Commuters just want to get to work reliably and they'd like a seat. And they'd like to have a minimum of screening so that they don't have to deal with people with severe mental issues on the way to work.
In Toronto they've gone as far as launching a crowdfunded bus route, which the city had an icy response too. It had to shut down because of legal uncertainties.
So I think the big problem with transit is that people in city gov refuse to recognise that commuters desires are perfectly reasonable. If the city won't provide them options then they should at least make sure there aren't legal issues with private providers.
Yes, "social policies" like transit that's accessible to the disabled, elderly, and poor. Would you prefer planning that tells those people to stay at home where we can pretend they don't exist?
> "minimum of screening so that they don't have to deal with people with severe mental issues"
What kind of "screening process" do you want? What's your test?
> people in city gov refuse to recognize that commuters desires are perfectly reasonable
Sure, maybe you can twist your desire for fewer people with "mental issues" to be 'reasonable', but your disgust for them doesn't make good policy. It's not impossible to build transit for everyone; for both commuters, and for the poor, disabled or elderly. As long as people like you can stand to be on the bus with people who are different than you.
Please go stand at the base of an escalator into Civic Center Station on a warm summer day when it hasn't rained for a while, and take some deep breaths.
I refuse to be ashamed of my desire to avoid inhaling other people's piss and shit on a daily basis.
This country isn't ready for public space. We have too much work to do, to care for the people who will reliably show up to public space they have access to and turn them into urine-soaked, beggar-laden wasteland, before we can reasonably be indignant at the desire to avoid spending time in public space.
Like public bathrooms, for one thing. What must SF spend on its (futile) attempts to keep stations clean? Surely that could fund one public bathroom somewhere in the city to redirect some of the mess.
Walk around Berlin right now and count how many "screening" checkpoints their are in the train stations. Spoiler: there aren't even doors on all the entrances. Somehow, as if by magic, trains are clean and run on time. The strongest smell is from the food vendors in the attached mall.
Civil services are possible.
And they certainly don't require any draconian "screening" processes.
Transit policy can't create the Berlin transit system.
Germany got it by building the constellation of welfare, social services, healthcare, eduction, labor laws, and tenant protection that keeps people's lives on track (or puts them back) long before they've fallen to the point of shitting into subway escalators.
The American electorate is quite far from even wanting these things. It's going to be a long climb to get them implemented and working. We will not be preventing destitution anytime soon, and the shit on the streets of temperate, tolerant cities like SF is going to get far, far worse before it gets better.
The barriers to these policies do not appear to come from insufficently motivated city dwellers, but from rural areas and small towns.
And maybe from people who have such extreme wealth that they can walk to work.
Also the fact that your society grows a divide such that basic health concerns can't be solved démocratically sounds like a root cause to your piss problem.
So when are you flying to Austin? I'd like to, among other things take you on a trip to 7th and Red River, and provide you with an oral history of (also among other things) CapMetro, Metrorail and the numerous mass transit solutions shot down by the voters who THEMSELVES called for a referendum vote on options for mass transit.
Or we can go to a little town called Spartanburg South Carolina. Or I could tell you the tale of Indianapolis' almost hilariously doomed transit improvement efforts in the 90's (hilariously in the way it happened, not that it happened so much all).
My point: SF isn't unique in this regard. Not by a long shot. Their problems may be exacerbated by many other compounding factors comparatively with other cities...but I agree with the comment you've replied to: here are built in logic ladders constructed over years of subtle social conditioning and assumptions made about the cross section of mass transit and public service that make for some interesting outcomes at the municipal level.
See also: MARTA.
I like the way you phrase this though: "logic ladders" of "years of social conditioning and assumptions". There are a lot of odd assumptions about mass transit and public service floating around.
Times have changed!
"Cinematography is bleak and dreary, depicting a dilapidated, working-class Berlin with rundown structures and dirty, blighted backdrops. Modern Berlin is very different and most of the landmarks from the movie (the station, the Bülow street stalls, the Sound discothèque) have either been demolished or completely remodeled."
"Most of the extras at the railway station and at the Sound club were actual junkies, prostitutes and low-lifes rounded up by producers just for the crowd scenes. In the scene where Christiane runs through the alleys of the station to find Babsi, the camera lingers on several terminal junkies leaning against the walls of the underpass. In a 2011 interview, Thomas Haustein, who plays Detlev and was still in school at the time, recalls how terrified he felt being surrounded by all those real-life addicts, but that he was able to successfully copy their behaviour for his character."
Not much to say except frankly it's far cleaner than the SF trains the GP is talking about. (I was also in SF civic center station less than two months ago, and thus feel qualified to make this statement as a first person observer.)
Berlin certainly has its own aesthetic. Berliners seem to take graffiti incredibly seriously, for example (lettering three stories high on the top floors of a 15 story building? "Sure, why not" is apparently the thinking). But hordes of junkies? Do I feel in danger? Absolutely not.
The DB, while not my favorite train system in the world, runs extremely well.
It seems a runaway process. As people get more and more unequal, it becomes easier for them to put up walls in the society than trying to fix it.
You are also right though, that it doesn't make sense to put it all on the commuters. At least they are not avoiding society entirely.
I do advocate a system of segregation from other people's urine, not exactly a protected class (who opposes the use of toilets?), and from each other more generally... what are apartments for, after all, if not to keep us apart? I'm proud to say that I voted in this election for as much apart-ness (i.e. as many apartments) as possible. In fact, since I consider this to be a step towards ending homelessness (by building enough housing for everyone) you could say I am even an agent of the eradication of an entire social group!
EDIT: Yeah, that's a bit flippant. But I do believe people are entitled to choose the company they keep. That applies at rest: everyone should be able to have their own apartment, a space where they decide who gets to come in and who doesn't. It also applies in transit: personal vehicles are best (though bicycles, motorcycles, and scooters are probably better than cars, at least in the Bay Area, because the climate is hospitable and space is at a premium). On public transit, we have an obligation to minimize unwanted interaction: uninvited conversation, physical contact, eye contact, and phone speaker music are all (rightly) taboo. Public transit systems should strive to provide everyone with a forward facing seat so that they are not touching or staring at anyone else.
When people do not follow these rules, and instead insert their presence loudly (i.e. by smell), I do think it's better to go around the problem by taking other forms of transportation, than to muddle through and develop resentment, or grow supportive of police violence to shove the problem away (I've been catching myself sympathizing with this). Abandoning public transit seems like the least shitty approach to the people who make it intolerable.
Although in practice this still produces segregation on a large scale, as in e.g. "white flight" in US. But then again, attempts to counter such things by forcing people together - like forced busing - didn't exactly work well.
I read a story the other day how restaurants allowed free bathroom usage to tourists in Germany. This was paid by city council, and allows for a more pleasant stay of tourists. So they like to come and/or return. Word of mouth works.
I believe that in California, businesses are required by law to allow people to use restrooms, but they try to avoid compliance and do whatever they can to keep homeless people away.
> I believe that in California, businesses are required by law to allow people to use restrooms,
They do, and I myself used them many times, but for a person who is looking, as said in parallel thread, "sketchy" and may have some trouble expressing themselves, it may be a different story. The reluctance of the establishments is also understandable - if the person makes a mess there, somebody will have to clean up, and odds are nobody but the person behind the counter getting minimum wage is there to do it. So, their reluctance to allow somebody who, in their opinion, is likely to make a mess to use their facilities is not hard to understand, IMHO.
Very much this!
I don't like public transport, I don't like having to deal with other people when I travel, but I like Uber and private transport even less.
If you leave people alone to decide of their own "best", they will certainly destroy community as a whole.
What's my solution?
I walk when I can, I use car sharing/pooling when I can't walk, I use public transport when the first two solutions are unavailable.
I also dislike private car pooling companies, I think they should be public because the goal has to be to give people choices, without harming the community, not making some startup take over our transport infrastructure.
At a Christmas party that I went to with several people who have way more money than almost any of you, a wife of a Boeing executive referred to you complainers as "transit trash". She looks at you as you are looking at these problem people.
When assigning blame, if you aren't looking upwards to those exerting vast amounts of power, then you are probably the problem.
I made sure to call out this woman's trash talk and embarrass her. If you have power you are supposed to be kind to those below you. Without that graciousness you expose yourself as being afraid that you'll be assigned to a lower social strata. (And I take the wholesale disappearance of that graciousness in American politics as a harbinger of American decline.)
In Taipei the metro stations all have toilets in them. In London very few stations rarely have toilets. Of course, this is comparing an new to an old system. If the SF system has no toilets then maybe this would explain things ?
This is one of the reasons why there's 1st and 2nd class train wagons. If you don't want to sit with "the plebs", get a more expensive ticket and go 1st class together with the other travellers in suit.
This does not exist for busses AFAIK. Although one could walk, rent a bus, rent a car, carpool, or grab a taxi (renting a train(wagon) is actually also possible in some countries/regions).
Ever been from Newark Airport to midtown Manhattan? You have to take a shuttle "train" to the PATH or NY Transit, then ride that into the City, then walk a dozen blocks or wait on a crosstown bus and then another bus.
Public transit has its use, but I generally hate it except in rare situations like Zurich or Berlin.
As far as the disabled and elderly, interesting you mention that! How many subway stations in NYC are wheelchair accessible -- how many of those actually have functioning elevators? Of those, how many of those elevators don't smell like a homeless urinal? Very, very few stations in NYC are accessible and all of them are dirty.
Public transport would be great if I didn't have to share it with the public.
All it takes is a government dedicated to building a comprehensive, functional, and intelligently designed transit system. There are still crazy people on the subway in Shanghai. But because its the best way to get around the city, everyone takes the subway. So maybe you see a beggar or a homeless person every couple of days, much like you would when you're out walking around.
The problem we get in most American cities is that the transit systems are terrible, so anyone who can afford to drive takes their car, and transit systems end up existing only for people who don't have any other options.
So you decide to take the bus one day, and everyone else on the bus is either homeless or crazy, and the bus has to take some ridiculous route to pick up enough people to justify its continued existence. So you never take the bus again, because it was unpleasant and wasted your time. Now we've gotten into a vicious cycle where the awfulness of the system ensures that it will continue to get ever worse.
This was a long rant, but what I'm trying to say is that public transit isn't inevitably broken, as many of the world's most successful cities demonstrate. It just can't be half-assed, and it feels like we've half-assed it in most of the US.
I'm kind of punk so I'm into all that dirty stuff.
"Public transit has its use, but I generally hate it except in rare situations like Zurich or Berlin."
From the parent:
"I'm in Japan at the moment, and I can't help but agree - it's clean, fast, the trains come exactly when they say they will"
This: (how nice (insert public service here) is in CH/nordic/germany/japan) compared to the United States is always submitted as some kind of perplexing accident - like only some weird burst of cosmic rays could possibly explain why, for instance, polite behaviors on buses are so much better in Tokyo than they are in Cleveland.
But it's not confusing or strange at all: a homogenous society is easy to make work.
Oh, you have a whole city full of Lars Larsons and Handt Hansons ? Why, however do you make such a place work ? How amazing that everything comes together just so and there is no animosity between net tax payers and net tax receivers.
Well, of course there isn't. It's easy to work and live together with people and provide funding for their social benefit when their name is John Johnsson just like yours is.
The US is not easy. It's not an easy place. We have interesting problems that are going to be harder to figure out than pedantically pointing at the nordic countries.
On the other hand, we invented jazz and stuck a flag on the moon, so we've got that going for us - which is nice.
What has being a homogeneous society to do with building a proper public transport system? Maybe you could argue that having only "John Johnssons" makes being nice to each other easier, but it's not a necessary condition for making a decent schedule or building trains.
Besides, Berlin has probably the least homogeneous population of all of Germany.
> On the other hand, we invented jazz and stuck a flag on the moon, so we've got that going for us - which is nice.
Resting on one's past laurels won't help solving today's problems. How well did that work out for the Roman Empire? Case in point: The US actually lost its ability to send a person to space, and hasn't been able to send people to the Moon for 44 years now.
A public transport system is a very expensive public good that needs to be paid for by everyone for the good of everyone.
Like fully socialized medicine, that is easy to pay for when you self-identify with the recipients. That's what I mean by the Handt Hansons working together with the John Johnssons. Or the Hiro Nakamuras.
The United States' diversity predates our development of these things - unlike trains and welfare in Zurich and Berlin - all of which predate their diversity. Yes, I have been to Berlin and had a doner kebob. How many doner kebobs were for sale in 1902, when the U-Bahn opened ?
"Resting on one's past laurels won't help solving today's problems."
Agreed. I just wanted to make a caddyshack joke.
 And honestly, while Zurich is very diverse on paper, almost all of those foreign born residents of Zurich have one very important thing in common - they have very high incomes and are quite wealthy.
Switzerland has some "fend for yourself" dimension where stuff like health insurance or childcare is largely private (and expensive), but they have a super strong safety net too. You are never being let down to the point that you have no choice but to be homeless.
Besides, central planning and large public works projects might actually be a good approach when it comes to the public transport of a large city.
This is specious reasoning at best unless you've done an exhaustive study of all public transportation.
Americans privileged by circumstances and by virtue of excellent resources material and financial are no longer good at much other tech and war.
> 'In only the latest cultural altercation between San Francisco’s tech workers and the city’s impoverished population, one tech worker has declared the homeless are “riff raff” whose “pain, struggle and despair” shouldn’t have to be endured by “wealthy” people commuting to work.' (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/17/san-franc...)
It's the same reason it's often illegal for homeless people to sleep on benches. The elite would rather have the problem swept under the rug.
> "In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread." - Anatole France
This line of thinking of "efficiency trumps social issues" and that "regulation is always bad" is very harmful for both the workers and customers these kinds of systems are supposed to protect. The parent might find this map (http://projects.newyorker.com/story/subway/) showing inequality along NYC's subway interesting. The subway connects people from widely different economic backgrounds; the social darwinist might not like this but it's essential for giving those less well off opportunities and decreases the insularness of wealthy areas. Sometimes social focus is only ever a bad thing for those who benefit from the lack of it.
But the thing is, (living and working in downtown San Francisco) I see a lot of what I can only describe as harassment or assault committed by apparently mentally disturbed/ill  people. I genuinely don't know how to solve this problem, but I do think that people have a reasonable expectation to not encounter these situations in well-traveled public places.
 "mentally disturbed" and "mentally ill" are probably not the most precise or appropriate terms to use here. I do not know the correct terms but I appreciate any corrections.
Furthermore, once people were in the system, they were often abused themselves, and it was very difficult to get out, even if you were actually perfectly sane.
So committing someone involuntarily became much more difficult as a result.
It's amazing how city planners in every dept focus on politics as opposed to building legitimately good infrastructure that makes people say 'wow, they really planned this well!' (e.g. the London underground).
The fact that SF is attacking uber/lyft as the source of SF's traffic problems is ridiculous. It's pretty much the only way to get across town at this point unless you want your commute time doubled/tripled or have potentially unsafe run ins with the mentally ill.
This isn't the fault of city planners:
There are infinitely more examples.
Which speaks to the strengths and weaknesses of government versus private approaches to problem-solving. Many cities have and many more cities have had privately-operated transit services— they often have strengths (responsiveness to customer demand for popular routes, technological innovations) and weaknesses (competition for ridership leading to traffic problems or wasted effort, disincentives to run services as a network, higher prices).
Incidentally, Jarrett Walker speaks extensively about the tradeoffs between different (legitimate) policies that transit planners face when setting up systems:
Walker has long been an advocate of making that trade-off apparent so taxpayers know what they're getting, and of re-balancing networks in favor of maximizing ridership. It means fewer lines, serving dense parts of cities, and running frequently.
Edit: the ridership/coverage tradeoff http://humantransit.org/basics/the-transit-ridership-recipe#...
It reminds me of the (possibly apocryphal) story of the college campus that was designed without sidewalks. After a while, the college built sidewalks over the parts of the lawn that were most transformed by foot traffic, because those were the paths people preferred to take.
The technical term where people/animals want to walk is called a desire path.
It seems to be something I see a lot of in every North American city I visit.
The problem is likely not how mentally ill people are allowed to use public transit, but maybe the complete lack of care provided to them.
An express bus has far fewer stops and may use an expressway for part of its route. One ride costs about 2.5x the usual bus fare.
Singapore has similar buses but they are not run by the same operators as the local ones.
London has express trains. In particular the airport ones are more expensive than standard trains. 20-30 GBP in some cases!
Chicago has a recent Jump bus programme which has long jumps between certain areas. But there is no extra charge for this, because it is designed to serve poor people living far from downtown.
They are operated by the same operators , unless you were referring to some other bus services? They're about 1.5x more expensive than a normal bus/metro journey though.
In truth I forgot completely about the 188 service because it goes to a casino. I now remember cursing how often it came to my old stop on those few occasions when I was hoping to catch a bus to somewhere other than a casino.
Things like cargo capacity, amount of passengers and directness of route make sense.
I cannot see how things like AC or heat would make sense as labor laws insure they need to be there for the driver and not enough would use such services to support them (and they would be priced out of existence, because AC is almost free and heat is).
It reminds me of how I've heard some people say that Target is a more expensive Walmart, where you're paying extra to avoid Walmart shoppers.
We already have this system, just not on stuff we consider basic quality of life.
Meaning that we would take some of our poorest workers and take one of the view comforts they have left and potentially force them to risk their lives. A taxi driver without a heater, could literally die today where I am at at a balmy 6 degree F.
If I read you wrong, please explain.
Here's the thing: public transit does not function in a vacuum. You can't build public transit solely based on current traffic patterns, because the presence of good transport (say, a new rail line) will irrevocably alter traffic patterns.
This means that, if you build a new rail line, you pretty much have to (eg.) change zoning near stations. Is rezoning to allow denser housing "an instrument for various social policies"? Most likely yes, but it's also the sensible thing to do!
For me this is a big social issue, and it is only slightly related with public transportation. If you city has enough mental ill people in the streets everything is going to suck, including public transportation. That's why you have health care for mental patients, that with the correct treatment can be a normal part of society.
You forgot to mention afford it. Uber is jacking up the prices for those who depend entirely on public transit--the people who most likely feed you, clean your office, drive your Uber. The people who make the city function. Your convenience actively fucks over your neighbors.
Your comment about "screening" people is disgusting, and says more about you than commuters as a whole.
Reasonable? Sure. Close minded? Absolutely.
Uber is not raising prices of public transport. They are not part of government public transit boards or administrations. Holding them accountable for the income public transport would have if they didnt exist is simply unreasonable.
As a transportation / transit planner, there are an awful lot of suburban transit routes that are simply there due to politics instead of actual use. An example is one route I had done a bunch of work on that essentially showed the existing 5 riders a day would be better served at a cheaper rate by municipally subsidized taxis than by a gas guzzling, inflexible, union driven, public transit bus. The financials made sense, the data made sense to support a change. It was about to get changed until a politician came in and essentially canned everything because he didn't want his ward to not have a transit route because he would look bad.
I firmly believe these gaps can and should be filled by alternative modes of transport, and I wouldn't necessarily look at this as a bad thing. Transport is a wildly flexible area that is constantly evolving .
As for the costs going up for Uber, I don't really think those concerns are founded in anything other than speculation. His same logic about economies of scale would surely translate into it filling in that cost gap between providing the service and being revenue profitable. The truth is that every dollar invested in transit in the suburbs is nowhere near the same as every dollar invested in transit in urban areas. This article, I don't believe, made a real case for showing that the cost of providing transit would be cheaper, even in a future scenario, than having Ride hailing services filling in the gaps. The advantage of allowing Uber / taxis to fill first / last mile trips is that operating the line scales relatively well for scenarios where this type of service makes sense. There's a breakpoint where this cost of operation justifies switching over to providing a transit solution. But this allows agencies to build up demand before investing the capital and assuming some of the other maintenance costs such as bus stops, scheduling time, etc
I've had too many terrible or dangerous cab rides to be so blasé about the difference.
The article's whole point is that because Uber underprices their service, it could be cheaper to avoid public transit entirely.
Hardly surprising that it provides a superior service when Uber subsidizes up to 60% of the passenger fares.
Their entire business model does, however, rely upon jacking up prices substantially at some point, to both recoup those losses and to make shareholders happy.
The question you should ask yourself isn't "is Uber superior now?" but "is it superior if it's 3x the price it is now?".
As in each and every Uber ride is subsidized to the tune of a few dollars???!!!!
IIRC, there were Amtrak routes in the Northeast that became very popular, and the gov't was bleeding money increasing the amount of service because every ride was subsidized by something like $10-$20/ride.
Public transit in many cities creates hot-spots in the real estate market that isn't good public policy either.
Of course, the article is right that people shifting into less dense transit will have bad environmental and congestion problems.
But I don't think that traditional public transit will be the way of the future. Rather, I think that self-driving, reasonably high-density vehicles will be the future. Imagine a nice bus that seats 15-20 picking people up along an ad-hoc route in the morning determined as riders hail the bus and are instructed to an ad-hoc stop within a block and dropping them off within a block of their destination. That's a lot more convenient than most public transit systems where you have to travel to stops, maybe change lines, not getting exactly where you want to go, etc. It could also cut down on vehicle miles travelled by creating optimized routes.
If Uber Pool can do what bus service can do for barely more money, a self-driving bus will be way better than a standard public transit experience and as efficient or more efficient environmentally.
In fact, I think the self-driving future in cities will be determined by good incentives. During peak periods, charge for congestion. Not broad-based attacks on vehicles, but an incentive for people to commute in higher-density vehicles where the charge can be spread among more people. It would be easy for a city to incentive Uber, Lyft, and others to offer higher-density options for commuters via congestion charging. Likewise, environmental incentives could be offered to push customers and companies toward more economical vehicles and routes. I think it's reasonable to assume that in a self-driving future, companies like Lyft and Uber would want a lot of economical vehicles like Priuses getting 50MPG in the city. For higher-density vehicles, 10% fuel savings could push margins up a couple points - especially if environmental fuel taxes are put on top of the price of fuel. Similarly, better routing can lead to fewer miles travelled leading to savings.
For those that want the privacy of single-person travel, they can be charged an appropriate amount to compensate society.
Uber can't do a lot of high-density vehicles currently because it relies on vehicles owned by random people. But when self-driving vehicles truly become mainstream, there's no reason Uber wouldn't want to expand into company-owned, higher-density vehicles. They could run these at a fraction of the cost that most public transit systems are running at. In lower density areas, maybe medium-density vehicles and in even lower density areas, single-person rides in small vehicles may remain common. When Uber can control its vehicle stock with self-driving vehicles, there's a lot of options for them to optimize in ways that will boost their profits while also helping the environment and congestion.
Maybe you think Uber isn't interested in a low-rent, non-premium service. That may be, but so many are interested in transit and it would be reasonably easy for a competitor to put together such a service and undercut Uber on price for so many riders. Uber would want to respond.
Ultimately, the article talks about bus routes doing 10 boardings per hour and how that's more than an Uber will do. That's probably true, but an Uber-bus would likely do more boardings due to better ad-hoc routes and more convenience. In my city, fares only cover a quarter of bus operating costs (never mind capital costs) and two-thirds of subway costs. Part of the problem is that a lot of transit systems work off the principle that they need to serve off-peak and lower utility uses in order to hit that critical mass that would make them a good choice for users. Ad-hoc, self-driving routes could relieve transit systems of their bigger loss-leaders using vehicles optimized for those areas. Similarly, off-peak service that often sees low ridership and loses money could be off-loaded. This is also an environmental win - subways are environmentally friendly when there's a lot of riders, not when they're mostly empty. A bus route that's losing over $10 per rider is bad for a public transit system and also bad for the environment since the bus probably doesn't have enough people on it to make it fuel efficient on a per-passenger basis.
I think there's a genuine opportunity to do a lot better than current public transit with self-driving vehicles. Something that's a lot more environmentally friendly and a lot more convenient.
I would be very skeptical of the claim that Uber (with today's public infrastructure and vehicles driven by human drivers) could do the job just as well if none of our public transit infrastructure existed. We have a lot of buses and a still-expanding light rail, and they are packed every day at rush hour. If they really were more expensive and/or slower than the alternatives and/or filled with crusty, ranting hobos crapping their pants and smearing it on the seats (which is what you imagine reading some of the comments in here) then people wouldn't ride them, which simply is not the case.
Sure, there are some bad buses, but "just take an Uber" is not a useful answer to that problem for most people or society at large, and I don't know how out of touch you have to be to suggest a public two-tiered poor/rich system with a straight face.
My bigger problem with SF is that timing is kind of unpredictable (trains go on time mostly, but everything else is kind of hit or miss). Usually it's not a problem but once I missed a train because trams had a sort of traffic jam. I didn't know that can happen, but apparently it can. Another time it happened again, I was smarter and just got out and run for like 3 blocks and got on the train on time. But I still use SF mass transit, even though there's some room for improvement, and think it is very valuable.
For me, they are. You are free to express your opinion, I am just expressing mine :) I never claimed my experience is universal, it's just what I see. Parent poster solicited opinions about mass transit in SF, so I shared mine, without pretending it is some global truth applicable to everybody.
> I'm glad that doesn't bother you but it's not unreasonable that it bothers most other people.
Fine, I'm not sure why you have to express this simple thought - which I certainly agree with, and never claimed otherwise - in a form of an attack. It's like existence of people that have different problems that you somehow offends you.
It's also been popular enough they started testing it on weekends and building more track for more destinations.
Wow, man! Have you ever, like, been to San Francisco?
Most of the people that I worked with in Paris used cars or motorcycles; they earned IT and professional wages and could afford to avoid the prevailing public transport, which they did. Later the company I was involved with moved to a 'suburb' (not sure that's the appropriate term...) of Lyon. Huge improvement in every way and no one at that site used any public transport; all cars.
This was the early 2000's. I imagine the bad parts have gotten worse since then; if you look like a tourist or foreign worker don't go near the metro outside of business hours.
Car ownership for Parisian households sits at 39%.
Zooming out to the Ile-de-France region (population: 12 million), 33% of households don't have a car.
source (french): http://transports.blog.lemonde.fr/2015/05/03/la-preuve-par-l...
Regarding your comments on safety, I certainly believe the city feels much safer today than in early 2000's.
(Obviously not talking about terrorist acts, as they are not caused by 'immigrants loitering in groups on the streets').
Then I don't want to imagine what it must have been like in the 2000's. :(
Cities should give companies tax incentives to keep employees at home. Just stay off the road. Live in a part of town where you can walk to get your groceries and snacks. Incentivize mixed use developments instead of suburbia hell.
Having worked from home the past year I can't understand how people put up with cubicles. While I make more now, I'd be willing to take a big pay cut to keep my sanity.
Don't you think social interaction important to maintain it? I feel that working from home is a lonely activity, and that on the other hand, being at the office and having lunch with co-workers or friends (even from completely different teams) contributes a lot in keeping one's sanity.
Maybe a nice solution could be a hybrid: companies having mini corporate coffee-shops around town, where employees could go and work remotely, but still interact with other employees and cutting on commute time. That being said, having a multitude of small locations is probably much more expensive and difficult to manage than a big main campus.
 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13177611 - see "Functions of a meeting"
I hate offices with an intense passion now. Not just offices, but office culture as well - where seniority is gained by being the first in the parking lot and last one out. I'm officially opting out of competing with these drones and focusing on my quality of living. I encourage other developers to do the same :)
Remote is a win win for everyone.
The first said, "I charged less than the market, and found guilty of dumping."
The second says, "I charged more than the market and was accused of gouging."
The last responded, "I charged the same as everyone else, and was accused of price fixing!"
Source? Who was unable to buy the medicine? According to him IIRC about 60% of the drug is given for 1$ or some nominal. Also, most people's insurance buys it.
It doesn't matter who is doing the "price dumping" or what their motivations are.
The effect on society is equally good or bad no matter who is doing the dumping or price gouging.
Replacing a conglomerate of public local services, beholden to voters, providing essential infrastructure, with single national private monopoly seems like such an obviously bad idea I don't understand how this conversation is taking place.
Maybe we should be arguing in favor of how to make public transportation more competitive in some way, or how to increase diversity of private options, but the idea that we should just hand our national transportation infrastructure over to Uber is just crazy.
Between this and arguments against net neutrality (when we should be forcing more competition onto ISPs and increasing public ISP options), lately I feel like Americans are living in some delusion about the role of the private sector in society.
And if that private monopoly ever stops being better, local organizers can make their own competing service. Or just go back to the previous system.
You can say, well, the pie is fixed and it's just a matter of who gets a bigger of slice of the pie. Consumers or VCs. Is is it equally good to "society" if consumers get a smaller slice of the pie when the private company charges monopoly prices and their owners benefit?
The idea that Uber might be competing with bus or rail seems very surprising and indicates that something must be seriously, seriously screwed with the mass transit infrastructure in that city.
Anyone hoping Uber is going to run out of VC money and lose favor after being forced to raise prices in cities where it is already popular is going to be sorely disappointed. Uber is profitable in those cities. The more plausible failure scenario is that it doesn't succeed in new markets and therefore ends up being worth less than its current valuation.
Maybe it’s time to quit discussing public transit officials and bureaucracies as though they were improving the world in a permanent way, and as though they will necessarily make cities better for everyone. We already know that’s hasn't been true.
Who exactly are the people telling this writer that Uber will make transit obsolete? I live in a city where public transportation is very popular and have not once, ever heard this.
The reality is public transit use is surging in popularity. Public ridership is up 39% since 1995 (you know, when most people did not have internet or smartphones). Young people flock to cities with good public transit. And while I've never once heard someone say "Uber will make public transit obsolete", I have heard many people say they chose a city because it had good public transit.
I would guess he is hearing it from politicians and other parties in the areas he is talking to. They will say "Why should we spend $x on a new bus system when uber/driverless cars will solve the problem"
I am just curious about others' thoughts about the big picture. Are cities doomed to privatized transportation and further inequality creation?
"The scarcity of space per person is part of the very definition of a city, as distinct from suburbia or rural area, so the efficiency with which transport options use that space will always be the paramount issue."
Japan has private rail transit for instance. Property rights in the US would make it very difficult for a private operator to actually build rail transit. Japan's private system also works because transit operators are also real estate developers and can cash in on the land they serve.
It can do that because its riders are forced into miserably packed standing room.
Private vehicle transport can also be much denser if we give up such requirements as "sitting" and "personal space." You could pack, like, 20 people into a Camry and it'd still be far more pleasant than BART between 5-10am or 4-9pm. Of course, some of them would be in the trunk and others tied to the roof rack.
Yes it does! I UberPool to work quite a bit, and have not poofed out of existence by participating in a geometric contradiction. You are claiming that we should ban something that currently works; "it doesn't work" is nonsensical as a supporting argument.
>people happily stand in public transit for the dozens of minutes they have to spend there, and have satisfied with their experience.
In many places, people happily go without basic medical care, electricity, or indoor plumbing. All of these things are terribly expensive and somewhat environmentally damaging, people who lack them are still happy, so... let's ban electricity?
The 2nd avenue subway is going to take tens of billions of dollars and several decades to complete. Why shouldn't the possibility of self-driving cars be taken into account when making these sorts of billion-dollar multi-decade planning decisions?
> But much of the confusion arises because people sincerely don’t understand how narrow the range of opportunities is for ride-sourcing to improve on fixed route transit’s efficiency.
As if I cared about improving abstract "efficiency". I care about being able to get a ride within 5 minutes at any point in the city. Whether or not that improves some abstract metric invented for completely other reasons carries no importance to me.
> We know Uber is unprofitable, which means its prices are unsustainable.
No it actually doesn't mean that. Profitability has other dimensions than consumer prices, such as investments, capital costs, etc.
> Uber’s behavior often looks like an intentional effort to undermine competitors and thus reduce customer choice
I haven't seen any behavior aimed to reduce customer choice. The only people trying to reduce the customer choice are those inventing reasons to ban Uber (and similar service), often at explicit prompting and for direct benefit of incumbent stakeholders.
> no doubting the value of these companies in the lives of fortunate people who can afford to use their services routinely
Oh, those fatcats that can afford to shell out whole $9 for a ride! Who cares about those, they probably each own a park of helicopters anyway.
> and many welcome regulation precisely to plug that gap.
Which regulation, to do what? No mention of it. Why bother? Of course regulation is good and no regulation is bad. Terrible article, full of FUD and calls to "do something", without bothering to outline what and for what purpose.
However city buses are tax subsidized. Why not boost the fare to actually cover the costs? Cities buses are driving on subsidized roads -- their fuel, vehicles, maintenance and marketing is tax subsidized. They even have special lanes built just for them -- paid for involuntary by people who are opposed to such things. Uber is paid for entirely by those that chose to pay for it, which is how it should be.
Why should I pay for city buses I won't ride? Why shouldn't the people riding the bus pay for it?
As for buses, it is a good thing if they are cheaper than cars. Encouraging public transport use is good for the environment, for people who cannot afford to own a car and also reduces congestion in the streets.
By your argument we should also have a sizeable congestion tax for driving a car during peak hours as well as a substantially larger gas tax.
I'm fascinated by the various company buses in the Bay Area. If you look at the passengers they carry they take a significant number of cars off the road. And even though they are economically inefficient (every company has their own set of fixed costs) there is no effort to create a public/private partnership that would meet the needs of companies and urban planners with less cost.
Depends on whether you are invested in providing terrible, expensive, mostly rotten tomatos.
Current HN headline: "Uber's predatory pricing is undermining public transit and density"
The article barely mentions predatory pricing.
It also pins much on whether or not Uber is profitable, citing conflicting reports. But at 30% take rates it's pretty easy to see that it would be quite profitable on a gross margin basis.
Uber is subsidized by private investors, public transport is subsidized by everyone -- whether they want, need or use it or not.
While it will bring many ills (e.g. increased obesity due to cheap door to door transit, more spread out cities), let's not delude ourselves with this article's misguided rhetoric -- mass transit will be more affordable and accessible than ever in history to the masses.
This article aims to treat the car sharing as ceteris paribus (all else equal) when in the current state of exponential change, it is anything but.
And electric is good, but there are some issues that will take more time to sort out, like charge times.
It's true improvements will arrive, but they add another set of uncertainties for urban planners.
Every self driving car company is aiming for 2020 for mass consumer release.
You might be able to get somewhere with a public unscheduled version of UberPool, but Uber is cheap because the drivers are getting screwed, not because it's actually efficient.
(The drivers are getting screwed because they're not getting paid enough for extra maintenance and depreciation on their cars. If Uber switches to owning cars they're going to take on this problem.)
Because I think it put in plain sight that no, most people do not want that. I for one do not want to ride next to people who can physically harm me. I would love a "club" model for public transportation where members who don't play nice could be excluded from this club, and which would only use members money instead of subsidies.
TLDR: do what you want with your money, I'll do what I want with mine. We will belong to different clubs providing different public transportation. Just don't force me to join your club by forbidding mine.
(edit: downvote is not for indicating disapproval in case I hurt your feelz. If you believe I am wrong, please explain how and why)
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13198727 and marked it off-topic.
Second, not everyone can afford to pay as much as a 'club' bus would cost. While you might think that is ok, and that people who can't afford it on their own don't deserve to be transported places, a lot of us disagree with that. We think that even poor people deserve to be able to get to work, to get to the store, and to move around.
while i understand your point, it's not really fair. you can have potentially unsafe run-ins with the mentally sane just as easily. you can also have potentially unsafe run-ins with the mentally ill while in a Lyft or Uber.
You are trying to say thay you want a quiet, peaceful, possibly even restful commute because you want to be focused at work. But that's not what you are actually typing.
"Mentally ill" is a deflection that waters down the statistics. People with a combination of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and substance abuse problems are more likely -- I believe 5-7x more to engage in violent behavior.
I worked in a central business district (not SFO) in a large office building where I'm personally aware of at least a dozen muggings and a half dozen attempted rapes by homeless people who turned out to be suffering from that combo. The company hired valets and provided escorts to employees, particular female employees to parking and mass transit. Eventually a change in local administration brought a police crackdown that resoled the problem.
That's not to say that all homeless people or people struggling with various maladies are all bad. But they do present a higher risk, and it's not unreasonable for people to want to keep a wide berth.
substance abuse increases the risk of violence in ALL people, it's not isolated to schizophrenics. if you're a woman and your suffering from substance abuse problems your nearly 7x as likely to attempt suicide. And almost 75% of people who seak treatment for substance abuse have admitted to committing violent acts while under the influence. 
Another study finds that while violence and schizophrenia specifically are often perceived to be correlated, "the proportion of violent crime in society attributable to schizophrenia consistently falls below 10%." 
So really, your company could be investing those funds into providing healthcare for people who need it rather than catering to delicate snowflakes who don't want to participate in society.
I also explicitly stated two conditions AND substance abuse. This is an established fact, not an attempt to vilify sick people. From the first search result, an often cited JAMA article:
"risk was mostly confined to patients with substance abuse comorbidity (of whom 27.6% committed an offense), yielding an increased risk of violent crime among such patients (adjusted OR, 4.4; 95% CI, 3.9-5.0), whereas the risk increase was small in schizophrenia patients without substance abuse comorbidity (8.5% of whom had at least 1 violent offense; adjusted OR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.1-1.4; P<.001 for interaction)"
Your other statement is ridiculous. That company took a strong stance to protect employees against sexual violence. I have people close to me who have been victims of this particular crime -- the aftermath is truly horrible and not some sort of joke.
you're the only person making a joke of sexual violence by attributing it's commission to people based on stereotypes rather than fact. just because you know peoplewho were assaulted by an alcoholic schizophrenic doesn't mean busses aren't safe.
It's good that there are lots of elderly, disabled, and single mothers who have no option but to use public transit. It makes me feel good inside that if something ever goes wrong, I can run away faster than all of them. Not that I would ever use public transit. I like that America has a system for me, and a separate system for everything that I'm afraid of. It's what our grandfathers fought and died for.
Personally, I don't see it as "us vs. them". But I don't think that true advocacy is creating situations where otherwise reasonable people feel that way.
> Most individuals with psychiatric disorders are not violent. Although a subset of people with psychiatric disorders commit assaults and violent crimes, findings have been inconsistent about how much mental illness contributes to this behavior and how much substance abuse and other factors do.