Lyft: Here's how to make America's roads great again

Lyft president optimistic on company's future
Lyft president optimistic on company's future

Everyone hates sitting in traffic, but Lyft says it has a solution.

In a Medium post Tuesday, Lyft cofounders John Zimmer and Logan Green described how dynamic congestion pricing and incentives for carpoolers could spell the end of traffic.

They're joining a growing conversation around infrastructure spending in America. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to spend $1 trillion over the next 10 years to mend our ailing infrastructure.

"If we keep making infrastructure investments the way we have the last 50 years, we won't get anywhere," Green told CNNTech.

Rather than spending to expand roads, Lyft wants transportation officials to designate smart lanes, which would feature congestion pricing and carpooling. Anyone who paid a toll during rush hour would be able to ride in the smart lanes. And any vehicle with at least three occupants would also be eligible for the smart lanes, at no charge.

Related: How Manhattan could get by with 78% fewer cabs

Some transportation experts have long called for congestion-related pricing, in which drivers pay tolls during popular times. Some areas are beginning to implement such plans. Lyft pointed to examples in Stockholm and Washington State, where traffic improved and commuting times dropped after congestion pricing was adopted.

But there's also been a backlash against so-called "Lexus lanes," because not all drivers can afford an expensive toll. Lyft believes the solution is including free access to the lanes for those who carpool. Traffic would still be reduced, but without pricing out some drivers.

Lyft has a three-step plan for rolling out these smart lanes. First, governments would designate streets and highways as smart lanes, based on if they suffer from heavy congestion. A road without significant traffic wouldn't be included, and smart roads wouldn't charge fees during off-peak hours.

Related: How Google could bring back old-school carpooling

Then a federal infrastructure fund would give grants to states and cities to help finance the smart lanes. And lastly, money generated from the tolls would be re-invested in infrastructure.

It's unclear whether Lyft's plan will come to fruition, and whether the Trump administration will embrace it. Green said Lyft has been engaging with politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Carpooling has also become less popular in the United States. In 1980, 19.7% of commuters carpooled. That dropped to 9% in 2013, according to Census data.

Related: Trump's transportation secretary hedges on massive infrastructure plan

As a mobility company that offers a carpooling service, Lyft would stand to gain from such a plan. According to Green, a third of its business is shared rides on LyftLine.

"The time is now," Green said. "We have the technology to make it easy to connect with other people around you."

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