Uber and Lyft’s Link to Traffic Fatalities Laura Bliss

Author Laura Bliss

Every convenience has its external costs, and economists love to count them.

With ride-hailing, the positive benefits to users, and society at large, are several. On-demand services like Uber and Lyft provide transportation in neighborhoods underserved by transit or taxis; safe rides home for late-night workers and partiers; and increased ease of access for people with disabilities, research has shown. There’s also some evidence that they reduce drunk driving. Besides providing a service to millions of riders, these companies are increasing access to safe mobility for groups that haven’t always had it.

But the growing demand for press-a-button transportation is coming from everybody, not just underserved riders. In cities, that is translating into more cars on the road. While the environmental and congestion impacts of this surge in vehicles have been much discussed, the potential uptick in traffic fatalities associated with Uber and Lyft usage has been one of ride-hailing’s lesser-studied negative externalities. In a new working paper, a team from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is now attempting to pin this down. The authors estimate that 2 to 3 percent of the number of crashes in a given area can be attributed to the introduction of ride-hailing.

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Judge tosses lawsuit aimed at slowing Geary Blvd. bus rapid transit system

“The court finds that substantial evidence supports the (environmental impact report for) Geary BRT (bus rapid transit system) and its analysis of the project,” Lee wrote in an order that dismissed every claim made by the merchant advocacy group San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, whose members filed the lawsuit last year. They claimed the city had inappropriately rushed the environmental review without sufficiently examining the “biological, historical, safety and noise impacts” of major infrastructure work in the Richmond District.

In its suit, the group argued that work to add the new bus lanes — which intend to cut travel time for riders — would burden Richmond residents by reducing parking, requiring trees to be uprooted from sidewalks and eliminating the street’s concrete median. Skeptics also feared that businesses would wilt during construction, the way they have on Van Ness Avenue, where a similar street and bus lane overhaul is under way.

Construction began earlier this month on the eastern segment of the route, along Geary between Market and Stanyan streets. Crews are painting red bus lanes along that 2-mile stretch and widening curbs near stops, and the SFMTA is installing new software to sync traffic lights with bus arrivals. The next phase, scheduled to start in 2021, will extend the red lanes westward from Stanyan Street to 34th Avenue, widen sidewalks and add medians for people who can’t cross Geary in one traffic signal.

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SFMTA Board to consider 3 major pedestrian safety projects for Tenderloin, SoMa streets today

Proposals to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety in the Tenderloin and SoMa neighborhoods will be considered by the SFMTA Board of Directors today as part of the city’s plan to reduce traffic-related deaths.

The meeting comes just under two months after a pedestrian was killed in an unsolved hit-and-run incident near the intersection of Turk and Taylor streets, one of the critical areas targeted by the Safer Taylor Street Project. And according to SFMTA, the corridor targeted by the 6th Street Pedestrian Safety Project sees pedestrians struck by vehicles once every 16 days on average.

SFMTA has been in negotiations with the community for several years to determine the best safety improvement projects to implement in the neighborhood. Most recently, the agency hosted pop-up community events and online surveys to receive input on plans to install new sidewalk bulb-outs, bike lanes, and other mechanisms to make Taylor and 6th streets safer for vehicle and non-vehicle traffic.

Each project is tailored to the neighborhood community, according to SFMTA staff. The plans are part of Vision Zero, the city’s effort to end traffic related fatalities by 2024.

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Transit Oriented Development

EcoRing has long advocated for a streetcar from Oakmont (part of Santa Rosa) to Sebastopol in Sonoma County.  So here is yet another reason take streetcars seriously:

The Hop streetcar boosting land values pre-launch

A month before a new streetcar line is scheduled to open in Milwaukee, WI, Mayor Tom Barrett and city officials are touting new city data showing a 27.9 percent increase in property values (to an estimated $3.95 billion) since construction of the line was announced in 2015. This is compared with a citywide increase of 13.4 percent over the same time period.

The streetcar project, known as The Hop, cost $124 million and has long been seen as an economic development tool. So much so that part of the project’s funding is tied directly to development and value capture along the line. In addition to federal funding, The Hop relies on $59 million from three separate tax increment financing districts.

Streetcars—and fixed guideway transit generally—have been seen as potential economic development magnets but boosters should be mindful of the processes that have made certain lines successful while others have failed. For more on streetcars or the potential for value capture along transit lines, check out Street Smart: Streetcars and Cities in the 21st Century or Aligning Transit and Real Estate: An Integrated Financial Strategy in the TODresources.org library.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

·         TOD Comes to Fort Worth, TX (Next City)

·         Half billion dollar potential for Durham-Orange light rail stations (News & Observer)

·         Access to transit may have saved homeowners in last recession (London School of Economics)

·         Miami Metrorail station could get 40-story building (Miami Herald)

·         Could walkability outweigh transit access in land valuations now? (ULI)

Have a suggestion for a project or policy to highlight? Email us at info@todresources.org.


Why the Future of Rail Operations Is Digital

Authors Henning Schierholz , Michael Rüßmann , Peter Ullrich , and Rich Davey

The rail industry has historically adapted slowly to new technologies. Its approach to digital technologies has been no exception. Even as auto and truck manufacturers have raced to make the leap to autonomous vehicles, for example, rail operators have done relatively little to deploy driverless trains.

We believe that rail operators will need to accelerate the pace of change. Companies that manage rail service and infrastructure have little choice if they wish to hold their competitive ground, much less expand it. By embracing a digital transformation, operators can slash costs, improve service quality and reliability, and make maximum use of their physical assets. By failing to adapt, operators could put many rail systems at a severe—perhaps even fatal—competitive disadvantage to road-bound cargo and passenger services.