Anaheim’s proposed 3.2-mile streetcar project that will connect the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) to Disneyland is facing opposition and calls to cancel the project just as the environmental review is underway. The debate took place at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) board meeting on Monday. An ad hoc committee recommended that the project be scrapped before more bread is spent on it.
The committee notably includes Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, a vocal critic of the project. Not explicitly stated as part of their concern, but perhaps one of them, is the one-year-old ARTIC’s disappointing ridership (the station is planned to serve high-speed rail but that’s still years away). Ultimately, at the request of other members, the OCTA board voted to wait for more information to make a decision.
Thanks to the new tax deal passed by Congress earlier this month, transit riders will be eligible to receive up to $255 a month in IRS commuter benefits in 2016 — the same amount allotted to those who drive and park at their office. The new benefit levels the playing field for both drivers and transit users. In previous years, transit users could only receive up to $130 a month in pre-tax benefits.
There’s no question additional benefits and incentives for transit riders is a good thing, but the real question the article leaves open is whether equal commuter benefits (or “commuter benefits parity”) for both transit riders and drivers helps alleviate traffic congestion. Excerpt:
The best available evidence suggests that benefits parity won’t do much to change commuter mode choice. Research by Andrea Hamre and Ralph Buehler has found that when companies offer workers both parking and transit benefits, more people drive alone than when companies offer no commuter benefits at all. The lure of free or very cheap parking is so great, especially when paired with the convenience of driving in most U.S. cities, that few employees make the switch to bus or rail.
So what might be the solution? A benefit disparity. Dun, dun, dun.
The Emerald City is once again is in the ride-share spotlight this week. Fresh off last week’s launch of Uber’s new bus-like service, UberHop, Seattle’s city council voted on Monday to approve the framework allowing Uber drivers to unionize. It’s the first such law for ride-share drivers in the country and may have impacts on other app-based for-hire services.
Currently federal law gives workers categorized as employees bargaining power and other wage and working condition protections. For-hire and app-dispatch companies like Uber categorize their drivers as independent contractors. While the pols in D.C. contemplate how best to categorize this new and growing workforce, Seattle officials took matters into their own hands in hopes of benefiting the city’s approximately 10,000 drivers.
It makes sense, considering Seattle was one of the first cities to increase its minimum wage to $15. But the new unionization law didn’t pass without dispute and there’s no doubt there will be more battles ahead. Here’s Uber’s take:
Uber and Lyft opposed the ordinance and argued that O’Brien’s proposal violates federal labor and antitrust laws, meaning the city likely will be sued. “Uber is creating new opportunities for many people to earn a better living on their own time and their own terms,” the company said in a statement Monday.
This particular article balances the reactions of Uber drivers and suggests that reactions are mixed amongst them. We’ll also have to wait and see how the new law will affect ride-share fares.
Dec. 15: more on the bus service changes in L.A. County
Dec. 14: how will the Paris climate deal change our everyday lives in L.A. County?
Dec. 11: will we ever have a truly car-free city?
Dec. 10: hey, so when is the Expo Line to SaMo opening?
Dec. 9: Uber’s latest biggish idea, health clinics at transit stops?
You can find Joe on Twitter @joseph_lem.
Categories: Transportation Headlines