The Uber Benevolent Dictator Problem

Uber logo as dictator symbol.
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People love Uber, and I’ve personally been delighted in the past by the efficiency and “magic” of the service. It is amazing that one can press a button on a phone and have a car show up to take them on their way. As an economist, I’ve loved the fact that one of the worst cesspools of rent-seeking regulation-protected market inefficiencies – the taxicab market – has been disrupted. But if Uber is truly upending this market, why should consumers ever trust a single company to own that market, even if they claim to be doing good? This is a … Continue reading

Recap of the WMATA RoundaAbouts talk on Momentum and the Future of Metro

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Last night (1/23/2014), Shyam Kannan, WMATA Director of Planning, spoke to a large gathering of transit enthusiasts and other urbanists about the future of Metro. It was an interesting discussion hosted by Arlington County and Mobility Lab’s RoundAbouts speaker series. There were some interesting points that came up about metro issues in the downtown core, the potential expansion of a new Rosslyn station, and talk about the “loop” service. I was there live tweeting the event, and thanks to a few other folks’ tweets, here’s a recap of the event in its entirety. Pictures of some of the slides and … Continue reading

The Most Useless Crosswalk Ever Is In McLean

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This is a story of bad pedestrian design of the worst sort. I live in the Tysons / McLean area, and so I frequently use the GW Parkway. When you’re going Northbound on the GWP and get off at the Rt 123/McLean exit, you encounter the worst and most useless crosswalk I’ve ever seen, and it bothers me why its there. It speaks to horrible planning, to bad design, and just a general insult to pedestrian infrastructure. Site Overview So this is the overview of where it is so you know what I’m talking about. (at the end of this … Continue reading

U.S. Commuter Rail Facts Infographic 2012

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Did you know that 73.6% of all commuter rail trips in the U.S. occurs in the Northeast Corridor? Well now you know, because I compiled some numbers for you. Here’s a really cool infographic, and enjoy. And by Northeast Corridor, I mean the the DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NJ, NYC, Connecticut, and Boston corridor. Let me know what you think. **UPDATE** As a fan of open data, you can find the raw data I compiled here. Historic time series data from APTA is available at the APTA website.   U.S. Commuter Rail Facts | Create infographics

Economic Review and Outlook: Implications for the US

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By Michael Rodriguez & Heather Romani, June 2013
The US economy continued to show moderate growth in the first quarter of 2013, following the trend of modest growth seen through all of 2012. Some economic indicators are showing positive signals: housing prices are continuing to rise; unemployment has remained under eight percent for eight months; and the private sector continues to add jobs despite continued cut backs in non-military government employment. Of these, the most positive signs are in the housing market because the net worth of families and individuals is often tied to real estate prices, and increased net worth can in turn lead to increased consumer spending down the road. On balance, the trend continues with a similar story to what this column reported in the December 2012 issue of EFR—a modest recovery that sustains some economic growth but has been insufficient to yield a full recovery.

Full article via Parsons Brinckerhoff, Economic Forecast Review

Can Uber Break 1 Million Riders in Charlotte?

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**UPDATE 1/27/2014** ** OVER THE WEEKEND IT WAS REPORTED THAT UBER ENGAGED IN UNETHICAL BUSINESS PRACTICES. READ HERE ** Based on some of the job postings around, it comes as no surprise to anyone that the everyone’s favorite taxi/technology company, Uber, has been expanding at breakneck speed. As they plan to enter the Charlotte, North Carolina market, some may wonder if this service is viable in a city that is not New York, San Francisco, or Washington, DC. I decided to run some numbers and do some fancy-pants statistics, and the preliminary figures are: its possible to get towards 1 million even … Continue reading

Velmobile: Can the ELF Buck History’s FAILS in Transportation Tech?

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Every now and again we see another vehicle designed by another company that claims to be the disruption in the transportation field to move us past the internal combustion automobile.  Recently, Oragnic Transit has developed a “velomobile” that they are calling the ELF, and they have raised over $250,000 on their Kickstarter campaign. I would be excited to see folks zipping around in ELFs all over the place, and wide adoption of this type of technology (a petal-powered, electric-assist, solar-recharging, partially-enclosed tricycle). But I’m cautious, and think that without navigating the regulatory environment and phenomenal marketing, this might end up in the dustbin of … Continue reading

Tyson’s Corner on the Verge of a Do-Over

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By Corinne Reilly, Published: January 3

The first thing to go was the parking lot behind the Container Store. And if all goes according to plan, more lots will be bulldozed — as will dozens of mid-rise office buildings, hotels and car dealerships.

Two years after Fairfax County adopted a radical, four-decade plan to redevelop Tysons Corner, it is finally beginning to happen, block by block, building by building….

Via The Washington Post

Is Uber Empowering Female Drivers?

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**UPDATE 1/27/2014** ** OVER THE WEEKEND IT WAS REPORTED THAT UBER ENGAGED IN UNETHICAL BUSINESS PRACTICES. READ HERE ** I want to share an interesting theme that came up the other day when I was taking an Uber ride (and briefly tweeted about). I was in DC using Uber for my first time just the other day and headed to lunch when I pulled out my iPhone and called up a black car. Because I was centrally located at 14th and K for work, it took well under 5 minutes for the car to roll up – it was a nice black Escalade. As a transportation professional, … Continue reading

Would More Drivers Use Mass Transit if It Mimicked Private Cars?

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Personal Rapid Transi

By Emily Badger, Published: January 15. 2013

Personal Rapid Transit is probably best described as a hybrid between the private car and public transit, with some more familiar elements of the taxi and elevator thrown in. Picture, in short, a pod car. Engineers and researchers (even Google!) have been fantasizing for several decades now about the concept, which would personalize public transit in small vehicles – perhaps running on or hanging from an elevated track – that would transport you straight to your destination without any of the stops and delays of a bus route, or without the cost of a taxi ride…

Via the Atlantic Cities.