How tech giants like Elon Musk can actually fix LA's transportation problems

“What if, instead of working together to outsmart traffic, we found a way to just get rid of it?” claims the website of Waze Carpool, a new service that just launched in Los Angeles with the goal of “ending traffic.”

Tech companies keep coming up with old ideas for solving LA transportation problems. It’s not just Waze that’s to blame. Elon Musk is reinventing the subway beneath our feet. There’s Lyft’s new Shuttle, which, as many people have noticed, is literally a bus. And a “moving hotel” taking passengers from LA to San Francisco, which is also literally a bus.

Transit advocates get frustrated every time they hear an announcement like this, and for good reason. Tech companies tout their “solutions” as better than the city’s, and they often are more convenient—so convenient that they might have already lured riders and fares away that would have helped improve the public transit options. Ridership is down in most major cities in the U.S., including LA, leaving gaps in service and holes in budgets. Routes have been cut in many neighborhoods and maintenance problems are plaguing systems due to the financial shortfall

Tech companies have made Angelenos believe that with the right app, the right discount code, or a smarter vehicle, we can cheat the system when it comes to transportation.

None of these solutions will work—including the shiny promise of hyper-efficient autonomous vehicles—until we get a lot more cars off LA’s roads.

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