(Chris Devlin) #1

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FORTUNE.COM // JUNE.1.19


AMAZON’S A “GO”


FOR PRIME TIME


SMART SHOP


AMAZON and New
York City are friends
again. After Amazon
abandoned plans to
locate its HQ2 campus
in the city, an Amazon
Go store quietly ap-
peared in Manhattan
one morning in May.
The 11th location of
what seems like a
typical convenience
store—albeit one with
no cashiers—is actu-
ally a sophisticated
data-mining opera-
tion. Shoppers scan
an app to enter the
store, where overhead
cameras monitor
their movements and
record what they take
from the shelves.
Then they simply
walk out with their
goods charged to a
card on file. The ex-
perimental Go stores
provide Amazon with
more data to fuel its
retail dominance and
under cut competitors
(e.g., cans of Amazon-
brand seltzer water
sell at a discount to
brands like LaCroix).
If the stores prove
to be more than an
experiment, it’s yet
another reason for
Amazon’s retail rivals
to worry. —J.J.R.

A Euro Solution for


American Gridlock


Traffic jams plague almost every U.S.
metropolitan area. Could congestion pricing
help eliminate them? By Tamara Warren


TRANSIT CONGESTION CHARGES—fees paid by
drivers to enter highly trafficked areas
in peak times—are coming to America. As part
of the state budget, New York lawmakers have
approved a daily charge on motor vehicles entering
Manhattan below 61st Street. The plan is scheduled
to go into effect in 2021, with the proceeds used to
fix N.Y.C.’s ailing subway lines.
Drivers in London, Stockholm, Milan, and a
handful of other international cities have been
subject to similar charges for years. Since 2003,
the number of private cars in central London has
declined by 30%, according to transit authority
Transport for London, and in its first three years, the
tax was credited with a 17% reduction of nitrous ox-
ide emissions. But its success has been tempered by
the explosion of for-hire vehicles from services such
as Uber and Lyft, which continue to create conges-
tion for Londoners.
Experts point out that New York’s plan is distinct,
and its impact is hard to estimate. “London is a very
different city from New York,” says Mitchell L. Moss,


director of NYU’s
Rudin Center for
Transportation. “It’s
a much larger area
than what’s [taxed] in
London.”
Philadelphia and
L.A. are considering
similar schemes, but
Moss points out that
New York stands out
from other U.S. cities
because its 24-hour
subway system makes
it less dependent on
cars: “The real reason
you can do it in New
York is five times as
many people come
in by mass transit as
come in by car.”
But when it comes
to shifting commuters
back to overcrowded
subways, the city
and state could face
a chicken-and-egg
scenario, if lawmakers
don’t act quickly to
make updates to the
aging transit system.
CONGESTION: SCOTT BARBOUR

—GET T Y IMAGES; MUG: EIRIK JOHNSON


—THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX PIC TURES