We’ve been through this before; they’re called jitneys. The street railway companies fought tooth and nail against them 100 years ago because they were a direct threat to their business. The jitneys went away, even where they weren’t illegal, but the street railways died anyway, since their real competition was the private automobile, which took away the passengers and clogged the streets.
OK, so jitneys didn’t have WiFi (because, for the most part, radio didn’t exist), and they didn’t have algorithms to predict where routes should go (because there were no good coders back then) , but they are still cream-skimmers in that they’ll be taking customers away from the MBTA.
Does that mean they should be banned? Of course not! If they can do the job better than the T then so be it, but the T is going to serve routes and populations that a profit-motivated service never will because the T’s motivator is (or should be!) moving people and not profit.
The article mentions traveling from Brookline to Kendall Square in Cambridge and how, if you took the T, you’d have to take a trolley in to Park St and the Red Line out to Kendall/MIT whereas the private bus takes you there directly.
Amusingly, the Route 1 Mass Ave bus featured in the article (and reproduced above) almost makes that trip as it runs from Harvard Square along Mass Ave, and then thorough the South End crossing a number of rail lines. But if you look at the T’s map, you’ll find a CT2 bus — CT for Crosstown — that makes almost the same route as described for Bridj passing through both Brookline and Kendall Square (well, a few steps away) without going downtown.
So if the service already exists what does that say? It says to me that Bridj is more along the lines of a service that wants to serve passengers who don’t want to share a vehicle with those people.
Yeah, I said it.