It’s About the Curb, Part Deux

I just finished reading an article about the value of curb space in cities and how in the future cities will be able to control the curb with ‘cloud’ based systems and exotic sensor based programs. The author acknowledged that although the concept of controlling the curb based on activity, time, delivery schedules, and the like is a super idea, it isn’t going to happen quickly.

The article did make one recommendation that caught my eye. The author felt it was a good idea for municipalities, when purchasing software based systems, to look for suppliers that had plans for expanding their programs in the future to areas that have been overlooked currently, like controlling curb space. Huh?

I’m supposed to make purchasing decisions based not only on what a company has done and proven systems it supplies now, but also on what it might do in the future? A future that may be decades away and a future that has unknown costs.

So I lock myself in to company A because of what it ‘might’ do in the future, and then find out that company B has a product that is half the price and twice as good as “A’s”. Obviously my crystal ball is a bit cloudy on purchasing day.

One of the beauties of the competitive marketplace is that we are exposed to the good, bad, and ugly of products and services and they shake out so that one’s that really work and provide what we need survive.

Ah, yes, the curb. A friend of mine has been experimenting with curb controls in her city based on how airports control their curb space in front of terminals. Her experience so far is ‘mixed.’

Consider the problems.

Uber and Lyft drivers are directed to where their fares are standing when they request a ride, not where the city wants them to pick up their passengers. You not only have to train the drivers, you have to train visitors to the city.

Forming taxi ranks is a great idea, but they can require starters on site. This becomes labor intensive.

Reserving spaces for deliveries (UPS/Fedex) can require almost full time enforcement to ensure the space is kept clear.

All this removes substantial revenue generating space. And cities love that revenue. Is there a way to charge Uber/Lyft, UPS Fedex, and taxi drivers for the time they spend picking up and dropping off?  What kind of riot will that cause.

The ideas are great, but technology hasn’t caught up yet. The question is ‘when will it?”


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