Uber’s surge pricing backfires during Sydney hostage siege

Jennifer Booton : marketwatch – excerpt

Prices automatically surged as part of ‘peak demand’ policy

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Uber has found itself embroiled in yet another PR disaster: spiking prices as a hostage situation unfolded in Sydney, Australia…

Uber customers have long complained about Uber’s peak demand prices. But this is the first widely-reported instance where the hike has occurred during an emergency situation.

The app is facing extreme backlash from the move, with Twitter user Tyson Armstrong calling it a “shameful disgrace” and others using far harsher expletives. Uber responded to angry tweeters by saying that the surge pricing is automated. The fares, it said, were increased to “encourage more drivers to come online [and] pick up passengers in the area.”.

Uber “does not profit off crises,” it said…  Uber’s ‘surge pricing’ surprises some users: Variable-pricing model increases the rates for rides with the limo-booking service, surprising many New Year’s Eve revelers…(more)

Complaints About Uber Surge Pricing Caused The Better Business Bureau To Give The Company An ‘F’:  On Thursday, Uber received an “F” grade from the Better Business Bureau, the New York Times reports. It’s the lowest rating that the independent organization assigns to businesses… (more)

Uber’s #357 Crosstown L.A. Ride Highlights Controversial ‘Surge Pricing’… It wasn’t snowing; it wasn’t raining; it wasn’t New Year’s Eve. It just happened to be 7pm — not 9pm where most people are prime to go out nor 2 am when bars are closing. There was absolutely no excuse whatsoever to be charged the surge price — not even their “supply and demand” cop-out justification, which falls short in this instance. On a clear night with near-perfect weather and at least 10 Uber vehicles within my proximity at the time of the reservation, there was plenty of “supply.”… (more)

Uber CEO mocks ‘surge pricing’ complaints on Facebook(more)

While the surge pricing during the hostage crisis caught everyone’s eye, we know there are numerous complaints around the world. Send us your surge pricing stories, and copy them to Mayor Ed Lee and the supervisors: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/san-francisco-officials/
Uber is so good with their computers, I am sure they can send a warning message to their customers during “surge times” to warn people before they accept the “surge price ride.”

Oregon Senate bill would mandate bicycle licenses and registration

by : bikeportland – excerpt

… An Oregon legislator has introduced a bill that would mandate licenses for everyone over 18 years of age who rides a bicycle and would require them to pay a $10 fee to register their bikes. The bill would also prohibit the use of “state highway fund” dollars on “bicycle” projects and repeal ORS 366.154 (a.k.a. the “bike bill”).

Senate Bill 177 has been introduced by Senator Brian Boquist (R-12) “at the request of” a constituent. That “at the request of” part is important because it appears the bill is what’s known as a “constituent bill”. In other words, this isn’t a bill the senator himself is pushing for — he has merely accepted it and moved it along into a committee to appease a vocal constituent. In this case, the constituent is a man named Ted Campbell…

You can view the full text of the bill here(more)

This is a good conversation to have. Cyclists need to follow the rules. Licenses will help with enforcement. If cyclists get their way and there are fewer cars on the road, the cyclists will be paying for the roads. They might as well start paying for bike paths now. Licensing is the first step.

Needless to say California needs to license bikes. Who in Sacramento will bring that up?

S.F. replacing old streetlights with cheaper, better LED bulbs

By John Coté : sfgate – excerpt

For years, Queen’s Louisiana Po-Boy Cafe, at the southern end of a commercial strip on San Bruno Avenue, was a destination in darkness.

“Really dark and gloomy” was how Queen’s owner, Danielle Reese, described nighttime in that stretch of San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood.

Now a clear, white light from a new streetlamp illuminates the front of Reese’s restaurant after dark, a sign of things to come as San Francisco prepares to replace 18,500 old, high-pressure sodium streetlights with more efficient ones that use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

The new lights are not just supposed to be brighter, but smarter…

The new streetlights are supposed to consume about half as much energy as the ones they replace, last four to five times longer and cut the amount of glare radiating into the night sky, reducing light pollution…

San Francisco officials anticipate total savings of about $1.4 million a year. If that materializes, the lights would pay for themselves in about eight years, and they’re designed to be maintenance-free for 15 years or more.

Beyond cost savings, the new lights will be connected wirelessly to a computer network, allowing them to be monitored and controlled remotely. They will automatically alert maintenance staff if a light goes out and can be dimmed during off-peak times to save energy.

Different owners

Roughly 60 percent of San Francisco’s 46,000 street lights are owned by the SFPUC. Most of the rest are owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., a private utility, with still others owned by the Port of San Francisco and the state transportation department, Caltrans… (more)

This is good news to those of us who have been requesting better illumination of intersections for some time. The safest pedestrians are the ones you can see.