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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Charleson Park, Saturday, while I escaped for a few hours from the steady drumbeat of 2018 civic election tweets, robocalls, e-mail and paper flyers. The well-known bullshit overdrive.

I do have to express my disappointment that there’s no one busting photo-ops in a chicken suit. What the hell, already!  Have we grown up a bit or something?

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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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Join PT editor (and director of Walk Metro Vancouver) Sandy James for this ULI event — a morning conversation to discuss the City of New Westminster’s recent experience with senior-focused infrastructure planning with Great Streets for Seniors: Uptown Neighbourhood Initiative.

Following a panel discussion, we will take a brief walking tour of the Uptown Neighbourhood to discuss Great Streets, the challenges, and the steps taken to go from concept to capital plan.

  • Lisa Leblanc, Transportation Manager, City of New Westminster
  • Sandra James, Director, Walk Metro Vancouver
  • Dan Ross, Sr. Transportation Planner, Bunt & Associates, Great Streets for Seniors Study Co-Projector Manager
  • Alex Taciuk, Great Streets for Seniors Study Participant

Wednesday, September 26
8:15 am – 10:30 am

Century House, 620 8th Street, New Westminster

Member: $15
Non-Member: $25

Register here.

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Image Sandy James

If you think the car is king in Metro Vancouver and in Canada generally, you need to have a visit to Australia where both the law and the pedestrian crossing times solidly put the pedestrian as a second class citizen to vehicular traffic.

The Guardian disclosed that “Pedestrians across Australia are pressing the button at traffic lights for no reason, most days of the week..In Sydney, pedestrian crossings in the CBD have been automated since 1994, leaving millions of commuters to futilely press placebo buttons for nearly 25 years…”

And if you are standing at an intersection in downtown Sydney, you feel like you are standing there for an inordinate amount of time waiting for a light to change.

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They’re back in San Francisco.

As locals hop aboard, complain about the scooters taking up street space, compete to collect and charge them, and hurl them into lakes, municipalities are left to wonder: How do we manage these things? Some, like Austin, have decided to let the companies be. Others, like San Francisco and Santa Monica, have cracked down, limiting which companies can operate, and how.

As with Uber, Vancouver is apparently being cautious.  Or has it just not had to confront the scooter reality when some venture-bro decides to dump them on us?

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Brian Gould and Kathleen Corey are urbanist filmmakers well-known to Price Tags readers, and anyone else following Vancouver’s progress with its growing bike network.

Seacycles (2014) could be considered their flagship video which, when released, gave the world a proper introduction to the multi-modal improvements at the south end of the Burrard Bridge. That video also includes a wondrous pairing of then vs now picture-in-picture comparisons, and drone fly-overs.

Now under the banner small places (“tiny plazas – quick transformations – big ideas”), Brian and Kathleen are back, this time with a companion piece to show how far Burrard Bridge has come in the intervening years.

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