Uber’s future in London is uncertain, and a once unthinkable alternative could be on the horizon: a new ride-sharing app that’s not-for-profit, worker-owned, and which respects the law.
An app like Uber -- by the people and for the people -- that keeps rider costs low, pays drivers fairly, and respects their workers' rights. It’s been done before: Texas successfully started up RideAustin. No vulture capitalists. And no profits funnelled to the top. It’s a revolutionary concept that the New Economics Foundation calls “Khan’s Cars”, inspired by the name of London’s public bike-sharing scheme, “Boris Bikes”.
We need to raise a minimum amount of crowdsourced seed funding to get this idea in place for its initial phase: to hire support to write a business plan, reach out to non-profit funders, regulators, and potential drivers -- who we want to be part of the process from the beginning.
That’s where you come in. In order to get going, we need your support today.
This is a bold idea, but it’s been done before: After Uber left Austin, Texas just over a year ago, local residents set up “RideAustin, a nonprofit that takes no commission on fares beyond what it needs to run its business.”
It’s been a huge success: “Since launching in 2016, RideAustin has attracted 5,000 active drivers and completed two million rides.”
If it’s been done in Austin, Texas -- a city of just under a million people, where car ownership is the norm -- we can do it here too, on a scale like never before. And if it’s successful, it could be a model replicated around the world.
So in its wake, will Uber be replaced by another race-to-the-bottom, Silicon Valley start-up funded by profit-thirsty venture capitalists? Or will the next big thing be a not-for-profit, open-source, crowdfunded alternative, owned by and for people, just like you and me?
It’s a big idea, but if we get this right, it has the potential to change our towns, our cities, our communities forever.