Transit Ridership Down 2.3% in 2016

by Randal OToole : NewGeography – excerpt

With little fanfare, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released its fourth quarter 2016 ridership report last week. When ridership goes up, the lobby group usually issues a big press release ballyhooing the importance of transit (and transit subsidies). But 2016 ridership fell, so there was no press release… (more)

We are running our own little investigation into the downward trend in ridership. It is our theory that the less public transportation designers talk to the riding public, the less the public uses their services. We think the a major reason for the drop-off on the weekends is the removal of seats bus stops and seats the BART and Muni cars, and major meltdowns of those systems several times a week.

We suggest people send letters to the SFMTA officials and the press and their supervisors to let them know why you no longer take the Muni as often as you once did, but, don’t tell SFMTA what your alternate method for getting around is or they will cut that off because they can’t allow competition.

If you want to get involved in stopping the anti-human trend on public transit, talk to your neighborhood group and check out the actions on the Action Page.

SF wants access to Uber and Lyft data to tackle traffic congestion

By Joe Fitgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two San Francisco government groups are taking aim at traffic congestion allegedly caused by ride-hail companies Uber and Lyft.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin on Tuesday introduced resolutions at both the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which he chairs, and also at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors calling on state legislators to grant cities the ability to peek at trip data from ride-hail companies.

Mayor Ed Lee quickly signaled his support for the resolution Tuesday.

I think asking for data is good, and that data should inform us in how to relieve that (traffic) congestion,” he told the San Francisco Examiner.

That data is sent to the California Public Utilities Commission, but for years they have shielded it from public view.

The CPUC granted confidentiality of trip data to Uber and Lyft after the companies argued the data could be used by one another to gain a competitive advantage.

Requests for data “continue to be denied by the CPUC,” Peskin told the transportation authority board on Tuesday.

Both the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the SFCTA have repeatedly asked the CPUC for Uber and Lyft trip data, and were denied...(more)

The over saturation of Ubers and Lyfts could be solved by stopping the unwinnable war on cars. If the money that has gone into lane removal, bus stop musical chairs, and traffic alterations was spent on purchasing more buses, adding bus lines, and replacing bus seats you would not have the loss of ridership that you have seen since the SFMTA initiated programs to alter bus routes, eliminate stops and remove bus seats. Do you want to walk further to a bus stop and then stand on the bus when you can be sitting in a car? Why do you think people are avoiding Muni and BART on the weekends. No matter how much paint you put on the pig it is still a pig. This pig wreaks of false assumptions that are turning into a big pile of public debt.

Why Is Transit Ridership Falling?

Transit ridership took a turn for the worse in 2016. In all but a handful of cities, fewer people rode trains and buses, even in some places, like Los Angeles, that have invested significantly in expanding capacity.

It’s not just a one-year blip, either. In many American cities, the drop in transit ridership is an established trend. The big question is why.

Transit consultant Jarrett Walker at Human Transit wants more than vague speculation about the effect of low gas prices and ride-hailing services. He’s looking for more specific research about causes and effects — and soon:

Bottom line: We need research! Not the sort of formally peer reviewed research that will take a year to publish, but faster work by real transportation scholars that can report preliminary results in time to guide action. I am not a transportation researcher, but there are plenty of them out there, and this is our moment of need.

Here are my research questions:

  • Which global causes seem to matter?  Straight regression analysis, once you get data you believe.  Probably the study will need to start with a small dataset of transit agencies, so that there’s time to talk with each agency and understand their unique data issues.
  • What’s happening to the quantity of transit?  If ridership is falling because service is falling, this isn’t a surprise.  If ridership is falling because service is getting slower — which means lower frequency and speed at the same cost — well, that wouldn’t be surprising either.
  • How does the decline correlate to types of service?  Is this fall happening in dense areas or just in car-based suburbs? Is it happening on routes that are designed for high ridership, or only on those that are designed for coverage purposes (services retained because three sympathetic people need them rather than because the bus will be full).   Is it correlated to frequency or span changes? Heads up, local geeks! A lot could be done looking at data for your own transit agency — route by route and even (where available) stop by stop, to analyze where in your metro the fall is really occurring… (more)

I appreciate the thought that went into this article.  In my experience, people decide how to live their lives based on their personal needs, not based on datasets and studies. My questions would be of a more personal nature and I would put them to the public.

  • Why do you take public transit when you take it?
  • Why do you chose to take another transit option when you don’t?
  • Do your priorities align with SFMTA and City Hall priorities?
  • What Muni changes do you support?
  • What Muni changes do you oppose?
  • Do you prefer speed or comfort?
  • Would you rather stand on public transit if you get there faster?
  • Would you rather sit if it takes longer to get there?

SF planning first-of-its-kind laws for ‘jitney’ private bus system Chariot

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

For as long as there have been autos, private “jitney” buses have operated on San Francisco streets. Jitneys carried passengers to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and many Muni lines today run on former private bus lines.
By the 1970s, private transit by the Bay declined. The last known historic jitney driver in San Francisco who owned a single private bus, Jess Losa, reportedly hung up his hat last year.

But those private buses have since returned to their former prominence with the aid of tech apps — like Chariot, the Ford-owned private bus company that started in San Francisco…

Now more than a century after jitneys first appeared, The City is planning new laws to regulate them, updating patchwork regulations strewn across multiple city agencies due to historical accident.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency revealed its plans for private bus services at a SFMTA Citizens Advisory Council.

Chariot is the only private bus service left in San Francisco, SFMTA staff told the council, so for now the new laws would exclusively regulate just that company — but regulations would cover any similar services that may arise in the future…

Why are jitneys treated differently from tech shuttles? They are both private commercial enterprises. Jitneys do a lot less damage to the street, take up less space and get around the narrow steep streets a lot easier than the large buses and tech vehicles. Jitneys are one option for the public to choose from to get around town.

Uber’s Auto-Loan Program Is Basically Indentured Servitude

by Paris Marx : thebolditalic – excerpt

The troubled gig-economy company breaks new ground in exploitation.

Until recently, Uber drivers had to own their own vehicles (10 years old or newer) and pay all their vehicle-related expenses out of their earnings. Yet as Uber has grown, the vehicle requirement has proven to be a major barrier to growing the number of drivers on the platform — at least partly because drivers have an incredibly high turnover rate, a testament to the fact that driving for Uber is generally not very stable or lucrative work. Recently, the company has found a solution: facilitating car loans directly for drivers so they can rent a car from Uber in order to drive for Uber — in effect, paying back the company as it pays them.

Uber’s Subprime Auto Loans

The largest US ride-sharing platform, Uber has been infused with billions of dollars in investment and, as a result, is in rapid growth mode, relentlessly hiring drivers around the country. Getting a driver’s license is a relatively easily learned skill in the United States — hence, finding drivers is not necessarily a problem for Uber; rather, finding drivers who own cars that meet Uber’s vehicle requirement is. Thus, over the past few years, Uber has made a number of deals to experiment with offering vehicle leases to drivers before finally launching its own auto-loan company, Xchange Leasing, in 2015 to offer subprime loans to drivers. “Subprime,” in finance speak, refers to the credit status of the lessee: “prime” borrowers are desirable ones with a high probability of paying back loans on time, whereas “subprime” borrowers are less than optimal for banks — and hence usually suffer higher premiums, interest rates and more predatory contracts to make up for their undesirability as clients… (more)

This looks like the perfect Ponzi scheme. Use investor’s money to multiply your investments. In this case, invest in cars, mark them up and lease them to your “contractors” at a profit. How long before the ‘contractors” pull out or go on strike and leave Uber holding the debt?

RELATED:
Naked Capitalism has published a five-part series on the economics of Uber… t sheds light on the lack of profitability in the current business model, and how fares are subsidized with billions in losses and VC money to try to achieve a monopoly position.

Uber Used ‘Greyball’ to Dodge Sting Operations

By Rob Quinn : newser – excerpt

Secret software identified possible law enforcement agents

(Newser) – Yet more bad press for Uber: For years, the company has been using a secret tool called Greyball to avoid law enforcement in cities where it was banned, the New York Times reports. Uber used information like geolocation data and credit card details to pinpoint users that might be involved in sting operations in cities like Portland, Ore. Those users were then “Greyballed” when they tried to get an Uber car, with the app either showing no cars available or displaying “ghost cars” in a fake version of the app, Uber sources tell the Times. The insiders say the program, used in US cities including Boston and Las Vegas and in countries including Australia and China, is still being used to dodge regulators today… (more)

GM Brings Monthly Rentals to Maven Car-Sharing App

By Tom Brant : pcmag – excerpt

 

If you live in San Francisco or Los Angeles and work in the entertainment or tech industries, the new option to rent Chevy Volts or Tahoes for 28 days at a time will be perfect, GM says.

GM’s car-sharing arm Maven will offer customers in Los Angeles and San Francisco the ability to reserve Chevy Tahoe SUVs and Chevy Volt electric cars for a month at a time, breaking from the service’s traditional rent-by-the-hour model.

The new option is aimed squarely at the tech crowd in San Francisco and the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, which means it probably won’t be an attractively priced option for your next California vacation. Maven doesn’t list pricing upfront for the month-long rentals, so you’ll have to check the app to see current rates… (more)

 

 

In Video, Uber CEO Argues With Driver Over Falling Fares

by Eric Newcomer : bloomberg – excerpt (includes video)

Travis Kalanick tells a driver to take responsibility for his problems and boasts about a tough culture.

When Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick takes an Uber, he prefers a black car, the high-end service his company introduced in 2010. On this particular night in early February—Super Bowl Sunday—Kalanick is perched in the middle seat, flanked by two female friends. Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know” plays, and Kalanick shimmies. He clutches his smartphone as the three make awkward conversation. The two women ask when his birthday is, and marvel that he’s a Leo. One of his companions appears to say, somewhat inaudibly, that she’s heard that Uber is having a hard year. Kalanick retorts, “I make sure every year is a hard year.” He continues, “That’s kind of how I roll. I make sure every year is a hard year. If it’s easy I’m not pushing hard enough.”… (more)

RELATED:
Uber CEO defends Trump relationship to employees – Uber’s CEO drove home a simple message to employees this week: We must work with President Trump… (includes video)

Uber’s terrible week gets worse; Google sues for alleged theft of self-driving technology

By Colin Deppen : pennlive – excerpt

Uber’s week started with a former employee alleging she encountered systemic sexual discrimination during her time with the company.

The week ended with Google filing a lawsuit against the ride-sharing service alleging the technology now fueling Uber’s self-driving fleet in cities like Pittsburgh was stolen. This as both companies remain locked in a costly and frenzied modern-day space race to perfect the nascent technology.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday, the Google self-driving-car group, now known as Waymo, , accuses Uber of using stolen technology to advance its own self-driving car development…

According to CBS News, the 28-page complaint accuses a former top manager for Google’s self-driving car project, Anthony Levandowski, of stealing pivotal technology that Google says is now being used to fuel Uber’s own fleet of autonomous vehicles for its ride-hailing service.

CBS adds that the alleged theft occurred in late 2015, before Levandowski left Google to found a startup called Otto that is “building big-rig trucks that navigate highways without a human behind the wheel.” Uber bought Otto for $680 million last year, and Levandowski is now overseeing Uber’s effort to develop and dispatch cars driven by robots… (more)

RELATED:
Does Uber have a sexual assault problem? Charge against Pa. driver highlights concerns

SFMTA to Intensify Neighborhood Parking Regulations

by potreroview – excerpt

As parking pressures continue to build in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill due to increased housing density, growing commuter traffic, and expanded activity at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency has been working with neighborhood stakeholders to implement more stringent parking management regulations. Over the past several months meters have been installed on many blocks in Showplace Square.  SFMTA is expected to continue to hold meetings with the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association and the Potrero Boosters, with the goal of creating parking management plans that’re supported by residents and businesses. The measures parallel SFMTA’s ongoing citywide evaluation of its 40-year old Residential Parking Permit program… (more)

“We’ll be initiating more conversations with neighbors about how to manage the curb,” said Andy Thornley, senior analyst, SFMTA. “Meters will be a small piece, along with other tools. It’s more than just RPP, time limits and meters; it’s also about traffic calming and making the curb safer for residents, businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.”

Since last summer, four hour time limited parking restrictions have been added to much of Showplace Square, along with meters on Kansas and Divisions streets and the block surrounding Showplace East. Additional meters are slated for 16th Street between Vermont and Seventh streets as well as Henry Adams Street, once 1 Henry Adams, a residential complex, is completed. Due to sidewalk improvements that’re underway, 16th Street will have four hour time limits in the interim, with meters likely installed next year…(more)

For those who aren’t familiar with Andy Thronley, he lost by a wide margin in his 2016 run for District One Supervisor. His department staff is down and he is the President of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition according to their web site. The SFMTA has put someone who rarely drives, has no idea what the real needs of drivers are, and who hates cars in charge of the parking program. Keep this in mind next time you deal with him or the SFMTA.

Around 2012 the SFMTA threatened to install parking meters all over the Eastern Neighborhoods and they were stopped from this plan by vigorous public actions.

For some time we have contended that the first step to demolishing the neighborhood is parking removal. Look at how well the city has taken the Eastern neighborhoods by doing just that. Get ready for them to swarm the West side of the city in no time if this plan is not stopped.