Lyft's co-founders claim 'smart lanes' could make traffic disappear

John Zimmer LyftGetty ImagesLyft president John Zimmer.

Smart lanes could make traffic disappear, Lyft president John Zimmer said in a Medium post published Tuesday.

Zimmer, along with his co-founder Logan Green, said in the post that by investing in smart lanes, or lanes dedicated for vehicles with more than three passengers, the government could both significantly reduce traffic, while also generating revenue to reinvest in infrastructure.

Here’s how their plan would work: Local and regional governments would use traffic data to determine which roads and highways should be classified as smart lanes.

Then, government infrastructure funds would be used to build smart lanes that would be free for any vehicle with more than three occupants. Drivers with fewer passengers could also use the smart lane, but for a fee. It’s essentially a twist on high-occupancy vehicle lanes (or carpool lanes) with an option to monetise it.

Any funds generated by the smart lane would go toward local infrastructure projects, Zimmer said.

Of course, Zimmer’s proposal connects to Lyft’s business model. Lyft Line, the company’s carpooling service, fits in with the smart lane solution to reduce traffic.

The Lyft co-founder connected his proposal to the current political discourse without specifically mentioning President-elect Donald Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan.

“The good news is that political leaders on both sides of the aisle are signalling that they’re ready to focus on infrastructure,” Zimmer said in the post. “And if we fund the improvements now through smart lane programs, we will generate long-term savings.

Zimmer added that “riding together is patriotic” and included World War II propaganda that encouraged limiting gas use (a scarce commodity at the time) by carpooling.

“A smart, future-focused infrastructure investment that aims for 2050 — not 1950 — will give our country a big boost to lead a century of shared growth and prosperity,” Zimmer said.

This isn’t Zimmer’s first Medium post focusing on the future of transportation. In September, Zimmer said car ownership will “all-but end” in cities by 2025 thanks to ride-hailing services, and that autonomous vehicle networks will expedite the process.

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