Change can be hard. But in this digital age, change is happening fast and Joseph Kopser, CEO and Founder of RideScout, told an audience of about 200 people at the Pearl Stable on Wednesday to adapt to the change now to achieve prosperity in the future.
Kopser founded RideScout in 2013 when trying to decide what method of transportation to take to get work. When he realized that there was no available platform for checking transportation types and times, he partnered with co-founder Craig Cummings and created the RideScout app.
The app, not unlike the way TripAdvisor or Expedia congregate hotel and flight information, assembles transportation data for users to quickly decide the most efficient mode of transportation to use to get to their destination.
“It is simple enough to catch fire,” Kopser said.
Kopser’s lecture on Wednesday, hosted by the Urban Land Institute, focused on technology and the impacts it will have on the future of transportation and real estate. As more people tap into the sharing economy and use apps like Uber and Lyft, the number of vehicles on the road will decreases. When the road has fewer vehicles, there is more room for real estate development and the need for parking lots and garages diminishes. Kopser cautioned the audience about spending money to build a parking lot.
“People just aren’t driving their car for that five-mile trip anymore,” he said.
Kopser asked the audience to “look around at the unbelievable irony” of sitting in the Pearl Stable, a structure that became obsolete after the invention of the automobile because horses were no longer needed to distribute the beer.
Instead of constructing parking lots and garages, he said that money could be better used by giving employees transportation packages that would not require them to own a vehicle and therefore not need a place to park.
“There are just so many different combinations that I want to make sure you don’t build a parking lot for cars that aren’t coming,” he said. “They’re not coming in the future.”
Kopser, who lives in Austin, took a Zipcar to get to the Pearl Stable. Zipcar is a car-sharing company that uses technology for the reservation, pick-up and return of the vehicle.
Kopser showed a rendering of 200 people in 177 cars in bumper-to-bumper traffic in downtown Seattle, another rendering displayed the amount of space those 200 people would inhibit if they were not in vehicles, the next rendering showed those people on bicycles, and then on buses, and finally on a light rail. The slides were meant to depict the amount of free space available for development when individuals were not driving their own cars.
“We’ve got to move people more densely,” Kopser said.
He compared the 63% of Europeans who walk and use public transit to the 13% in the United States.
“We are so dependent on one mode, the automobile,” he said.
Walking and using public transit also affect a person’s quality of life.
“Some studies have looked at people who have spent so many hours in a car and then sit at their desk all day, those unhealthy rates are starting to compete with smoking,” he said.
Traffic fatalities are another concern. More than 2,000 people die in automobile crashes per year in Texas alone.
As technology advances, he said, autonomous vehicles, or vehicles that drive themselves, will reduce those death rates. Alternative methods of transportation and a city’s layout are other factors that impact death rates. As more people take public transit, death rates decrease, and as cities become more dense and walkable death rates decrease.
Kopser blamed suburban sprawl as the main reason individuals drive their own vehicles. Instead of living in gated communities far from the urban core, neighborhoods should be reorganized in a more dense, walkable fashion.
Kopser provided an example for the audience that used data to track the amount of time it took people to get from one destination in Austin to another using various methods of transportation. The example concluded that bicycling would have taken the shortest amount of time while driving would have taken the longest, with buses and rail landing somewhere in the middle.
“What could he or she have done with (that time)?” he asked. “Would they have spent (the time) at work and been a better employee? Would they have spent (the time) at home and been a better parent for their kids? Would they have split the difference? We will never know.”
*Featured/top image: Joseph Kopser, CEO and Founder of RideScout. Photo by Joan Vinson.