A recent White House statement begs the question: shouldn’t ALL transit agencies operate each day with a level of quality befitting the president?
When he leaves the Oval Office in January, President Obama just might start trading helicopter rides on Marine One and jet jaunts on Air Force One for subway trips on Washington’s Metrorail.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz announced that this has given the president added interest in the transit authority that runs Washington’s subway system (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority).
His family plans to stay in Washington after Obama leaves office so his youngest daughter, Sasha, can finish high school at the city’s elite Sidwell Friends School.
The region’s subway system has undergone a massive, yearlong repair effort involving service disruptions and partial shutdowns. Metrorail is the second largest subway system in the U.S. and is responsible for carrying many federal workers to and from the office.
(washingtonexaminer.com, origin-nyi.thehill.com, photos from whitehouse.gov and wmata.com)
Bias Plagues Uber & Lyft
Two rival ride-hailing companies recently learned about a troubling pattern of discrimination among their ranks.
A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, the University of Washington and Stanford University reported that Uber and Lyft drivers discriminate against black customers. It also found that drivers treated men and women differently.
In “Racial and Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies,” the schools compared how drivers responded to “white sounding” names and “distinctively black” names. The study of nearly 1,500 rides found that African Americans wait longer to get rides and experience more ride cancellations once drivers determine they are black.
For example, UberX and Lyft drivers in Seattle took 16 to 28 percent more time to accept requests from the apparently African-American profiles. UberX drivers in Boston, who see passenger names and photos only after agreeing to pick them up, were twice as likely to cancel black riders while en route. They were also three times more likely to cancel a black man than a white one.
Uber and Lyft are working with public transit agencies to solve first-mile and last-mile problems. This racial bias poses a stumbling block to their continued partnerships with government agencies. The whole point of public transit is to serve riders regardless of race, gender, disability, or socioeconomic status.
“Discrimination has no place in society and no place on Uber. We believe Uber is helping reduce transportation inequities across the board, but studies like this one are helpful in thinking about how we can do even more,” said Rachel Holt, Uber’s head of North American operations.
“We are extremely proud of the positive impact Lyft has on communities of color,” said Adrian Durbin, a Lyft spokesman. “Because of Lyft, people in underserved areas—which taxis have historically neglected—are now able to access convenient, affordable rides.”
(bloomberg.com, nytimes.com, businessinsider.com, mitsloan.mit.edu, photo by Andrew Harrer, Bloomberg)
Australian Chamber Seeks Rail Benefits
Now that recent elections have supported Labor party leadership, Canberra’s business community is calling for a controversial light rail project to move forward. The project was an election issue that divided Australia’s capital city.
The Canberra Business Chamber is encouraging businesses to be “project ready” to take advantage of the significant infrastructure investment of the Australian Capital Territory’s planned light rail project.
“It’s a chance to build great capacity in Canberra,” said the chamber’s chief executive, Robyn Hendry. “The more we do here and don’t bring in from external providers, the more we develop skills we can grow or export in future.”
More than 230 businesses have registered with the Light Rail Business Link – a pioneering program run by the Canberra Business Chamber in partnership with the ACT government.
Proponents predict that light rail will transform and improve the city by early 2019.
(abc.net.au, theguardian.com, photo from canberratimes.com.au)
Public Transit Leads to More Jobs
Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs.
(source: American Public Transportation Association):
‘Til Next Time…
Jim Wilson, BWAT General Manager