Could Department of Livable Streets fix SF parking and traffic?

By Matier & Ross  : sfchronicle – excerpt

With the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s parking and traffic management becoming a bigger political issue, plans are being revved up for a City Charter amendment that would hand those jobs to a new Department of Livable Streets.

The MTA board would still hear all parking and traffic matters, but the Board of Supervisors would have the final say over parking rules, stop signs and the like.

“The buck stops with the Board of Supervisors,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, one of the initiative’s sponsors. “I don’t want to be held accountable for something I have absolutely no control over.”..

Safaí cited his frustration over the MTA’s decision to reject a two-year effort by his Excelsior constituents to get a four-way stop sign at the corner of Avalon Avenue and Edinburgh Street — where a pedestrian was later killed.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is co-sponsoring the ballot move, said the final straw for him was hearing that Mayor Ed Lee, with support from the MTA, was negotiating with ride-hailing giants to turn parking spaces into designated pickup stops for Uber and Lyft.

Safaí and Peskin need four more supervisors to sign onto the Charter amendment to get it on the June 5 ballot. They’re confident they’ll get there…(more)

Now we know more details about the proposed SFMTA Charter Amendment and what pushed the supervisors over the edge – lack of response from SFMTA to a citizens’ request, and the privatization of public streets. We have all experienced these problems and been helpless to solve them. The elected Board of Supervisors should be able to get a bit more done to clean up this mess.
If you agree with the plan to put the Charter Amendment on the ballot, let the supervisors and everyone else know. Contacts

RELATED:
Advocates Align to Fight Proposal to Split Muni/SFMTA
The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, and the San Francisco Transit Riders have come out hard against a proposal to split Muni, operator of San Francisco’s buses and trains, from the rest of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which also oversees street design, stoplights, signs, and taxi and parking regulations.
The Board of Supervisors will decide whether to put the amendment on the June, 2018, ballot tomorrow/Tuesday, 2 p.m., at its regularly scheduled meeting.

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Uber Finally Sees Decline in Riders

By Joe Kukura : sfweekly – excerpt

And San Franciscans have made the biggest dent.

For all of Uber’s screw-ups, none of them ever seemed to hit their bottom-line money making. The self-driving cars running red lights didn’t do it. The sexual harassment scandals didn’t do it. The fare manipulation and price gouging schemes didn’t do it.

Maybe it was a combination of all of the above, but something finally did it. According to CNet, Uber has experienced its first-ever decline in readership, according to business travel expense accounting firm Certify… (more)

SB-182 is on the Governor’s desk now to be signed. We need to stop it.

SB-182  would prohibit cities from regulating TNCs by handing regulation of the TNCS over to the state PUC. We just heard today at the SF Supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing that the TNCs are responsible for most of the traffic violations in the SOMA area and the downtown area. We also know that TNCs are responsible for a huge percentage of the vehicle miles traveled in SF and that they spend more time driving around without a passenger than most residents spend in our cars.

PLEASE CALL OF WRITE THE GOVERNOR ASKING HIM TO NOT SIGN SB 182 INTO LAW SO THAT CITIES MAY DEAL WITH THEM.

Links to the governor: Calling the office may be the best way to get the message to him. Email form is on this page:
href=”https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/”>https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov39mail/

Mailing address:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841 
Fax: (916) 558-3160

Details on the bill: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB182

SB-182, Transportation network company: participating drivers: single business license.

The Passenger Charter-party Carriers’ Act authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to regulate charter-party carriers in California, including transportation network companies that provide prearranged transportation services for compensation using an online-enabled application or platform to connect passengers with drivers.

Existing law authorizes the legislative body of an incorporated city and a county board of supervisors to license businesses carried on within their respective jurisdictions and to set licensing fees for those businesses.

This bill would prohibit any local jurisdiction, as defined, that requires a driver, as defined, to obtain a business license, as defined, to operate as a driver for a transportation network company, from requiring that driver to obtain more than a single business license, as specified, regardless of the number of local jurisdictions in which the driver operates.

Local Readers blast their horns about Uber and Lyft

By David Talbot : sfchronicle – excerpt

Tuesday’s column about the flood of Uber and Lyft cars on the streets of San Francisco triggered a tsunami of reader email and social-media outbursts. So I’m turning over today’s platform to my impassioned readers. The public is clearly reaching its tipping point on the out-of-control ride-hailing industry. The last time something like this happened, Airbnb cut a sensible deal with the city. So who knows? The boys-will-be-boys bro-ocracy at Uber might also finally accept some reasonable regulations…

My column also provoked howls from those who thought I was unfair to the ride-hailing corporations. “The reason people take Lyft and Uber is because Muni and taxis suck,” stated Jamey Frank. “Neither are reliable nor convenient, especially for my disabled parents. We take (the TNC) cars rather than climbing down a filthy (Muni) staircase due to a broken escalator and elevator, to a filthy and dark platform and wait a random amount of time for a train. … The MTA’s policy is not solution-based. Instead, they prefer to punish people out of their cars through red lanes, road diets and parking confiscation, creating huge amounts of artificial traffic congestion. But no amount of driver punishment overrides the fact that San Francisco has one of the least reliable, least pleasant transportation systems in the world.”

Speaking of solutions, Philip Macafee proposes a sensible new approach on his website, the Rideshare Justice Project (www.ridesharejustice.org). “The web, mobile devices and GPS location technology offer a great advance in secure, trustworthy and fair transportation,” he writes. “But only if implemented properly. States and municipalities need to step up to the plate by setting standards that blend the benefits of game changing new technology with time proven practices of reinforcing good behavior on the part of workers. (They also need to ensure) fair wages and safety for drivers. And they need to do it before the problem gets worse.”

I like what he’s driving at…(more)

Comments go to dtalbot@sfchronicle.com

SF demands data from Uber, Lyft on city trips, driver bonuses

By Carolyn Said : sfgate – excerpt

It’s a San Francisco truism: Every other car on the streets these days seems to sport a logo for Uber or Lyft — and many double-park or block traffic as passengers climb in or out.

Now the city wants Uber and Lyft to share details on how many ride-hailing cars are roving the streets and when, so it can ensure that they comply with local laws; assess their impact on traffic congestion, safety, pollution and parking; and ascertain whether they are accessible for disabled and low-income riders.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Monday subpoenaed Uber and Lyft to disgorge records on four years of driving practices, disability access and service in San Francisco. The companies have steadfastly declined to share data other than that they have about 45,000 drivers in the Bay Area… (more)

The “Sharing Economy” has lost favor in San Francisco as citizens and politicians now realize the circle of benefactors is very limited.

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Still Need a Lot of Human Help

By Maya Kosoff : vanityfair – excerpt

They can barely go a mile without human intervention, according to leaked documents.

Travis Kalanick has described self-driving technology as “existential” to Uber’s future as a company. But according to recent internal documents obtained by Recode and BuzzFeed News, Uber is still nowhere close to having a fully autonomous vehicle. Recode reports that during the week ending March 8, Uber’s self-driving cars traveled, on average, just 0.8 miles on their own before a human had to take over, in a process known as “disengagement.” That Uber’s cars cannot travel a mile without human intervention does not bode particularly well for a company whose future is predicated on its self-driving technology… (more)

Uber’s Auto-Loan Program Is Basically Indentured Servitude

by Paris Marx : thebolditalic – excerpt

The troubled gig-economy company breaks new ground in exploitation.

Until recently, Uber drivers had to own their own vehicles (10 years old or newer) and pay all their vehicle-related expenses out of their earnings. Yet as Uber has grown, the vehicle requirement has proven to be a major barrier to growing the number of drivers on the platform — at least partly because drivers have an incredibly high turnover rate, a testament to the fact that driving for Uber is generally not very stable or lucrative work. Recently, the company has found a solution: facilitating car loans directly for drivers so they can rent a car from Uber in order to drive for Uber — in effect, paying back the company as it pays them.

Uber’s Subprime Auto Loans

The largest US ride-sharing platform, Uber has been infused with billions of dollars in investment and, as a result, is in rapid growth mode, relentlessly hiring drivers around the country. Getting a driver’s license is a relatively easily learned skill in the United States — hence, finding drivers is not necessarily a problem for Uber; rather, finding drivers who own cars that meet Uber’s vehicle requirement is. Thus, over the past few years, Uber has made a number of deals to experiment with offering vehicle leases to drivers before finally launching its own auto-loan company, Xchange Leasing, in 2015 to offer subprime loans to drivers. “Subprime,” in finance speak, refers to the credit status of the lessee: “prime” borrowers are desirable ones with a high probability of paying back loans on time, whereas “subprime” borrowers are less than optimal for banks — and hence usually suffer higher premiums, interest rates and more predatory contracts to make up for their undesirability as clients… (more)

This looks like the perfect Ponzi scheme. Use investor’s money to multiply your investments. In this case, invest in cars, mark them up and lease them to your “contractors” at a profit. How long before the ‘contractors” pull out or go on strike and leave Uber holding the debt?

RELATED:
Naked Capitalism has published a five-part series on the economics of Uber… t sheds light on the lack of profitability in the current business model, and how fares are subsidized with billions in losses and VC money to try to achieve a monopoly position.

In Video, Uber CEO Argues With Driver Over Falling Fares

by Eric Newcomer : bloomberg – excerpt (includes video)

Travis Kalanick tells a driver to take responsibility for his problems and boasts about a tough culture.

When Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick takes an Uber, he prefers a black car, the high-end service his company introduced in 2010. On this particular night in early February—Super Bowl Sunday—Kalanick is perched in the middle seat, flanked by two female friends. Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know” plays, and Kalanick shimmies. He clutches his smartphone as the three make awkward conversation. The two women ask when his birthday is, and marvel that he’s a Leo. One of his companions appears to say, somewhat inaudibly, that she’s heard that Uber is having a hard year. Kalanick retorts, “I make sure every year is a hard year.” He continues, “That’s kind of how I roll. I make sure every year is a hard year. If it’s easy I’m not pushing hard enough.”… (more)

RELATED:
Uber CEO defends Trump relationship to employees – Uber’s CEO drove home a simple message to employees this week: We must work with President Trump… (includes video)

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)

Video shows Uber’s self-driving cars running red lights

Just hours after Uber began operating self-driving cars in San Francisco, at least two incidents of the vehicles running red lights have lead to the suspension of the drivers in the cars and renewed pressure from the DMV.

https://youtu.be/_CdJ4oae8f4

You can see one of those incidents… Uber quickly put out a statement saying the lapses in road safety were due to human error and had suspended the two drivers in the vehicles at the time…

One self-driving car caught another one running 2 red lights in a row. It appears that the car did not stop until it reached stopped traffic. To me the light appeared to be yellow for four seconds before turning red. That is pretty short notice for drivers on a major street like Third Street to stop. The first light appears to be a pedestrian walk-way and not an intersection. That, along with the short yellow light timing, may have confused the car. Correct me if I am wrong. That is what I am observing.

“These incidents were due to human error. This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers,” the statement said. “The drivers involved have been suspended while we continue to investigate.”

That’s right. Blame the humans no the machines you are testing. How do they know who is to blame? California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) doesn’t care. Hours after launching the program, they suspends driverless tests claiming Uber lacks a testing permit. Would this be under the watchful eye of the Caltrans CTCDC Commissioners? One could certainly find out and file a complaint.

In a separate instance, former San Francisco Business Times tech reporter Annie Gaus tweeted photos of an Uber running through an intersection at a red light, nearly colliding with a Lyft she was riding in.

“The Uber car sort of jutted out into the intersection,” Gaus told the Guardian.“It was close enough that we were both kind of like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s close enough that you kind of react and are sort of rattled.”… (more)

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