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Lyft lobbying to prevent Portland from regulating impact of ride-sharing (humantransit.org)
195 points by cozzyd 42 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 128 comments

Honestly, I would much prefer everything get regulated at state level.

I live in NJ. There are 565 municipalities here. Every single one has different regulations. For example, if one were to pick up a prearranged regular fare from Terminal A at EWR (Newark Liberty International), they might not know that this terminal is in the City of Elizabeth. The city sometimes has plainclothes detectives write $783 tickets. For prearranged pickups by non-airport taxi, not solicitation.

Uber and Lyft got regulated under a statewide 'rideshare' law here. Townships and cities can't ticket them for doing pickups. Taxis have to know all the regulation of every municipality they operate in. In the above example, Elizabeth wrote a ton of tickets for rideshare drivers before the statewide framework into effect.

I'm aware large cities provide unique challenges and can understand why NYC for instance should be allowed to regulate their own taxi/livery situation, but for the rest of the state it doesn't make sense to have every little town have different regulations.

Edit: Seems someone did write a petition that even covers the nuance of allowing some larger municipalities a little oversight https://www.change.org/p/new-jersey-governor-help-the-taxi-i...

>> I'm aware large cities provide unique challenges and can understand why NYC for instance should be allowed to regulate their own taxi/livery situation,

Firstly -- NYC's regulation of Uber/Lyft probably had much to do with the mayor's massive campaighn donations received from the TLC: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/nyregion/de-blasio-reaps-... NYTIMES: Taxi Industry Opens Wallet for de Blasio, a Chief Ally by MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUMJULY 17, 2012

I wish Uber/Lyft had lobbied more heavily in NYC...it isnt as if the other side was not lobbying. The cap on Uber/Lyft in NYC is regressive and particularly cruel to the poor. NYC transit has been in a death spiral for several years now and often becomes unusable in weekends/off-hours and in outer-boroughs (you know...when working class individuals commute.) A let-them-eat-cake approach to suggesting that Yellow Cabs (~40$+/ride from Brooklyn) are a solution is absurd when pooled Uber/Lyft offer far better prices and a more sophisticated product (shared rides for 3-4 people.)

Medallions have always been regulated and restricted, not to benefit an asset owning class of rent seekers (that was a side effect), but to prevent the narrow, constricted island of Manhattan from choking on gridlock. Lyft and Uber essentially abused a loophole and caused traffic speeds to decline in the core.

Congestion pricing with a fee on all yellow & black car rides for origin and destination within CBD would be the best way other than a cap to regulate this, but that is still quite the political lift due to the windshield perspective of the city’s and state’s politicians.

>> Congestion pricing with a fee on all yellow & black car rides for origin and destination within CBD

If the goal was to reduce congestion in CBD, I'd support that goal...and zone-based pricing fixes that. CBD has extensive and frequent subway service, so that makes sense, esp since congestion pricing can be turned off on non-peak hours when subways dont seem to work.

However, what the city actually did was put a blanket cap on all Uber/Lyft across all boroughs at all times of the day/week -- seems like a move to intentionally hurt Uber/Lyft while not directly solving the above goal (reducing congestion) ...and plus...applying a regressive cost on poorer people.

Further, yellow cabs are much worse than Uber/Lyft pool services w/r/t congestion.

DeBlasio loves regressive taxes. His entire Vision Zero policy is nothing more than an excuse for the NYPD to issue more tickets to poor and middle class drivers.

Drivers in New York are not poor or middle class. A majority of households in New York don't even own a car.

Car ownership varies widely by borough with fewer than 1/5 in Manhattan, more than half in Queens, and over 85% in Staten Island. Ironically this correlates inversely with where live the richest New Yorkers. The vast majority of car owning New Yorkers are squarely middle class and Vision Zero is unquestionably a regressive tax on those citizens in the name of “safety”. A big target of Vision Zero is also Uber drivers who are mostly poor. DeBlasio has specifically said he won’t support scaling traffic fines to income. The real beneficiary here are the blood sucking NYPD who can point to their new stacks of summonses as proof that they care about the community when all they care about is padding their retirement accounts with assets from civil forfeiture.

Both are pretty bad. A Lyft or Uber waiting for a passenger also drives around and causes congestion like a yellow cab. Lyft and Uber have increased total VMT. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/07/2...

Poor people in New York overwhelmingly don't drive. They don't even own cars. The median car commuter into Manhattan makes far more than the median transit user. https://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/newsfax/insidethebudget154.pdf

As far as the cap applying to all boroughs; that is because no one would sign up for a license that only went to the outer boroughs. The yellow/green cab experiment failed; introducing a similar dichotomy to black cabs would probably have the same results.

The yellow/green cab experiment failed because it happened before the magic of smartphone ubiquity. The problem with yellow/green cabs was density -- the density outside Manhattan is thin and the area is enormous. The chances of a yellow/green taxi just passing by when you need one is close to zero.

Uber/Lyft solved this issue with beaconing. Uber/Lyft further reduce cost if you pool, which is great all around.

Why is the fee only on yellow and black car rides, rather than on all cars? Shouldn't we prefer non-private vehicles on the street instead of ones that will do parking?

Congestion pricing is a toll around Manhattan south of 60th St. Private cars would pay only on entering or exiting, since you can't use a private car to pick up strangers in New York (even Uber and Lyft use black cabs, which have a different license from yellow cabs that only covers pre-arranged rides and not street hails).

Since cabs may not necessarily enter or exit the CBD while doing the trip within it, a fee equivalent to the toll should be charged for an origin in the CBD or a destination in the CBD, with a double fee charged if the trip stays wholly within it.

The purpose of such a fee and toll would be to keep vehicles flowing. Cabs are actually worse than private cars for this, since private cars spend most of their time parked while cabs spend their time between fares driving in circles.

Parking externality is handled separately; there is a tax on parking fees, and the total number of off-street spots has been capped for a while.

Uber/Lyft as a solution is just about as regressive and ignorant of the working class. The solution is fixing transit.

I'd agree the strategic solution is fixing transit. But for the working class, strategic solutions don't pay rent nor do they fill your stomach today.

Uber/Lyft is both a terrible solution and often the only viable one immediately available. What is the immediate alternative when the transit system isnt working now...walking?

My mother used to take the subways. Now, on off-hours, half the time you end up without subways running, or running express, or running on alternative tracks, or a wall of conflicting reroute posters conflicting with actuality, or subways simply not showing up. She ends up at some random station without elevators or escalators and thinks...why didn't I just Uber this?

For those not familiar with NYC's transit death spiral: Governor Cuomo Announces $1 Billion in New MTA Funding and Declares State of Emergency to Speed Up Subway Repairs


Echoing you concern and somehow related: in Germany it is almost impossible to get state of the art software infrastructure on the road for customers of public transit because of the fragmentation of transportation providers. Municipalities run their own systems and while not all of them are actively sabotaging attempts at increased coherence, none of them has any incentive to increase coherence either.

If it weren't for the state-run federal railway system, that runs also commuter railways in all German cities (and thus can enforce pressure) I reckon there would even be no software to calculate a ride from one end of the country to the other. And there would certainly be no product like the BahnCard, were you can use all of Germany's public transit for ~4.200 € / year.

> were you can use all of Germany's public transit for ~4.200 € / year.

Well, you can't. You can use Railway and S-Bahn because S-Bahn is traditionally owned by the DB. You can also use other public transport in the specific regions that the DB negotiated for, the ones that are included as "city" on a long distance railway ticket. These regions do not even always align with the regions for public transport, for example "City" in Berlin is not aligned with the A,B or C regions for local tickets, it's mostly A plus some.

The full list is here https://www.bahn.de/p/view/angebot/cityticket.shtml

Yes there are some exceptions, but you're just proving my point: Even the Bahn can't negotiate full alignment across Germany although its only the largest of cities that don't accept the BC100 completely.

Then again, almost all of those cities have an extensive S-Bahn system, so we're really just talking about some subways across Germany where you still have to pay extra.

Case in point is Berlin: What edge case does it have to be for a typical BC100 owner to travel across Germany and have to visit Zone B or C with a subway but not with a S-Bahn?


It’s not an edge case. Zone B begins at the inner S-Bahn-Ring. There’s a lot of destinations that are reachable via U-Bahn and Bus/Tram outside the inner ring. It’s so common to travel outside zone A that you can’t even buy a zone A ticket, it’s always A+B

Keep in mind that “city” is only available for 120 cities in germany in the first place.

Yeah this is a really frustrating. A lot of the transit agencies don't have their schedules on third-party apps, and even the ones that do don't seem to usually release real-time data.

For example I'm in Munich, Google Maps shows schedules but not real-time departures, and the data definitely exists somewhere since their own apps show it. Of course, since this is a random one-off transit agency app, the UX is absolutely atrocious compared to Google Maps.

Japan has bunch of different rail providers that run parts of the network. I wonder how the interoperability problems are solved over there.

Well, sure. But long distances are usually covered by Shinkansen, and shorter distances are often covered by one of the regional JRs. All of these are supported by JRS (https://www.jrs.co.jp/english/) which run IT and the railway information services. You only need to buy one ticket for a JR trip even though several companies may be operating the trains you use.

For more local service, there are also private railways and various metro systems. They sometimes have agreements to allow transfers between them, like the two Tokyo subways. So if you are going to use two different subway systems in Tokyo, you buy a transfer ticket and have to pass through a gate in the middle of your trip to transfer to the other system.

They sometimes have agreements to allow transfers between them, like the two Tokyo subways.

That's a pretty gross understatement.

There are more than a dozen companies operating public transport systems in Tokyo alone and it's all interconnected. They don't only seemlessly interconnect (via PASMO or SWICA smart cards), but they also share common designators for their station labellings.

So if you are going to use two different subway systems in Tokyo, you buy a transfer ticket and have to pass through a gate in the middle of your trip to transfer to the other system.

I remeber exactly that. But that was around the year 2000, where it was really difficult to use public transport without a guide as a foreigner. Today, with a smart card, consistent and unique labelling of every station, regardless who operates it, and all ticket machines talking perfect English it's a breeze.

>There are more than a dozen companies operating public transport systems in Tokyo alone and it's all interconnected. They don't only seemlessly interconnect (via PASMO or SWICA smart cards), but they also share common designators for their station labellings.

Perhaps they are more culturally motivated to present customers with the best experience unlike trying to fleece customers for every dime in America. Just saying.

There's a chance if you don't integrate your transit with the other guy, they may pay more to use yours and spend 2 hours traveling. Win!

That's true and as interesting it is, that it seems to be working is, that most, if not all providers are private companies. I don't have an answer to that...

Conversely, what if every single person in a small town agrees on a regulation that they feel is in their best interest? Why shouldn't transport providers be bound by that? These are mostly local services, it's only the behemoth tech companies coming in to offer "ride sharing" that really benefit from uniform laws across the state in 99% of cases.

They may be local, but they aren't bound to a single township. I live in a suburb, and there's no way a rideshare operator in my ares could function without consistently operating in at least 30 different local municipalities. Each small town deciding what is in their own best interest may conflict with what is in broader interest of people outside that town. If municipalities start passing their own rules that in some way limit rideshare & cab rides, all of a sudden you have drivers saying "sorry, I don't go to towns x, y and z". Or "I have to drive through town x & y to get you to z, and they have $5 surcharges on each ride, so that will be $10 extra for the ride." Then every town catches on to this revenue source and all pass similar rules, and a 20 minute trip costs an extra $20. I live 10 minutes away from where I work and still touch 3 towns on my way.

The narrow self interest of a small group isn't always compatible with the larger group, or even the small group's own longer term interest.

> Or "I have to drive through town x & y to get you to z, and they have $5 surcharges on each ride, so that will be $10 extra for the ride."

If the ride does not terminate in x or y, and is using an ordinary passenger car, I doubt that such a regulation would be enforceable specifically against ride services unless the town could show a specific danger from them. I think they would have to charge $5 for every non-resident vehicle passing through, not just ride service vehicles, to get away with it.

They can do it by making operators register with the town and provide accounting of their ride fares quarterly regardless of whether or not they had any fares within the town (Just like businesses in my state must file quarterly sales tax returns regardless of whether they had taxable sales in that quarter).

It could be enforced the same way any other traffic-related law gets enforced: police can pull you over, and impound your car if you aren't registered. Sure, not everyone would get caught, but it would be a stiff enough penalty that drivers would either comply or avoid the town. I'm not saying it would be practical, but this is the sort of law you'd get if every town is allowed to make their own rules about such things.

> Sure, not everyone would get caught, but it would be a stiff enough penalty that drivers would either comply or avoid the town.

Hi, part time taxi driver here. We still do prearranged pickups at airports where it might not be legal. Even with the potential risk of $1000+ tickets hanging over our heads.

This logic is the same reason the drug war failed. If there's demand for a better/more effective service and we can still profit off it, we will provide it despite legal challenges.

Sure, some do, but I'm sure some don't. I'm not saying such a law would make sense, or be even close to 100% enforceable, only that such a law a net negative effect for drivers and consumers.

Keep in mind that New Jersey has the highest average population density in the country, and it’s 34x more dense than Oregon, on average! New Jersey’s population density is an almost an order of magnitude closer to Portland’s population density. Then when you take a look at the municipalities in Oregon and New Jersey, even bigger differences appear. Oregon’s population is overwhelmingly concentrated in Portland and the greater Portland metropolitan area (which includes Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham). Something like 50% of the state population lives in the metro area as of 2010 census, and it’s a small part of the state, geographically. Over 500k in Portland alone. Look at New Jersey and you get a radically different picture, at least if you look at municipalities. The distribution between municipalities is much more even.

Also note that the airport, Portland International Airport, is within Portland city limits, proper.

I would say that lessons learned in New Jersey do not translate well to Oregon. Speaking as someone who lived years in Oregon and years in New York, it’s easy to underestimate the differences. It took me a while to understand (as little as I do) the political and geographical divisions in New Jersey, and let me tell you, they are not like the political and geographical divisions of Oregon.

Here’s a population density map of New Jersey: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:New_Jersey_Populatio...

List of municipalities in New Jersey: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_municipalities_in_New_...

Population density map of Oregon: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oregon_population_ma...

List of cities in Oregon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_Oregon

Just to paint more of a picture, Salem and Eugene are ranked #2 and #3. From my personal experience as a driver, these cities are NOT like Portland and it would be absurd to regulate them in the same way. Even “downtown” Salem and Eugene, such as they are, do not suffer from traffic in remotely the same way that Portland and the surrounding metro area does. What makes this worse is that Portland has been experiencing high growth rates for many years now, and the traffic infrastructure has not been able to keep up with the number of cars on the road. Traffic is shockingly worse compared to ten or twenty years ago, and Portland needs to be able to make the policy and infrastructure changes to fix that.

State of the Union: european

Of interest to HN.

Specifically, the bill Lyft has proposed and is attempting to pass would eliminate the ability of every Oregon city from taking the following common sense steps to protect TNC passengers:

   - Collecting local data, which is critical for understanding congestion and climate impacts.

TNC providers are not eager to reveal any more of their data than they have to, for reasons of proprietary advantage. Similarly they understandably don't want to take on the operational cost of having to comply with many local requirements. (I work in data at a tech company; I can sympathize with their point of view.)

Yet if urban mobility ultimately becomes a good provided by tech monopolies, we want to make sure local governments are in on the loop with respect to the knowledge and data those companies have, and have some leverage to enforce local requirements.

Applications to current issues regarding privacy regulation, antitrust and tech monopolies, and the potential rollout of autonomous vehicles are left as an exercise for the reader.

Also, recommended: "Inside the Transportation Data Tug of War" - https://www.move-forward.com/inside-the-transportation-data-...

I've complained about this here before after Uber and Lyft did the same thing in Texas (https://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/news/2017-03-14/lege-f...), states certainly have an interest in legislative preemption when there's a good and prevailing cause for it, I won't argue the legal merits there, but I think this warrants serious consideration beyond the surface when voters (as was the case in Austin) decide on municipal code and business effectively 'buy' preemption or else threaten to take their ball and go home (https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2016-05-13/our-city-our...).

The most infuriating part of the state legislative preemption is that it was very obviously not necessary. Within days of the departure of Uber and Lyft there were competing services that operated just fine under the new regulations.

I won’t speak to whether the regulations were necessary or effective, but when the companies argued that there was an undue burden being imposed that would make it difficult to do business and then we witnessed the very opposite happen (smaller companies such as Fasten and nonprofits such as RideAustin were able to do just fine with the regulations), it sure made it smellier when the legislature came in and deemed it necessary to overturn the regulations.

Within days of the departure of Uber and Lyft there were competing services that operated just fine under the new regulations.

Good point, I always forget to mention those. While not without their own technical issues, I think RideATX (I forget what the other competing service that sprung up during that legislative frackas was named-was it Fasten that you mentioned?) had a lot going for it with real promise as a model cities could follow during the months Austin went without the two big names in ridesharing.

The story is even more baffling when you consider the story of HeyRide, who launched in Austin before Uber and Lyft even showed up (http://austin.culturemap.com/news/innovation/11-01-12-15-51-...)

i loved fasten the app was pretty well run and handled the load during SXSW pretty well.

They had great customer service, too. I loved that app and was pretty sad when it closed down. They apparently paid better than Uber/Lyft, too, but I've never been able to confirm this; it's just what I heard from drivers whenever I asked.

Shouldn't legislation be more reactive than preemptive? Isn't the Uber/Lyft worst case scenario that traffic gets a little worse?

Preemptive in this case means that only the state legislature can pass laws on this, and cities can't have bylaws on the subject. The declared intent is to ensure that some legislative subject is uniform throughout the state.

The worst case scenario is also that fixed rate, lottery availability taxi is completely replaced by highest bidder availability.

Depending on your value system, this can be a good, or a bad thing.

That’s only how it works in theory. No city actually has a blinded lottery system for equitable pickups. In practice, drivers just discriminate on who looks likely to tip more when demand is hot, and this is very hard to police.

Price controls rarely have this ideal outcome.

Nothing about Uber and Lyft existing prevents taxis from continuing to operate via fixed rate availability.

In many of the big cities, taxis still exist alongside Uber and Lyft.

Calling Portland "dense" is hysterical.

As a Portlander, I can say we are a terrible example of what NIMBYism does to efforts to lower housing costs by adding density.

Our city has a decent public transit setup and if the focus was on adding usable density with improved transit options, rather than people trying to protect neighborhoods, we'd be much better off.

I am fine with Lyft wanting this regulated at the state level. It seems like a weird hill to die on for Portland.

> Calling Portland "dense" is hysterical.

I remember taking a Lyft (merely coincidental to this story) on a visit during Halloween. There were like two bars on the street we were on, each with maybe 10 or 15 people outside.

"Crazy night tonight!"


“Less dense than than optimal” does not imply “density effects don’t matter for city management as claimed in the letter [eg for scarcity of road capacity or pickup points]”.

Well, the city has done very little to move density forward. They continue to approve buildings that are mostly overpriced, poorly built, studio apartments.

The other problem is that the commute pattern in Portland isn't into downtown only. There are people who commute from the east side of town, through downtown, through the tunnel (or one of the other limited transit options over the hills) to Beaverton or Hillsboro to work at Nike, Intel, etc. The efficient public transit options for that commute simply don't exist. It can take 1.5+ hours to do that via MAX and bus.

Which, I agree, are important issues, but don't obviate the mayor's reference to municipalities' need to manage the problems of density (rather than be overridden by voters that don't encounter such problems).

Usually what happens when things get regulated at the state level is that change is a lot slower to happen, and the state might have either indifference toward or opposing interest with the city. There's already kind of a Portland-vs-rest-of-Oregon dynamic, plus a Portland-vs-Clark-Washington-Clackamas-Counties dynamic.

I think the process that we've done in Portland is pretty decent: have a prototype/trial period, see how traffic patterns change, evaluate trade-offs and safety, then pass laws based on the experience. Lyft even previously worked directly with the city to develop and implement these local rules.

It's not clear to me that preventing Portland from regulating services like Lyft without state intervention is a win. Certainly Bend, Medford, Seaside, etc. would probably benefit from their own rules. Perhaps legislation that facilitates some basic ground rules would be helpful, but also allowing for additional local regulation would be the best fit.

When the state complicates or bans local regulation/development, seems like the trend is to just stop it and then do nothing else. For example North Carolina's HB1 bathroom bill, Chattanooga's municipal fiber vs. AT&T's lobbying for bans, Atlanta's MARTA being at the mercy of the state legislative branch for its funding.

If America's urban areas were good at "geometry" they wouldn't have so much parking and such shitty transit.

I feel like every state should mandate accessible data similar to Taiwan's approach (https://data.cdc.gov.tw/en/). New York has a similar program but does not have the hackathon or incentives for people to use the data.

Color me naive, but I'm always confused why those troubled by the lobbying criticize the influencers instead of the influenced. The influenced aren't some innocent party here. Surely it is more reasonable to act in the best interest of your company as a lobbyist than it is to act against your constituents as a politician. Where is the scathing letter directed towards the writers/signatories/supporters of the bill in question? The reason you see this one is simple PR as a city lobbies for their way at the state level just as Lyft lobbies and they know anti-big-company is an effective tactic.

If the city of Portland has a problem with the state of Oregon, then that's where the politicians need to hash out their issues.

> Specifically, the bill Lyft has proposed and is attempting to pass [...]

Lulz...what kind of terrible spin is that. I would be ashamed if I voted for this guy. Lyft doesn't pass laws.

> I'm always confused why those troubled by the lobbying criticize the influencers instead of the influenced.

Bribery tends to be a crime because we haven't found a way to short circuit en masse the human tendency to submit to influence.

> Lulz...what kind of terrible spin is that. I would be ashamed if I voted for this guy. Lyft doesn't pass laws.

Considering your comment, I shouldn't be surprised that you would be dismissive of the idea that directing influence means exerting greater control over the legislative process; it's only the technicalities (i.e. Lyft is not a legislator) that differ. The statement holds, and I think many of us would appreciate a more dignified rebuttal to the article's point rather than "lulz."

> Bribery tends to be a crime because we haven't found a way to short circuit en masse the human tendency to submit to influence.

I specifically mentioned that they aren't innocent parties for this reason. Turns out accepting bribes (if that's what we're calling it) in public office is also a crime yet the focus here is on one side. Why?

> it's only the technicalities (i.e. Lyft is not a legislator) that differ

Yes, that's spin and it's a form of deflecting from the real issue which is that the state and city disagree (on the bill, on one side succumbing to lobbying, etc). The statement does not hold, specifically and as a whole; it needs to be made at who is really "attempting to pass" the bill. Who exerts the greatest control and why is the letter not aimed there? The question can only be asked so many ways, but sadly all this deflecting about bribery, technicalities, quality of rebuttal, etc here and by politicians prevent real answers that should be asked of the real lawmakers.

> Bribery tends to be a crime because we haven't found a way to short circuit en masse the human tendency to submit to influence

Contrary to popular belief, lobbying and bribery are in fact not the same thing.

What's the difference?

Seriously? Lobbyists are paid to talk to politicians. They represent interest groups, and make their case in DC and other places. They do make campaign contributions, but that does not represent anywhere near the same level of influence as an actual person to person, quid pro quo bribe. There are actual places in the world where bribery is rampant, and if you lived in one of those places, you really wouldn't need to ask this question.

> They do make campaign contributions, but that does not represent anywhere near the same level of influence as an actual person to person, quid pro quo bribe.

I bet it would have the same level of influence for people whose primary goal is to gain political power, and I bet those people (not by coincidence) tend to be the ones who become politicians.

Local level bribery might not take the same forms that it takes in other countries, but the top level bribery is easy to see. We have massively expensive elections that are used to direct money towards a massively expensive system of 'election contractors' all of whom were elected officials at some point that now receive dark money via this system.

Of course, compared to our lobbying system, where people like Joe Lieberman now work, taking money to inform other elected officials that if they play the game right, they'll also make millions from corporations 'lobbying' the government. They'll help to make sure that you have a long career with lots of attention by funding your campaigns.

Lobbying sounds great, but like many things, we've perverted it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying lobbying is great. I'm merely trying to keep some perspective that lobbying, while not ideal, is still much better than actual bribery.

When I see a politician selling their constituents up the river to a special interest group that also happens to fund his re-election (or threaten funding of his opponents), I don't actually feel much different then if it were a regular quid pro quo corruption arrangement. It happens all the fucking time.

In fact, that they aren't breaking any laws when doing so makes me feel more incensed about it.

Special interest groups generally can’t “fund his re-election” because it’s illegal for corporations to donate to candidates. It might be worth considering whether your belief that “it happens all the fucking time” is based on facts or some sort of inchoate narrative you’ve picked up over the years.

> it’s illegal for corporations to donate to candidates.

Only directly, I thought? Can't they can give money to PACs which then give to candidates? In theory there's no collusion but...

> Can't they can give money to PACs which then give to candidates?

No, but they can sponsor a PAC, which frees up more of the money a PAC raises from individual sources for donations to candidates; this is different only if you ignore the fungibility of money.

(They can also spend directly or via a “SuperPAC” on advocacy that is for/against candidates but legally not coordinated with candidates, and SuperPAC activity in practice is often coordinated with campaigns via public signalling and other mechanisms.)

They can’t contribute to PACs either. PACs just pool individual contributions. They can give to SuperPACs, but SuperPACs can’t contribute to candidates.

The PAC are required not to coordinate and they can be scrupulous about never being in the same room as the candidate. But they don't need to coordinate to e.g. run a TV ad campaign endorsing a candidate who's done something they like.

Although they do appear to "coordinate" quite effectively.

e.g. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/super-pac-coordinatio...

This is false, by omission.

They can hire the candidate after his term in office to 'consult', or give paid speeches, or lobby for then, or play golf all day. Or just cut a check to his charitable foundation, out of the goodness of their hearts. (A recent presidential candidate's family has hit four out of five of those.)

They can fund a PAC that either endorses, or opposes a candidate. The difference between funding their campaign directly, and funding a PAC that campaigns on a candidate's behalf is a fig leaf.

Tell me - in practice - how do these things differently from direct funding of a campaign?

We have laws setup around allowing lobbying.

When you just make the rampant corruption legal, it ceases to be corruption. Flawless system.

One's illegal.

> Lyft doesn't pass laws.

That's really just a semantic argument. When someone proposes a bill to a governing body, it's implied that they are trying to get it passed, even if they aren't congressfolks and don't have a vote. If not, why would they propose it? Certainly convincing legislators that a bill is a good idea is part of getting a bill passed, whether or not you are a congressperson, right? Maybe the sentence isn't exactly, technically correct, but it's not far off from reality.

> Where is the scathing letter directed towards the writers/signatories/supporters of the bill in question?

The letter to me reads like an expression of deep disappointment. Previously Lyft worked particularly well in concert with the city government, and Wheeler heaps praise on these past efforts. But now they're going behind the city's back and going to the state government. Maybe they are just participating in a "reasonable" business practice, but it is in stark contrast to their behavior in the past.

> The letter to me reads like an expression of deep disappointment

While it may read as such, the fact that it's public and promoted says more than the content.

> Surely it is more reasonable to act in the best interest of your company as a lobbyist than it is to act against your constituents as a politician

No. Both parties of a bride are equally guilty.

Really odd comment sentiments here. I fail to see how this is a good thing as opposed to alarming.

Many of the bullet points are somewhat vague, but one is strangely specific:

> Prohibiting companies from charging passengers with disabilities higher prices during busy times.

First of all, what constitutes 'disability'?

How will passengers identify themselves as 'disabled' to the apps?

How would the companies store this highly private information? (think medical-info grade, not credit-card grade)

What will indemnify the companies from claims of discrimination, claims possible in light of the companies being aware of users' disabilities, information they never wanted to keep in the first place?

And finally, not to make it the main topic, but who would pay for this? That "surge pricing" you pay is, in turn, being paid to the drivers. The drivers are "chasing the surge'.

I would assume the definition of disabled at play here is related to the equipment of the car e.g. wheelchair lift, or service required e.g. driver getting out of the car to help someone in or out of the car.

So it's not a status but just a per ride assessment -- if you appear disabled when the driver comes to pick you up, he should ask not to receive surge pay for that particular ride?

I interpreted that not as "disabled people don't pay surge pricing" but instead as "disabled people pay the same rate as nondisabled people, even when demand is high."

How is Lyft different from any taxi service?

Functionally for passenger? It isn't much different since taxi hailing apps now exist.

For driver, very different. Taxi vehicles are typically exclusive business use, often times used by different drivers in shifts. Different municipalities may set fare rates or minimums for service. May set caps on number of cars. Or might not, maybe they just require commercial insurance and an application to be filled out. It's different everywhere. Some cities lyft/uber drivers are even employees of a subsidiary since not recognized as contractors.

Generally lyft/uber went into markets going 'nananana, we are not a taxi because this is a cellphone! Look at the app! Rideshare!' So regulators ended up having to make a new legal class of service. The companies could just throw straps at the problem until enough users jumped on and 'transit proposals' could be made to towns.

There are certain key differences, but basically the supply of drivers / vehicles, and the pricepoints are regulated by the company rather than by municipal legislative.

Which has upsides and downsides wrt quality, availability, wait time, and pricing, including potential to apply "surge pricing".

For example, municipal yellow cab taxis are known for both being legally obliged to pick up passengers in all relevant areas, and at the same time unwilling to do so in certain areas, due to unprofitability, or perceived risks.

it differs by local municipality, but generally taxis can be hailed on the street and livery/ride services can't.

Because its much better, and so attracts more people to the service.

Uber has a great potential to be used as public transport, with dynamic route pathing based on supply and demand. Something traditional public transport could never do.

Traditional public transport certainly could do that (and demand-response routes are a thing in rural places), but fixed-route consistent routes make more sense in urban areas from geometric considerations (and you know, not requiring a charged smart phone to get from point A to B).

Uber has a great potential to be used as public transport, with dynamic route pathing based on supply and demand

Yeah, Silicon Valley companies taking over our public transport infrastructure.

What could ever go wrong with that?

Uber is a disaster as public transit. It's functionally little different than just having everyone drive themselves. Not needing parking is a big benefit, but it's still a bad idea.

It is functionally very different because:

-You dont have to drive around and find a park (less congestion and real estate)

-You can pool your trip with another user (Uber Pool)

It's worth noting: as much as a low-quality source like this frames their headline as if devolving control to local government is an unalloyed good, the interplay between the policy of nested polities (eg city, state, federal) is a much more complex issue, and one that people come down on the other side of fairly often (as a simple, dramatic example, the repeal of Roe v Wade is considered to be a nightmare scenario for many here, and yet it's precisely a case of federal law restricting the ability of local govts under the aegis of protecting individual rights[1]).

I'm not expressing approval or disapproval of Lyft's actions, but I think it's worth pointing out what a low-quality source this is, given its reliance on leaning into the reader's biases right from the headline. Low-effort advocacy like this is almost never the best way to understand a topic, just as a libertarian think tank's hypothetical "Lyft protects consumers from authoritarian local govt's" headline wouldn't be.

[1] I know this is a complicated issue and I'm really not interested in getting arguing it on its merits; it's just a convenient, widely-recognized example that takes the jurisdictional form I'm describing here.

What exactly is low quality about the source? Apart from the fact that Mr. Walker is without question an expert in public transport most of the blog post reprints a letter from the city of Portland outlining Lyft's dirty tacticts.

The actual blog entry simply outlines the different requirements between dense - and suburban city areas.

Your comment, smearing the original poster, seems to me vile and totally beyond the point.

Repeatedly stating that only city folk can understand a city is uh... rather divisive and insults the reader's intelligence.

But that's not what the author wrote in context. He is pointing out that representatives from rural and suburban areas propose regulations and laws that benefit those types of areas and are often directly opposite of what people in a dense area need or want.

That's not being insulting; that's the expected outcome. People should advocate for what is suitable for the area where they live. (What that happens to be and how to implement it is always up for debate.) But for a representative of a rural or suburban area to insist that a city have the same rules as--and no more than--a rural area is not feasible.

That's what the author was getting at within the context of those two paragraphs. It's also the push/pull dynamic of cities and rural/suburban areas that's been going on in state governments since time immemorial.

It's not about understanding, it's about wanting what's best. For example, suburbanites probably want free parking and more highways in cities, even though that's not in the cities best interest.

It’s not as complex as you make it out to be. Interested parties including the media and lobbyists advocate for whichever level of government best supports or has the best shot of advocating for whatever position they are taking on any given issue.

You cited Roe v Wade, well there aren’t many that will simultaneously advocate for a pro-choice position yet also criticize the judgement in Roe v Wade in its legal or constitutional merits or lack thereof. For someone who holds a pro-choice position, Roe v Wade mostly “got the job done” on a national level, and whether SCOTUS should have kicked the buck up to Congress or back over to the States is entirely besides the point. Since it is a form of “law” not easily overturned except by another SCOTUS ruling or an Act of Congress which requires a consensus unlikely to form in either direction, it more or less protected the position of people who are pro-Choice regardless of whether SCOTUS was the correct place to make this call. No one is going to advocate a legal position that is counter to their ideological position except an exceptionally rare breed.

Most people simply cannot compartmentalize the differences in their legal and ideological opinions to the point that when talking to them, they may as well be one and the same. Wherever there is a difference and contradiction, the ideological opinion will almost always win out, and the legal opinion will almost always be construed to support or will be completely overridden altogether.

So whether it is access to abortion or digital taxis, people, corporations, lawyers and politicians alike are going to treat each level of government they have access to and each organ of government as tools to advance their positions. It isn’t these are the rules we have agreed to play by, our legal system is now just a very long multi-sided multi-dimensional game of legal Go to advance competing ideologies, power bases and profit motives. Maybe that is all Law ever was, but conceptually it isn’t that hard to grok this much: all levels of government are at the whims of people who will advance their interests at any cost and wherever they can gain ground. The primary thing keeping these whims in check are competing differing incompatible interests.

Merely curious since you went out of your way to twice refer to this as a 'low-quality source', but is there something remarkably un-qualitative about the writing on the topic of public transit in this blog-beyond your stated objections with this particular post? This post got me looking through the rest of the blog as someone passively interested in transit, but otherwise uninformed on the topic as an area of focused-study compared to Mr. Walker, here.

It seems like the tldr of Portland's objections is that rideshare services result in a net increase of cars on the road-- the rideshare cars-- because it makes taking a cab more convenient than mass transit. But it seems like an inverse effect might offset this issue: fewer people choosing to own & drive their personal vehicles because it's now more convenient to use rideshare services an not have to worry about finding & paying for parking.

burst traffic vs constant traffic, where burst can be defined as commute times.

you can see the affect in downtown Portland, where car traffic was mostly concentrated to burst hours with the rest of traffic being a relative trickle of vehicles that weren't delivery or transit vehicles. now, it's a constant stream of lyft/uber labeled cars at all hours, in addition the the burst hours. anecdotally, no passengers most of the time (around 70%), seeming to be between fares.

The HN crowd has always been hypocritical when bashing Uber but praising Lyft. They are the same kind of crooks.

ITT there seems to be a lot of sentiment that city/county local governments shouldn't be able to implement policy on anything but the most trivial matters. As if politicians and corporations residing in other cities are better suited to make impactful local policy. I dont get it...

Then again I am still scathing from a similar case study in my home town of San Diego, with Airbnb. Our city council passed some policies to regulate whole-home short term vacation rentals in residential areas. It limited whole-home short-term Airbnb/VRBO rentals to 6-months per year (you could still rent out a spare room or granny flat on Airbnb as much as you want).

Airbnb wasn't having it. They hired a gazillion signature gatherers to brute force a public ballot measure. I'm talking about a signature gathering army; they were such a presence/nuisance it led to absurdities like Trader Joe's filing a lawsuit against Airbnb [1].

To be clear, Airbnb is killing San Diego's local renter market. Over the last 5 years, thousands of rental properties have been converted to short-term Airbnb rentals. These images speak for themselves: https://imgur.com/a/UBJYbwr

This is on the heels of an independent consulting firm warning that sd housing and rental prices are rising at an alarming rate, and F grade in new housing development (blame SANDAG?), and single-family home prices slipping out of reach of median income earners (further saturating the apartment rental market) [2].

The natural reaction was SD locals filling town-hall meetings for several solid months, demanding city council take action (it was a sight to behold, because, I mean, when do you ever hear your friends say 'I just got back from a town hall meeting?'). And they did. And everyone cheered.

And then a week later it was all over.

The funny thing is; it won't even be a ballot measure. Airbnb understood that if they got the minimum number of signatures, they could force san diego city council to either (1) rescind the policies they just passed and start over on new policy more favorable to Airbnb - it had to be since laws require resubmissions after a petition to be substantially different; or (2) no policy whatsoever, until a formal ballot measure could be put in front of voters (i.e. 2+ years of no policy & airbnb propaganda).

TLDR; a silicon valley company has more sustained influence on san diego rental/housing policy than san diego elected officials

1. https://www.fastcompany.com/90231150/trader-joes-has-filed-a...

2. http://londonmoeder.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Regional-...

This makes me sick. As a Bay Area resident I was happy when I heard South Lake Tahoe passed a VHR ban in residential areas.

People who buy homes only to Airbnb them do not care about neighborhoods or their impact on community.

Or to put it another way, San Diego property-holders now have more control over what they do with their property than San Diego elected officials.

Right, if only that were true.

It's a bigger pain-in-the-ass to run a property as an STR compared to renting to some local on a yearly lease, since tenant turnover always requires a variety of owner/prop-manager/property interactions (cleaning, fixing stuff, finding the right seasonal listing price, interacting with people unfamiliar with the area, and a big issue of dealing with 'vacationer' collateral damage: trashed apartment, pissed-off neighbors, etc.).

That final hurdle (the 'pain-in-the-ass bottleneck') is almost completely mitigated in the current manifestation of Airbnb. We are at a tipping point where corporations buy dozens, hundreds, of residential properties and automate the entire STR process. Vacationers book online, they show up at the STR and punch-in a pin code to open the front door (no need to shake anyone's hand), vacationers stay for a few days, leave the STR in whatever state of affairs, later that day some contracted cleaning staff shows up and cleans the mess, washes the sheets etc, and resets the door-lock on the way out. Voilà, fully automated STR. Rinse, repeat. And the more STRs the corporation owns in a city, the lower the overhead cost per unit.

Here is one such company... Sonder.


If you take a look at the map of their San Diego offerings, you'll see a bunch of pins on the map with numbers like <9>, <12>, <14>, up to <27> it seems. But if you look closely, that doesn't mean they own 27 total apartments in San Diego, that number means they own 27 apartments/lofts under that single pin. Sonder is a Silicon Valley based company, waddayaknow.

Covert, illegal hotels are great for permanent residents. Score one for libertarianism.

I've seen the effect of San Francisco "governing itself". In many respects, I would rather they didn't.

"Governing itself" isn't some magical good. The cost of incompatible laws in jurisdictions can be large and invisible. Since the legislature ignores the cost of laws, they are encouraged to complicate things as much as possible.

I'm on Lyft's side here.

You want corporate interests to rule a city? That's not even remotely democratic.

I want regulation at the state level. Obviously, people know the legislation would be too heavy handed so they're trying to pass it at a layer where they don't need to compromise. That's a perversion of the system.

It is certainly more "democratic" to have important issues, such as housing, governed at the state level, and not at the local level.

Do you oppose democracy or something?

Look at California, New York, or Texas. There's parts of those states that may disagree with the political leanings of the states policies. How are they supposed to get their own say in their community?

iamdave 41 days ago [flagged]

"Governing itself" isn't some magical good

I don't think one who holds this particular stance is particularly concerned with the merits of democracy. Call me on it, if I'm wrong, scarejunba.

The topic is city level democracy vs. county or state level democracy.

A lot of housing and transportation problems are caused by the regulation being too local.

a lot are caused by things like messed up state level property taxes.

California's housing problems are multiple levels of poor regulation.

For what it’s worth, I read that comment as drawing attention to the fact that democracy, while powerful, can be misdirected. People make mistakes, and in large groups, peoples make mistakes, especially when working with a complex set of top-down rules that we’ve built up over centuries for the purpose of controlling other people in a world that has had billions of years to develop its own complexities. As an aside, that fragility is why such top-down structures are so rare in nature.


No, because I already did.

Haha, no you didn’t. You’re terrified that if you openly said what you insinuate, it wouldn’t work.

I insinuated that your statement wasn't overly concerned with the merits of democracy vs. corporate interests, pretty directly in fact, and asked you to let me know if that assessment was incorrect.

Turns out it was.

I was incorrect in that assessment, there is no terror here. I was merely mistaken and I am pretty openly owning that mistake, not shying away from it. Not sure how this idea that I'm somehow "terrified" of the debate is relevant when I openly invited you to correct me no the matter-which you did.

Thank you for the correction, I guess?

Why the scare quotes?

Just normal quotes in this instance. I’m specifically discussing the phrase “governing itself”.

After reading the article (including the letter which was reproduced within), I feel an equally fair title could be:

"Mayor and Commissioner of Transportation lobby for the right to enforce their own rules, not just state laws, on Lyft"

How so? It seems like the mayor is reacting to lobbying by Lyft.

The state is considering a piece of legislation. The mayor:

- wrote a letter and released it for publication by the press

- gave interviews or quotations to journalists for publication

Both of these seek to influence state legislators, and the evidence is right there in the article.

Where is the evidence of Lyft's lobbying?

And does 'who started it' matter? (I mean, if X did the first lobbying act, does that automatically make them the party in the wrong?)

Both of these seek to influence state legislators, and the evidence is right there in the article.

Where is the evidence of Lyft's lobbying?

I'd like to counter your question with a question: why shouldn't a mayor be speaking up to influence state legislators if they believe legislative issues could have an impact on their city? This is literally one of the primary duties of being an elected leader at the city level.

> why shouldn't a mayor be

...but nobody said they shouldn't.

I'm sorry, taking into context the comment I quoted from the chain it resides in, from the way the person I'm responding to initially reacted to this post, it looked otherwise at a glance.

Why shouldn't anyone else be speaking up about legislative issues?

Doesn't everyone else have the same rights as a mayor to do so?

They absolutely do have that right, and should be encouraged to write their state legislators if they are motivated to. but since the letter in the article was written by a mayor, from the perspective of a mayor, my response here is directly about the perspective of said mayor. I was attempting to keep my comment congruent with the context of the post.

Ok, and the context of this post is that the mayor in question is complaining about other people exercising the same exact right that he is exercising.

That's the point. The mayor's opinion on the matter is ridiculous. Both the mayor, and other people, have the same right to express their opinion on legislative matters.

I don't quite follow your last statement, perhaps I've read an improper context than what you intend. If both the mayor and other people have the same right to express their opinion on legislative matters, what about the mayor's opinion is substantively different that it rises to the description of 'ridiculous'-as you put it?

His interest slightly preempts (pardon the phrase, given the context) that of the "other people" here in that he and the members of his city council-as elected officials-and appointed committee members have the express charge and duty of setting and guiding the direction of policy in their city. When state action has the result of affecting municipal policy, mayoral opinion matters along with that of local residents wouldn't you say?

> If both the mayor and other people have the same right to express their opinion on legislative matters

His opinion is apparently that it is not OK for Lyft to do the exact same thing he is doing.

Yes, both Lyft, and the Mayor, have the right to express their opinions on political matters. And apparently the opinion that the Mayor is expressing, is that it is not OK for Lyft to exercise this same right that he is expressing.

Ie, he is condemning the fact that someone else is doing the same thing he is doing.

To use an analogy, imagine that 2 people are arguing about the hypothetical concept of free speech. Both person 1, and person 2, have the right to use free speech, to discuss the concept of free speech, but if person 2 is arguing against the idea of free speech, then I am going to call his opinion ridiculous.

The point is to show hypocrisy. Both entities should have the ability to express their opinions on legislative matters, and it is ridiculous that apparently the mayor disagrees with this concept.

Surely you see the difference between someone who is speaking in an official capacity as a public official and someone speaking in a business capacity to influence legislation for competitive business advantages.

You cannot be so blind to the differences here, can you?

The point is to show hypocrisy. Both entities should have the ability to express their opinions on legislative matters, and it is ridiculous that apparently the mayor disagrees with this concept.

The mayor doesn't disagree with the concept of free speech, the mayor simply disagrees with what the speech is and how it, and the actions of legislative preemption at the behest of these companies can potentially impact his city. Which isn't hypocrisy, it is his express prerogative as a city leader! It is what the people of Portland elected him to do.

If you'd READ the letter in full, you'll see the Mayor isn't trying to curtail Lyft's speech, or saying they shouldn't be allowed to Lobby, but instead he's pointing to specific things and agenda items Lyft is Lobbynig for, and pointing to those specific items as things that could harm his city.

There's a lot of difference between pointing out something someone said that you disagree with, and positing that they shouldn't say it at all or be allowed to speak period. If that distinction is lost here, or for whatever reason being willfully left out of your responses, I think this is as good as any of a point to retire from the discussion because we'll be here forever.

That would be more misleading, because cities generally have authority to enforce their own local ordinances on top of state laws.

Certainly, states set the scope of what the ordinances can be, but there's nothing unusual about a city enforcing its "own rules" on top of state laws.

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