Business & Economy
October 19, 2018

The Rise of the TSP: Uber Over All?

Some recent stories about the impact of ride-hailing companies, particularly Uber, and the longer term implications.

First, another confirming story that ride-hailing is measurably increasing congestion – from Tech Crunch:

In San Francisco … ride-hailing services are undoubtedly partially to blame (for the rise in traffic and congestion), but not entirely to blame, according to a new study from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority. …

Between 2010 and 2016, according to the SFCTA, ride-hailing services accounted for:

  • 51 percent of the increase in daily vehicle hours of delay
  • 47 percent of the increase in vehicle miles traveled
  • 55 percent of the average speed decline
  • 25 percent of total vehicle congestion citywide

So not surprising, then, that Uber wants to address the problem of congestion by supporting a mechanism that would reduce ‘free-riders’ on the streets they help congest.

From the Seattle Times:

Uber says it plans to spend money lobbying for congestion pricing in Seattle as part of a $10 million push for “sustainable mobility” policies in various cities.

The ride-hail app company and its rival, Lyft, have previously expressed support for the idea of tolling downtown streets in Seattle, where Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration is working to develop a proposal.

But Uber’s new commitment to actively press for congestion pricing in the city, shared with The Seattle Times last week, could be the biggest boost yet for an effort certain to encounter political roadblocks, including concerns about affordability.

Uber thinks big and it thinks strategically – literally globally.   It can afford to.

From Vanity Fair:

The Wall Street Journal reported that the company had received proposals from Wall Street banks estimating its initial public offering at a market valuation as high as $120 billion, virtually twice its current private-market valuation, and larger than the combined market capitalizations of General Motors , Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. …

Uber … has a large, global footprint, and is possibly a primordial holding company for a series of future companies …  Uber already has one of the largest food-delivery platforms around today, and it is expanding its freight business, which has the possibility to grow infinitely. And then there’s the driverless car I.P. that the company owns, not to mention the investments in other global ride-sharing services …

“Some people see Uber as a car company,” (an Uber insider said).  “Uber sees itself as the next potential Amazon.”

I think this is bigger than even the evolution of another Amazon (if it first doesn’t buy or dominate Uber.)

We’re still thinking about transportation as essentially a problem of hardware: expensive pieces of metal crammed with technology, jamming the streets and highways. Motordom 1.0.

We analyse the problem from the point of view of the user, each distinguished by the hardware of choice: car or truck drivers, transit users, cyclists (and okay, maybe shoe wearers).

We assume this is primarily a problem for government – the owner of the streets, the licensor of vehicles, the regulator of traffic.

We need to shift our focus to Motordom 2.0 – the integration of every imaginable mode of movement, joined by information technology, delivered to us by a service provider who sells us transportation in the way telecommunications providers sell us data.  The TSP: the Transportation Service Provider.

We should be thinking not about hardware but about what Motordom 2.0 will really be about – issues of ownership, regulation, taxation and equality.  Above all, the vision we have for our urban environments, what we build, for whom, and who gets to decide.

Uber or its successor will likely want to be that decider – the shaper of cities, the creator of wealth, the leader of civilization.  Because that’s what we call what we build, how we move, and who rules over it all.

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Peter Ladner called it out on Twitter last week with the tweet posted below. City News has reported on the increasing retail vacancies evident in downtown Vancouver and in some of the commercial streets of surrounding neighbourhoods, suggesting quite validly that property tax was a culprit.

But Peter also pointed out the increased interest and reliance on internet retailing, specifically the 450,000 square foot Amazon fulfillment centre to be built on the Tsawwassen First Nations territory creating 700 local jobs. This is the first facility to be built by Amazon on First Nations land, and Amazon has two other distribution centres located in Delta and New Westminster.

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Any macchiatto tour of Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant hood must now begin (or end) at one of the most west coast of open-air patios — at 14th and Main.

Pavement-to-Plaza, a new video by the team of Brian and Kathleen of small places, shows how the new configuration at this popular intersection, in the midst of a busy stretch of high street stores and restaurants, is also fulfilling the demand for calmed public spaces, with safer passage for people on bike and foot.

Check out the video below — a head-bobber, for sure.

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Photo by Michael Geller, Vancouver Courier

Truth or clickbait: Is the housing crisis in Vancouver really over? Nope, not for the many people it has negatively impacted, and will continue to do so.

It took some time to get to this crisis, but it may not take as long to get out. Maybe it already has. Demand-side parameters — taxes, interest rates, mortgage requirements, investment sources, prices,  expectations, attitudes, politics — are all shifting simultaneously. That means, on the supply side, the implications of this chart are profound:

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Big things start with people coming together over big ideas. In this case, it’s a set of ideas to foster and increase regional growth through economic integration between Metro Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.

PT has previously covered Cascadia material HERE and HERE.

Your chance to mix, mingle, network and learn is on its way to Vancouver.

2018 Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference

Vancouver (Hyatt Regency Hotel)

Tuesday October 9, 2018
Specialized sessions, Registration, Kick-off reception

Wednesday October 10th, 2018
Main Session

p.s. It’ll cost ya $C 400.

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Things are getting a little messy up on Vancouver’s west side where a very functional commercial area is under threat of development. This article by Joanne Lee-Young in the Vancouver Sun shows what happens when the city goals of housing affordability butts up against  a little single storey commercial area located at 33rd Avenue and Mackenzie Street. It’s the northeast corner of this intersection that is being proposed for redevelopment and it contains three lots. One of the lots has an older building containing Bigsby the Bakehouse, a community institution for good bread.

Price Tags Vancouver has previously written about this commercial gem of an area that provided small-scale storefronts for a variety of businesses. The three lots in question became part of Vancouver’s real estate flipping shell game, being sold to a numbered company in 2015 for $5.43 million dollars and then flipped for nearly a million dollars more a couple of months later.

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Last week, Lisa Prevost of The New York Times took a look at purchasing a four-bedroom house on the “bluffs” of Vancouver; in reality, the house is 32 kilometres north of Vancouver in Lions Bay. The price is CAD $2.7 million, in our local market which has increased by 40 per cent in the last decade.

The property is less than a mile from the Lions Bay Marina and Lions Bay Beach Park, “the most idyllic little beach. With a population of roughly 1,350, the village has just a few shops for necessities, he said; more shopping and dining can be found about 15 minutes south, in West Vancouver.

Phil Moore, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, calls Vancouver “the California of Canada”, pointing out that 40,000 people coming into the metropolitan area annually, presumably undeterred by the prices.

The Times article states that the benchmark sale price for a detached house is $1.6 million in Vancouver, and that in the more exclusive West Vancouver, “that buys you nothing. That’s an area that’s $3 million and above.”

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Peter German’s 250-page report “Dirty Money“, delivered to Attorney General David Eby on March 31 and to the people of British Columbia almost three months later, contained more than just a set of 48 recommendations for the response and reforms to the gaming industry.

It also delivered a scathing review of casino operations, oversight and regulation in British Columbia, a sector wallowing in poorly-written legislation, acrimony and denial between various concerned entities, such that “certain Lower Mainland casinos unwittingly served as laundromats for the proceeds of organized crime.”

German describes it as a “collective system failure” of the province’s casinos, where an estimated $100 million of illicitly gained currency transferred from anonymous hand to anonymous hand.

That the money laundering uncovered so far in casinos is but a “drop in the bucket”, according to Mr. German’s interviews, is disturbing enough. But it delivered a third eye-opener — that there are likely other sectors in the provincial economy are being used, mis-used and abused in the same way.

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There’s a farmland travesty occurring in Richmond where city council has been influenced to approve mansions of 10,700 square feet on farmland over one half an acre, and on larger parcels, an additional house of 3,200 square feet for the “help”.

This is all a shell game in more than one sense. The pro-development Richmond Farmland Owner’s Association (you will note that is farmland owners, not farmers) has organized a $ummer Barbeque (yes they use the $ sign for the “S”) to raise money for the six councillors who were complicit in the McMansioning of City of Richmond farmland, ignoring the cap established by the province for houses on agricultural land (previously 5,382 square feet).

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