Travis Kalanick: Uber's plan to get more people into fewer cars (1)
Today I wanted to -- well, this morning -- I want to talk about the future of human-driven transportation; about how we can cut congestion, pollution and parking by getting more people into fewer cars; and how we can do it with the technology that's in our pockets.
And yes, I'm talking about smartphones ... not self-driving cars. But to get started we've got to go back over 100 years.
Because it turns out there was an Uber way before Uber. And if it had survived, the future of transportation would probably already be here. So let me introduce you to the jitney.
In 1914 it was created or invented by a guy named LP Draper. He was a car salesman from LA, and he had an idea. Well, he was cruising around downtown Los Angeles, my hometown, and he saw trolleys with long lines of people trying to get to where they wanted to go. He said, well, why don't I just put a sign on my car that takes people wherever they want to go for a jitney -- that was slang for a nickel. And so people jumped on board, and not just in Los Angeles but across the country.
And within one year, by 1915, there were 50,000 rides per day in Seattle, 45,000 rides per day in Kansas and 150,000 rides per day in Los Angeles. To give you some perspective, Uber in Los Angeles is doing 157,000 rides per day, today ... 100 years later. And so these are the trolley guys, the existing transportation monopoly at the time.
They were clearly not happy about the jitney juggernaut. And so they got to work and they went to cities across the country and got regulations put in place to slow down the growth of the jitney. And there were all kinds of regulations.
There were licenses -- often they were pricey. In some cities, if you were a jitney driver, you were required to be in the jitney for 16 hours a day. In other cities, they required two jitney drivers for one jitney. But there was a really interesting regulation which was they had to put a backseat light -- install it in every Jitney -- to stop a new pernicious innovation which they called spooning. (Laughter)
So what happened? Well, within a year this thing had taken off. But the jitney, by 1919, was regulated completely out of existence. That's unfortunate ... because, well, when you can't share a car, then you have to own one.
And car ownership skyrocketed and it's no wonder that by 2007, there was a car for every man, woman and child in the United States. And that phenomenon had gone global. In China by 2011, there were more car sales happening in China than in the US. Now, all this private ownership of course had a public cost.
In the US, we spend 7 billion hours a year, wasted, sitting in traffic. 160 billion dollars in lost productivity, of course also sitting in traffic, and one-fifth of all of our carbon footprint is spewed out in the air by those cars that we're sitting in. Now, that's only four percent of our problem though.
Because if you have to own a car then that means 96 percent of the time your car is sitting idle. And so, up to 30 percent of our land and our space is used storing these hunks of steel. We even have skyscrapers built for cars. That's the world we live in today. Now, cities have been dealing with this problem for decades.
It's called mass transit. And even in a city like New York City, one of the most densely populated in the world and one of the most sophisticated mass transit systems in the world, there are still 2.5 million cars that go over those bridges every day. Why is that? Well, it's because mass transit hasn't yet figured out how to get to everybody's doorstep. And so back in San Francisco, where I live, the situation's much worse, in fact, much worse around the world. And so the beginning of Uber in 2010 was -- well, we just wanted to push a button and get a ride.
We didn't have any grand ambitions. But it just turned out that lots of people wanted to push a button and get a ride, and ultimately what we started to see was a lot of duplicate rides. We saw a lot of people pushing the same button at the same time going essentially to the same place. And so we started thinking about, well, how do we make those two trips and turn them into one.
Because if we did, that ride would be a lot cheaper -- up to 50 percent cheaper -- and of course for the city you've got a lot more people and a lot fewer cars. And so the big question for us was: would it work?
Could you have a cheaper ride cheap enough that people would be willing to share it? And the answer, fortunately, is a resounding yes. In San Francisco, before uberPOOL, we had -- well, everybody would take their car wherever the heck they wanted.
And the bright colors is where we have the most cars. And once we introduced uberPOOL, well, you see there's not as many bright colors. More people getting around the city in fewer cars, taking cars off the road. It looks like uberPOOL is working. 06:26
And so we rolled it out in Los Angeles eight months ago.
And since then, we've taken 7.9 million miles off the roads and we've taken 1.4 thousand metric tons of CO2 out of the air. But the part that I'm really -- (Applause)
But my favorite statistic -- remember, I'm from LA, I spent years of my life sitting behind the wheel, going, "How do we fix this?
-- my favorite part is that eight months later, we have added 100,000 new people that are carpooling every week. Now, in China everything is supersized, and so we're doing 15 million uberPOOL trips per month, that's 500,000 per day.
And of course we're seeing that exponential growth happen. In fact, we're seeing it in LA, too. And when I talk to my team, we don't talk about, "Hey, well, 100,000 people carpooling every week and we're done." How do we get that to a million? And in China, well, that could be several million. And so uberPOOL is a very great solution for urban carpooling.
But what about the suburbs? This is the street where I grew up in Los Angeles, it's actually a suburb called Northridge, California, and, well -- look, those mailboxes, they kind of just go on forever.
And every morning at about the same time, cars roll of out their driveway, most of them, one person in the car, and they go to work, they go to their place of work. So the question for us is: well, how do we turn all of these commuter cars -- and literally there's tens of millions of them -- how do we turn all these commuter cars into shared cars? Well, we have something for this that we recently launched called uberCOMMUTE.
You get up in the morning, get ready for work, get your coffee, go to your car and you light up the Uber app, and all of a sudden, you become an Uber driver. And we'll match you up with one of your neighbors on your way to work and it's a really great thing. There's just one hitch ... it's called regulation.
So 54 cents a mile, what is that? Well, that is what the US government has determined that the cost of owning a car is per mile. You can pick up anybody in the United States and take them wherever they want to go at a moment's notice, for 54 cents a mile or less. But if you charge 60 cents a mile, you're a criminal. But what if for 60 cents a mile we could get half a million more people carpooling in Los Angeles? And what if at 60 cents a mile we could get 50 million people carpooling in the United States? If we could, it's obviously something we should do.