Carpool cash doled out to slash traffic

By Samantha Weigel : smdailyjournal – excerpt

In the ongoing effort to reduce congestion in a region where nearly 70 percent of people drive to work alone, $1 million will be offered to those who carpool to or from San Mateo County

The City/County Association of Governments announced a new pilot program this week that plugs in to the proliferation of smartphone apps and the rise of the sharing economy.

C/CAG will help subsidize carpooling for those who live or work in San Mateo County by offering $2 for both drivers and passengers traveling during peak commute hours. The program began last week for those using Scoop Technologies’ smartphone app and another contract is being drafted for Waze Carpool, said C/CAG Executive Director Sandy Wong.

“We want to try out more innovative strategies to reduce congestion,” Wong said. “We capture the new trend in the sharing society, and are using new technology of the app that provides users a more real time base.”

The app matches people who live and work near one another, with people booking rides just a few hours in advance. Passengers pay a distance-based amount to the driver. Scoop touts its app as a way to save time by steering people toward the carpool lane, reducing traffic and helping commuters save money… (more)

Car Sharing Likely to Expand this Year

by potreroview – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) will consider expanding on-street parking for car share companies when its board of directors meets in March.  San Francisco may be the only U.S. city in which public transportation, parking and taxi medallions are all governed by one agency.

As part of a pilot program, started in 2013 set to expire this year, SFMTA rents 205 curbside spaces to Zip Car, Getaround and City CarShare. At pilot launch the agency declared that car sharing met several SFMTA goals, notably a reduction in the number of vehicles in the City, which results in improved parking management and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

At the time, SFMTA compiled a list of 900 on-street spaces for possible car shares.  However, Andy Thornley, who heads the program, said that he doesn’t believe the program will expand that drastically. Thornley, who indicated that his team would be recommend enlarging the initiative, stated that the exact number of additional car share space is yet to be determined, and that, even if the board approves expansion, taking additional parking spaces from general use will require public outreach...

“It’s the worst thing that’s happened to businesses here,” bemoaned Khaled Ghanma, who owns All States Best Foods across the street. Many of his customers come by automobile.  According to Ghanma, library patrons often double park when making drop-offs, a situation he called dangerous.

Kayren Hudiburgh, who owns nearby The Good Life Grocery, shared the sentiment. “I don’t think they should be taking parking on the street,” she said. “They are taking two prime spots for customers. If customers can’t find parking, they go on by and find somewhere else to shop. It’s hurting small businesses.” She wondered why an arrangement couldn’t be made with the nearby College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which has a parking lot...

Since implementing the pilot program SFMTA has learned a few things about where spots work best. Putting them at the front or end of blocks helps people who don’t frequently drive park more easily(more)

Drivers who don’t own and drive their own cars are the most dangerous on the road. If they have trouble parallel parking, how safe are they driving unfamiliar vehicles when dealing with constant changes on the roads and pedestrians and cyclists who think it is the driver’s responsibility to avoid hitting them?

FlightCar is grounded — San Francisco startup announces it’s shutting down

By : siliconbeat -excerpt

FlightCar is no more.

The San Francisco startup, which provided an Airbnb-type solution to exorbitant airport parking costs, announced on Thursday it’s shutting its doors.

The platform allowed users to rent their cars to strangers while they traveled, thereby getting out of paying for airport parking. But a short note on the company’s website says it will be closing its doors in all 12 of its operating locations within the next few weeks.

“We believe that people around the world can be more self-reliant by sharing their resources to improve society, and we truly appreciate the community that came together to share and rent each others’ unique cars,” the company wrote. “We thank all of our customers for being a part of our journey, and we look forward to a new future.”…(more)

SFMTA board expands locations for car share vehicles

: sfexaminer – excerpt

Despite dissenting voices from several San Francisco residents, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board members on Tuesday approved 25 new curbside locations across The City which only permitted car share vehicles can occupy.

The vote expands the transit agency’s on-street car share pilot program from its original 12 spaces citywide. Under the program, the curbside locations will be tow-away zones for all but permitted car share vehicles.

Three car sharing companies – City CarShare, Zipcar and Getaround – qualified to participate in the two-year pilot program and have together already requested 450 of 900 parking spaces available. San Francisco has 275,450 spaces on its streets, according to a citywide parking census released in May…

Zipcar relocated 90 percent of its spots where neighbors raised concerns about losing parking, said Jonathan Tyburski, representing the company…

“The City sounds like it’s selling curb to private business. I understand that concern and I would be very resentful of that, but to remind you this is a pilot,” he said. “SFMTA believes there is many public benefits to car sharing.”… (more)

Decisions to “take” public space for private use has angered many residents and merchants who are signing up to support The Restore Transportation Balance initiative. Join us and let the voters have the last word on these matters in Novembers: http://www.restorebalance14.org/

If you object to privatization and commercialization of public property:

 

  • Contact the supervisors and representatives on the MTA CAC and request that they address this matter.
  • Contact the media and let them know how this effects your life and businesses.
  • Let the “sharing companies” know that you will not support them until they relinquish the parking on public streets.
  • Contact legitimate car rental companies and find out how this policy effects them.
  • Ask local businesses how public  parking removal effects them.

 

Renting isn’t sharing

Share conference outlines the possibilities and pitfalls for a new economy at the crossroads.

Last week’s two-day Share conference in San Francisco came at an auspicious moment for companies that define themselves as part of the new “sharing economy,” which ranges from peer-to-peer services and products brokered online to various cooperative ventures designed to minimize resource consumption…

Most of these growing companies are part of San Francisco’s technology industry, using web-based interfaces to conduct their economic transactions. And some have been making local enemies and headlines recently by disrupting key aspects of urban life, from Airbnb impacting the housing and hotel markets to Lyft and Uber upending the taxi industry.

In fact, the biggest battle brewing at City Hall these days is over widely watched legislation by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to regulate and legalize the short-term rentals facilitated by Airbnb and similar companies. And state agencies based in San Francisco are now working on regulations that would affect Lyft and its ilk…

CHIU DECLARES WAR…

“I believe we are becoming the capital of the sharing economy,” Chiu said, citing examples of San Francisco’s “ethos of sharing” that include the Summer of Love, Burning Man, and the fact that “we are a community that wants to foster trust among strangers to build what I think is one of the most amazing cities in the entire world. But we’re also a city that is expensive. The rent is too damn high.”…

“Shareable housing has both helped and exacerbated our housing crisis,” Chiu said, describing how he spent more than a year working on legislation that would regulate and legalize short-term housing rentals in San Francisco, where they are now considered illegal “hotel conversions” (see “Into thin air,” 8/6/13, and dozens of other Guardian stories and blog posts on the issue).

Chiu’s legislation would require Airbnb hosts to register with the city, rent out only their primary residence, and occupy that space for at least 275 days per year (which Chiu has said limits Airbnb hosts to just 90 rental nights per year, although critics dispute that interpretation)… (more)

We applaud this article covering a subject that needs a lot more discussion, but why were the SFMTA and their vehicle sharing ventures omitted from the discussion. The SFMTA is setting up public private partnerships with BMW and others, that include  plans to “take” public parking from public use and hand it over to “selected” private partners.

Privatization and commercialization of public property has not gone unnoticed.

There are a number of voter efforts gearing up to strip the autonomous  powers from the SFMTA, but so far only one has gotten to the critical stage of gathering signatures for the November ballot. If you are one of many who feel that all car shares are rentals and the public streets belong to everyone, you may want to let the Supervisors know and sign the Restore Transformation Balance Initiative to put the matter to the voters in November.
Details are here: http://www.restorebalance14.org/

Lawsuit could mandate local control for Lyft, UberX, and SideCar

By Tim Redmond : 48hillsonline – excerpt

A taxi association has filed a pair of legal appeals that could directly undermine the state’s decision to allow companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar to pick up passengers in San Francisco.

The case has received very little press attention, but it could upend a key part of the “sharing economy” in the city and force companies that are trying to act as unregulated cabs to curtail their operations – at least for now — or subject themselves to local regulation.

In San Francisco, that could mean seeking taxi permits, adopting stricter driver-screening and training rules, accepting rate regulation, and allowing passengers to complain to the Taxi Commission about service problems.

Among other things, the two legal filings argue that the California Public Utilities Commission had no right to legalize the ride-share companies without a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The claims also suggest that the state agency undermined the ability of local government to regulate the cab industry… (more)

A big a question that has not been answered or discussed much is when is “how does one differentiate between a rental and a share?” This applies to more than taxi and ride shares. How are SFMTA car and bike shares not rentals when there is an exchange of funds between two parties and the charge of use of the vehicle is based on how long it is used? How are they not competing against traditional car rental companies?

Honking Cab Drivers Demand San Francisco Ban On Ridesharing Services

by Sasha Lekach, : sfappeal – excerpt

With horns blaring, a long line of taxicabs circled San Francisco City Hall this afternoon, with cab drivers demanding that the city ban smartphone-enabled rideshare services.
As their colleagues circled the block, dozens of taxi drivers gathered on the steps of City Hall to call for the regulation of rideshare companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and Uber.
One of the rally’s organizers, Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, called the startup companies “unfair competition.”
He said, “legal cabs are getting screwed,” citing a large drop in taxi ridership since the companies began operating.
The taxi drivers are asking city officials and the California Public Utilities Commission to step in… (more)