Why GM is investing in Lyft

Massachusetts lawmakers can’t keep up. They’re still trying to figure out a way to regulate ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, yet the market is already moving on to the next big thing: driverless cars.

General Motors announced on Monday that it is investing $500 million in Lyft and plans to partner with the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company to develop an on-demand network of self-driving cars. GM officials also said they plan to launch with Lyft a series of short-term car rental hubs, where people without vehicles can pick one up and earn extra money working as a Lyft driver.

Daniel Ammann, the president of GM, who will be joining Lyft’s board, said the company’s investment in the ride-sharing company reflects a strategic shift in how vehicles will be used in the future. “We think there’s going to be more change in the world of mobility in the next five years than there has been in the last 50,” Ammann said.

Many suspect GM and other car makers are worried that Americans in the future will not only stop driving cars but stop owning them. Uber, the dominant ride-sharing company, last year raided Carnegie Mellon University for talent to open its own facility in Pittsburgh for developing self-driving car technology. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says he believes driverless cars will eventually make taking an Uber cheaper than owning a car.

John Zimmer, the president of Lyft, said the partnership with GM suggests ride-sharing companies will be the ones to introduce driverless cars to America’s roads. “We strongly believe that the introduction of self-driving cars will come through a network – meaning that you will request a Lyft in the future and a self-driving car will arrive and bring you where you need to go,” said Zimmer.

Even as the auto and ride-sharing industries are racing ahead, envisioning a bold new future, Massachusetts lawmakers seem stuck in first gear. Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed mild regulation of ride-sharing companies, while a pair of Democratic lawmakers have filed a bill that would treat the firms more like taxis. Neither bill has gained much traction and ride-sharing legislation is not currently on anyone’s must-do list on Beacon Hill.

The announcement by GM and Lyft suggests Massachusetts lawmakers need to move more quickly and think much more broadly.




Gov. Charlie Baker is preparing mid-year budget cuts. (State House News)

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg describes charter school expansion as an “uphill climb” in his chamber. (State House News)

A Globe editorial calls on the Senate to beef up the state’s public records law with a stronger reform bill than the watered-down measure approved by the House.

The Herald‘s Matt Stout offers a few what-to-watch-for-in-2016 takes on the state’s political doings.


In his inaugural address, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty slams “the angry grumblings of the talk radio set” while calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to expand train service between his city and Boston. (Masslive)

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll delivers a state-of-the-city address in which she announces a partnership with Harvard’s Kennedy School to address the challenges posed by “problem properties.” (Salem News)

With Gov. Charlie Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and several former colleagues in attendance, former state senator Robert Hedlund took the oath of office to become Weymouth’s third mayor. (Patriot Ledger)

Former Fall River city councilor Jasiel Correia, 23, became the youngest mayor in the city’s history when he was sworn in Monday. (Herald News)

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter said drug abuse and homelessness will be his top priorities as he begins his second term. (The Enterprise)

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch was sworn in for a fifth time but it will be his first time serving a four-year term. Koch outlined a broad agenda to prepare the city for its 400th anniversary in 2025 and to save the historic Wollaston Theater. (Patriot Ledger)

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, sworn in for his third term, says the city has to build on the momentum of improving schools and growing waterfront commerce in order to keep moving forward. (Standard-Times)

US Sen. Ed Markey calls James Fiorentini the “Michelangelo of Haverhill’s renaissance” at the mayor’s swearing-in ceremony. (Eagle-Tribune)

An Item editorial praises the way Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and her colleagues enjoy some laughs at their swearing-in.

A Sandwich woman has filed suit against town officials who she claims deceived her into granting a deed restriction on her moderate-priced home then reneged on a promise to allow her to sell it at a market rate. (Cape Cod Times)


Time analyzes President Obama’s gun control plan. More guns were bought in the wake of the shootings in December in San Bernardino, California, than in any other one-month period in the last two decades, continuing the pattern of increased gun sales following terrorist attacks and increased calls for more gun restrictions. (New York Times)

US Rep. Richard Neal is drawing criticism from consumer advocates and finds himself on the opposite side of an issue from Sen. Elizabeth Warren as he pushes a bill that is very friendly to Springfield-based MassMutual, whose executives and political committees have been the top source of his campaign donations across his long career. (Boston Globe)

Liberal columnist Michael Cohen says liberals are taking the low road in their comments on the standoff in Oregon, where conservative activists have taken over a building at a remote federal bird sanctuary. (Boston Globe)


The headline on the Sun’s news story said it all: “Trump electrifies Tsongas Center in Lowell.” Keller@Large says Donald Trump‘s rally in Lowell had a couple small signs — not many and not big — suggesting that the bombastic real estate tycoon may be trying to soften his image for wider appeal. Trump had to contend with more than a few hecklers, something that has become commonplace at his appearances. (Boston Herald) Politifact says Trump’s new TV ad ostensibly shows migrants “at the southern border,” but they’re actually in Morocco.

Joe Battenfeld concocts a column out of the fact that Trump held his rally at the UMass Lowell-owned Tsongas Center and the Democrats who are larded throughout the UMass system didn’t try to stop it. (Boston Herald)

A kinder and gentler Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail in New Hampshire on behalf of his wife. (Boston Globe)

Michelle Wu is elected president of the Boston City Council, the third woman and first Asian-American to ever hold the post. (Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker raised $2.8 million during his first year in office. (Associated Press)

Larry DiCara offers a last look at Boston’s 2015 city election. (CommonWealth)


The NFL says the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams, and the San Diego Chargers are all seeking to move to Los Angeles.

Slow economic growth in China coupled with Mideast turbulence continues to drive global stock prices plunging. (U.S. News & World Report)


UMass Dartmouth has been designated a national research university, the last of the school’s five campuses to receive the coveted status. (Standard-Times)

Attorneys say more than 40 people have contacted them alleging they were victims of sexual abuse by staff at St. George’s prep school in Rhode Island, most of the incidents occurring in the 1970s and 1980s. (Boston Globe)


John McDonough explains why Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act. (CommonWealth)

Needle exchange programs to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases, which were controversial 25 years ago, continue to face opposition with only six such programs operating in the state. (Boston Globe)


The MBTA’s oversight board votes unanimously to seek public comment on two fare hike proposals that would raise base fares 5 percent or 10 percent and increase the cost of most passes by even greater amounts. (CommonWealth)


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission admits an involuntary error in blocking public comment on the proposed Kinder Morgan gas pipeline and agrees to extend the comment period. (Masslive)

The Shirley Zoning Board of Appeals votes 4-1 to reject a bid to block a solar farm planned on town land. (The Sun)


Despite solid bipartisan support, an overhaul of the nation’s criminal justice system is languishing in Congress because of the lingering specter of Willie Horton and the damage his case had on the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis. (New York Times)

A Fitchburg couple defends the use of spanking after a Supreme Judicial Court ruling upholding the position that parents who use corporal punishment are not entitled to be foster parents. (Telegram & Gazette) More on the SJC ruling here. (State House News) A Herald editorial wonders if the SJC case reflects an uneven screening process for foster parents at the state Department of Children and Families.

On the fifth anniversary of the accidental shooting death of a retired MBTA mechanic in Framingham by a now-disbanded SWAT team, a Metrowest Daily News editorial calls for more transparent and independent investigations into fatal police shootings. The editorial cites a 2014 CommonWealth investigation into uses of deadly force in Massachusetts that showed no indictments in any of the 73 deaths in the 12 years prior.

The defense attorney for Catherine Greig, Whitey Bulger’s girlfriend, says she will plead guilty to one count of federal contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury. (Associated Press) Howie Carr (hardly surprisingly) urges the court to throw the book at her. (Boston Herald)

A Topsfield babysitter charged with kidnapping and abusing a 2-year-old girl will undergo more mental evaluation. (Gloucester Times)

An officer was hurt and three cruisers were damaged as police tried to pen in drug suspects in Lawrence. (Eagle-Tribune)

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson says in standing by her man, Camille Cosby makes Tammy Wynette look like a slacker.


Boston Globe CEO Mike Sheehan tried to do some damage control and offered mea culpas on the paper’s distribution debacle and said he expects a return to normal in 30 to 45 days, not the four to six months predicted by the new distributor. (Greater Boston) The Globe reports that the paper may try to sign up a second delivery firm to stop the bleeding. Globe columnist Joan Vennochi joins the chorus of those saying the paper better get its delivery act together. Emily Rooney offers 10 points of outrage, including criticism of the Boston Herald for writing nothing about the Globe’s problems because the Globe prints the Herald.

Ken Doctor, writing for Politico, says GateHouse Media is looking to repair its reputation in the wake of the controversial and secretive sale of the Las Vegas Review-Journal to Sheldon Adelson.

Stephen Henn explains why he left NPR and why he thinks public radio is in danger. (Medium)