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Lyft moves San Francisco IPO roadshow as drivers protest (bloomberg.com)
50 points by anigbrowl 25 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments



I'm not sure it's possible for ridesharing to be adopted en masse by consumers at a price point that would provide healthy wages to drivers. E.g. if a rider works 40 hours a week and uses ridesharing for 2 hours a week, for the driver to earn as much as them, they'd need to be spending 5% of their pretax income on the ridesharing, in addition to gas and car value, with a multiplier on top for ridesharing inefficiencies since drivers don't magically pick up new riders in the same time and spot that they drop off. Pool / line can help lower this cost but in my experience I've ended up just riding alone more often than not anyway.

Of course, that doesn't mean Uber and Lyft aren't taking an unfairly large cut of the revenue, further reducing drivers' earnings.


Is anyone expecting ride-sharing to be adopted by a majority of the population for everyday trips? My impression is that taxi rides are inherently transportation for the upper middle class or occasional necessities for anyone else, not an everyday mode of transportation for the masses.


I had hopes that multi-rider trips would catch on more. So 2+ passengers would split the fare. My commute is toward the city center like most of the single occupant traffic. And I don’t need dropped off exactly at my place. Close is fine. (Last mile problem)


> My commute is toward the city center like most of the single occupant traffic.

This is the problem mass transit is ideally suited to solve. Hiring 1 professional driver per 2–3 commuters when there are thousands all going the same place is ridiculously inefficient. A bus can easily fit 10x more passengers.


Agreed, but in anti-bus cities, start at 2, add some HOV, congestion pricing, slowly work up to 10. Before you know it, we have buses again, just not called buses. Just a thought.


I've only ever been impressed with mass transit in megacities like NYC. SF public transit left a lot to be desired. The muni was not worth the hassle and I did not have a bart station near my rented room in a house.


Yeah, the USA has terrible mass transit, except in a few cities. Many other places around the world do much better.

A few years ago I was in Honolulu, and wow is it crazy to have a gajillion cars on a tiny island (separated from any other possible destination by thousands of miles of ocean) all stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic every day.


I used to avoid the Bay Area's buses like the plague for many years, but in the last couple of years I came to ride them a lot and have been pleasantly surprised.

They're really convenient, with buses being able to take me to within a five to ten minute walk from most anywhere within the Bay Area that I want to go, and even closer within SF proper. They're a lot quieter than the BART (where I feel I need ear plugs to protect my hearing), it's as clean or cleaner, and there are now apps like Citymapper which tell you exactly which bus to take and when to get where you're going.

My main gripe is that a couple of times buses just didn't show up at all when they were scheduled to arrive (not just late, but just skipped a bus).

NYC's subway system is definitely way better than BART in terms of having way more stops and going virtually everywhere, but it also has its own problems (like the stops being deadly hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter).


Note that BART has gotten a lot quieter recently. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/BART-rides-quiet...


This is a failure of the US, not a fundamental requirement of scale.


Uber is trying to solve this with their new option. You walk a short distance to get picked up along with a couple of other people, and then you get dropped off in a common spot and take a short walk on the other end. It's basically trying to optimize common routes.


When I was living in Oakland Uber Pool rides would often be cheaper than taking BART...


Uber & Lyft are trying their hardest to sap riders from mass transit, SoCal has seen ridership fall year after year. Short of fining employers for each employee that doesn't get a transit pass through the employer, there isn't much cities can do to curb this.

Seattle does this, to the tune of a $800 to $500 per employee fine if they aren't provided a transit pass depending on where the employer is located in the city. Employees can self-certify as biking or walking to work once a quarter, but a year long transit pass is less than the fine.


> Short of fining employers for each employee that doesn't get a transit pass through the employer, there isn't much cities can do to curb this.

Rather than fining employers for failure to get a transit pass for each employee, they could tax them per employee and just issue the transit passes.


Doing so forgets the human side of the equation. There is technically a couple ways to avoid the fee (eg: self-certifying as a bicyclist, walk to work or carpooler) which give the city fairly accurate data as to how people get to work.

Meanwhile, employees feel better about their emploer giving them a "free" transit pass rather than a tax funded passes for all plan. It creates a surprisingly strong incentice for people to switch companies to one that will give them a transit pass (particularly among the $100+k a year workers).

Employees literally feel jipped when their employer doesn't give them a pass, I don't think you could create this kind of positive incentive to be a transit rider any other way.


> Short of fining employers for each employee that doesn't get a transit pass through the employer, there isn't much cities can do to curb this.

Maybe they could make mass transit better so more people would want to use it?


You have to create a virtuous cycle of transit ridership improving somehow, adding more busses when the riders aren't there generally doesn't cause a surge in ridership.

Dedicated lanes, singal priority, off-bus payment and fining employers that don't provide transit passes is a proven way to start the cycle toward high transit ridership.


Sadly with the deterioration of public transportation in major cities there is really no other option for a lot of urban commuters.


I wish more people would do this math, and apply it to other topics like how to pay teachers. For services to operate in a steady state over a long term, there is some fraction of the economy they must capture. This is why fundamentally a bus or train has to beat taxi services: the amount of service provided per labor hour is potentially a lot higher.


>This is why fundamentally a bus or train has to beat taxi services: the amount of service provided per labor hour is potentially a lot higher.

that is looking only at one small piece of the issue. The inconvenience of the bus/train saps the time and drains mental resources from the riders which also has cost. Somewhat similar to why the A380 lost against the 787.


for the driver to earn as much as them

That seems like a weird metric.


1. Why should it be?

2. Even if you're a famous neurosurgeon, it's a good an index as any.


Because it's uncoupled from anything. 'We can't pay drivers more because 5% of your time would be like 5% of your income.' It's meaningless.


5% of pretax income on transportation isn't unreasonable if it could truly replace car ownership. Most car owners in the US are likely spending more than 5% of their income on depreciation, interest, insurance, maintenance, taxes, and fuel for their cars.


There's also the danger of car accidents, which is much greater than that of mass transit.


>"E.g. if a rider works 40 hours a week and uses ridesharing for 2 hours a week, for the driver to earn as much as them, they'd need to be spending 5% of their pretax income on the ridesharing, in addition to gas and car value, with a multiplier on top for ridesharing inefficiencies since drivers don't magically pick up new riders in the same time and spot that they drop off."

Could you elaborate on the math? How do the 40 hours vs 2 hours relate? Where does the 5% pretax income number come from? Genuinely curious.


Not sure if I agree with the math, but 2 hours is 5% of 40 and it is pretax as they would have to pay taxes on top of that amount.


I see, that's the piece that wasn't clear this presume that both the rider and the driver make the same hourly wage. That makes sense. But like you pointed out this is pre-tax and also you have to factor in insurance, car maintenance etc so it would probably work out to much much higher.


They lost almost a billion dollars last year.

Doesn't profitability rely on eventually being able to replace drivers with automated systems?

I feel sorry for the drivers at that hotel.


It's not a great experience to work for an algorithm.




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