SF eliminates renewal fees for taxi medallion holders

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay -excerpt


Taxis in North Beach photo by Zrants

Transferable taxi medallion holders will no longer have to pay an annual renewal fee starting July 1 as a way to help medallion holders during the current hard economic times of the taxi industry.

Congratulations to all the taxi drivers who have put in a lot of energy to get his done. A well-deserved break.

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?

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

Uber pays $20 million to settle claims of driver deception

Associated Press – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Uber Technologies is paying $20 million to settle allegations that it duped people into driving for its ride-hailing service with false promises about how much they would earn and how much they would have to pay to finance a car.

The agreement announced Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission covers statements Uber made from late 2013 until 2015 while trying to recruit more drivers to expand its service and remain ahead of its main rival, Lyft.

The FTC alleged that most Uber drivers were earning far less in 18 major U.S. cities than Uber published online. Regulators also asserted that drivers wound up paying substantially more to lease cars than the company had claimed… (more)

Uber rolls out self-driving cars in San Francisco today

Uber expanded its self-driving car program from Pittsburgh to San Francisco on Wednesday, with a fleet of the autonomous vehicles stashed in a warehouse in a downtown San Francisco parking garage now ready to pick up local passengers.

Uber is going to launch the program today and will do so as part of a partnership with Volvo. Uber said in a blog post that it will begin the service in its hometown on Wednesday as a way to build out its offerings for riders and help its autonomous software learn new terrain…

“We’re at the very beginning stages of becoming a robotics company,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told Vanity Fair Summit in San Francisco in October. “As we move toward the future, autonomy is a pretty critical thing for us. It’s existential.”…(more)

After killing off the taxi companies with the help of City Hall and the SFMTA, the ride-sharing companies plan to avoid any labor disputes by replacing the human contractors with by robots. If you figure there are 45,000 car-sharing vehicles on the streets that is around 45,000 jobs that these companies will eliminate. I hope these drivers have plans to do something else soon if they want to stay in the Bay Area.

RELATED:

Uber puts self-driving cars on the road in SF : The ride-hailing company now has autonomous vehicles ready to pick up passengers in the Bay Area…
As of September, Uber didn’t have a permit to run autonomous cars in California…

The man who invented the first self-driving motorcycle is leading Uber into the future..

As we claimed earlier Uber and Lyft are not only taking up street space (as Ed Reiskin finally admitted after doing a study to prove what we all have been seeing for years), the ride-sharing cars are also taking up parking spaces in garages all over town. The drivers of the cars are also adding to the regional commute problem…

Hold on to your hats, the first day the Uber driverless cars hit the streets of San Francisco, they ran red lights, even with their handlers and data-gatherers who were supposed to override them in an emergency situation. Guess running a red light is not considered an emergency to self-driving car handlers.

SFMTA Blames Uber And Lyft For San Francisco’s Traffic Woes

ed-head

San Francisco has the third worst traffic in the country, and the Bay Area at large has seen a 70 percent increase over the past six years. As with many things in life, the factors behind this are likely complicated and multifaceted, but that hasn’t stopped officials with the SFMTA from laying the blame on one culprit in particular: The ride-hail industry.

According to a state regulatory filling submitted last week to the California Public Utilities Commission on behalf of the SFMTA, drivers with Lyft and Uber are a significant factor in making San Francisco’s roads so congested. “For example, in San Francisco alone an estimated number of 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers now operate in the City,” the document reads. “This number far surpasses the estimated 1,800 taxis operating in San Francisco.”

That number comes from the SF Treasure’s Office, and at least partially explains why it seems like Ubers and Lyfts are everywhere — because they pretty much are. And just in case the conclusion to be drawn from this is unclear, SFMTA wants you to know that “Much of the increase San Francisco has experienced in vehicular traffic can be attributed to the huge increase in the number of TNC [Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft] vehicles operating on city streets.”… (more)

SFMTA has to blame someone for the traffic. Next they will be blaming all the soccer moms and the shuttle buses (Opps?) for traffic. IF those shuttle buses would just stay out of the city, like SFMTA told them to? Could they be having a really bad day and forgot who to blame?

This is the funniest story I have read all week. SFMTA complaining about Ubers and Lyfts and claiming there are 45,000 of them, as if this is news to anyone. They really must have their heads buried deeper in the sand than we thought.

RELATED:

Has Uber/Lyft Created More Traffic Congestion In Your Neighborhood?
by Saul Sugarman : Hoodline – excerpt

When it comes to local traffic congestion, SFMTA officials have a bone to pick with Uber and Lyft. In a recent regulatory filing first noted by the Examiner, the agency chided state regulators for failing to properly consider rideshare companies’ effect on city traffic and the environment.

“In 2016, San Francisco was rated as having the third worst traffic congestion in the nation,” reads the December 6th filing with the state Public Utilities Commission. “Much of the increase San Francisco has experienced in vehicular traffic can be attributed to the huge increase in the number of [rideshare] vehicles operating on city streets.”

With an estimated 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers on the road, the rideshare industry has far outpaced the city’s taxi drivers, which number around 1,800, the agency said.

And while around 20,000 rideshare drivers have complied with the city’s new registration requirements, which include paying a $91 annual fee, that still leaves roughly 25,000 who have not registered or paid up. (Uber and Lyft representatives did not respond to requests for comment.)

The SFMTA also argues that rideshare cars have had a “significant environmental impact” on the city, contributing to “a reduction in air quality, increased traffic congestion, increase risk to pedestrian safety, and transit delays.”

“These are real and tangible impacts to the physical environment, which, pursuant to state law, requires environmental review,” the SFMTA filing reads…(more)

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
After you come off the ceiling, think how you can use these admissions.

Look What the Fog Rolled in

Paris Marx : bolditamlic – excerpt

Why Uber’s Expansion Plans Would Make City Life Unbearable

Uber’s riders earn an average of 70% more than the median income. If Uber were subsidized, the wealthy would reap the benefits.

Public transit is indispensible in any urban environment. It provides people from all walks of life an affordable way to move around the city. It reduces the need for cars, resulting in less traffic and lower carbon emissions. But with the encroachment of Uber and other ride-hailing apps, are the benefits of public transit in jeopardy?

Uber’s growth has been exponential as its footprint has expanded globally. The company has spent more on lobbyists in California than Facebook and Apple did combined — all to ensure that it isn’t subject to regulations that apply to other transportation companies.

While some local authorities continue to fight Uber’s predatory expansion, others are embracing it. In September, Dublin became the first municipality in California to subsidize Uber rides for residents, following similar deals with towns in Florida that cover 25 percent of Uber fares to train stations and 20 percent of fares for other rides…

When public authorities subsidize Uber, it’s wealthier residents who get the largest benefit — the very people who least need subsidized transit…(more)(more)(more)

 

 

San Francisco’s largest taxi company up for sale

By Ryan Levi : KQED – excerpt

The blows keep coming for San Francisco’s struggling taxi industry. The city’s largest taxi company, the bankrupt Yellow Cab Cooperative, is up for sale.

A series of large personal injury lawsuits against the company combined with the growing popularity of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft pushed Yellow Cab into financial insolvency.

Taxi operator CityWide has already submitted a bid to buy Yellow Cab and its 500 or so cabs. Flywheel, formerly DeSoto Cab, is expected to follow suit.

So what does this mean for the state of taxis in San Francisco? Is this a sign of darker days ahead? Or is it just part of the new ride-share reality?

Mark Gruberg drives for Green Cab and is a board member of the San Francisco Taxi Worker Alliance. Count him among those who see the Yellow Cab sale as particularly bad news.

“I think it’s a very dire warning to everybody else,” he said. “The loss of Yellow does not bode well for the rest of the industry.”

He’s worried about whether the rest of the city’s cabbies will be able to absorb the hundreds of taxi medallions that Yellow Cab is currently operating… (more)

Dissenting view: Yes on Prop L

By Pratima Gupta and Phil Chin : sfchronicle – excerpt

Proposition L holds the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency accountable by encouraging a balanced oversight body. Its board of directors oversees a $1.1 billion budget and directs the policies and projects that determine whether the city sees increased traffic gridlock or streamlined bus transit — or whether another pedestrian is killed.

While the majority of city commissions have seats reserved for neighborhood representation, the SFMTA board members are accountable only to the mayor. Prop. L creates a split-appointment process that finally gives neighborhoods a chance to be represented. It would also allow the Board of Supervisors to amend the SFMTA’s budget with a majority vote.

When a Lowell student was killed on Sloat Boulevard in 2013, the community had been demanding pedestrian safety improvements for years. When the SFMTA moved to shut down lower Stockton Street for designer retail chains, the increased congestion was a death knell for the Chinatown community. When San Franciscans asked the SFMTA to regulate giant luxury shuttle buses, the SFMTA responded by charging them a mere $1 per day per stop (since raised to $3.55), even in narrow residential streets. The SFMTA’s idea of community outreach is holding a meeting to talk at stakeholders about their plans — not asking for input or listening to concerns.

Investing in our transportation system only works with meaningful input, oversight and accountability.

Pratima Gupta is vice chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party. Phil Chin is a transit advocate…

The Chronicle’s View

Insulating transit planning from political meddling buys a degree of independence. That’s especially needed in a city plagued by traffic wars, jammed transit and costly employees…

SFMTA has gone too far with the narrow streets. Not only are they slowing down fire trucks, engines and emergency responders , but the buses can barely turn the corner. I watched a relatively small Muni bus attempt a turn at Harrison and 11th Street today. Given that half the street was closed off, the bus was forced to wait for the traffic to clear in the opposite lane before it could proceed. even though the bus had the green light.

It looks as if Prop L has already had some good results. After years of requests for more shuttles to extend the service during rush hours and for various reason, now that the SFMTA is feeling threatened by Prop L, they are suddenly adding shuttle buses to the busiest routes. Maybe if we keep pushing them, they will bring back those routes they killed on Valencia and other streets that Muni riders miss.

Google to launch ride-sharing service in Bay Area, taking on Uber, Lyft

By Riley McDermid : bizjournals – excerpt

Google will launch its own ride-sharing service this fall in the San Francisco Bay Area, taking on Uber and Lyft, after launching a test pilot program in May, news reports said Tuesday.

Google will connect riders via its traffic and commute-sharing app Waze and will recruit drivers through the app as well, reports the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news.

Google began a pilot program around its Mountain View headquarters in May that enabled thousands of local workers at pre-designated companies to use the Waze navigation app to connect with fellow commuters.

“In the San Francisco pilot, any area Waze user can sign up as a driver, but ridership is limited to roughly 25,000 San Francisco-area employees of several large firms, including Google, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc. Riders are limited to two rides a day—intended to ferry them to and from work,” the paper reports.

“In the planned expansion, anyone with the Waze app in the San Francisco area could sign up to be a rider or driver, the person said. Though Google currently doesn’t take a cut, the company is exploring different rates in Israel and San Francisco, the person said.”…(more)

Google will not need any drivers for long. They will shift to using their driverless cars as soon as they can to reduce their costs. Drivers will be out to lunch for good. Hope they know their days are numbered.