The Month in Transportation – July

By John Halpin | Account Supervisor

Welcome to our latest review of news from across the transportation world.

Every month, we’ll share interesting links, thoughts and more about the transformation of transportation.

E-bikes get Senate support

The Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, proposing refundable tax credits on purchases of new electric bicycles. With e-bikes usually costing anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000, such incentives might sway undecided buyers.

Senate co-sponsor Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told The Verge, ““The idea is simple. The electrification of transportation is not just about cars, it’s about every way to get around … It’s one of those rare ideas that is both revolutionary and non-controversial.”

Schatz also noted that more bike lanes and safe streets would be needed to encourage conversion from cars to e-bikes. With $20 billion included for safe street improvements in President Biden’s infrastructure proposal, Schatz says he’s optimistic.

Uber Freight acquires logistics firm for $2.25 billion

And you thought Uber just took you places when you don’t want to drive.

Uber Freight has acquired Transplace, a third-party logistics provider (3PL) that essentially helps companies move their freight. As Uber Freight’s goal is to find carriers that want to connect with their freight-moving trucks – which would transport the aforementioned freight – this seems like a match made in heaven. Or, “one of the leading logistics technology platforms, with one of the largest and most comprehensive managed transportation and logistics networks in the world,” according to FreightWaves.

Auto Racing Goes Electric

Formula 1? No … Formula E. The fledgling racing circuit hosts races in major cities to showcase and incubate EV technology. Batteries in competing cars can usually last for an entire race.

In this case, the growing pains seem like part of the process. Per this NPR article: “Formula E is part sport and part engineering showcase. But it’s also a major marketing event.”

“Individualized mass transit”

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company is reportedly closing in on a deal with Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a public Loop system that will give people rides in Teslas through a new tunnel between downtown and the beach. So, instead of driving a car on the road, you’d drive a car (or be driven) in a tunnel, one carload at a time. Drivers will park at the downtown Brightline train station before riding a Tesla to the beach, with the goal of alleviating congestion.

Speaking of Brightline, we hosted a recent podcast with Patrick Goddard, the company’s CEO. Check it out!

EV regions get charged up

Electrify America plans to double the number of its electric vehicle fast charging stations in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2025. This would mean 1,800 charging stations – hosting approximately 10,000 individual chargers. According to TechCrunch, the effort will “increase chargers in established EV regions in the U.S., such as California, as well as push into new states, including Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming and Vermont.”

Go East, cargo owners

This AJoT article about U.S. port congestion includes interesting information about some companies sending cargo elsewhere to avoid West Coast bottlenecks. “We’re now shipping most of our product into the U.S. through the East Coast, only about 20% of our U.S. freight is coming through the West Coast right now,” said Levi’s EVP & CFO Harmit Singh.

Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, thinks that “normalcy” will return toward the end of 2021.

With autonomous vehicles, it’s trucks before cars

Wired reports that “investors have poured more than $11 billion into autonomous truck startups in the past two and a half years.” Why have trucks jumped ahead of cars in the race for autonomous funding? One reason might be the roads that trucks often drive on:

For now, they’re only tackling the easy parts of self-driving, and they’re skipping some of the hardest. The makers of self-driving trucks are focusing on highways, which are generally wide and smooth, with steady traffic flow. They anticipate staging drivers at exits, to handle the more challenging local streets. But that’s precisely where robotaxis will be most in demand. They’ll have to contend with less predictable characters, like people on foot, bike, and scooter. Building software to predict the movements of that group is a harder job.

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