Transportation in the news

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Free transportation available for Wayne State students and employees

Wayne State University students and employees will be able to take advantage of free transportation options throughout campus beginning Sept. 1, thanks to partnerships with  DDOT, SMART, the QLine and MoGo. The university will subsidize four-hour Dart and annual MoGo passes for all enrolled students, as well as full- and part-time employees, allowing them to ride DDOT and SMART buses, the QLine streetcar, and MoGo bikes at no cost. To participate, users will need to download the Dart app and enter an eligibility code, or sign up using their Wayne State email address on a customized MoGo webpage. By investing now, the university hopes to help ease pandemic-induced financial stress on students and employees. Navigating campus — including destinations in Midtown and downtown Detroit — involves the movement of approximately 30,000 students and employees, who are vying for one of 12,000 parking spaces scattered across eight structures and 26 surface lots on a daily basis. After arriving on campus, pedestrians rely on various modes of transportation including walking, scooters and cycling. To reach farther points, a number of other options are available.  
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The science and art of managing automotive suppliers: Lessons from the global chip shortage

The Global Chip Shortage rages onward and, as of July, has resulted in more than one million unmanufactured vehicles in the U.S. alone and could reportedly extend into 2023. The major question of how such a massive mismatch between supply and demand could exist has multiple answers with several, unrelated root causes (e.g. pandemic affects on usage patterns, an impactful fire at a major Japanese plant caused by an electrical overload), however one of the most frequently suggested reasons was a mismanagement of the supply chain. “When the drop in automotive sales at the beginning of the pandemic happened, automotive companies just halted their orders. There was an implicit tradeoff there: saving cashflow and avoiding potential obsolescence,” said Timothy Butler, professor of global supply chain management, Wayne State University. As Butler points out, another key example of tradeoffs is single sourcing versus competitive sourcing. “If you single source and the supplier goes on strike or has such a catastrophe, you have a single point of failure,” cautions Butler. “Additionally, if that desirable supplier is also single-sourced to your competitor, you might have risks in sharing Intellectual Property.” So what have we collectively learned, if anything? “We all have to admit that hindsight is 20/20,” states Butler, “but these types of problems happen over and over again. Each is viewed as a one-off, but it’s the same thinking that undermines the successful endings.”
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From lumber to labor, are we now in a ‘shortage economy’?

Welcome to the shortage economy. After four decades where optimized and increasingly global supply chains made goods available at rock-bottom prices – where even scarce energy suddenly became cheap and abundant because of new drilling technologies – America has suddenly run smack into scarcities for everything from lumber to copper, computer chips to rental cars, truckers to restaurant workers, ammunition for guns to chlorine tablets for swimming pools. Americans can expect more such shortages and price increases, economists say, as eager-to-spend consumers contemplate a post-pandemic economy and as record government stimulus boosts demand. The silver lining in this is that most of these shortages are expected to be temporary. Another bottleneck is a decades-old shortage of truck drivers. The problem is magnified when goods are in such big demand. But the problem isn’t really the supply of potential drivers, but the extremely poor pay for long-haul work, says Michael Belzer, a former truck driver and now professor of economics at Wayne State University. Adjusting for inflation, “we’re probably at about 50% on average today of the overall annual compensation of where we were back then [in the 1970s]. So it shouldn’t be a big shock that we have a hard time getting drivers.”
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Uber and Lyft take a lot more from drivers than they say

In July, an Uber driver picked up a fare in a trendy neighborhood of a major U.S. metropolitan area. It was rush hour and surge pricing was in effect due to increased demand, meaning that Dave would be paid almost twice the regular fare. Even though the trip was only five miles, it lasted for more than half an hour because his passengers scheduled a stop at Taco Bell for dinner. Dave knew sitting at the restaurant waiting for his fares would cost him money; he was earning only 21 cents a minute when the meter was running, compared to 60 cents per mile. With surge pricing in effect, it would be far more lucrative to keep moving and picking up new fares than sitting in a parking lot. But Dave had no real choice but to wait. The passenger had requested the stop through the app, so refusing to make it would have been contentious both with the customer and with Uber. There’s widespread belief among drivers that the Uber algorithm punishes drivers for cancelling trips. Ultimately, the rider paid $65 for the half-hour trip. But Dave made only $15. Uber kept the rest, more than 75 percent of the fare, more than triple the average so-called “take-rate” it claims in financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This, according to Wayne State University law professor Sanjuka Paul, who has written extensively on the ride-hailing industry, is a new wrinkle in the independent contractor debate, because it doesn’t align with the arguments the companies make that they merely facilitate interactions between two independent actors in a market. “The economic reality is they, Uber and Lyft, are collecting the fare from the consumer and then making a capital firm decision which, in this case, doesn’t sound like a very bad decision— actually making quite a sensible decision,” she said. “But it shows that they are a firm that is charging consumers and then making decisions with that money, including how to pay a labor force.”
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Michigan Mobility Institute begins crafting curriculum in partnership with Wayne State

Michigan Mobility Institute executive director Jessica Robinson says the process of creating a first-of-its-kind Master of Mobility degree is "well underway," thanks to the institute's new partnership with Wayne State University. The institute made headlines earlier this year when it announced its intention to create the high-level educational credential in mobility. Robinson says Wayne State's College of Engineering was an ideal inaugural educational partner to collaborate with in creating the coursework and formal structure for the degree. Wayne State's existing dual focus on both cutting-edge research work and connecting its grads to jobs in the field also is a plus. WSU professors are already working on classes that are applicable to next-generation mobility careers, which will form an important base upon which to build a regimen of highly specialized mobility coursework. Wayne State will provide the Michigan Mobility Institute's physical campus for the time being. Other space needs may arise with time, and if they do Robinson says the institute will work with WSU and other partners to create them.
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Michigan Mobility Institute, Wayne State partner on advanced mobility curriculum

The Michigan Mobility Institute announced the world’s first advanced mobility education curriculum for the sector Tuesday in partnership with Wayne State University’s College of Engineering. The organizations said in a joint Tuesday announcement that they’ll begin developing programming to power mobility careers in the months ahead. Kim Trent, chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors, said in a statement that the partnership with the Michigan Mobility Institute could help extend Detroit’s 100 years of history in mobility innovation into the 21st century and beyond. “I couldn’t be more thrilled that the futurists behind the Detroit Mobility Lab and the Michigan Mobility Institute have chosen Wayne State as their partner. This Institute will make our university a world leading center for cutting-edge thinking and leadership for this critically important emerging sector.” Wayne State’s College of Engineering offers a graduate certificate in cyberphysical systems, a program in electric drive vehicle engineering and a newly developed master of science degree in data science and business analytics. “Together we are poised to create something very special as we embark on a shared mission to create the premiere institution focused on educating the mobility engineer of the future,” Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering and computer science professor said.