CityLab has an interesting suggestion to manage the externalities of Uber and Lyft:
The policy journey of São Paulo, Brazil, a vast metropolitan region of 20 million people, has been telling. The city council initially banned all ride-hailing services via apps, spurred on by allies of the taxi industry. Other parties, recognizing the inevitable popularity of Uber as well as two more homegrown companies, 99 and Easy Taxi, pushed back. The compromise allows the companies to operate, but charges them for the use of streets per mile. A sliding scale was established—more if in the city center during peak hours with only one passenger; less for more passengers, cars in underserved areas, electric vehicles, women drivers, and accessible vehicles. A standing committee meets regularly on whether the charge needs to be modified. In the process, the city gets some raw data that can help with mobility policy.
The charges—for the privilege of using a public asset, the roadways, for commercial purposes—are estimated to bring in $50 million per year. Nearly a year after the policy was set, the experiment is going well, said Ciro Biderman, who recently left his position as chief innovation officer for São Paulo, where he led the design and rollout of the charges on transportation network companies.
Imagine, charging private companies a fee to use public assets.
I have some free time coming up next Friday, but until then, there's a lot going on. So I have very little time to read, let alone write about, these stories from this week:
Back to project planning...
I'm chilling in my hotel room on the second day of my trip, not sure how much longer I'll remain awake. (Waking up at 5am sucks, even more so when it's 4am back home.) This is a problem in that I need to write some code before tomorrow.
So I've spent a few minutes perusing the blog feeds and news reports that came in today, and I have a favorite. The favorite is not:
No, though all of those brought little flutters of joy to my heart, the story that London is going to make Oxford Street a pedestrian utopia by 2020 really got my interest. Since I have never driven a car anywhere in Zone 1 and have no intention of ever doing so, I think blocking 800 meters of Oxford Street to cars is fookin' brilliant.
I'm heading back to the East Coast tonight to continue research for my current project, so my time today is very constrained. I hope I remember to keep these browser windows open for the plane:
- 538 examines why, a full year later, the 2016 election just won't go away.
- James Bridle says something is wrong on the Internet.
- Josh Marshall continues to bang the drum on President Trump's creeping authoritarianism. (Or, you know, not so much creeping as shambling, with all the zombie implications in the term. Says Marshall, "[I]ncompetence and authoritarian aren’t in tension. They tend to operate together, each catalyzing each other as both cause and effect.")
- On the same theme, yesterday the President called Chicago a "total disaster" because he doesn't understand how the lack of Federal gun laws makes our local regulations irrelevant.
- Last Friday, Andrew Sullivan wrote that the Democrats are failing the resistance. But Jeet Heer thinks our party's internecine conflicts are good for the party.
- Crain's Chicago Business lists the most indulgent dishes in Chicago.
- Chicago Magazine investigates the rash of suicides-by-train plaguing the area.
- WaPo describes the weirdness behind the attack on Senator Rand Paul over the weekend.
- Writing for CityLab, Carolyn Adolph says Seattle has fallen out of love with Amazon, with some implications for Chicago.
- Finally, Samuel Adams now has a $200 beer at 28 ABV. Not sure if I'll ever try it.
So much to do today...and then a short, relaxing, upgraded flight to BWI.
Yesterday, a man reportedly threw himself in front of a CTA train at the Fullerton El stop, shutting down the three busiest lines in the system during the morning rush hour. Commuters faced hours-long delays and an already at-capacity bus system struggled to adapt to the demand.
So did Lyft and Uber, as people found out. Lyft presented one of my friends with a $75 fare to go six kilometers; she wound up taking a bus and suffering through a two-hour commute. (I wasn't affected because I had the option of walking to work yesterday.)
Chicago's City Hall is outraged:
"It is unfortunate that at least two ride share companies chose to take advantage of this morning’s difficult commuter situation," said Lilia Charcon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection spokeswoman.
But that's their business model. If demand goes up faster than supply, prices rise.
Graph: Ray Bromley.
The only way to stop that from happening is through regulation. Like the way we regulate taxis. But then there is no way to get a taxi when demand goes up like it did yesterday, because they're all in use.
Welcome to economics.
I'm on a train hurtling through the English countryside at 200 km/h and using WiFi.
Seriously, why can't we have a train like this back home? I mean, some Amtrak routes have WiFi, and Acela maxes out at 240 km/h between Boston and New Haven, Conn. But that's it. Chicago to Milwaukee trains plod along at half that speed, and the trains to St. Louis are even slower (and frequently delayed by freight traffic).
Where's the President's infrastructure investment plan that we've heard so much about?
Crossrail, the UK's £14.8bn rail line connecting London's far western suburbs with its eastern ones, either represents the end of an era or the beginning of one, according to today's New York Times:
Before Britain voted last summer to leave the European Union, Crossrail was conceived for a London open to the world and speeding into the future. Now, with Brexit, the nightmare scenario is that this massive project, to provide more trains moving more people more quickly through a growing city, ends up moving fewer people more quickly through a shrinking city.
Extending roughly 110 km, it is built to speed about 200 million passengers a year in a kind of Y from far to the west of the city, in the county of Berkshire, through Heathrow, to the heart of London, forking east to Shenfield in Essex and to the neighborhood called Abbey Wood, on the historically neglected southeast side of the Thames River. Linked with the existing Underground subway network, it will be rechristened the Elizabeth Line, inserting what is in effect a new steel-and-wheels spine into Britain’s capital.
“The danger with Brexit,” [George Iacobescu, Canary Wharf’s longtime chairman said], “is that if Britain gets out of the European Union and doesn’t keep the U.K. an attractive place for financial institutions, they will think twice about growing here. The issue isn’t banks leaving Canary Wharf. Most of them have long-term leases. The issue will be the pace of growth.”
But that’s not quite true. Because of Brexit worries, construction plans for several of Canary Wharf’s new buildings have already been put on hold. And long-term leases can always be broken.
The subway will open to passengers in 2018.
Usually when I work from home, I get a lot done. Today...not as much. I've run errands, had two meetings outside the house, and (to Parker's horror) vacuumed.
Now I'm off to another meeting, with half the house un-vacuumed and many emails unread.
Articles also unread:
Now, time for a board meeting.
By boasting, it turns out. And writing in the New York Times, Mayor Rahm Emanuel carries on the tradition of thumbing New York's eye:
On Thursday, in the wake of a subway derailment and an epidemic of train delays, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York declared a state of emergency for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the busiest mass transit system in America. That same day, the nation’s third-busiest system — the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority — handed out coupons for free coffee to riders stuck in the second year of slowdowns caused by repairs to prevent chronic fires.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, a recent survey found that 85 percent of passengers are satisfied with service on our transit system, the nation’s second most used.
The L, Chicago’s system, turned 125 this year. The elevated railway began as four wooden cars powered by coal and steam. Last year, more than 238 million rides were taken on the system, which, unlike the ones in New York and Washington, has not been troubled by systemic failures, breakdowns and delays. Even during a 28-day stretch of arctic temperatures in 2014, the L was never interrupted.
I mean, hey, it's the one bit of infrastructure Chicago has going for it. Of course, New York City's roads aren't great either.
Stuff I didn't get to because I was doing my job today:
Time for a martini, clearly.