When the snow started falling in New York City this past weekend, the prices for a ride in an Uber car began rising. It’s part of the company’s long-standing policy of “surge pricing”: using an algorithm that raises prices to adjust for demand. Uber says the higher prices motivate more drivers to hit the road, ensuring that there are always enough cars available for customers, at least those who can afford much steeper fares. The adjusted prices, which got as high as $35 a mile, were roughly eight times the regular fare. The minimum of $175 a ride took many customers by surprise and they reacted with anger. Surge pricing happens regularly in Uber’s busiest markets, and has drawn customer outrage and media scrutiny before, including in New York during the snowstorm on New Year’s Eve, 2011, and during Hurricane Sandy.
See also → ValleyWag: The Weekend Uber Tried To Rip Everyone Off
→ The Walking Bostonian: Thought experiment: how much bus service can you get for the price of a parking garage?
We know that excavating an underground parking garage can cost from $50,000 to $100,000 per parking space (sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on conditions). Speaking loosely, then, each underground parking space could cover the net cost of approximately 5-10 weekdays worth of key bus route service. Let’s just assume for simplicity that every day has the same cost as a weekday. Then a year’s worth of key bus route service could be covered for the same cost as 36 to 73 underground parking spaces.
→ Transportation for America: As trust fund bleeds red ink, Blumenauer introduces a bill to save it
If you’ve watched this space over the last couple of years, you know that our nation’s ability to build and maintain our transportation network is nearing a crisis. It just keeps getting worse. Without congressional action in 2014, the transportation trust fund will run out of money to reimburse states in 2015.
It is heartening, therefore, to see the introduction of a bill designed to stanch the bleeding. The UPDATE Act, introduced today by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), phases in a 15-cent gas tax increase over three years starting in 2014 and indexes the gas tax to inflation.
Urban transport is on its way to becoming a social right in Brazil. On December 4, PEC 90 – a proposed amendment to Article Six of the Brazilian Constitution that would define transport as a social right – was approved by the Chamber of Deputies. The next step for the measure to be written into law is for it to be passed by the Senate.
Article Six currently ensures every citizen the right to work, health, housing, and education, among other core social necessities. Including transportation in this list is an intuitive step forward, since citizens require transport to access the other rights already established.
→ The Atlantic Cities: How the Cost of Other People’s Parking Drives Up Your Rent
Quite literally, however, you may also pay for parking – whether you use it or not – in your basic monthly expenses. If you live in an apartment complex that includes parking (even parking that comes with an extra fee), its costs are likely tucked into your rent.