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For Ridesharing Apps Like Lyft, Commerce Is A Community

by SONARI GLINTON
November 14, 2013

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In the last several years, the notion of car and bike sharing has begun to take hold in major American cities.
Services such as Zipcar, Uber, and Lyft have become important parts of this growing, shared economy. The
beauty is in its simplicity: Passengers get the use of an automobile without the hassle of owning a car note
and paying for insurance, parking and gas.
But as NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, car sharing isn't just about the ride.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: About three years ago was when the car sharing movement really took off.
SUSAN SHAHEEN: When it seemed that there were many more business models emerging, many more
entrants, a lot more investment money and a lot more disruption.

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GLINTON: That's Susan Shaheen. She's been studying the sharing economy for two decades. And now she
teaches and studies transportation sharing at the University of California, Berkeley.
SHAHEEN: Access versus ownership. With time, people will start to understand that access trumps
ownership because it gives you a lot a freedom and flexibility and choice, without a lot of the hassles
associated with ownership, including high, fixed costs.

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GLINTON: Think about it. Three or four years ago, we were coming out of the economic collapse,
smartphones were seriously mainstream, your grandma was getting on Facebook. It was kind of like the
perfect storm or many little perfect storms. People didn't have the money to own but they wanted access. And
then, Shaheen says, entrepreneurs began to solve one of the central problems of sharing your ride.
SHAHEEN: Getting in a car with someone you don't know has been considered a barrier to ride sharing and
car pooling for a very long time.
...
GLINTON: Now when you talk to people like Erin Meyers or her passengers, or people in food co-ops or
any other number of shared economies, it is not about the transactions, necessarily. It's about the community.

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MEYERS: I definitely feel like I'm a part of the fabric and the core of the city now like I never was before. I
was very insular and isolated before in my own little social circle and my own little neighborhood and stuff
like that. But L.A. can be big and foreboding if you allow it to be.
GLINTON: The transportation expert that I talked to at the top of this piece, Susan Shaheen, says there
wasn't always the technology to create these smaller communities in and around any number of economic
transactions. Now, there is. Car sharing, she says, it's just beginning. Sonari Glinton, NPR News, Culver
City.

Exercises
1. Listen and fill in the blanks.
2. Define the following terms used in the broadcast:
Disruption (ln. 9):
Trumps (ln. 12):
Hassles (ln. 13):
Car pooling (ln. 20):
3. Explain the expression "Access versus ownership."

4. Give two reasons why someone might prefer car sharing to ownership.

Uber is finally big enough to piss off French taxi authorities


Liam Boogar
Dec 12, 2012

If the sign of success is having the incumbent leader publicly announcing his desire for you to not exist, then
its been quite easy to watch Ubers city-to-city success over the past 9 months. It all started when D.C.
Taxicab Commission Chairman Ron Linton performed a sting on a Uber cab, riding in the car until the
destination and then towing the car for being an illegal cab. Since then, whether its all of California suing

Uber, or New Yorkers rallying behind Ubers ongoing availability during Hurricane Sandy, the grassroots
growth has always had its critical mass coupled with a lawsuit. Well, it seems Uber is about to learn a bit
more about how the French legal system works, as LeFigaro quoted Secretary General of the Fdration
nationale du taxi (FNDT) saying These companies are overstepping their rights, walking a fine line by using
a regulation that is poorly defined. This is one of the first public reactions that the FNDT has made to their

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newfound competition, and youll notice its not just Uber, its companies. Thats because, shortly after
Uber launched at LeWeb Paris 2011 just over a year ago, competitors were quick to recognize a high-growth,
pure profit model and step in. Ubers first competitor to arrive, Chauffeur Priv, distinguished themselves by
telling passengers an estimation the price of the trip before they ordered the cab this feature has now been
released on Ubers most recent iOS update, but Chauffeur Priv had plenty of time to cut out a share of the

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market for themselves. Also mentioned in the article is SnapCar co-founder and business angel Yves
Weisselberger, who has been quite successful in his launch in Paris, and plans expansion across major cities
in Europe. The article notes that Paris has the same number of taxis as 30 years ago, and the lowest ratio of
taxi cabs to inhabitants of any major city in Europe. Technology is a revolution, and the revolution has
reached Paris. The question is how a revolution of technology and change will stand up against a party of

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people who have been fighting for 30 years to keep things the same? One things for sure all three of these
startups have been very active about timing their communication strategy around the regular
protests/manifestations by the taxi unions, making the appeal towards a new mode of transportation all the
more appealing. It seems that FNDTs usual means of getting what it wants wont work here, so well see
what they resort to in times of crisis.

Exercises
1. List three terms that you don't understand.

2. What are the names of Uber's two competitors in Paris?


3. Why is the Paris market particularly profitable for companies like Uber?