Transit and the digital divide – the best as the enemy of the good

Aaron Antrim wrote a sensible Facebook note downplaying the concept of the digital divide as it relates to giving digital access to transit information. In the world of public transit, there’s a common argument that it is unfair and wrong to provide excellent digital access to transit information, since some elderly and low-income riders do not have access to digital information.
These days, a lot of people have internet access. Aaron points out recent statistics showing that overall, 75% of U.S. adults use the internet, and 56% of people who make less than $30,000/year use the internet. In the Bay Area, the overall numbers are higher, and the low-income numbers are similar: 79% had internet access in 2008, including 59% of households with income under $40,000.
It’s fair to be concerned with the digital divide. But the everybody or nobody approach is poor business judgment. What company would reject a service that broadened their market, because only 60-80% of their customer base would use it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *