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    Not that many of the uber/lyft drivers are former cab drivers. They exist, but I find one optimistically 10% of trips. Far too often I get someone who barely knows there way around the city.



    South Van Ness just got painted limit lines, and strange bulbout like regions at 20th, 21st and 22nd. Maybe other intersections too.

    Both the bulbouts and the limit lines are painted with 1′ wide white thermoplastic. Also, the bulbouts only seem to be on one corner per intersection.

    Obviously I’m pretty confused. Is this a new treatment?



    The data *is* being released; it’s just not being released to municipal officials. Re-read this part of the article more closely:

    “Kate Toran, the SFMTA’s director of taxis and accessible services, said that any data submitted by Lyft or Uber to government agencies is ‘under seal,’ meaning it’s not available to the public or city transportation planners.”

    Uber and Lyft are regulated at the *state* level by the Public Utility Commission, as is every other ground transportation company in the state. In accordance with state law, TNCs have to supply the CPUC with a VAST amount of data of all types, including detailed trip data. Taxi companies have long had to provide these same types of data sets with the agency, and TNCs must as well. When Uber *attempted* to wiggle out of providing the data last year, an administrative law judge threatened to hold the entire company in *contempt* AND revoke their operating license! (Needless to say, they quickly backtracked.)

    In any event, it’s the CPUC’s call whether to require TNCs to supply data to cities as well as themselves, and for whatever reason they’ve elected not to.



    “They’re operating illegally in a number of ways in many international jurisdictions.”

    Uber is up and running in 57 COUNTRIES. They’ve encountered regulatory challenges in FOUR. Even if you stretch the word “many” to its utmost limit, it still doesn’t work.

    “I’d be willing to bet…”

    Translation: you’re making wild-ass guesses based on *no* actual proof.

    “There’s just *no way* that they would be valued at $50B if that was their primary business model.”

    Please. Snapchat is valued at nearly $20B – and they have NO REVENUE WHATSOEVER. Uber, in contrast, provides over a MILLION rides PER DAY, and takes a 20% commission from each. In any event, attempting to divine the valuation methodologies of Silicon Valley VC firms is a fool’s errand, seeing as there is *no* real logic behind it.

    “they’re just refusing to share it with regulators. Did you read the article? The headline, even?”

    Yes, but *you* appear to have missed the part that their trip data IS shared with STATE agencies — specifically, the California Public Utility Commission, which regulates all ground transportation in the state — to ascertain both their impact on traffic levels and to ensure that they are not engaging in “redlining” (in a nutshell, refusing service to racial minorities). Yes, this information is under seal and not shared with the SFMTA or any other city-level agency, but it IS in the hands of the primary arbiter of ground transport in the state.

    “There’s a reason why the number of taxis licensed to be on the road is regulated by basically every major city in the western word”

    Indeed there is, but it has absolutely *nothing* to do with ANY of the four reasons you cited. Taxis were originally regulated as a means of consumer protection, but much like, say, the Teamsters, good intentions eventually transmogrified into corruption, graft, and forgetting the entire *point* of why they were instituted in the first place. The *only* city that heavily regulates taxis on an environmental basis is NYC; all new taxi vehicles put into service must be chosen from a list consisting entirely of hybrid vehicles.

    “You did get at least one thing right – I do want to ‘slam the “sharing economy”‘ because it’s a sham. There is no ‘sharing’ here, it’s selling.”

    Actually, I completely agree. I don’t know who coined this ridiculous term, but “sharing economy” is total bullshit. And no, I haven’t been “fooled” by anyone, and I’m certainly not a “paid shill.” I happen to be an analyst (no, not in the financial sector), and one of the areas I cover is TNCs; that’s explicitly why I know most of what’s being said about them is total bullshit.

    The stupidest part is that there are plenty of REAL reasons to criticize them! Not one of the TNCs offers workers’ comp insurance. Not one of them offers drivers anything other than liability insurance; if they’re in a wreck on the job, they can only hope and pray that their employer will cover collision/repair costs. Uber has one of the fastest burn rates (the rate at which their VC funding is spent) of any startup in GLOBAL HISTORY, despite the fact that the main *point* of their business model is ostensibly the fact that it’s supposed to be extremely low-overhead. There’s been virtually *no* analysis in the media of the fact that they’re gearing up to go head-to-head with Google in the self-driving car space, and that EVERY indicator points to Google beating the living shit out of them in it! Uber’s valuation means virtually nothing considering the amount of ACTUAL LIQUID CAPITAL Google can readily access. Then there’s the not-so-small fact that Google has perfected GPS-based mapping AND self-driving cars, and the *only* major attempt to compete with them on that score — when Apple replaced Google Maps on iPhones with its homegrown system — turned out to be one of THE biggest flops/epic-fails in Apple’s post-2000 history (and one of the *only* such flops).

    I’ll stop here, but I’ll conclude merely by noting that California already has *the* strictest air regulations in the *world*, and as such all cars sold in the state today have virtually nonexistent emissions. That goes doubly so for hybrids, which in California comprise the majority of TNC fleets across the state. Pollution is thus not a terribly strong argument with which to attack Uber or any other TNC, and in terms of larger importance, California has VASTLY BIGGER problems (like, oh, running out of water and stuff).



    There is a vast world of difference between “making end runs around existing laws” and the fact that no existing laws *fit* their service offerings. Moreover, in EVERY completed case to date, city and/or state officials have AGREED with Uber and Lyft that they do not fit extant definitions for any means of ground transportation, and thus the passage of new ordinances and statutes regulating them *is*, in fact, necessary.

    Furthermore, your mafia comparison is patently absurd. Mafia companies are mostly fronts for money-laundering operations. Uber and Lyft … provide inexpensive car services! Oh, the horror!! They are not “deceiving” anyone with anything, nor have they been accused of such (except by self-interested taxi interests and conspiracy-theorist lunatics).



    The point is, they need to RELEASE data to be independently analyzed by regulators, researchers, etc. Lyft making a powerpoint with some claims about service is not the same thing as actually releasing data. You really can’t trust anything that they say after all (example: “we’re not taxis we’re ridesharing”)



    A – They’re operating illegally in a number of ways in many international jurisdictions. The jury is (literally) out on some issues, but these companies are breaking many, many traffic, labor, and regulatory laws.

    B – I read it, and I’m aware they offer various services. None of them operate, for the vast majority of their operations, as ‘rideshare’. That is, sharing rides that would otherwise be made. It’s really simple. I’d be willing to bet that greater that 75% of Uber trips do not count as ‘ridesharing’ under the definition of a trip that would otherwise be made by an individual. There’s just *no way* that they would be valued at $50B if that was their primary business model.

    And there is *plenty* of information on how these companies are increasing congestion and putting more cars on the road, they’re just refusing to share it with regulators. Did you read the article? The headline, even?

    There’s a reason why the number of taxis licensed to be on the road is regulated by basically every major city in the western word: because cars-for-hire place an increased burden on infrastructure than a private car, cause congestion by circling around waiting on fares, therefore also cause quite a bit of air pollution, and need to be regulated and kept track of for safety / training purposes.

    You did get at least one thing right – I do want to ‘slam the “sharing economy”‘ because it’s a sham. There is no ‘sharing’ here, it’s selling. These guys have fooled you. Uber / Lyft’s claim that they take cars off the road is greenwashing a greedy, middle-man, fuck the rules business plan. You seem like an apologist for these companies, though not to the extent that I suspect you’re one of their many paid shills…



    Lyft in the Android Play store:

    “Lyft — Taxi and Bus Alternative”

    They don’t even claim to be “ridesharing” anymore!



    They all have “U” stickers. And Lyft cars have the pink mustaches.



    Very good point.


    Andy Chow

    With the taxi model at least they have lower turnover rates than the TNCs. People who drive cabs generally have to obtain a permit just to drive. Even though the cost of taxi is high. Drivers often have their own associations to push back against some of the policies, and it is in the company’s interest that drivers get paid enough not to leave driving taxis.

    TNCs take advantage of people who are looking for temporary work in between jobs. The pay is not secure and steady enough to be a full time employment substitute. This is why they’re spending a lot of money on ads to recruit drivers, and why TNCs drivers are in a poor position to form their own association to increase their compensation.


    Andy Chow

    No I am not in the taxi business.


    Andy Chow

    And their over-reliance on GPS.


    Andy Chow

    Those TNCs get their regulations by making end runs around existing laws… keep running those illegal cabs until someone makes them legal. This is how the mafias conduct business.

    There are other companies out there, employers, and even government agencies, that will help arrange legitimate carpools or vanpools, they never have to pretend to be something else, or that somehow they need to keep information private because of competition.



    Yes, the final nail in the gentrification coffin was the day that both Cala/Bells in D8 turned into a Whole Foods and a Mollie’s. Bring back shitty groceries and chase out the techies!



    Presumes I know the vehicle is an Uber.


    Andy Chow

    If the system is closed to the unbanked/poor credit, then you essentially filter out those potential bad customers.



    It hasn’t been Cala Foods in years. It’s a Mollie Stone’s now.



    You can give them to Uber! I’ve done it on several occasions when I’ve seen drivers pull exceptionally dangerous maneuvers, and one of them was terminated as a result (though he apparently already had a bunch of complaints prior to mine).



    Is that “license plate” tied to their Uber rating somehow? No. The only group I can give a license plate number to complain about a bad driver is the SFPD. Fat lot of good that does.



    Just to clarify (and avoid further nitpicking), Lyft’s ride-request-acceptance percentages are roughly the same in EVERY SF neighborhood: 96% to 98%. Ditto most of the East Bay.



    “Lyft drivers pick up a roughly equal percentage of ride requests in the areas with the highest levels of poverty (e.g. Hayes Valley, the Mission and Tenderloin) vs. the lowest levels (Yerba Buena, Pacific Heights, etc.).”

    First of all, those three neighborhoods are full of residents who are not impoverished, the low end of pac heights is the same person as high end of mission. Rejected ride requests for Uber vs taxis in far-out areas like outer sunset/richmond and actually poor areas like Bayview would be more telling.



    (Andy is in the taxi business but shhh…)



    I’m *always* amazed at the number of people who think Uber is roughly on par with Satan, and yet think taxi companies and public-transit agencies are veritable saints. It’s pretty clear you know very little about the taxi business nationwide, otherwise you’d be comparing *them* to the mafia. For literally decades now, taxi franchises have maintained their de facto monopolies through a combination of political patronage and bullying tactics (much like the crap they pull every time Uber or Lyft enters a new market). With *very* few exceptions, taxi franchises have been among the biggest campaign donors in municipal elections for the past 40-50 years.

    Almost without exception, the owners of taxi franchises in every top-20 market are millionaires — this while a) charging their drivers usurious “daily lease prices,” in some cases for the sole purpose of leasing a *license number* for the day; and b) providing absolutely ZERO benefits for said drivers. Uber’s in the news almost daily for its use of independent contractors, but how many of you know that 98% of American taxi drivers are not only ICs, but have been so for decades now? Or that a substantial majority nationwide don’t even *start* to make a net profit for the day (given the expenses of gas and daily “lease” rates as high as $180) until they’ve worked a *minimum* of 9-10 hours? Or that most cities allow taxi franchises to “self-insure,” which is a euphemism for having no formal insurance whatsoever? (let alone the full-time commercial coverage most people falsely believe taxis have)

    I’m certainly not defending many of Uber’s business practices, but the alternatives are 100x *worse*. They’re simply lesser-known because nearly all taxi companies are local and intentionally keep low profiles (mainly to keep their business practices obfuscated), whereas Uber has possibly the biggest target on its back of any tech company since Napster, thanks to both its (absurd) valuation and various shenanigans.


    Nicasio Nakamine

    This rings true to me. I’m probably just more aware of Taxis because of their markings and can react accordingly.



    SF is more of a unique case, and arguably more akin to NYC versus L.A. in this context. Even *one-car* households are rare in NYC (IIRC vehicle ownership is around 8%, and that’s *including* the outer boroughs), and I’m sure there are vastly more SF households with one car versus two.

    In any event, I have plenty of friends in other cities who’ve experienced similar phenomena to what Alex describes above. While no solitary method of transit covers every base, a combo of rail / bus / ride-hailing / Zipcar/Car2go / bike-rental kiosks has made it vastly more feasible to altogether forego individual car ownership.



    Every Uber car has an exterior form of ID. It’s a newfangled gizmo called a “license plate.”



    A few comments:

    1) TNCs do release *some* data, as mandated by state law, and much of it is available on the CPUC’s website. I have a copy of a PowerPoint presentation given to their TNC board earlier this year (which I’d upload, except you can’t do that via Disqus). It says, among other things, that very much UNLIKE taxis — which routinely avoid “bad” areas of any given city, including refusing to take passengers there (which is against municipal law in virtually every U.S. city) — Lyft drivers pick up a roughly equal percentage of ride requests in the areas with the highest levels of poverty (e.g. Hayes Valley, the Mission and Tenderloin) vs. the lowest levels (Yerba Buena, Pacific Heights, etc.).

    2) The point about 25% of Lyft trips on the Peninsula going to Caltrain stops is a salient one, and it reinforces what transportation experts in other cities have already noticed: people are engaging in multimodal transit in substantially larger numbers than pre-Uber/Lyft. This is even *more* true in areas other than SF where public transit options are far more lacking. Instead of, say, driving point-to-point from their home to their office, a person might ride their bike to a suburban rail stop; take a train into a central-city area; and then get an Uber or Lyft ride the rest of the way. This phenomenon was far less common before because taxis are so broadly unreliable outside of the densest cities, whereas 99% of Uber/Lyft downtown pickups (regardless of city) arrive in under five minutes.

    3) This is far less applicable in SF than, say, Dallas or L.A., but Uber and Lyft have already had a substantial impact on reducing drunk driving. DUIs and late-night alcohol-related collisions have declined as much as 20% or more in southern and southwestern cities in particular, where public transit is nonexistent at night and taxis are nearly impossible to obtain on an average Friday or Saturday night.

    In any event, I think you can make a strong argument that as a matter of public policy, the urban-American populace is quite a bit better off with ride-hailing than without. Yes, it still has its problems, e.g. newbie drivers not knowing how to correctly pull over, and yes, Uber will probably be everyone’s favorite punching bag for the foreseeable future, but at the same time it’s not that difficult to see the kind of impact ride-hailing and multimodal transit will have in the longer term (10-20 years out) — and that this impact will be of critical importance given anticipated population increases both in California and throughout most of the southern part of the U.S.



    McDonalds Hamburgers vs Kobe Beef? You have just compared two things that are the same in all relevant matters other than for the person consuming the actual meat product.

    Maybe that was your point. Uber is more comfortable to ride in than a Taxi, and more convenient to hail than a taxi, but if you aren’t actually the rider, both taxis and uber are very bad for you.



    How about being able to give the driver a low rating by noting some sort of Uber ID on the car from outside? “This Uber driver almost ran me over!”

    Of course, Uber would just scrub those away.



    This is because when you see a taxi, your flight mechanism kicks in. It doesn’t happen with an Uber because you don’t recognize it as quickly.



    Same concept applies. If there were no Uber or Lyft, would those households end up going to one car? Once you cross that Rubicon, the die is cast, you make more single occupant trips.



    Riiiiiiight. You realize most Uber and Lyft drivers are former taxi drivers, right? The only reason taxis might “seem” “safer” is because 75% of them have been eliminated! (in SF)



    Does *anyone* on here bother to read?? Yes, UberX and Lyft are “taxi-like.” That doesn’t change the fact that Lyft generates half of its revenue from its Lyft Line carpooling service, and Uber was in the town car business (with officially licensed, suit-wearing chauffeurs driving black luxury sedans) *years* before launching UberX. (Nor does it change the fact that taxis and TNCs are regulated entirely separately under both municipal and state law — and, in California’s case, under the CPUC’s agency regulations.)

    To better illustrate via your example: the comparison between UberX and UberBlack is more like McDonald’s hamburger beef versus Kobe steak than dairy vs. beef cattle.



    I agree it’s a real issue. Drivers fear a low rating (which can lead to being banned from the service) from passengers if they don’t pick up/drop off at the exact spot passengers want, so they stop anywhere without regard for other users of the street. Part of the solution, as TNCs become more popular, is to have more loading zones, along with actual enforcement to ensure that loading zones are kept clear for actual loading rather than parking. The apps can even know where these loading zones are and direct passengers to them.


    Nicasio Nakamine

    ^THIS 100%.

    I would have never thought I would say it, but Taxis have become the safe and predictable vehicles on the road. TNC cars are wild and are liable move anywhere. It’s a real nightmare situation.


    Nicasio Nakamine

    Taxis and TNC’s are different in the way dairy cattle are different from beef cattle (barely different).


    Alex Brideau III

    I’m with you on this. We live in a very transit-friendly location in Los Angeles (not as rare as they once were!) and we have direct access to several Metro lines, half a dozen Zipcars, and of course, the usual gamut of Ubers, Lyfts, and Sidecars. Since moving here, we went from 2 cars to 1 car and our remaining car has been rented out for the last few months using Flightcar. And while we have several options for discretionary car usage nearby, having a car in our full-time possession makes us just that more likely to use it.

    In a car-centric city like LA, I’ve found that each element of the above makes it easier to live carfree. The combination of convenient access to transit, Zipcar, and ride-hailing are all elements that convinced our household to ditch the car. Remove one or more of those elements, and car-free living is no doubt still possible, but becomes less desirable and thus less likely to woo over those on the fence of going carfree.



    But how many 2-car households are there really in SF? And how many people with 0 cars take Uber and Lyft all the time? I know many of the latter…


    sebra leaves

    It doesn’t take an expensive study or any data from the “ride shares” to figure out that they are not replacing cars. THEY ARE CARS. And where do you think the parking valets are parking those cars? They are probably just driving them around until the owner wants them back.



    I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken on multiple counts. First, they’re not “illegal taxi companies.” Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are regulated by the CPUC as “transportation network companies,” an altogether different category than taxis. Furthermore, the CA legislature has already passed a number of statutes specific to TNCs.

    Second, did you actually *read* the article? I’m asking because it sounds like you’re under the false impression that Uber & Lyft only have one product. (Well, that and it sounds like you merely wanted to slam the “sharing economy.”) In reality, both Uber and Lyft *do* have actual “ridesharing” programs, in the form of carpooling from outer suburbs. These services are entirely separate from UberX and Lyft’s standard car service. There may not be any available data on them yet — both services are fairly new, and neither was around when UC released its TNC report last year — but it should be stating the obvious that drivers using UberPool and Lyft Line who carpool with even *one* passenger, let alone three or four, are tangibly reducing car traffic assuming the passengers would have otherwise driven themselves into the city.



    Yeah that rang false to me too. There’s an argument for Zipcar reducing ownership, but not Lyft. And your second point is spot-on.



    Anecdotally, I used to fear taxis when biking / running, but Uber and Lyft drivers are SO MUCH worse. Zero training on how or where to pull over, poor knowledge of city streets, and the aggression you noted are a toxic brew.



    It’s really simple. If Lyft / Uber work the way the (disingenuously) claim to (as ‘sharing’ a ride when you’re already going somewhere), they will reduce traffic.

    But if they’re actually illegal taxi companies adding hundreds or thousands of vehicles to the street, circling around looking for fares, then they will result in increased congestion and pollution.

    Simple answer – the ‘sharing economy’ is a big lie.



    I’m not sure I agree.

    Let’s say a household in SF has 2 cars – because there are a handful of situations where they “need” 2 cars, perhaps one partner normally takes MUNI to work, but occasionally has to go on business to Sacramento. The car is normally at home for situations where the other partner occasionally shuttles a child to somewhere inaccessible by transit. For example.

    So they have 2 cars. My experience is that simply owning that second car induces more trips. Before I sold “my” car, I would occasionally take some car trip I really didn’t need just because it was simple. Maybe I would go to Safeway up in Diamond Heights to get groceries instead of walking to Cala Foods in the Castro, because I just hated that Cala. Without the car, I always walked to Cala.

    Now – back to the original example. Uber can resolve those situations where access to a vehicle solves some outlier problem. Knowing that, it’s easier to eliminate the second car, and given that households start to look at the huge financial benefit to eliminating that second car.

    Once they get rid of the second car, Uber is there, but the real economic cost of driving is more obvious. Is it really worth $10 to Uber to Safeway instead of walking to Cala? (I know I’m dating myself now that Cala is Mollie Stones, but you get my point).

    I’m living this at a large level now in Healdsburg. We have steadfastly held to one car. When my wife takes the car out of town, my son and I choose options we can bike to, simply because there is no car. But if we have a real need for the car, my wife rents a car.



    What’s even more puzzling is that fire trucks are unable to drive over 6 inch curbs, but random Honda Prius’ seem to have no problem driving up 6 inch curbs to park on the sidewalk.



    An associated concern for me is the potential negative safety impact on people using non-motorized modes (i.e., people walking, biking) caused by the uptick in for-profit transportation services where speed is money, no matter the cost. Obviously, this is not new – taxis have been around forever. But any increase in the number of people driving aggressively/erratically is bound to have some negative consequences.



    But we’ve always had a two tiered system. Some people can afford cars in SF and pay a few hundred a month for parking downtown. And a lot of people can’t. Before Lyft and Uber, there was nothing besides my bank account stopping me from hiring a private driver or even taking taxis everywhere.

    Lyft and Uber, by lowering prices, have made car travel more affordable and convenient on a trip-by-trip basis for those who were previously priced out. (Yes, there’s the very important issue if whether those prices allow the driver to make a living wage too, but that’s a different discussion.)



    Like Daniel Sisson, I don’t own a car and pick the best transportation option on a trip-by-trip basis, which could be any combination of walking, Bikeshare, Muni, BART, Caltrain, Lyft, Uber, Scoot, or, rarely, Zipcar. For any given trip, I might consider the travel time of each mode, reliability, cost, comfort/convenience, how much I need to carry, how many people I’m traveling with, and just how lazy I happen to feel at the moment.

    And I see this as a good thing on the whole. I don’t have a machine taking up a parking space 95% of the time and I have lots of options when I need to go somewhere. I usually have a monthly Fast Pass, so Muni, walking, and Bikeshare are cost-efficient choices, but I also recognize that they aren’t always the best options for every person for every trip.

    I’m sure there are some people who use Uber and/or Lyft for all their trips, completely replacing Muni, but I also believe it gives a lot more people more options that make it possible to ditch the car and be regular transit users.

    Motor vehicles themselves are not the enemy here. The more we break the pattern of people getting in their own personal cars which is parked at their house and driving it to parking at work everyday and then reversing the process at night, the better off we all are.



    It really is a shame that 6 inch curbs are impenetrable by trucks while parked cars are not an issue. It reminds me of those video games where you can knock down every light pole but youre dead if you hit a bush