Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Montgomery County Council still fighting the future, Uber and Lyft

The Montgomery County Council crackdown on ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which not only raised your fares but dings you 25 cents on every Uber trip you take, isn't over yet. New WMATA chief Paul Wiedefeld and the members of the WMATA board of directors will meet with the Council today at 12:45 PM. But last week, seven councilmembers sent a letter to Wiedefeld demanding he not partner with Uber or Lyft on paratransit services.

Instead, the council wants to not only extract that 25-cent Uber tax you're paying on each ride now, but also want you, the taxpayer, to subsidize - guess who - Barwood cab, the Council's idea of cutting-edge transportation. Like in D.C., cab companies would handle paratransit services beyond what MetroAccess provides.

Term limits are gaining steam thanks to the Council's disregard for residents' concerns about development from Lyttonsville to Chevy Chase to Westbard. Unlike paratransit, there will be an app for that.


Anonymous said...

What a poorly written jumble of nonsense.

First, cab companies already pick up the slack when no MetroAccess vehicle is available. You're acting like this is some new action taken by the council.

Second, the 25-cent surcharge against Uber is because they don't provide transportation for disabled people so the county has to do it for them. Uber already knows that the fee against them goes away if they, themselves begin to provide rides to disabled people.

Third, the council believes taxis should remain the MetroAcess alternative because they're a licensed, trained and supervised fleet of vehicles. Alternatively, just about anyone can become in Uber driver in a couple of days after they rubber stamp you. It's perfectly reasonable for people to think putting our most needy citizens in the charge of random, unlicensed people is a bad idea that only opens the door to abuses.

Fourth, I have no idea what Uber and Lyft have to do with term limits and development, so I'll just chalk that up to poor writing.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It still baffles me that people do not use black car services for this sort of thing. Progressives in New York have been doing so for decades.

Anonymous said...

Dyer's article about Sunday's hearing could have just as easily been titled, "Westbard Residents Fighting The Future".

Robert Dyer said...

8:16: No, because there's a huge difference - fighting a plan that damages the community isn't the same as a Council fighting the future of transportation to protect its campaign donors at a cab company that ranks somewhere between Pepco and MoCo Liquor in popularity. Baba Booey.

Anonymous said...

Although I am glad that Barwood's monopoly is being challenged, Uber's and Lyft's business model - the so-called "gig economy" - faces at least two very serious challenges in the years ahead. The first is the shrinkage of the labor category "working part-time for economic reasons", as the economy continues to improve. The second is legal challenges to their classification of their drivers as "independent contractors" rather than "employees".

Robert Dyer said...

7:14: If you read the article I linked to, it clearly states that the Council wants to establish a taxpayer subsized Barwood cab system for paratransit, instead of partnering with Uber and Lyft.

Councilmembers trying to limit popular transportation options for their constituents is just one of many reasons people are signing the petition for term limits.

Are you also a fan of the MoCo Liquor monopoly?

Anonymous said...

Keep shifting those goalposts.


Anonymous said...

Dyer accuses @ 7:14 AM of not reading the Washington Post article to which he links, but Dyer's subsequent comments make it painfully obviously that he did not read that article himself. Dyer has no shame.

Money quote:

"'We find it contradictory that WMATA would seriously consider rewarding (Transportation Network Companies) who have not provided service to meet the needs of all members of the disabled community,” said the letter sent Thursday. 'Until these companies recognize their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and offer comprehensive accessible service, we should not consider them a real option for addressing our paratransit needs.'

"The letter...echoes some of the concerns raised by accessibility advocates who have said that Uber and Lyft have not done enough to meet the needs of people with disabilities, such as those who are blind or use wheelchairs. They cite a lack of accessible vehicles and question the level of training the services’ drivers receive in dealing with people with special needs."

Anonymous said...

The MoCo Council members (and their hangers-on) are the last people on Earth predicting the imminent end of Uber and renaissance in cabs.
I never knew we had so many Luddites in our County government.

Robert Dyer said...

9:49: Now you're on another issue. First you denied the Council was seeking a DC-like, taxpayer funded cab system. Now you are repeating monopoly cab company talking points.

Uber is trying to enter the paratransit business nationwide. To offer paratransit, guess what? THEY WILL BE SERVING THE DISABLED. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. They can't use a non accessible vehicle for a disabled person.

Anonymous said...

Lee Barnes owns the council. I dont take Barwood because of him

T said...

Do people who use Metro Access all have a credit card or Google Wallet which is required by Uber? Lyft at least allows Paypal but I'm imaging most of the people needing this service might not be savvy enough for it.

Also, the drivers could be from DC or Virginia meaning less money circulating into MoCo when all is said and done.

Anonymous said...

California Labor Commission rules that Uber drivers are employees, not "independent contractors":


"An Uber driver named Barbara Ann Berwick argued the company owed her money for costs she incurred while driving customers around in the car she owned.

"In a normal employment relationship, those costs are borne by the boss, not the worker. But Uber considers Berwick an independent contractor, an increasingly common arrangement that shifts certain business expenses onto those doing the work. By using independent contractors, Uber not only doesn’t have to buy SUVs and gasoline, it doesn’t have to worry about payroll taxes or workers’ compensation costs.

"That model hinges on the idea that people like Berwick are truly independent in their work — a contention held by Uber and just about any company using the independent contractor model. Drivers are more akin to business partners than employees, the argument goes.

"Barrett wasn’t buying it. Uber, she said in her opinion, is the one holding the reins, 'retain[ing] all necessary control over the operation as a whole.'

'Defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation,' she said. 'The reality, however, is that Defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation.'"

Why The Gig Economy Is Sputtering:


Robert Dyer said...

2:23: Isn't that the same California that was recently lost its status as Top Tech Exporter to Texas? And where business is heading for the exits under a $15 minimum wage hike? In other words, I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find a political body in California ruling against Uber and business innovation.

Anonymous said...

California is doing fine. It's Texas that is hurting, now that oil is less than $40 a barrel. Do try to keep up, Mr. Journalist.

Robert Dyer said...

6:57: As I just pointed out, Texas beat California in tech exports, and have been destroying them in job creation for years. Do try to keep up, Gov. Moonbeam fan.

Anonymous said...

Which businesses are "heading for the exits" in California?

T said...

All the technology in the world doesn't matter if people can't figure out how to use.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:39 AM - or if you don't actually have a smartphone.

Anonymous said...

The 70's era Barwood monopoly is no longer relevant - it's an example of old thinking bad government.

Montgomery County is no longer a rural suburb that needs a subsidized, monopoly cab company - the market should dictate and customers should have choices.

Anonymous said...

First of all the article doesn't even mention Barwood. Secondly, most of Barwood's cabs are parked and not operating including their accessible cabs.

The PSC regulates Uber and Lyft not the council.

Anonymous said...

How typical Montgomery Co. politicians sticking their noses into our business. What possible role does government have in Uber and what they do? None. There's an election in days. Vote these people out. They won't stop intruding into your private lives if you don't. This reminds me of airbnb. Just like that service, soon, Uber and the like will be banned. Outrageous!

Anonymous said...

6:33 your comment really shows you have no idea what government does and does not do. what election are you referring to? I assume you don't very often or you would know that these folks are not up for reelection doy..............

Anonymous said...

"There is an election in days."

Yes, a PRIMARY in which you get to choose your party's candidate for President, US Senate, US House of Representatives, and convention delegates.

No County officials, and no incumbent seats, either.

Good catch, @ 6:58 PM. We got a live one here.

T said...


That too - no smartphone means no lyft or uber.

Anonymous said...

You're funny.

Anonymous said...

It was an overall point. Relax. You probably very happy with the current officials in Rockville. Many aren't.

Anonymous said...

8:23. - If you're going to be so snug, try and be right.
Board of Education is local.
So are Circuit Court Judges.

Anonymous said...

The word you want is "smug", not "snug".

And judicial elections are non-partisan, so judges do not run in the primaries.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Robert for pointing out that there is building unhappiness all accross Montgomery County with these cookie cutter sector plans. Chevy Chase Lake was a disaster, strongly opposed by a majority of residents who participated yet council passed it, with an added scathing commentary from Marc Elrich on how the council and planning board had really screwed the residents in favor of developers. And so the same scenario is repeating itself in Westbard and Lyttonsville.

The planning department under Rollin Stanley was contemptuous of residents' concerns, going so far as to accuse respected community activists of being "rich white women sowing fear." Now under the similarly tin eared leadership of Gwen Wright, planners continue to disregard community input in favor of mega development. Chair Anderson has an agenda to urbanize all suburbs, and County Council seems eager to rubber stamp these plans. The "we know what is best" attitude, and the "we need to educate the residents in Westbard" comments are so offensive.

Our elected leaders are not looking out for the interests of their constituents. Yes, perhaps some developers are also consituents, (though not Equity One) but their desires should not outweight those of the majority in community. Just because they contribute thousands if dollars to council membes shouldn't give them more clout...but it does. Sadly, that is our political system, pay to play.

We do need term limits and to vote these fat cats out of a job, and if Elrich is also out of a job due to term limits, well, there will definately be an opening at the County Executive for the one stand up guy in the bunch.

Anonymous said...

Saith Dyer @ 5:53: "Isn't that the same California that was recently lost its status as Top Tech Exporter to Texas?"

Saith Dyer @ 8:57 PM: "As I just pointed out, Texas beat California in tech exports, and have been destroying them in job creation for years. Do try to keep up, Gov. Moonbeam fan."


"But for the last three years, California has added jobs at a rate faster than all but five other states — and since last year it has significantly outpaced Texas."


"California added 150,000 more jobs last year than previously believed, signaling that economic growth in the state far outpaced the rest of the nation."


"California economy is projected to grow faster than U.S. through 2020"


Anonymous said...

Just kiss it.

Anonymous said...

1:54PM Obviously it was a typo, and should have been smug.

Candidates for Judge of the Circuit Court are on my primary sample ballot. Aren't they on yours?

Robert Dyer said...

2:06: How many of those jobs are high-wage, and how many are burger-flipping, jeans-folding McJobs like MoCo?

Anonymous said...

@ 9:13 PM is still more proof that Dyer is a troll, not a "journalist".

The hallmarks of trolling include:

- Gish Galloping or creating straw men instead of responding to the points a target makes.

- Insisting they know what a target really means instead of taking responses at face value.

- Posing an endless series of questions to create more grist for trolling.

- A seeming inability to acknowledge that other people may have different, valid opinions.

- Attempts to score points with a perceived audience rather than engage in direct dialogue.

- Taking a target’s statements out of context by twisting single words and short phrases.

- Failing to cite sources or citing sources that don’t back up claims.

- Focusing on criticism and complaints to the exclusion of solutions.

- Quickly devolving into ad hominem arguments.

Robert Dyer said...

2:09: There's plenty of proof I'm a journalist, such as being the only news outlet that doesn't provide rosy coverage of County government and the MoCo political cartel. The investigative reports, such as Farm Road, underground fuel spill coverup, and abuse of EV parking spaces in County garages.

Wake up and smell the Hans Riemer press release!

Anonymous said...

2:09 - You do realize you've just described yourself along with 90% of the other posters?

How can he be a troll if it's his blog?