Uber’s silly solution to the daily commute grind

While the idea of casually commuting to work via flying aircraft is quite exciting, Uber Elevate still has many obstacles to navigate before takeoff. One hurdle consists of developing the infrastructure to support VTOL aircraft. This new infrastructure would include building ‘vertiports’. A ‘vertiport’ is a VTOL aircraft hub comprising of multiple takeoff and landing pads as well as charging stations for the vehicles. Vertiports would need to be constructed all around the cities and suburbs in order for Uber Elevate to be effective. As of now, Uber plans to build vertiports on existing helipads, on top of parking garages, rooftops, or on unused land around highway interchanges. Uber believes in the long run creating this new infrastructure will be more cost effective than continued work on building and repairing roads, rails, bridges, and tunnels.

Source: Skip the commute and fly to work with Uber Elevate – Twin Cities Agenda

This is a silly pie in the sky pipe dream. It calls for the construction of more transportation infrastructure — a 20th century solution to automobile commute congestion — to accommodate a 21st century vision straight out of The Jetsons. At a time when infrastructure funding is constrained.

We don’t need another form of transportation infrastructure to reduce commute congestion and the associated time suck of sitting in traffic. Instead, we need to better utilize and expand as necessary existing telecommunications infrastructure to serve knowledge workers in communities where they live, working at home or in shared supported office facilities. That can effectively reduce and eventually eliminate the commute rather than taking it to the skies.

As management expert Peter Drucker famously asked, why move a 200 pound body when all that’s needed is its eight pound brain? That question applies whether it’s ground or air transportation.

Home offices offer superior solution for congested, costly metro versus mass transit

As we demonstrate in a new report for Chapman University, our urban form does not work well for conventional mass transit. Too many people go to too many locales to work, and, as housing prices have surged, many have moved farther way, which makes trains less practical, given the lack of a dominant job center.

Rather than try to re-engineer the region, perhaps we should seek mobility solutions that can work. Building new rail lines — and, and even more absurdly, trolleys, which average a pathetic 8 miles per hour — will do nothing relieve traffic. More densification can be expected only to worsen congestion.

Arguably, the most promising step would be to encourage work at home. There are already more people working at home than transit riders in Southern California. Since 1990, home office use increased by eight times that of transit use, with virtually no public expenditure. Home-based workers, needless to say, do not receive subsidies.

Source: The great transit rip-off – Orange County Register

Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox explain why mass transit cannot ease congestion in Southern California. Their explanation extends to most of today’s metro areas. While organizations have commute-in work locations, they aren’t necessarily well served by transit lines. And getting to work by transit is quite challenging and promotes wellness destroying super commutes that take hours every day and require multiple transfers and modes of transportation as recently detailed by The New York Times.

Kotkin and Cox propose a sensible, environmentally friendly and low cost solution that does away with commuting altogether: enabling people to work at home. Since not everyone has suitable home office space in their homes, co-working spaces and satellite locations in communities where workers live also provide a solution. Public funds would be better invested on telecommunications infrastructure than mass transit to support knowledge work performed in these communities.

ICT offers big part of solution to housing affordability crisis — and federal infrastructure initiatives should fund it

The biggest constraint, Holman said, is a lack of available land. “Southern California is pretty spread out and opportunities for large-scale developments are often far from where people want to live,” he said.

Source: Middle-class workers can’t afford to buy homes in L.A. County and the future looks dim

People naturally want to live close to where they work in the traditional, Industrial Age paradigm where they work in centralized, commute-in locations. Problem is as this article illustrates is that concentrates demand that drives up the cost of housing to the point that it becomes unaffordable for most.






This is where today’s advanced information and communications technology (ICT) offers a solution at least for the many knowledge workers who engage in the no win tradeoff of commuting long distances in search of affordable housing. ICT distributes knowledge work out of high cost metro centers, making it possible to perform in outlying and less densely populated areas where housing dollars go further. That’s why major federal infrastructure plans currently under consideration should include funding for telecommunications infrastructure that puts these areas on a par with that found in densely populated areas.

Telecom critical infrastructure for 21st century as knowledge work is decentralized


But the goal of the “Tri-Gig High Speed” initiative is to offer a broadband infrastructure that is as affordable as possible and will meet the technological needs of businesses, public and educational institutions, and local residents, said Jane Nickles, chief information officer for the city of Greensboro. The Triad is one of several regions across the country striving to offer high-speed gigabit Internet access as a way to attract and retain businesses.“This is really an economic development initiative,” Nickles said. “Businesses are going to want to locate where they can get the high-speed broadband access and where their employees can get it because it opens up those possibilities of things that can be done outside of the office and done from home.”

Source: Triad cities, universities seek contractors to provide high-speed Internet access – Greensboro – Triad Business Journal

Nickles’ comments illustrate the very important role of telecommunications infrastructure in the 21st century. It’s as critical to the 21st century economy as transportation infrastructure was to the previous one. Particularly as performing knowledge work — centralized in metro centers in the 20th century — becomes decentralized and often performed outside the centralized commuter office and at home as Nickles notes. An added benefit is reduced transportation demand at the same time much of the transportation infrastructure is aging and in need of major overhaul.

New economic strategy for Maine: Lure workers, business will follow — Business — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

PORTLAND, Maine — A new nonprofit has an idea for getting more companies, large and small, to locate in Maine: Don’t try for the whole company.On Monday, the group Work in Place will officially launch in Portland, during the third annual Maine Startup and Create Week, with plans to host a national conference in Maine’s largest city next spring to bring location-independent workers together.As they learn more about people who have a boss but not necessarily a fixed office, they want to provide a professional network and support, too.“We’re not evangelizing remote work, and we don’t need to at this point in time — it’s already happening,” said Misty McLaughlin, who co-founded the group with her husband, Michael Erard.The group aims to host events centered on that growing segment of the workforce, in part to help policymakers and economic development officials consider new approaches in a far-flung place such as Maine, which Erard wrote should be “low-hanging fruit.”

Source: New economic strategy for Maine: Lure workers, business will follow — Business — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

More evidence the decentralization of knowledge work and its dispersal across the United States is starting to gain momentum.

It’s no wonder knowledge workers are seeking alternatives to costly, congested metro areas. There’s really no need to work in them now that information and communications technology has matured to the point that knowledge work can be performed independent of location.

To facilitate this megashift in where people work and live, there is an essential infrastructure component that’s needed, especially in poorly connected states like Maine: Universal, affordable fiber to the premise (FTTP) telecommunications infrastructure.

As dollars dwindle for roads, gridlock seems assured | SanDiegoUnionTribune.com

You won’t hear this from so-called greens who vote to block road construction, but traffic is arguably the top environmental problem in San Diego County, which lacks a big industrial footprint.Cars spew vastly more air pollution when they are prevented from reaching the speeds posted on freeways and parkways. In addition, stop-and-go traffic sends tons of heavy metals from brake dust into watersheds.Then there’s the economic damage. The average commuter in San Diego County lost 42 hours a year sitting in traffic in 2014, reckons the Texas Transportation Institute.Put another way, we each lose an entire work week every year. Such delay cost the region an estimated $1.7 billion, a low-ball figure that includes only wasted fuel and lost time (calculated at the median hourly wage).Harder to measure is missing a kid’s first goal; all those spikes in blood pressure; the spiritual toll from hating a stranger just because he applied his brakes.

Source: As dollars dwindle for roads, gridlock seems assured | SanDiegoUnionTribune.com

Planners and public policymakers continue to respond to traffic congestion with the same ineffective solution: building more transportation infrastructure. Instead, we should be building better telecommunications infrastructure and transitioning to distributed knowledge work so people don’t have to commute daily to offices to do their jobs. The environmental, organizational and social benefits strongly make the case.