What A Word Mess: Is Ridesharing Finally Over?

Posted on January 26, 2015 by - Also by this author

Virtual meanings: Hey there, passengers. You're gonna take my 50 shades of ridesharing and you're gonna like it.
Virtual meanings: Hey there, passengers. You're gonna take my 50 shades of ridesharing and you're gonna like it.

The Associated Press recently clued in to the true meaning of media terms and ditched the “ridesharing” generic label for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) in favor of "ride-hailing." Apparently, they realized what many limousine operators dutifully pointed out months ago: “Ridesharing” is not an accurate term for TNCs.

The fact that “ridesharing” pervaded and misled as long as it did, and still seeps into most media outlets, underscores the herd-like gullibility of the collective media. The media seems to go through a phase when it waxes ga-ga over a new trend, fad, or politician before its better skeptical instincts kick in.

Some progress can be seen in that the world’s most pervasive news organization no longer uses “ridesharing” to describe TNCs. However, they don’t publish “TNCs,” either, the most accurate term to date. The TNC moniker originated with the California Public Utilities Commission, and has been adopted by some B2B transportation media like LCT Magazine. While better than” ridesharing,” "ride-hailing" still fails the accuracy test. At least ride-hailing does not imply hitchhiking or giving free rides, which is what ridesharing actually means. Although, I suppose you could “hail” a ride, and that ride ends up being consensually free and shared among driver and passenger.

Ride-hailing implies raising your arm in the air to “hail” a vehicle, as opposed to pushing an app or calling on the phone. The accurate terms in those contexts would “ride-order” or “ride-call” service. Referring to TNCs as “ride-hailing” services prematurely or incorrectly deems them taxicabs, which is still a matter of opinion. Regulators don’t yet commonly agree if TNCs should be governed like taxis, limos, or something in between. We know for sure that TNCs are for-hire ground transportation based on the exchange of money between a customer and an incorporated business provider. I’m open to alternative terms to “TNCs,” but whatever the word, it must directly use or describe “transportation.”

Otherwise, the TNCs can resort to their other misleading self-label of “technology company.” The interplay of apps, GPS, battery power and smartphones was not invented by Uber, no more than the Internet emanated from the neuro-synapses of Al Gore. Just as the former Vice President-turned-global warming alarmist (or is it climate change?) could never be labeled an inventor, computer genius, or meteorologist, neither can TNCs be considered technology companies.

The only accurate embodiment of a technology company providing shared rides would be a software company that creates a group thrill ride — in a virtual reality amusement park.

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