Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life

By Nikil Saval : newyorker – excerpt

Uber has become a subsidized alternative to the public-transportation systems that it claims to support.

Last September, Uber rolled out a rebranding campaign. A new television commercial showed car doors being flung open and the young and the old crowding in, flying out, and ending up in a small open-air mercado or at a lake. Though there were a few drivers, the image presented was of ceaseless, liberating mobility for passengers, anywhere in the world. Uber changed its logo, too, to a demure sans-serif display—white against a black background, its only flourish a modest pair of mirrored stems attached to the “U” and the “b.” This was a significant change. Since 2016, the phone app and the stickers that identified Uber-enabled cars had enjoyed an image designed partly by the co-founder and then-C.E.O. Travis Kalanick: a circle bisected with a cord, placed against the background of a colorful tile. When tilted ninety degrees counterclockwise, some design and technology journalists noted, it looked unmistakably like a human bent over and seen from behind.

The era of what has been referred to as Uber’s “asshole” logo happened to coincide with the company’s longest stretch of bad press, including multiple reports of sexual abuse inside the company and by its drivers. In 2017, the company’s investors ousted Kalanick. His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has made considerable efforts to improve the company’s image in advance of a likely I.P.O. this year. Last October, Khosrowshahi, like many corporate leaders, pulled out of a summit held by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, in Riyadh, following the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Uber still benefits from vast infusions of Saudi funding.)… (more)

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Brewing bikeshare battle may threaten SF’s Ford GoBike contract

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Harrison17th

These unpopular GoBikes line 17th Street line in the Mission with private corporate bikes,  removing parking for everyone, including private bike owners. They are blessed by SFMTA’s private deal with Motivate. photo by zrants

It’s not just a bump in the road. The latest conflict between stationless bikeshare companies and San Francisco has seemingly hit a full-on obstacle course.

San Francisco’s transportation agency is preparing to issue its first permit to a competitor of Ford GoBike, potentially threatening a contract between the Bay Area and the $65 billion Ford Motor Company…

Technically, the contract is not with Ford, it is with Motivate, owned and operated by Related. Motivate has an $8 million deal with Ford. See details on that deal or look it up yourself: Holding Company that owns GoBikes

But that permit allegedly runs afoul of an exclusivity contract Ford entered into with The City, along with its administrator of the bikeshare program, Motivate…

Though no entity has formally sued another, the possible threat of legal action from Motivate and Ford has allegedly driven the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to begin a “dispute resolution process” between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Motivate LLC, according to sources with knowledge of the situation…

Though no entity has formally sued another, the possible threat of legal action from Motivate and Ford has allegedly driven the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to begin a “dispute resolution process” between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Motivate LLC, according to sources with knowledge of the situation… (more)

Here we appear to have fight over a yet-to-be-developed market. Where is the research that proves the public is anxious to rent bikes? How many people want to ride bikes who don’t own their own? Why has MTC and SFMTA involved SF voters in a complicated legal battle over a clientele that does not exist in an effort to remove public parking from the streets? Don’t they have a Muni service to run?

Why did the MTC and SFMTA sign exclusive deals (not sure these rise to the level of being legal contracts) with private entities without public knowledge or input? Why were the voters and residents left in the dark until the blue bikes appeared on the street? Do the voters prefer GoBikes and Scoots in their neighborhood or residential parking permits? Think about this as you think about who you want to represent you at City Hall.