Taxi drivers catch a break from SFMTA

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Fearing unfair competition from Uber and Lyft, The City just cut taxi drivers a break.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve waiving taxi medallion renewal fees for this year, which are $1,000 annually.

“We’re trying to level the playing field,” said Kate Toran, taxi director at the SFMTA… (more)

Uber’s surge pricing backfires during Sydney hostage siege

Jennifer Booton : marketwatch – excerpt

Prices automatically surged as part of ‘peak demand’ policy

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Uber has found itself embroiled in yet another PR disaster: spiking prices as a hostage situation unfolded in Sydney, Australia…

Uber customers have long complained about Uber’s peak demand prices. But this is the first widely-reported instance where the hike has occurred during an emergency situation.

The app is facing extreme backlash from the move, with Twitter user Tyson Armstrong calling it a “shameful disgrace” and others using far harsher expletives. Uber responded to angry tweeters by saying that the surge pricing is automated. The fares, it said, were increased to “encourage more drivers to come online [and] pick up passengers in the area.”.

Uber “does not profit off crises,” it said…  Uber’s ‘surge pricing’ surprises some users: Variable-pricing model increases the rates for rides with the limo-booking service, surprising many New Year’s Eve revelers…(more)

Complaints About Uber Surge Pricing Caused The Better Business Bureau To Give The Company An ‘F’:  On Thursday, Uber received an “F” grade from the Better Business Bureau, the New York Times reports. It’s the lowest rating that the independent organization assigns to businesses… (more)

Uber’s #357 Crosstown L.A. Ride Highlights Controversial ‘Surge Pricing’… It wasn’t snowing; it wasn’t raining; it wasn’t New Year’s Eve. It just happened to be 7pm — not 9pm where most people are prime to go out nor 2 am when bars are closing. There was absolutely no excuse whatsoever to be charged the surge price — not even their “supply and demand” cop-out justification, which falls short in this instance. On a clear night with near-perfect weather and at least 10 Uber vehicles within my proximity at the time of the reservation, there was plenty of “supply.”… (more)

Uber CEO mocks ‘surge pricing’ complaints on Facebook(more)

While the surge pricing during the hostage crisis caught everyone’s eye, we know there are numerous complaints around the world. Send us your surge pricing stories, and copy them to Mayor Ed Lee and the supervisors: https://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-and-comments/san-francisco-officials/
Uber is so good with their computers, I am sure they can send a warning message to their customers during “surge times” to warn people before they accept the “surge price ride.”

Car-sharing firms getting 900 S.F. street parking spaces

Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

As many as 900 street parking spaces – one of San Francisco’s most precious commodities – will be reserved for car-sharing vehicles and leased at discounted rates. The parking program, which will begin in the summer, is a two-year experiment that aims to spread car sharing throughout the city.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved the plan to set aside some of the city’s 281,000 street parking spaces last year but still had to solicit interested companies and negotiate which parking spaces would be reserved for car-sharing vehicles. The agency approved the program after a smaller two-year test, involving a dozen street spaces, was deemed a success… (more)

Taking more public parking off the streets is sure to anger more people. Bring it on. Then ask the voters for more  money. See how well that tactic works. When a regulatory agency competes for business with an industry they regulate there is a problem.

It will be interesting to see how they spin the claims that there are less people circling for fewer parking spaces after removing another 900.

See article below. As usual the facts aren’t clear. One story has 900 on street spots. The other has 400 on and off-street spots. Who knows.

 

RELATED:
Hundreds of SF parking spots could be reserved for car-sharing companies – Car-sharing firms getting 900 S.F. street parking spaces – More than 400 parking spots along city streets and in publicly owned parking garages in neighborhoods across The City could be set aside for use by rental cars operated by car-sharing companies, under a city plan to promote alternatives to private automobiles…(more)

Bixi Bankruptcy Delays Bay Area Bike Share Expansion Until Fall at Best

by : sfstreetsbog – excerpt

The expansion of Bay Area Bike Share into the Mission, the Castro, Hayes Valley, and Mission Bay planned for early this year won’t happen until fall at the soonest, due to the recent bankruptcy of Bixi, the company that supplies hardware and software for several American bike-share systems.

Heath Maddox, the SFMTA’s bike-share program manager, broke the news to an SF County Transportation Authority Board committee this week. He said the expansion would come in the fall “if everything went very well.”

“Our main technology and software provider is actually for sale,” said Maddox. “We should know what becomes of that sale later this month. Hopefully, it’ll be bought by our current operations and maintenance provider [Alta Bicycle Share], and they could just move, without a hitch, and once again fire up production.”

Maddox said after the sale and re-organization is completed, “it takes five to six months to produce the equipment once it’s ordered.”

In response, Supervisor John Avalos, the SFCTA Chair, said the expansion was supposed to have happened “yesterday,” and asked Maddox to “meet offline to talk more about it.”… (more)

When did the SFMTA decide it has the right to compete against all the private industries it regulates? Why is the agency setting up bureaucratic spinoffs that employ non-profits, to set up high tech alternatives to established businesses such as bike rental shops?

You should promote the private bike rentals companies that have been here for decades instead of competing with them, and complaining about the flaws in the bankrupt high tech international system you prefer. This is one of many projects that sucks the lifeblood out of the community.

This is what the CEQA appeal on the tech bus decision is referring to when they claim displacement is a relative, substantial effective of the tech buses that must be examined as part of the CEQA review. In this case the issue is displacement of jobs.

Private bike rental shops cost the city nothing, provide incomes for people in the city who run them, maintain the bikes, insure the bikes, and contribute to the local economy. When the bike rental demand at those rental stores goes up they will purchase more bikes to rent. Drop your high tech expectations and promote a local bike rental system that works.

Uber’s Motion to Dismiss SF Taxi Drivers Suit Defeated

Posted by The Brandi Law Firm Blog – excerpt

On November 20, 2013, Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court rejected Uber Technologies attempts to throw out a suit brought by San Francisco taxi drivers seeking compensation for unfair completion from Uber.  The taxi drivers all drive vehicles that comply with the legal requirements of the CA PUC and SFMTA including one million in insurance per vehicle, police background checks for drivers, and vehicle inspection safety checks.  The drivers contend that Uber competes unfairly in that it has not complied with the regulations for carrying passengers for hire.

In his Order, Judge Goldsmith wrote:
“The Court declines to invoke the doctrine of judicial abstention as to the first cause of action for unfair business practices, fourth cause of action for accounting, and fifth cause of action for declaratory relief.  The instant case is distinguished from Alvarado v. Selma Convalescent Hospital (2007) 153 Cai.App.4th 1292, where the court found judicial abstention appropriate where it was called upon to oversee nursing hour requirements and regulate complex health care matters on a class wide basis involving several classes of health care providers.  The gravamen of this instant case is statutory interpretation with no regulatory or administrative implications… (more)