Insurance Companies in the New Mobility Service Market

MaaS can create new channels and business opportunities for insurance companies. In the future, the main revenue stream of mobility insurance is expected to be fleet insurance, end-user related insurance (for on-road accidents, property loss and damage, third party and liability, trip cancellation, and delays), and insurance for the workforce. In order to unleash this new potential, the first step is to gain understanding of which products are already covered within the new mobility ecosystem, and which are not. MaaS Alliance is currently working on a gaps analysis to establish a clear picture of what elements in the new mobility ecosystem are covered by existing mandatory or additional insurance schemes.

Powered by WPeMatico

How Ride-Hailing Companies Can Use Their Powers to Do Good

Dear Ride-Hailing Companies: As someone who has spent my career working on how to move people through cities, I have some advice about how to use your powers for good.

For ride-hailing companies, this is a time of reflection and strategic realignment. The two biggest U.S. players, Uber and Lyft, have gone public and are facing pressure to become profitable. This is looking harder when not just New York City but also Seattle and Los Angeles have recognized the full extent of the hardships faced by your drivers and are working to ensure they make a fair wage. On top of that, human drivers aren’t disappearing in favor of driverless cars as soon as some thought they would a few years ago. Even the federal government, which traditionally left for-hire regulation to local and, controversially, state governments, is now interested in setting some ground rules for you.  

Your companies are starting to reflect this new environment. Uber did three rounds of layoffs and has a new(ish) CEO. You’re becoming more multi-modal, incorporating bikes and scooters and integrating better with public transit. You are hiring more staffers with transportation and government bona fides.

Cynically, this could be seen as window dressing. But I’m not cynical. I’ll take this as a sign that you now know your long-term success lies in deepening your transportation expertise and better aligning with what cities really need to succeed. You recognize that success requires becoming the real partners of cities that you say you want to be.

Here’s how to use your powers for good.

Solve problems cities really have

You were right. Taxi service in many cities ranged from pretty good to awful. Even public transit, biking, and walking devotees sometimes need a ride, and you improved that experience. Promises of ending private-car ownership were premature. Yes, some people, like me, were able to give up their cars and still have a way to get a sick kid to the doctor or an outdoorsy spouse to the mountains, thanks to ride-hailing and car share. But this is mostly because I already live in a walkable city, in a neighborhood with good public transit.

So, let’s work on a different problem, closely aligned with cities’ needs. Big, dense cities require high-capacity buses and trains to move people efficiently. They don’t need people opting for a private ride when there’s a good public option. Even shared rides are too inefficient. Integrating your ride-hailing apps with public transit and shared bike and scooter options were good moves. What can you do to make public transit or other high-efficiency modes work better?

Smaller cities and suburbs might be an even bigger opportunity. Can you set up shared rides suburbanites will actually use to get to commuter rail instead of driving two miles and parking? Working with multiple smaller governments takes time, but communities not dense enough for quality traditional public transit are a real opportunity, and so are places dominated by a large institutions, such as college towns that are faced with growing populations and limited parking. You are doing some of this. Making it sustainable is really hard. Don’t stop trying!

Mitigate the problems you’re exacerbating for cities

Last year, more U.S. cyclists and pedestrians were killed in traffic than in any year since 1990. Congestion is a systemic problem in many cities and an acute problem, occurring at specific times and places in most. In Manhattan, 30 percent of traffic is from ride-hail vehicles. In downtown San Francisco, it’s 20 to 26 percent of traffic.

Trying to deflect responsibility for congestion by pointing out other causes misses the point. Instead of pointing elsewhere or trying to make the speculative case that you’ll somehow actually decrease congestion, raise your hand and say what you can do to make it better.

One way is to get serious about double-parked cars. You should direct your drivers to stop where they won’t double-park, such as in a loading zone. Where there aren’t enough loading zones, partner with cities to create more, and establish robust monitoring and incentives to ensure your vehicles use them. This requires behavior change, but fortunately you are the masters of nudges. You’re already optimizing for better pickup points, especially for shared rides. Projects like this are underway in places like Washington, D.C., Vancouver and Boston. Do more of this!

Solve important problems

It’s hard for an agency official worrying about bus speeds to feel kinship with you when you are developing an on-demand helicopter service. Helping people get their food delivery faster might matter for your business, but to most of us this sounds frivolous. Instead, tell cities how you can keep your cars from obstructing bus travel.  

Become credible advocates for progressive transportation policy

There have been times, such as when you supported the push for congestion pricing in New York State, when you advocated for progressive transportation policy. Improve your effectiveness and credibility as progressive voices in transportation by doing the right thing on matters already within your control—like right-sizing your fleets. Regulations shouldn’t be needed to get you to stop adding more drivers to your platform than you need. Regulation also shouldn’t be needed to get you to provide good wheelchair-accessible service. You could improve street safety and air quality by phasing out huge SUVs. Your policy teams likely have long lists of what they would like to do within your companies. Listen to and empower them.

Play nice

Being a partner requires trust. Earn this. Enough with your publicity firms fighting cities. Enough running to state or provincial legislatures asking them to take away cities’ authority over their streets. Enough misleading emails to drivers and customers. Enough litigation.

Use your powers for good

I’ve followed you closely for a long time now. Your people are smart and most of them want to do the right thing. I can’t wait to see you apply that ambition and talent to the serious, but solvable, problems facing cities. That’s the long game.

Powered by WPeMatico

Where Tech Companies Spent Millions in Municipal Elections—and Lost

How much political power does $1.5 million buy?

That’s how much Amazon donated to a Seattle Political Action Committee that aims to swing the city council towards a more pro-business agenda. The company, which is headquartered downtown, has influenced the council successfully before, donating $25,000 to a campaign to kill a per-employee head tax that would have gone towards funding homelessness initiatives in the city.

This time, according to early voting results, Amazon didn’t win.

To be fair, it didn’t quite lose, either. Out of the seven city council candidates Amazon supported, four appear poised to win their elections. (One of the four, Jim Pugel, is only leading by a tiny margin.) That’s not quite enough to secure a majority on Seattle’s nine-member council, but enough to move the needle.

Another of the pro-business candidates, Egan Orion, struck a key blow, likely defeating Kshama Sawant, a pro-labor city council member in the Socialist Alternative Party who’s long been a thorn in the side of Amazon and other large corporations. She branded the head tax the “Amazon tax,” and called this week’s election a fight over the “soul of Seattle.” (Supporters note that Sawant came back from a more than seven-point deficit during her last election, and that her fate won’t be assured until all the votes are tallied at the end of this week.)

Framing the stakes of the election, Sawant told the New York Times recently: “The question is: Is Seattle going to become a playground for only the very wealthy, or is it going to be a city that serves the needs of ordinary people?”

Amazon wasn’t the only business that spent big on city campaigns. From San Francisco to Jersey City, tech companies poured money into nudging the outcome of ballot questions on whether to regulate, tax, or expand their power, in some cases contributing to new spending records at the city level. And despite million-dollar campaigns launched by companies like Juul and Airbnb, Amazon wasn’t the only one to see voters defy them.

In San Francisco, a measure that would have overturned the city’s e-cigarette sales ban lost by an overwhelming margin, meaning the moratorium will hold. Initially, venture-backed vape pen company Juul spent $11 million on a campaign to overturn the ban, but it pulled its support before the vote amid public health concerns.

In Jersey City, a bill to regulate the 3,000 Airbnb rentals that locals complain are flooding the city with unruly tourism passed, despite a $4.2 million campaign by the short-term rental platform to defeat it. Airbnb blamed the hotel lobby, which spent only $1 million.

And also in San Francisco, Uber and Lyft took a different strategy: They both supported a small tax of 3.25 percent on most Uber and Lyft rides, introduced as an alternative to a more punitive tax that could have been levied without voter approval. The ride-hailing companies contributed comparatively modest amounts—according to campaign finance records, Lyft donated $400,000 and Uber $300,000—and the initiative was leading slightly as of publication.

Tech-money-fueled campaigns aren’t new in San Francisco. Last year, a tax on businesses to support affordable housing and homelessness not unlike Seattle’s was on the ballot, inspiring entities like Lyft, Stripe, Square, and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to donate hundreds of thousands each to the effort to defeat it. But in that case, Salesforce and its CEO Mark Benioff also dropped almost $5 billion to pass it. Though the measure was approved by voters, it won by less than a two-thirds margin, and is currently tied up in court.

Amazon’s spending in Seattle was part of a particularly notable phenomenon: The council race was the most expensive in the city’s history, even as it tested the strength of a new initiative intended to curb big money in politics.

Under a “democracy voucher” program that came into effect this year, all registered voters in the city were sent four $25 vouchers to spend on any candidates they wanted to support—but only those who agreed to spend less than $150,000 on their general election campaigns. When business interests in the city banded together with the Chamber of Commerce to start a PAC called Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), and the cash started pouring in, candidates who had initially opted into the program asked to opt out, worried they wouldn’t be able to compete without hustling for more money.

By Election Day, the New York Times reported that “11 of the 12 general election candidates who participated in the voucher program had been released from the limits.” CASE pulled in more than $4 million, with a quarter coming from Amazon, and the rest from other companies with Seattle-area offices, like Google, Expedia, Starbucks and Microsoft.

M. Lorena González, one of two council members who represents the entire city and wasn’t up for reelection this year, is sponsoring a bill that would tighten campaign finance restrictions even more, limiting the amount corporations can donate to PACs, and effectively abolishing super PACs like the Chamber of Commerce’s CASE.

“We operate in an environment where corporations like Amazon can make unlimited contributions, because there are no regulations,” she told CityLab. “As a result you saw them put a fistful of cash on the scales of democracy to tip the city council in their favor.”

Even presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren condemned Amazon’s spending. “In a city struggling with homelessness, Amazon is dropping an outrageous amount of money to defeat progressive candidates fighting for working people,” Sanders tweeted.

CASE argues that the candidates it endorsed will not only be good for business, but for the city: Its website says they all “demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the quality of life and economic opportunities for all Seattleites,” particularly when it comes to easing traffic congestion and improving transit, instituting systemic reforms around homelessness, and supporting local business growth. Polls conducted by the Chamber and local newspapers showed that residents were disappointed with the current council, and ready for change.

González noted that what aligns several of the CASE-endorsed candidates is also an emphasis on maintaining Seattle’s “regressive tax system,” “using punitive criminal justice system tools to address homelessness,” and “not tackling criminal justice reform as a whole.” (CASE didn’t respond to a request for comment.)

With Amazon achieving less than a majority hold on the council, the takeaway some Seattle progressives left with Wednesday was that it could have been worse. “Imagine the Chamber and Amazon honchos this morning looking at City Council strategy for next year,” Seattle’s former Democratic mayor, Mike McGinn, tweeted. “Those business honchos are not sitting there clapping each other on the back saying ‘We killed it last night!’ They’re saying ‘crap—how the hell do we get to five votes on anything—we have completely lost control of the council.’” He added that during his term as mayor from 2010 to 2013, the Chamber of Commerce held seven of the nine seats, giving it a stronger pro-business bent.

But Amazon’s intervention shows that its interest in—and impact on—politics is only growing in the wake of the struggle over the head tax. On city council candidates, Amazon only spent $130,000 in 2015, according to campaign finance records, meaning their spending increased by more than 650 percent this year. (According to WUSA9, Amazon also spent almost $300,000 on Republican and Democratic house and senate races in Virginia, the state where it’s planning another large campus.)

And its spending is not always in opposition to funding public initiatives. This year, the company contributed $400,000 at the state level to join progressives in opposing a cut to car registration fees that would slash transit funding precipitously (Microsoft spent $650,000). Despite their opposition, it looks like the measure is going to pass.

This spring, the power of big spending will likely be tested again. California’s bill reclassifying gig workers as employees—which could pose an existential threat to sharing-economy companies like Uber and Lyft—could be challenged in a ballot measure funded by the two ride-hailing companies and Postmates, a fooddelivery app. Together, they’ve already contributed $90 million to the effort. That’s 60 Seattle city councils worth.

Powered by WPeMatico