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?

Bus operator to dissolve ‘sham’ union, in agreement with Teamsters

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez: sfexaminer – excerpt

Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation will dissolve its “sham” company union and allow local Teamsters to proceed with organizing employees of the bus company.

That’s according to an agreement revealed
by a formal settlement stipulation issued Monday by the National Labor Relations Board’s Local Region 20.

Bauer’s serves a number of local tech companies, including Cisco Systems and game maker Electronic Arts. It shuttles tech workers from San Francisco to corporate headquarters daily.

The Teamsters have unionized many tech shuttle providers, and Bauer’s is the latest in their efforts.

But Bauer’s is also the first of these tech shuttle providers to fight back against the unionization. The San Francisco Examiner was unable to reach Bauer’s, but in past court filings it has denied all allegations.

The settlement will allow the Teamsters to continue those efforts unimpeded by Bauer’s…

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose told the Examiner that agency staff will present a final proposal on labor harmony to the SFMTA board when the shuttle pilot program nears permanency.

“As part of our evaluation of the shuttle pilot,” he said, “we will comply with the Board of Supervisors’ resolution for labor harmony.”

Bloch said the Teamsters were sanctioned to strike, and almost picketed the local Dreamforce conference, which is attended by thousands of conventioneers.

“We could’ve really messed with that convention,” Bloch said… (more)

Chariot Wins First Round Of San Francisco’s Private Transit Battle

By Scott Beyer : forbes – excerpt

San Francisco has become a hotbed for private bus startups, with several smart-phone-oriented services sprouting up in America’s tech capital, including Night School, Leap, Loup, UberPool and Chariot. But given the industry’s infant stages–and the regulatory hell of operating in California–several services have folded, while only one has really stuck. It is Chariot, a bare-bones vanpool company that may prove to be an industry model…

Chariot provides rudimentary vans that get from point A to B. This means that average rides cost only $2.50–compared to the $2.25 MUNI fare, and the $6 Leap fare–and monthly passes cost $93. The service, according to its site, has a 97% on-time rating, compared to 57% for MUNI.

“At the end of the day, a commuter wants to get to work quickly, reliably and affordably,” said Vahabzadeh. “Everything else is a distraction.”

His notion should be applicable to private bus entrepreneurs in other cities. Most commuters may not want luxury rides, per se, but a service that costs about the same as the public option, while performing far better… (more)

Customer service is priceless.

Uber Vs. Taxis: One City’s Incredibly Simple Solution To The Turf War

By Andrew Bender : forbes – excerpt

From coast to coast and overseas, ride share companies like Uber and Lyft are kicking taxi ass, and taxi drivers are urging governments to impose restrictions on them. But this week, the city of Long Beach, Calif. took the opposite tack: encouraging taxis to operate more like ride share companies.

It’s almost too simple. Because fares and other conditions for the taxi trade are regulated by municipalities, operators can’t move with the market on pricing and ease of use. William Rouse, general manager of Long Beach Yellow Cab, the city’s sole licensed taxi operator, blames the decline in taxi ridership on “increased competition from businesses that don’t face the same regulatory burdens.” Read: Uber and Lyft.

On the other hand, says Long Beach’s Mayor Robert Garcia “Uber and Lyft are both popular in Long Beach,” and show no signs of going away. Throughout Long Beach’s county of Los Angeles, locals say that ride sharing is transforming the local travel culture at lightning speed.

So working together with Yellow Cab, the city council of Long Beach (population: 469,000) this week approved a pilot program that removes taxis’ fare floor, allowing Yellow Cab to discount fares as conditions warrant, comparable to ride sharing services’ less expensive fares. The company will also get an ordering app, be allowed to increase its fleet size from 175 to 199 cars, and be permitted to add additional capacity at peak times… (more)

Why own a car when you can share one?

Living car-free or car-light in San Francisco is increasingly easy — and it’s not just thanks to Uber.

Car sharing is quietly spreading throughout the city, allowing people to rent cars by the hour or mile, pick them up at widely dispersed locations, reserve them with a smartphone, and unlock them with a phone or credit card.

“Technological advances are giving people new and convenient ways to get around more freely without having to own a car,” said CalPIRG spokeswoman Diane Forte, whose consumer group recently released a report on the growth of high-tech transportation options nationwide. It found that San Francisco is a national leader in innovative ways to get around town, second only to Austin, Texas.

To support car sharing — and try to reduce car use — San Francisco is experimenting with reserving up to 900 on-street parking spaces sprinkled throughout the city for the exclusive use of car-sharing vehicles. The three companies getting spaces over the two-year pilot program, which is being phased in slowly, are City CarShare, a nonprofit; Avis’ Zipcar, perhaps the best-known service; and Getaround, a “peer-to-peer” service that helps regular people rent their cars to others… (more)

Parking Shared Cars Instead of Private Cars Isn’t Exactly “Privatization”

The SFMTA’s endeavor to reserve on-street car parking spaces for car-share vehicles has yielded complaints from some car owners who, ironically, decry the “privatization” of space currently used to store private cars.

But the greater point that some folks seem to be missing is this: No use of public street space is more “private” than dedicated storage of private individuals’ automobiles. To decry converting comparatively few of these spaces to welcome a much more efficient form of auto storage – making each space useful for dozens of people, rather than one or two – is absurd.

Yet that’s what Calvin and Michelle Welch argue, in flyers they distributed that protest two on-street car-share spaces in the Lower Haight, as Hoodline recently reported. ”It would privatize a shared, currently free, scarce public resource making it available only to paid members of a car share program,” the Welches wrote. (It’s worth noting that Calvin Welch is a longtime activist who opposes the construction of new market-rate housing (more)

The comments on this article are off the rails. We need a serious discussion about the privatization of public property among people who know the legal facts.


50 More On-Street Car-Share Spaces Proposed

by  : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

About 50 on-street car-share parking spaces could be approved at an SFMTA engineering hearing tomorrow. That’s your chance to write in, or show up at City Hall, to support a smart move by the SFMTA: placing car-share vehicles in convenient locations citywide, and putting everyone within easy reach of this alternative to car ownership.

The 50 locations are the first set of 900 on-street car-share spots planned by the SFMTA, following a successful pilot program of 12 spaces around the city. The on-street expansion was originally set to start rolling out last September, but was delayed for unknown reasons. The spaces will be used by City CarShare, Zipcar, and Getaround, and the SFMTA plans to have 450 available by the summer.. (more)

Notice they are started with 12, are adding another 450, and plan on having 900 exclusive spots for car shares.

They are moving them into neighborhoods with upscale restaurants that have valet parking. The SFMTA is taking over the streets for the convenience of “their clients”. How is this not unfair competition?

What is the difference between a car share and a rental? How is a car share better than a rental or leased car? Why should a car share have special privileges?

Fix the MTA: Remember the days before the SFMTA when driving across town and parking was easy? Time to stop them in their tracks and RESTORE TRANSPORTATION BALANCE:


“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there”: SF Supes Hear Harsh Words At Ridesharing Hearing

by – excerpt

“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there”: SF Supes Hear Harsh Words At Ridesharing Hearing

Ridesharing companies that are growing in popularity in San Francisco have had unintended consequences and need to be better regulated, city supervisors were told today at a committee meeting on the issue.

Supervisor Eric Mar called for today’s hearing on businesses like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which match riders to private cars via GPS-based smartphone apps and are defined by the California Public Utilities Commission as “transportation network companies.”

The companies have drawn increased attention from the city after an Uber driver struck and killed 6-year-old Sofia Liu on Polk Street on New Year’s Eve. They have also been sharply criticized by taxi drivers for operating under looser regulations than those required for cab companies and.

Christiane Hayashi, director of taxis and accessibility services for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said the TNCs require less comprehensive background checks than those for taxi drivers and do not provide cities with the number of cars they have out on the streets.

“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there,” Hayashi said. “So many vehicles are competing for business that it’s beginning to get quite dangerous.”… (more)

Partnering with the SFMTA to expand car sharing citywide

blog.getaround.com – excerpt

Getaround is Partnering with the SFMTA to expand car sharing citywide

We’re excited to announce that Getaround is partnering with the City of San Francisco to expand car sharing across the city. As part of this new initiative the City will be assigning up to 450 parking spots for Getaround cars in city-owned garages, surface lots and new reserved street parked spaces.
With more than a thousand Getaround cars already available in San Francisco, this initiative will go far in helping us deliver on our vision; to enable owners everywhere to conveniently share their cars and renters to instantly find, rent, and unlock high-quality cars in their neighborhood — all from a mobile phone.
There are a limited number of parking spaces available. If you’re interested in making your car instantly available on Getaround and would like to apply for a discounted parking spot  – apply now. … (more)

More car shares coming your way, gobbling up street parking. Wonder how far these shared cars will go when it comes to a BART strike or a Muni meltdown or an electrical black out, or a real emergency evacuation.

Mustache Disguise Kit: Rideshare Vehicles Move Undetected Through the City

By Rachel Swan : sfweekly – excerpt

Last Thursday, a Lyft driver squired two women to a Mission District dive, violating at least three rules in the process. “You guys care if I keep this in the back seat?” he asked, dangling the telltale pink mustache that’s supposed to hang from the grille of every Lyft car. Other violations included driving straight ahead from a right-hand turn lane, or when he forgot to fist-bump the passengers, disregarding what local legend says is a mandatory company salutation…
But that’s only one in a litany of fears that the SFMTA presented, two weeks shy of the Sept. 5 date to codify rules for rideshare enterprises (now called Transportation Network Companies)…
With secrecy and selectivity in their systems, rideshares have little incentive to serve the public interest, SFMTA director Edward Reiskin writes in the filing. He and other transit authorities believe that these companies won’t co-exist peacefully with taxis until both groups are held to the same standards…
Yet even those proposed amendments won’t level the playing field. Because start-ups are regulated by the state, rather than by individual cities, they’re not burdened by municipal boundaries. A taxi driver taking someone from San Francisco to Oakland can’t pick up a hail on the way back; a Lyft driver can. To SFMTA Director of Taxis and Accessible Services Christiane Hayashi, that disparity alone makes the whole system unfair.
“Whether or not you put a moral overlay on it,” she writes, “the hard economic fact is that it is driving the professional drivers out of the industry.”… (more)

Lyft Sued for Unfair Competition and Labor Violations (Update)
Lyft’s response: “The lawsuit is without merit and we look forward to resolving it quickly and effectively.”…
The rideshare battles that took place outside City Hall a few weeks ago have now moved, unequivocally, into San Francisco district court…
Now it’s for courts to decide whether that business model truly serves the public interest… (more)