How Uber’s Autonomous Cars Will Destroy 10 Million Jobs And Reshape The Economy by 2025

Commentary By Zack Kanter : cbslocal excerpt – (video)

I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about autonomous cars, and I wanted to summarize my current thoughts and predictions. Most people – experts included – seem to think that the transition to driverless vehicles will come slowly over the coming few decades, and that large hurdles exist for widespread adoption. I believe that this is significant underestimation. Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030, and the sweeping change they bring will eclipse every other innovation our society has experienced.

ALSO READ: 84 Mile Per Gallon Car For Under $7 Grand Is Missing Just One Thing 

They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy, solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent tens of thousands of deaths per year, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries that we cannot even imagine from our current vantage point…

The transition is already beginning to happen. Elon Musk, Tesla Motor’s CEO, says that their 2015 models will be able to self-drive 90 percent of the time.1 And the major automakers aren’t far behind – according to Bloomberg News, GM’s 2017 models will feature “technology that takes control of steering, acceleration and braking at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or in stop-and-go congested traffic.”2 Both Google3 and Tesla4 predict that fully-autonomous cars – what Musk describes as “true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep and wake up at your destination” – will be available to the public by 2020.

More: PureWow’s Guide To Inspiration Highway

Industry experts think that consumers will be slow to purchase autonomous cars – while this may be true, it is a mistake to assume that this will impede the transition. Morgan Stanley’s research shows that cars are driven just 4% of the time,5 which is an astonishing waste considering that the average cost of car ownership is nearly $9,000 per year.6 Next to a house, an automobile is the second most expensive asset that most people will ever buy – it is no surprise that ride sharing services like Uber and car sharing services like Zipcar are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to car ownership. It is now more economical to use a ride sharing service if you live in a city and drive less than 10,000 miles per year.7 The impact on private car ownership is enormous: a UC-Berkeley study showed that vehicle ownership among car sharing users was cut in half.8 The car purchasers of the future will not be you and me – cars will be purchased and operated by ride sharing and car sharing companies.


What San Francisco taught BMW Group about car-sharing

by  Kirsten Korosec : fortune – excerpt

DriveNow CEO Rich Steinberg still sees potential in the U.S. market despite challenges—namely parking—in San Francisco.

There are 900 parking spaces for car-sharing vehicles in San Francisco. And DriveNow, a car-sharing joint venture between BMW Group and Sixt SE, can’t use any of them.

So perhaps it’s no surprise the company decided recently to suspend service effective Nov. 2 in San Francisco, the only U.S. city it was operating in.

“We came to market here because San Francisco makes a lot of sense in terms of car-sharing—in general,” DriveNow USA CEO Rich Steinberg told Fortune. “At the time, we were hoping to work with the city on a parking solution similar to what we have in existence in our European cities.”…

In San Francisco, car-sharing companies must compete with a large variety of transportation options as well as fit within the confines of the city’s parking regulations.

Every organization that participates in San Francisco’s on-street car-sharing parking program is eligible for 150 parking spaces—or about 0.05% of the city’s total on-street parking supply, according to Shaheen… (more)

One more instance of SFMTA picking “sharing” winners and losers. SFMTA creates policies that limit their competition. Is this legal?

Lyft Moves Customer Support Team To Nashville To Combat High-Priced San Fran Market

by Sarah Buhr : Tech Crunch – excerpt

Peer-to-peer ride-sharing startup Lyft informed 20 members of its San Francisco-based customer support team this week it will be relocating them to Nashville, Tennessee.

Lyft is building out its new customer service headquarters in Nashville, where overhead such as rent and salaries are cheaper. It will also help Lyft’s east coast support. The ride-sharing startup is asking customer service reps in San Francisco to work out of the capital of country music, instead.

“As we continue to grow we know we need more space for the employees who support our passengers and drivers,” reads an official statement from Lyft. “We chose Nashville as the home of our newest office because it is a great city with a lower cost of living and a growing talent pool.”

The move is part of a growing trend in Silicon Valley to find cheaper space and lower overhead elsewhere. Average office rent in San Francisco nearly doubled from $30 in 2013 to $70 per square foot today. Compare that to the $18-$22 average per square foot rental price in downtown Nashville.

Uber recently bought and plans to grow out its workforce in the Sears building in Oakland, California and other startups have added customer support and sales operations in areas other than San Francisco for a similar reason. Thumbtack, a peer-to-peer services startup sets its headquarters in San Francisco, but the customer support team operates in Sandy, Utah… (more)

Hillsborough panel may ask state to set Uber, Lyft rules

By Mike Salinero : tbo – excerpt

In San Francisco and Los Angeles, a check of Uber drivers earlier this summer turned up convicted sex offenders, identity thieves, burglars, kidnappers and a murderer. The check was undertaken during a consumer protection lawsuit filed by the two California cities’ district attorneys. San Francisco DA George Gascon said the investigation found “systemic failures” in Uber background checks, according to news reports.

The long-standing battle between Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission and ride-share companies Uber and Lyft could be settled in Tallahassee.

Today, the transportation commission will consider proposing a state law that would allow Uber and Lyft to operate legally in Hillsborough County if they abide by certain requirements. A draft bill will be presented to the county’s legislative delegation Sept. 25 if a majority of commission members agree.

The requirements have all been ignored or refused by Uber and Lyft in the past. They include the following:

♦  Uber and Lyft drivers must undergo federal and state background checks that include fingerprinting.

♦  Drivers must carry personal and liability insurance which covers the drivers when they are carrying passengers.

♦  Vehicles must have annual inspections by a certified mechanic of the driver’s choosing.

Some — not all — Uber and Lyft vehicles must be accessible for wheelchair-bound and blind passengers.

Uber and Lyft are abiding by similar regulations in other metro areas, including New York, Dallas-Fort Worth and Columbus, Ohio, said Kyle Cockream, executive director of the Public Transportation Commission.

“They’re doing vehicle inspections, background checks and they’ve got insurance like we’re asking for,” Cockream said. “They won’t comply in any market until they are compelled to.”… (more)

If these companies can meet these requirements in some cities, they can meet them in all cities.

Taxi Drivers Say SFO Lets Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar Break Airport Rules

By Jeremy Lybarger : sfweekly – excerpt
At a press conference on the steps of City Hall yesterday, The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA), SF Yellow Cab, and Luxor Cab came out swinging against ride-hail apps at SFO.

“Cab companies are not against innovation. We love innovation. What [ride-hail companies] brought to the table is great. What they’re trying to attempt to do is good. We’ve learned from it, too. We have apps,” said Jim Gillespie, President and General Manager of Yellow Cab.

The issue, Gillespie said, is public safety.

Taxis in San Francisco undergo annual vehicle inspections by licensed mechanics, and cab drivers must pass Live Scan background checks and complete taxi and sensitivity training courses.

Ride-hail companies, by contrast, inspect their own vehicles, and the background checks their drivers receive are reportedly so perfunctory that last week San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon filed an amended complaint against Uber, alleging, “We learned of systemic failures in Uber’s background checks. They have drivers who are convicted sex offenders, identity thieves, burglars, kidnappers and a convicted murderer.”

Also at issue, according to taxi drivers, are rampant violations on the part of ride-hail drivers at SFO.

Ride-hail drivers are supposed to wait in the airport’s cell phone lot until a passenger pings them for pick-up, but according to taxi drivers, Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hail companies “troll” the terminal loops and idle curbside, waiting to be hailed. And although SFO claims to have issued $200,000 in citations against ride-hail violators, taxi drivers say the rules are loosely enforced.

To support their point, taxi drivers filmed ride-hail violators at SFO in June. Their video shows apparently empty Uber and Lyft drivers circling the terminals and parking curbside. (The video suggests that while Uber has since updated its app to default to drivers legally parked in the cell phone lot, Lyft and Sidecar have not.)

Stanley Roberts also got in on exposing Uber “cheats” during a “People Behaving Badly” segment last month… (more)

“There just doesn’t seem to be balance in enforcement,” said an independent consultant who works with Yellow Cab… (more)

Uber and the lawlessness of ‘sharing economy’ corporates

By Frank Pasquale and Siva Vaidhyanathan : guardian – excerpt

Companies including Airbnb and Google compare themselves to civil rights heroes, while using their popularity among consumers to nullify federal law.

Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO. ‘Nullifying companies like Uber claim they are striking a blow against regulations they consider “out-of-date” or “anti-innovation” – their major innovation, however, is to undermine local needs and effective governance.’

In February, Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky compared his firm’s defiance of local housing ordinances with that of Gandhi’s passive resistance to British rule. Meanwhile, a tweeter compared Uber to Rosa Parks, defying unjust laws. Chesky quickly backed down after widespread mockery. Companies acting out of self-interest comparing themselves with the noble heroes of civil rights movements is as absurd as it is insulting.

But there is a better analogy from the US civil rights era for law-flouting firms of the on-demand economy. It’s just not the one corporate leaders claim. They are engaged in what we call “corporate nullification”, following in the footsteps of Southern governors and legislatures in the United States who declared themselves free to “nullify” federal law on the basis of strained and opportunistic constitutional interpretation… (more)

Lyft and Uber Won’t Release Data to Shed Light on How They Affect Traffic

by Aaron Bialick : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

As ride-hail services like Lyft and Uber have boomed in San Francisco and other cities, proponents claim they help reduce demand for parking and road space by making it easier for people to own fewer cars. But very little data has been released by the ride-hail companies that would allow experts to assess their impact on streets and traffic…

In a panel discussion yesterday, Lyft’s Curtis Rogers emphasized that reducing car ownership is “our end goal that we think we share with the city.”

But when Thea Selby of the SF Transit Riders Union pressed Rogers for data to show whether Lyft might be substituting for transit trips more than car trips, he said he couldn’t provide it. Rogers insisted, however, that Lyft doesn’t want to compete with Muni, walking, or bicycling. “We think we’re just one more piece to the puzzle.”…

While thousands of ride-hail drivers are estimated to be on city streets every day, Lyft and Uber keep a tight lid on the numbers, usually citing privacy concerns.

Kate Toran, the SFMTA’s director of taxis and accessible services, said that any data submitted by Lyft or Uber to government agencies is “under seal,” meaning it’s not available to the public or city transportation planners.

The lack of data makes it “really challenging to make planning decisions,” said Toran. “Reducing auto dependency is a really great goal, but when there’s no barrier at all to entry for anyone who wants to drive their personal car into San Francisco and make some money, I think that outweighs the numbers of people who are shedding their vehicles. But again, we don’t know.”…

An August study from the University of California Transportation Center [PDF] did shed some light on the use in SF of ride-hail services.

The study said the effects of ride-hail services “on overall vehicle travel are ambiguous,” but that the findings suggest it “has a small but not inconsequential (8%) induced travel effect” of increasing driving.

Researchers conducted 380 surveys at three ride-hail “hot spots” in SF in the spring of 2014. They asked respondents if they would have still made their trips if ride-hail wasn’t available. Of those who would have, only 6 percent said they would have driven instead, while 39 percent would have used a traditional taxi. Twenty-four percent said they would have taken a bus, and 9 percent rail.

In an op-ed in the SF Chronicle last week, SFTRU’s Daniel Sisson wrote that while ride-hail services can be useful, he’s worried their widespread use might reduce the pressure on city officials to improve Muni…  (more)

Where is our App?

By Herman Haluza :  TransporationPerception – excerpt

Recently, I downloaded the MUNI Transit App which tells you, based on location, what time the next bus or underground will come.  It is very sophisticated as you can see the many buses around you and it will precisely tell you how far away it is.  Every mode of transportation on the App is MUNI; however, there is one more: Uber.  There is a space on the app, very visible, that tells you how far away, in time, the closest Uber is and you can press it and it will bring you an Uber.

So I ask, why would Uber be on the MUNI app when they have nothing to do with the TNCs, or do they?  That the taxis are under the MTA, why is not the Yellow App there, as well, telling the customer how far away is the closest Yellow, or, for that matter, even Flywheel?  There is something that we do not know, from my perspective, and I hope such a question is raised at the next MTA Board Meeting.

Not quite sure what SFMTA thinks it is or what it is, but a fair and balanced regulatory system they are not.

The Privatization of Transit

KQED – excerpt – (video)

Private companies are changing the way many of us are getting to work. For years, Google, Facebook and other firms have run shuttle buses that take their employees to and from their campuses. Now startups are getting into the transit business. KQED’s Thuy Vu and Scott Shafer look at the benefits and drawbacks of private transit services.

• Supervisor Scott Wiener, San Francisco Board of Supervisors
• Clarrissa Cabansagan, community planner at TransForm
• Ali Vahabzadeh, founder and CEO of Chariot.. (more)

Question for the Supervisors: How much longer will you be content to campaign for more money for a system that we all know is broken. If money were the answer to fixing Muni, why does throwing more money at it never seem to work? The more you throw the worse it gets.

Car Sharing Programs Need to Share Public Parking Spaces, Say Merchants

By Jessica Zimmer : potreroview – excerpt

As car sharing programs experience an increase in demand, Potrero Hill and Dogpatch merchants are concerned that the public parking spots set aside for the services are negatively impacting their customers and neighborhood traffic. 

In 2013 the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) approved a pilot project that created reserved parking spots for three roundtrip car share programs.  The project extends to 2016, and includes nonprofits City CarShare and Getaround, as well as ZipCar, a for-profit company. Pilot participants pay a monthly $225 fee for each of the reserved spots, are responsible for maintaining the spaces, as well as 25 feet in front of and behind them in lieu of street cleaning crews doing the work, and collect and share data with SFTMA about who uses the reserved spots and how. Car share users are required to bring the vehicles back to the reserved spots…. (more)