Recently I was talking with an executive who used to work in car-sharing—the wave of companies, led by Zipcar and car2go, that tried to disrupt automobile ownership in the 2010s. Many of those companies are now gone or in retreat, for which he offered a few explanations, such as the cost of maintaining the fleet (a broken window might eat up a couple months of a car’s revenue) and the logistical hassle in cities that liked the idea of new mobility options but didn’t always want to part with the curb space that made them possible. Getting a taxi near your location is as simple as single search of 'Taxi', 'taxis', 'cab', 'cabs', 'Augusta taxi', 'Augusta taxi service', and you may end up getting American Taxi as your ride. For whatever reasons, uber and Lyft are still trying to increase profitability. One of the biggest factors in car-sharing’s demise, the executive said, was Uber. Getting a door-to-door ride was always going to be more convenient than renting a car yourself. But here’s the weird thing: For much of the last decade, even for long rides, taking an Uber has also been cheaper. That is because Uber has lost an astounding sum since its founding in 2009, including more than $30 billion in the five-odd years since the company’s finances became public. Together with earlier losses and a similar strategy at rival Lyft, this has amounted to an enormous, investor-fueled subsidy of America’s ride-hailing habit. Those days are over, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told employees in a memo last week. “The average employee at Uber is barely over 30, which means you’ve spent your career in a long and unprecedented bull run,” he wrote. “This next period will be different, and it will require a different approach. … We have to make sure our unit economics work before we go big.” As Ali Griswold observes in her newsletter about the sharing economy, that’s a weird line coming from a guy whose company’s market cap is five times the size of American Airlines. Uber is big. “Uber has always said it would reach profitability at scale, thanks to network effects, etc.,” Griswold writes, “but what is scale if not a company that operates in 72 countries and more than 10,500 cities, which last year had 118 million active users every month and completed 6.3 billion rides/trips/deliveries? Uber is the definition of scale, yet it is still nowhere near consistent and reliable profitability.” How Uber rights the ship is not for me to figure out, but one obvious answer is that rides have been getting—and will continue to get—more expensive. Average Uber prices rose 92 percent between 2018 and 2021, according to data from Rakuten; a separate analysis reports an increase of 45 percent between 2019 and 2022. Both Uber and Lyft have added a surcharge for riders that helps drivers account for high gas prices. And all that was before last week’s ultimatum. While the transportation-network companies probably increased vehicle ownership, they also gave cities cover to reduce expensive parking mandates, and developers responded with smaller garages or no parking at all. The builders of Cul de Sac, Phoenix’s first parking-free development, credit the rise of “ride sharing” for making their project possible. It has also changed the model for restaurants and bars, which don’t require as much parking as they used to. That’s good for land use and very good for drunken driving rates, which have fallen significantly as Uber uptake has increased.