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Showing posts from April, 2019

Uber, Lyft, and competition

The below article wonders if Uber/Lyft will ever be profitable. Seems likely to me they will. It's the belief that their promises aren't as grand as they make that will lead to that. When investors stop believing that, they'll stop funding discounts, and profitability will emerge seemingly spontaneously. It's probably less than what Uber is promising, as there will be competition.

It's worth noting that in addition to competition being somewhat local, Uber and Lyft don't just compete with taxis, but also with public transit and personal vehicles. When competing with public transit, cities should regulate, as there are many public goods arising from quality public transit. The story for personal vehicles however is different, which have most of the same negative aspects of ride-hails, plus some additional negative externalities (parking is a big one). Thus the first step in regulation should be one that targets both personal vehicles and ride-hails.

I support a …

Leaving out the little guy (adds up)

Excited about New York's new building energy efficiency measures, but a little worried about how it was done. There are too many exemptions here. Focusing on only large buildings (over 25,000 square feet) leaves half of emissions untargeted. Leaving out low-income housing keeps the utility bills for low-income renters high. This kind of exemption is a bad idea.

Definitely agree with the goal of trying to help low-income individuals, but there are much better ways than an exemption from these requirements. It would be so much better if the New York passed a support bill, for example funding for housing vouchers as part of this effort, rather than creating those exemptions.

The 25,000 square foot limit is also problematic. To some degree this can make sense, temporarily. A bill designed for large properties might not fit well with smaller properties because of increased overhead. But I don't see a commitment here to follow this on, using the learning from the first bill to cover…

Housing affordability and ownership bias

If we want housing affordability, we'll have to confront our bias toward home ownership. While it has some sound reasoning, it's a brush applied too broadly. The expression of this bias has often done real harm to lower income individuals and families.

It's not possible to have constant, high appreciation of home values and affordable homes. It's not possible to have affordable rents and unaffordable homes (without subsidy).

You can try to force landlords to provide the subsidy, by rent control, but eventually they'll just sell out to homeowners. Those that remain will operate in areas where appreciation is not expected, home value is depressed, and rent control does not have effect. Unfortunately these areas will be the least desirable, either from crime, access to transit, pollution, or some other element that has real costs on the well being of residents.

If we want equitable housing, we should abandon the policies that restrict housing supply, and we should sub…

Big cities require good transit (or they're not really big at all)

Effective public transport increases the productivity of a city. Somewhat obvious, but the scale is not. A city without effective public transport is a smaller city. The network effects of being able to connect with others who might spawn ideas and opportunities are diminished by not having effective transport. Transit systems that rely upon buses without priority, which have their service level cut by the congestion of personal automobiles at peak times, suffer as a result.

Also notable, is that how areas of the city underserved by public transit are from a economic point of view, not truly part of the city. Improving transit is critical to improving the economic well being of such areas.

This post inspired by reading...   City Metric

New York Congestion Charge

Chicago should also pursue congestion (road) pricing. Using a personal vehicle on city streets consumes limited road space we all paid for, creates pollution and other effects we all have to live with.

When one alternative (transit) consumes these services at a much lower rate, and produces the negative effects at a much lower rate, it's unfair for the higher consumption/externality behavior to pay the same rate. This is the way to restore fairness, while also creating a healthier city with less traffic.

The one thing I'd change in the New York's approach, is the exemption for low income. Absolutely agree with the effort to help those with low income, but it shouldn't be an exemption, but rather an in-tandem assistance, such as housing assistance, which could be funded through the revenues and savings of the base policy.
This post inspired by reading...   The Economist