35 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Car Sharing 1971”

  1. I noticed that UW Tacoma is one step closer to a universal U-PASS for students (currently opt-in), with the resolution being approved in committee and sent to the full board for approval. I was surprised to see that so many students already take transit despite Pierce Transit’s lack of frequency and span-of-service compared to Metro’s service to UW Seattle. The board of regents report makes for a pretty interesting read:


    Here’s to hoping that we can get a fully-paid-for U-PASS for all students, staff, and faculty soon!

  2. One question I’ve wondered about with Uber/Lyft: is it ok to omit the tip when the base price is already high enough that you feel you’re being ripped off, and the driving is making a substantial windfall off your trip? This is mostly likely to happen on trips which cruise down uncongested freeways, since the fares are mostly distance-based, rather than time-based. (While trips like these are the minority of all Uber trips, they seem to make up at least half of my trips).

    For example, Uber’s fare estimator quotes $38 on UberX to travel from Seattle to Redmond, a distance of 15 miles, with an estimated travel time of 20 minutes. Even if Uber, the corporation, is taking 25% of the fare, that still leaves $28.50 for the driver, while burning maybe $1.50 worth of gas. Even if you account for the driver taking 10 minutes to get to your pick-up point, that’s still an effective wage of $54/hour (($28.50-$1.50) / ((20 minutes + 10 minutes) * (1 hour/60 minutes))).

    Is this not enough? Or, is it my responsibility as the lucky driver’s “unicorn” to tip him, in compensation for all his other other, less-profitable trips, where he just sits in traffic downtown, taking lazy passengers 3 blocks.

      1. Much better to handle it like Sweden and some other places in Europe. Change spelling to “Wages and Benefits.” Problem solved.


      2. Except where there’s a $15 minimum wage. Also, we’ve gone from just tipping waiters and the like to even counter-only restaurants and every other business imaginable having tip jars. Is everybody supposed to be a tipped worker just because they put out a jar?

      3. Does Uber do tips through the app or do you just carry a wad of cash in order to do the tips?

      4. Who gets to decide which workers are “tipped workers”? I never got tips when I worked in IT, fixing people’s computers.

    1. As a Lyft driver. I would be paid around $22 plus tolls for the trip you described. Uber drivers make about the same. Both companies have been offering a flat rate upfront rate instead of surprising people at the end with the fare. Uber in particular has been pushing the envelope with that by guessing high on that guaranteed estimate, then not passing the excess on to the driver.

      Whether you decide to tip or not is up to you. In my experience, only about half of passengers do. But understand that, in many cases, we drivers are getting much less than the percentage you suggest on these trips.

      1. Question, Breanna, one professional driver to another. Can you tell me where I can get an application to drive for Lyft?

        Because I think the two of us could unionize the company- I lose track, is that permitted or not- or start our own cooperative whose business plan is to provide decent passengers with the service they deserve, at the wages, and benefits we deserve.

        For a safe ride in a clean automobile with someone at the wheel who can handle a car so smoothly that an open cup, if they allowed any open liquid container, wouldn’t leave a single wet brown stain. With driving skill that’ll let your passengers think that despite your uniform, your car is driverless.

        Met my example on the border between Kenya and Tanzania. Mary. Owner and driver for a van service across town, clearing the coat-sleeves of a twenty-foot wide crowd of pedestrians by half an inch at forty miles an hour.

        While cluing my brother’s wife about how many cows her people’s culture would demand that my brother pay her father. Visible sweat despite powerful air conditioner. Mary probably carries a spear under her seat with a five foot razor for a blade stamped “Sheffield Steel”.
        Any Masai ancestors, Breanna?

        But anybody bristling at $15 an hour, do America a favor. Vote vocally for Donald Trump and support his judicial picks even if they don’t abuse women. So, one, his Base won’t use you as evidence of liberal fake voting. Energizing them to get on Twitter they’re gonna slash all STB’s bike tires. And paint every red lane chartreuse with pink polka dots.

        And two, because anybody taking wages like that is obviously an undocumented eighteen year old Salvadoran girl, giving you half a bunk half a block from Angle Lake LINK station, thereby shoving Jeff Sessions against the cinder-blocks. As Donald gets even for a fake, unfair, and saaaad! recusal.

        Breanna, will Lyft let me keep my 2013 Prius, or will I have to unzip my purple mustache and and sign on with Uber?

        Mark Dublin

    2. I thought all that was supposed to be handled through their system?

      So basically Uber is just like a taxi, only most of the money goes to someone that wrote a phone app to handle dispatching?

      1. I guess the TNC companies have been finding ways to gradually and opaquely increase their cut of every trip. Maybe, eventually, the system will end up costing consumers just as much as a taxi service, just with different fat middlemen. For Uber, the corporation, to be collecting $15 for its “service fee” on a 20-minute ride is just robbery.

        At the same time, one cannot avoid asking why such $30-40 Lyft/Uber rides are necessary in the first place, in a region with Metro and ST running buses across the lake. The reason is that, while we’ve poured a ton of money into adding more rush hour service over the past 10 years, we have basically neglected evening and weekend service, whose frequency has barely budged. A simple trip like Bellevue->U-district, or DT Seattle->DT Kirkland, or DT Seattle->DT Redmond, should not be facing hourly frequency as early as 8 PM on a Saturday night – yet it does.

        The whole East King area is in need of a bus service restructure that focuses more on connecting the population centers, and less on service every corner of every neighborhood. For instance, the weekend service hours that could be used to run an express route between DT Redmond and DT Bellevue are instead getting spent on the ulta-loopy-and-nearly-useless route 249.

    3. Uber’s cut is actually more like 40%. Higher if they are indeed over-estimating a flat rate fare and paying the driver the lower rate, as mentioned above. Despite this “robbery” and having drivers provide a $10-30K piece of equipment and maintaining it, Uber still doesn’t cut a profit–which kind of amazes me. Very difficult to make money on passenger transportation even when you’re huge like Uber!

      1. I suspect the big money loser for Uber is the pooled rides – I find it hard to believe UberX isn’t making a profit (at least when they aren’t offering the passenger a big promotion discount). In many cases, the effects of “carpooling” don’t have anywhere near enough VMT to justify a 50% UberPool discount that makes remote financial sense.

        I’ve thought about the problem bit, and come up with several observations:

        1) Carpooling for very short distances doesn’t really do save anything, unless both passengers can be picked-up *and* dropped-off at the same point. This is a big problem with UberPool, as most Uber trips fall within this range.

        2) For longer-distance trips where carpooling has the most bang for the buck, UberPool doesn’t really work because the odds of being able to find somebody traveling a long distance along the same corridor aren’t that great. For trips on the scale of 10-20 miles, finding a decent ride match requires booking at least a few hours an advance, and passengers to have at least some amount of flexibility in their schedules. Otherwise, a Fremont->Lynnwood ride will just end up getting matched with someone going from Wallingford to Green Lake.

  3. Well. Good to be able to start the morning with a pet hate (don’t rub his tummy, he’s got rabies! followed by an unusual change of mind. Short and nasty: Would be good if every pass is considered proof of payment just for having it.

    Would be a total bummer if if a “Tap On” following a missed “Tap Off” makes a free pass put somebody $124 in the hole. Anybody legal-savvy…what’s good first move to have a judge scrape that piece of dog dropping off whole riderships’ shoe?

    Or if this is a new judge appointed since January 2017, (tell me he won’t claim the right to appoint King County Superior Court judges, whatever their record is for treating women!) any chance Senator Bob Hasegawa will put this in same category as car-tab adjustments?

    And announce it in the Seattle Times? May not be best company to keep, but after years of using me and my fellow passengers and taxpayers for Shinola shoe-polish, my pig-headed former allies’ have picked their own worst enemies for my new best friends. For how long, same time by the stop-watch as they keep on nose-in-the-air dissing us.

    But on brighter note, literally, overnight change of mind about best view out the LINK train window approaching Ballard. Since nobody appreciated to blue, white, and yellow wall-reflectors in the DSTT…Am I right there’ll be a mountain range on both sides of the train? But views like that are created to be seen from the window of a MOVING train. For distance to commercial center:


    Between BART and the Airport, I’ve been there to see Oakland do that. Notice the cables. Aren’t they cool? Probably won’t make it to the U-District, though view would be as good as the trains’. But Market Street from 14th or 15th through Downtown Ballard to the Locks, problem solved.

    French Uber (wonder if they say “OooooBay!”) really does look like the ’71 Cadillac of ride-sharing. Better if it was a Citroen. “See Tro AAAAAAANN!”


    But in 47 years, people will have gone beyond USB ports in our heads to interplanetary BlueTooth.

    Say La VEEEEEE.


  4. To deal with the single tracking between Tukwila and Rainier Beach today, I wish Sound Transit was running some proportion of trains just between UW station and Sodo, to maintain frequency in the core of the line, rather than delaying all the trains.

    1. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there are two shuttles, Rainier Beach – TIB and Rainier Beach – airport. The second one goes to the southern bus stop by the baggage claim. So no transferring twice to get to the airport.

    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxO8aha0rh8

      Even with Automatic Train Protection instead of telegraphers and switchmen who could fall asleep on duty, single tracking has never been good luck in railroading. Just lay the other track.

      But tragically, would still bet that the man at the controls of Train Number Nine knew exactly where on the line he would momentarily get killed.


    3. Does ST have a mechanism in place now to sign trains that have a different terminus? I know they’ll eventually need to do it, but it’s always hard to say what sensible future-proofing they just decide to ignore for as long as possible.

      1. ST can make them say whatever they want. They’re programmable LED signs.

        It’s not like this is TriMet that only just recently retired the last of its hand crank scroll signs.

      2. It was funny when Metro had roller signs and wherever there was a service change where it only went part of the route or it wanted to highlight a third intermediate destination, there would be a separate sign at the bottom of the windshield.

      3. The ones on MAX would sometimes get confused and scroll through all of them, or sometimes stop with the sign positioned upside down (the interior part of the sign facing the passengers had to be printed on the scroll upside down relative to the exterior).

      4. @Mike Orr
        “It was funny when Metro had roller signs and wherever there was a service change where it only went part of the route or it wanted to highlight a third intermediate destination, there would be a separate sign at the bottom of the windshield.”

        Lol. You made me feel all nostalgic about my early days of living in Seattle. I remember riding those very Metro routes where they had the route designation roller signs kind of in the correct position but also had those destination signs sitting in the bottom of the front window. Thanks for the quick trip down memory lane.

      5. That’s good to know. Until recently, Metro didn’t have a mechanism to sign 43s that terminate in the U-District any differently than 43s that continue to Ballard (now the former are signed BROOKLYN AVE), so it’s not a foregone conclusion that even LED-programmable signs are within an agency’s capability to change easily.

  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VinXeSSbcvE

    City and streetcar much worth seeing. Not only for the trains, but also what Detroit can look like in certain sunlights. Some really beautiful old buildings. Country’s best art museum. Reason business community foiled an attempt to sell it as part of same kind of bankruptcy that’s made Flint drink piquant vintage lead with no end in sight.

    Major fault for Barack Obama, who should have taken control of the Michigan National Guard to completely evacuate the place, and give residents comfortable FEMA quarters while they arrested, or shot, the Republican governor. Instead, after meeting or two with the well-poisoning traitor (no foreign enemy ever did that to our country!)…somehow it just slipped below the radar, and TV screen.

    The whole state would make pre-revolution South Africa look like Diversity City by comparison. No beautiful wall with sharp shiny new barbed wire. Not completely racism. Because you have to add an income difference that’d make the Great Wall of China post warnings not to trip on it.

    But inside the really wide city limits, you don’t see any Zombie Apocalypse. Same very nice middle class homes built when powerful unions helped make sure that average worker was middle class. But for miles in every direction, rolling vacant lots that used to have homes on top of them.

    And still have a fortune in urban infrastructure under the long grass. Sort of curious how few massive private developers seem to be taking advantage of the giant wired and plumbed should-be yard sale. The kind where very large backyards are sold, not old lawnmowers.

    Streetcars financed by a finance company. So my guess is that in the tradition of US private enterprise, the Market (oink) is still waiting for the Federal Government to buy it for nothing and give it to the developers for even less.

    City itself, not perfection by an astronomical long-sight. Woodward Avenue, where the streetcar runs- like PCC’s used to- land-use Like a very thin shiny marble cladding about two blocks wide along the car tracks.
    But to me, the place always had exactly the energy Seattle can’t seem to generate with any power source, no matter how clean or dirty, either one. Idea that streetcars stole money better spent on buses, neither fair nor true.

    But main real fact of the streetcar and its whole setting: nobody living a half mile from the tracks can afford to live any closer. Compare it with a barely-reparable building clad with very thin shiny marble. A real transit professional will give precedence to fixing that. For that alone, if I wanted to start a career in public transit, my first choice. Your first streetcar ride, wave to the Art Museum for me.

    Mark Dublin

      1. Thanks, Glenn, for our next Waterfront / First Avenue Streetcar. Shouldn’t bet that hard to find removable wall panels. And same for seats.

        One thing I’m curious about: Have battery cars been in service long enough to give us an idea of battery performance? And how to deal with trouble?

        Also, what’s story on possible pollution in operation and discarding? We’ve had over a hundred years of experience with catenary and cable-grip, for railcars and buses both. Any indicators so far for batteries?

        Have already “linked” this one to death, but system in Trieste has a cable grip system to let ordinary streetcars climb a very long, steep hill. Can easily see this for battery cars. One less excuse for opposition: not a single visible wire.

        Know everybody’s had it with the Turkish Empire, Trieste had a cog railway in 1906 when it was part of the Austrian one….which explains a lot of things about many European streetcar systems.

        Oh, OK…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZBnbRvGzDQ

        Think of one terminal being either Madison Park, Madrona, or Prentiss Street at one end, Loyal Heights via Ballard at the other. Or Fremont via Queen Anne Hill. Well, trying to make them all have hills on both ends.

        South Seattle, if your unfair (and also saaaad and FAKE) politics can’t defeat Ballard for priority, you can flummox (not yet extinct!) the whole system by sending LINK speeding toward Downtown on an elevated nobody will mind because it’ll have cascading water for tracks and vehicles that look like, or are, logs.

        BUT- here’s where cable comes in- you can have the cable run along in the trough for southbound ride to Fauntleroy ferry. And, and, and….where’s it written that Uber and Lyft can’t do hydrofoil sharing?


      2. The battery material is the same as used in everything from cell phones to cordless tools to the electric ferries in Norway. Battery life and best charging practices are pretty well understood. The good news is that there is enough material there in the larger batteries that there is quite a lot of incentive to recycle them. It’s the difference between recycling a metal bottle cap or a boxcar.

        The company that makes those cars has made a few enclosed versions.

  6. I pay 50% insurance on a car I do not own and drive it about 5 miles a week so far. The rest the time I am on Metro or Link. My share of insurance is $52 a month plus gas. I chip in an oil change here and there. I also do about 1/3 of the repairs but don’t pay for parts. Does that count as car sharing? I stopped licencing my car a month ago due to cost of repairs vs value of the car.

    1. Owning a car that is only seldom driven is very expensive, often costing significantly more per mile than Uber/Lyft. Even if your case, where you only pay half the expenses, $55/month (insurance+gas)/ 20-25 miles/month comes out to a per-mile cost of $2.20/$2.75. For comparison purposes, the pre-tip cost per mile in a Seattle yellow taxi is about $2.75.

      And, there are other expenses out there, besides insurance, which you are probably not paying. For instance, car tabs, and the cost to buy the car, itself. This cost, itself, is inflated by dealer fees, taxes, and loan interest. Even if the car is paid for in cash, the foregone market returns that could have been earned investing the money instead is part of the cost. With the booming stock market we’ve been having the past few years, it would have been a very big cost.

      1. Corrrect. But I can’t haul industrial tools and a 75 pound dog easily in a cab. Or go to the dump. I can do all those things in my friends minivan when I need. If I didn’t need to do those things, I would not need a car at all.

  7. Well, this is free-enterprise America, Jimmy. Meaning that for the price of a slightly used politician, you can become a contractor who’ll help Defend our country with a fleet of driverless vehicles from drones that can easily carry a 75 pound dog alive and dead, to either the home, the vet, the pound or the dump.

    Or in another of your truck’s, or drone’s trailers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj8PKA_F9-k.
    Ride-share qualified by fact that since you are the CEO of a company that needs only you for a driver all you need is a purple mustache for at least one of them. Go for it!


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