cab service, Uber, is currently taking the world by storm. Commuters use the service’s smartphone app to order a car, a request that is forwarded to the nearest available driver who then makes the pick-up.

Uber itself determines the cost of the fare so no money changes hands in the cars. Uber determines its fares by the service it offers, by the time a journey takes and sometimes by the distance traveled. The price also increases when demand is higher. On New Year’s Eve in 2011, for example, fares were reportedly seven times the normal rates.

It’s fair to say that Uber has alienated the official taxi drivers in many cities around the world. The company has come up against numerous backlashes and regulatory issues. But it is nevertheless wildly popular.

So here’s an interesting question: is Uber cheaper than conventional taxis? Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Cecilia Mascolo at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. and a few pals who have compared Uber’s prices with those of Yellow Taxis in New York City. They say the ability to compare prices in this way should help commuters choose the cheapest options and thereby help control costs for all cab users.

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Study: Most Auto Execs Not Ready for Industry’s Coming Tech Changes

Author: Sarah Schmid

Results from the third annual EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young) survey of the automotive industry were released last week at the Geneva Motor Show, and, paradoxically, they’re both not surprising and a little alarming.

According to the Changing Lanes report, 88 percent of auto executives do not have the confidence to implement data and analytics initiatives; 88 percent feel unprepared to attract and retain talent, and 80 percent feel unprepared to respond to market volatility. Taken together, those are potentially serious problems for an industry that is being rapidly redefined by technological leaps and changes in consumer behavior.

As seen, for instance, in the new Ford experiment with electric bikes, car makers are painfully aware that Millennials are much less interested in owning cars than their predecessors, and therefore know they need to diversify their transportation offerings.

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EDI Rounds Out its Utility Solutions with a Class 3 PHEV Truck

Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI), a global leader in advanced zero emissions, high-efficiency Hybrid and Electric drivetrain solutions, today announced the availability of a Class 3 utility truck based upon EDI’s world-first PHEV drivetrain that provides 100 percent OEM performance and 100 percent zero emissions during city and highway driving, while also reducing emissions and fuel use by up to 80 percent.

The vehicle is an industry-first PHEV, built upon one of the most popular Light Duty Class 3 Detroit OEM commercial fleet trucks. It is the only Class 3 commercial work truck in the world that has 30-40 miles of all-electric range and delivers zero emissions. The vehicle also features a series-parallel extended range of 300 miles, bi-directional charging, 50-120 kW of grid reliable exportable power, and enough battery capacity to operate vehicle accessories and job site work tools without idling the base diesel engine.

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Driverless vehicles: Fewer cars, more miles

Author: Bernie DeGroat

Autonomous vehicles may reduce the number of vehicles a family needs, but may lead to an increase in total miles driven, say researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

UMTRI researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak examined U.S. National Household Travel Survey data that contained comprehensive information about each trip made by a person within a selected household, including the exact start and stop times of each trip.

They found a general lack of “trip overlap” between drivers within a majority of households based on vehicle sharing. In other words, families rarely use more than one vehicle at a time.

The study is based on sharing of completely self-driving vehicles that employ a “return-to-home” mode, acting as a form of shared family or household vehicle. This would mean that driverless vehicles could operate without any passengers at all.

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Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ could reshape the auto world

Author: Jonathon M. Trugman

Detroit had a good year in 2014, selling 16.5 million autos — up 1 million from 2013. The stock of Ford and GM has revved on the good news, jumping 5.7 and 7.8 percent, respectively, in 2015.

That’s better than the S&P 500, which has risen 2.5 percent.

Motorists responded well, not only to low-interest-rate loans but to all the technology in cars today — everything from touch screens and Wi-Fi hotspots to hybrid technology and back-up cameras.

But in just one week, Detroit’s vibe has gone from hip to has-been.

With reports last week that Apple hopes to bring a car to market in five years, every motorist who remembers the pre-iPhone era of smartphones must be feeling like their new car will go the way of BlackBerry, Nokia and Palm Pilot.

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