The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
Sharing economy platforms such as Airbnb and Lyft have dramatically increased competition, innovation, and consumer choice in the hotel and transportation industries across the country. San Francisco is a perfect example. Almost all of the hotels are located near Union Square, which is an incredibly uninteresting and generically commercialized portion of the city that could in any city in America. Union Square is not convenient to where many visitors conduct business or spend their leisure time which causes stress on the city as more people must take transportation around to get to the neighborhoods they wanted to stay in originally. In addition, the hotel rooms are typically extremely small, expensive, and overbooked which means many visitors are paying a premium to stay somewhere that they don't even like. The ability to rent a place that has a kitchen or other amenities can save travelers, especially families, significant amounts of money and dramatically increases the feasibility of travel for them. Not to mention that people can now rent unique places that they will often remember for a lifetime instead of another characterless hotel room. The situation with transportation is similar. The restrictions on taxi medallions had created an extreme defiency of available drivers in the city. Taxi drivers would often tell me that they don't even bother to go to my neighborhood, the Mission around 24th street, because there were so many potential passengers downtown that it wasn't worth leaving that area unless a ride took them out of it. This is despite the fact that I live in one of the most central and dense portions of the city where companies like Lyft have been able to create "hotspots" from which they charge only $4 a ride. It has literally been a game changer in my ability to navigate my home city on a day to day basis. Now the taxis have begun to compete by introducing electronic hailing and accepting credit card payments across their fleet. The competition in short term housing rentals and transportation applications has been a major success in San Francisco where they have been most extensively used. This should serve as a blueprint to improve our other communities which suffer from the same issues.