For the millions of Californians who have come to rely on ride-hailing services, these are tumultuous times. Last month, the two dominant ridesharing services – Uber and Lyft – came perilously close to halting operations throughout California as the result of a dispute over AB 5, the California law that reclassifies most ride-hailing drivers as employees. Only a last-minute legal ruling has kept the businesses rolling – for now.
Though these services are barely a decade old, they have fundamentally reshaped the way Americans get around, particularly in densely populated areas like ours. Before COVID-19, millions of people, myself included, embraced these services as a primary way to enjoy a night out, explore a new city, or make a quick stop in the neighborhood. Since COVID, ridership has fallen sharply but the services are still in demand, especially as bus and rail service has decreased.
While the battle over AB 5 will ultimately be decided at the ballot box in November, the mere prospect of these services coming to a screeching halt – along with additional cutbacks proposed for Metro– have exposed glaring weaknesses in LA’s overburdened, patchwork mobility system. One thing is becoming abundantly clear: LA has an urgent need for more diverse, reliable, and efficient mobility options with redundancies built into the system.
To relieve our famously congested transportation system, we need a resilient, comprehensive, and equitable mobility network that relies on public and private sector innovation to provide customer-friendly options to get around. Our transportation network should be lean, nimble and climate friendly, with the ability to flex to meet variations in supply and demand. And we must solve not just for today, but for a post-COVID era when demand comes roaring back.
MoceanLab was developed to address this very challenge. We are a “blue sky” mobility laboratory backed by the resources and expertise of Hyundai Motor Group with the mission of developing new transportation solutions for LA. We strive to develop mobility options that can work in concert to not only fulfill the requirements of those needing transportation, but also create equitable solutions for those providing these services and for all Angelenos. Imagining the mobility landscape of the future, we cultivate innovations that meet today’s needs and move toward our long-term vision of a connected, efficient, and accessible Los Angeles.
Along with other emerging alternatives, we believe our Downtown-based free-floating carshare service, Mocean Carshare, is positioned to be part of this robust transportation future. Other advances we’re exploring would improve access to our existing transit network (including first mile/last mile solutions); promote sustainable, zero-emission mobility; and expand mobility access to underserved communities and populations, including those with disabilities. And we are focused not just on “getting back to normal” after COVID finally wanes, but using this moment as a catalyst for a stronger transportation ecosystem designed specifically for our city and its residents, providing better access to opportunity for all Angelenos.
We know this is work we cannot do alone. We welcome partners and collaborators of all kinds to share insights, spark new ideas, and identify existing needs for mobility solutions. We have already developed community-serving partnerships with several top-tier businesses and institutions, and we are eager to build more whether with business, government, nonprofits, or communities.
All of our work is guided by a few core beliefs: that working collaboratively is better than working alone, that LA’s mobility future must be sustainable, and that improving transportation equity is key to the long-term health of our interdependent city. Our door is always open for great ideas to reimagine the way we travel and connect. Los Angeles deserves nothing less.
By Dave Gallon, Vice President of Strategy & Growth at MoceanLab.
Dave Gallon is Vice President of Strategy & Growth for MoceanLab, based in Los Angeles. He guides the firm’s strategic planning, partnerships, communications, and operations. Dave previously spent 15 years at Toyota in a variety of marketing, planning, and business model innovation leadership roles.