How We Roll, Oct. 28: of cheap taxis and 007

Things to read whilst transiting: A photo gallery by Matt Eich titled “I feel forgotten, a decade of struggle in rural Ohio” in the New Yorker. The accompanying essay is by Kate Linthicum, a reporter for the LAT. Strong images + prose.

Art of Transit: 

Uber loses right to classify UK drivers as self employed (Guardian) 

Bottom line: fares for cheap taxis (i.e. ride hailing firms) are cheap because labor costs have been low. We’ll see how long that lasts. Uber said it planned to appeal and that its drivers like being their own boss. The plaintiff’s lawyer said the ruling could impact the gig economy and the many workers it relies upon.

My three cents: the gig economy wouldn’t be here if there were more decent jobs with decent wages and benefits. Attentive readers know that a lot of these big companies — such as Uber — are not profitable but continue to attract investor dollars. So cheap labor helps them. For now.

Related: one thing we’ve all learned in the past couple of years is that saying pretty much anything is a good way to keep yourself in the media spotlight. In that spirit…

The article describes this:

Believe it or not, building a flying car isn’t the hardest part of this scheme. Within five years, according to the white paper, Uber expects the market to produce a fully electric, vertical-takeoff-and-landing plane that can fly 100 miles at about 150 mph, carrying multiple passengers and a pilot.

Wow. Sounds like those helicopter things. Not familiar with them? Here’s a Halloween-themed visual although I don’t know what Uber’s stance is on ferrying assassins:

Source review of “Spectre:” The movie showed up on my streaming TV thingy last night. It’s not as good as its predecessor, “Skyfall,” the best Bond movie ever. But “Spectre” was much better than I expected based on the reviews that I read last year. Sure, the plot is dutifully thin but I thought the movie was very entertaining and just gorgeously shot.

Be warned: the Source did need to remove its sweater and crack open the window a bit due to a sequence involving a be-tuxed Daniel Craig and be-gowned Lea Seydoux on a train in the Moroccan desert. If memory serves, when I asked “what do we do now?” as a younger person, I didn’t get quite that response.


The last word on Measure M with SoPas Mayor Diana Mahmud (Streetsblog LA)

Excerpt from the accompanying text:

I’ll be honest with you, the conversation took a turn I didn’t expect. Mahmud talked openly about the privilege South Pasadena has as one of Southern California’s first cities to have a rail station. She then pivoted to the need for the city to “pay it forward” by supporting a tax to help other cities in Los Angeles County experience the benefits of having a rail station at the center of town.

Maybe I’ve been covering the ugly fight over development in Santa Monica for too long, but to hear someone argue that it was their duty to help everyone achieve the privilege that they have was refreshing.

Somewhat related, we posted earlier this week about a new report on development in each city along the Gold Line between Union Station and Azusa and beyond. South Pas is on the smallish side to begin with and hasn’t seen a lot of development. That said, in the past five years, the area around the station has seemingly found the sweet spot in terms of retaining some businesses and being a generally lovely neighborhood that’s a three-minute ride to Highland Park, 15 minutes to Union Station and three to 10 minutes from the six Pasadena stations.

As for ballot measure, that’s your decision to make. Measure M would increase the countywide sales tax by a half cent and extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax beyond its 2039 expiration date to fund a number of transit, road, pedestrian and bike projects. To learn more, click here. To see a timeline of projects and programs, click here and scroll down.

Related: Measure M provides LA residents the opportunity to drive forward, writes Jonathan Friedlander in an op-ed in the Daily Bruin.

Measure M officials, worried tax won’t pass, are planning a final push (SGV Tribune) 

Two opposing views in the article:

West Covina City Councilman Mike Spence, a conservative, said he’s not supporting Measure M, saying it favored Los Angeles over the 87 smaller cities in the county.

“It doesn’t make sense for the San Gabriel Valley or for (other) cities to be taxed so L.A. will get their big mass transit projects that nobody uses,” said Spence during a break in the conference, referring to such projects as the completion of a subway to Westwood and a rail tunnel connecting the Westside to the San Fernando Valley.

Huff said he’s heard similar arguments from other conservatives and disagrees with them. “The reality is, if you make L.A. and the Westside flow better, the rest of the county flows better, too. So there is a benefit to everybody,” Huff said.

As we noted the other day, the editorial board of the SGV Trib and the other Los Angeles Newspaper Group publications took an opposition stance to Measure M. The other large newspaper in the region, the LAT, endorsed it on their editorial pages.

Hyperloop expected to cost far more than originally stated (CAHSR Blog)

Elon Musk originally predicted it would cost $6 million a mile. That’s now more like $84 million to $121 million a mile for a hypothetical loop around the Bay Area. Shocker.

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