7th edition of the 7th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, February 8, 2019

cid:<a”>  Congestion surcharge,  Record Keeping

Feb 1, "The Congestion Surcharge (Tax Law Article 29-C) was enacted on April 1, 2018, with collection of the surcharge scheduled to begin on January 1, 2019.  The onset of collections was delayed due to a temporary restraining order (Taxifleet Management LLC, et al. v. State of New York) that was lifted by the Court on January 31, 2019.  Accordingly, the Congestion Surcharge must be collected beginning at 12:01 am on Saturday, February 2, 2019….

… Recordkeeping
Persons or entities liable for the surcharge must keep records that are sufficient to determine whether the surcharge was properly applied, and must electronically transmit those records to the Tax Department upon request. This includes, but is not limited to, the following for all transportation that is subject to the surcharge:

• Records of the location, date and time where each trip begins and ends, and of the route taken.
• A record of the date, time and geographic location where the for-hire vehicle used for a trip enters and/or leaves the congestion zone, if applicable.
• Records that identify pool trips, and the location, date and time where each individual or group that separately requests transportation enters and exits the vehicle.
• Records of the vehicle used for the trip, including any number assigned to the vehicle by a regulatory agency or, if none exists, the vehicle’s license plate number and jurisdiction.
• Records of all amounts charged and collected for the trip, including fare, taxes, and surcharges (including the congestion surcharge)….

Read more Hmmmm…  I’m so excited!  I can’t wait to get the data.   This will begin to let us characterize and quantify the extent to which these services compete/duplicate MTA Transit services, the extent to which a very small incentive is able to initiate real ride sharing, quantify/characterize the rides that could have been shared and quantify the decongestion, energy and pollution implications of un-captured pooling opportunities.  Alain  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 89

Feb. 8, F. Fishkin,  , "What’s the latest in smart driving cars? Listen in to lively discussions with Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser, co-host tech journalist Fred Fishkin and guests. How soon will you be riding in a self driving car? This is the podcast to tune in to for real info without hype or spin. "   Hmmmm…. Now you can just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!" .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay.  Alain  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 90 – Matthew Daus

Feb. 10, F. Fishkin,  , "Special edition with Matthew Daus former Commissioner of NY Taxi & Limousine commission to discuss NYC’s congestion pricing and efforts to improve mobility for all in he NY metropolitan region."   Hmmmm…. To be published February 10, 2019.   Now you can just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!" .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay.  Alain

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cid:<a”>Congestion Surcharge

Press release, Feb. 4, "As of this past weekend, the State of New York requires that transportation providers charge passengers a congestion surcharge for all trips in taxis, liveries, black cars and other for-hire vehicles that begin, end or pass through the borough of Manhattan below 96th street, including both individual and shared rides arranged via mobile apps like Curb®, Uber, Lyft, etc..  As a result, Curb’s transportation provider partners are required to add the applicable congestion surcharge to the fare you’re charged for each qualifying trip.
The amount of the congestion surcharge is:

– $2.50 for each qualifying trip in a yellow taxi
– $2.75 for each qualifying trip in a green taxi
– $2.75 for each qualifying trip in a livery or black car (i.e., Uber, Lyft., etc.)
If you request a shared ride by using the Curb Share™ function in the Curb® app, you’ll get a $0.75 reduction of the applicable surcharge, regardless of whether you’re matched with another rider. …" Read more Hmmmm…  What this fails to mention are "pooled trips" described by "Congestion surcharge…" as "… transportation between two points that is provided to a person (or to a group of people that enter and exit a vehicle together per a single request for transportation) in a vehicle that may also simultaneously transport others in trips that are requested and charged separately. . …"  These pooled trips owe NY Stated Dept of Taxation & Finance $0.75 per pooled trip (per person or group that separately requested and are charged separately (p. 2)). So it looks like cid:part19.A26FBC79.A29FD850@princeton.eduis willing to risk $0.75 so that it makes $4.00 ($3.50) if one other person gets in with you and $6.00 ($5.25) if 2 other people get in with you or the other person.  Might be worth it, depending on how Curb monetizes whatever other information/services is captured/delivered by the Curb app.

"Pooled trips" actually reduce congestion compared to the way car trips are typically made in Manhattan (one person or group of people that enter the car together), be they by ride hailing services or by "using my own car or a car that I share"; else, they’d be using multiple cars/cabs!   Why aren’t pooled rides paid what non-pooled rides are surcharged???  Wouldn’t that lead to more congestion relief than however NYC intends to spend what it collects in surcharges???  Also, why aren’t those using their own cars or sharing the use of one not charged a congestion surcharge if they don’t pick up and drop off anyone not otherwise traveling with them???  Sorry for asking the obvious. Alain

cid:<a”>   Google and Waze Must Stop Sharing Drunken-Driving Checkpoints, New York Police Demand

M. Gold, Feb 6, "Google’s navigation app Waze is known for providing real-time, user-submitted reports that advise drivers about potential thorns in their roadsides.

But one feature has Waze in conflict with law enforcement officials across the country: how the app marks the location of police officers on the roads ahead or stationed at drunken-driving checkpoints.

Over the weekend, the New York Police Department, the largest force in the nation, joined the fray, sending a letter to Google demanding that the tech giant pull that feature from Waze.  In the letter, which was first reported on by Streetsblog, the Police Department said that allowing people to share the locations of sobriety checkpoints impeded its ability to keep streets safe…."  Read more Hmmmm…  This was how Waze differentiated itself from CoPilot and the other turn-by-turn GPS Nav systems before Waze was bought by Google.  We at ALK vehemently refused to include such features.

It completely surprised me that Google would actually buy Waze with that as one of their differentiated "attributes" and legacies.  I’m even more surprised that a company whose motto is… "Do no evil" would continue practices that tend to facilitate, legitimize and glorify excessive speed and driving while impaired; both of which all too often lead to people dying!   I am thrilled that the NYPD is calling them out on it!   Shame on you Google! Alain

cid:<a”>  No thank you, Mr. Pecker

Jeff Bezos, Feb 7, "Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten…."  Read more Hmmmm….  While one may initially think that this is  off-message, it is VERY important. 

Jeff, thank you for standing up.  It would have been so easy for many us to simply cave.

As a long-time member of the Princeton faculty I’m very proud that you are a member of the great class of ’86. 

On an other note, please treat with as much concern the information that you and Alexa gather on me. 

And, I’ll work hard to make sure that all of the data collected by SmartDrivingCars are used to only get you to where you want to go, when you want to go, safely and efficiently.   Alain

cid:<a”>Posner Foundation benefits OLI safety programs

W. Vantuono, Feb 8, "Henry Posner III, Chairman of the Iowa Interstate Railroad and Railroad Development Corp. and a Posner Foundation trustee, said the Foundation was proud to support the work of OLI in its traditional goals of reducing fatalities and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad rights-of-way, and in the emerging field of suicide prevention.

Railroad Development Corp. has supported OLI over the years, ranging from Iowa Interstate employees’ service as community outreach volunteers, to Estonian Railways’ support of Operation Lifesaver Estonia….

OLI will work with outside experts to understand, and appropriately communicate, suicide prevention initiatives. The goal is to effectively communicate about the sensitive subject with the public, partners and the media. The nonprofit will leverage the Federal Railroad Administration’s Trespass and Suicide Dashboard to target locations throughout the U.S. and tailor prevention messages to those communities…."  Read more Hmmmm….  Henry, so kind of you and I have always been so very proud that you are a member of the great class of ’77.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Lawmakers take the first step to legalize self-driving cars on Utah roads

L. Davidson, Feb 8, "“It is going to change our lives,” said Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, sponsor of HB101, which was endorsed unanimously by the House Transportation Committee.

It aims mostly to allow developers of self-driving cars to move testing away from closed tracks and onto public roads — and Spendlove said several companies are interested in doing that as soon as his bill is enacted. Such testing already is occurring in states such as Arizona, California and Pennsylvania…."  Read more Hmmmm….  Congratulations Utah.  FYI… made substantial progress in New Jersey this past week.  NJ is close to also being in play on all of this.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Tesla makes Autopilot standard on Model 3 in China, again reducing the price in the country

F. Lambert, Feb 8, "Tesla is trying to sell and deliver as many Model 3s as possible this quarter in China before the temporary relief on import tariff ends in April. It is now making an unusual move to help: making the Enhanced Autopilot package standard. …Now Tesla is also including Enhanced Autopilot as standard on all orders instead of selling it as a 46,000 RMB (~$6,800) option:… "  Read more Hmmmm….  Whatever the reason, there may well be a very hefty profit margin in that ~$6.8k that take the bit out of this promotion.  It really hasn’t taken all that long to have AutoPilot be "standard" on some car model, somewhere.   Heck, turn-by-turn navigation isn’t yet standard on all that many models.  Given that it also enhances safety without a "NHTSA/government mandate, this is really monumental.  Alain

cid:<a”>Tesla Model 3s hit Europe, but their Autopilot feature is disabled

R. Mitchell, Feb 8, "Although European safety regulators approved the Model 3 vehicle for sale in Europe in January, they have not approved Autopilot — the controversial driver-assist mode that offers automatic cruise control, lane keeping and lane changing — The Times has learned.

“At this moment the autopilot is not part of the original Type Approval of the Tesla Model 3,” Joke Willemsen, spokesman for RDW, the Netherlands-based organization in charge of the Model 3 approval process for Europe, said via email…. RDW did not say why Autopilot has not been approved, when it might be, or why the Model 3 version falls short while Model S and Model X Teslas are available in Europe with Autopilot…" Read more Hmmmm….  Win some, lose some…  I wonder how many net European deaths will ensue.  Maybe European betting parlors will establish an over/under.  Alain

cid:<a”>Dockless Scooter Rides, No Longer Cheap and Easy, Increasingly End With Fines

Y. Chernova, Feb 4, "After a fun, inexpensive ride on an electric bike or scooter, some consumers are getting hit with unexpected fines by startups that accuse them of hoarding equipment or parking missteps.

Jump, Lime and other companies offering the two-wheel transportation have begun experimenting with punitive fees to discourage unwanted behavior by users. But some customers are crying foul, saying they’re confused by the charges and by the rules themselves.

“I felt like they put me in a position that was really unfair,” said Ben Terrell, after incurring a $100 charge from Lime for supposedly holding on to a scooter after he used the service in Los Angeles three times in November. “I did what they told me to do, and even though I followed the rules, I was still being punished.”… "  Read more Hmmmm….  And my dog ate my homework.  The SegHoles & GlassHoles may now be joined by the ScootHoles.  Such a shame; however this could happen to Driverless Cars (Trucks & Buses) If they are not designed and operated so that they are welcomed and respected. Alain

cid:<a”>The Cost of Self-Driving Cars Will Be the Biggest Barrier to Their Adoption

A. Nunes, Jan 31, "… However, the systems underlying HAVs, namely sensors, radar, and communication devices, are costly compared to older (less safe) vehicles.  … OK, any new SmartDrivingCar is and will continue to be more expensive than fully depreciated  jalopiesEven future  jalopied SmartDrivingCars… This raises questions about the affordability of life-saving technology for those who need it most. Read more Hmmmm….  Great question.  So we are talking about Safe-driving cars, because they encapsulate the technology that delivers safety.   They don’t need the additional technology that’s focused on recovering the safety that is lost in order to begin to deliver the comfort and convenience raison d’etre of Self-driving cars.  Nor do they need the really great technology to safely deliver shared-ride on-demand 24/7 environmentally responsible mobility to the mobility disadvantaged that is delivered by Driverless cars.  Safe-driving cars are safer with almost free technology today.  


You get where I’m going.  The bait & switch of technology and premises in their  "… Assuming current market conditions hold, we estimate that using a robotaxi will cost consumers nearly three times more – on a per mile basis – than owning an older vehicle…." make this  study at best half-baked. 


Unfortunately, the original work product, with all of the assumptions, is not cited and I didn’t find it in a short period of time.  Affordability of safety is an important concern, but the technology to improve safety is fundamentally "Moore’s Lawish" and will become standard equipment and, given the "solid-stateness" and "nano-ness" of that technology it is likely to age better than other car parts and continue to deliver crash avoidance safety through to jalopy status. 


With respect to their aTaxi (autonomousTaxi) straw man, yes, if the technology is not good enough to deliver the safety, then "robo-taxis" don’t exist, irrespective of what they cost.  aTaxis use "expensive" technology to replace, not duplicate, the human oversight.   


If we are now really dealing with the affordability of using aTaxi mobility service as compared to owning your own jalopy in San Francisco, then one needs to include ride-sharing (aTaxis will be ride-shared in SF.  (They are not aLimosines for the la di das.)).  Sure, aTaxis have empty vehicle repositioning and maybe even half of the time or more serve only a single rider, just like most elevators, but, if you take your daughter to her violin lesson and then go pick her up, then your Average Vehicle Occupancy is 0.5 for those trips.  If you sent her in the aTaxi it would be 1.0 plus the empty aTaxi repositioning.  I’m certain that the cost of jalopy driver repositioning was not included in the cost comparison. 


In any case, safety is a necessary requirement and work needs to be done to make aTaxis affordable for the Mobility Disadvantaged and its cost, even in SF, will NOT be anywhere near 3x the cost of doing it in a jalopy.  And it will be safer than the Self-driving cars that the SF la di das run around in.   (Have I been Onioned, or is this a real article???)Alain

cid:<a”>Report: It Pretty Incredible That Americans Entrusted With Driving Cars

Staff,  March, 2013, "Citing that a majority of Americans are irresponsible, easily distracted people who have little regard for other human beings, a new Department of Transportation report revealed Wednesday that it’s “actually kind of crazy” that U.S. citizens are allowed to drive automobiles. “Americans make millions of mind-boggling, idiotic mistakes every day, and when taking into consideration the sheer amount of lives that could be lost due to just the slightest human error while driving, it’s actually pretty goddamn shocking that we let citizens operate 4,000-pound machines capable of going 200 mph,” the report read in part, later adding that if one truly thinks about who their neighbors, friends, and children are as people, the absolute last thing one would be comfortable with would be them merging onto a busy highway with cars traveling 85 mph. “Consider the average American on Facebook who says things like ‘first’ or makes a bizarre Monica Lewinsky reference out of nowhere. Now think of somebody dumber than that. That person’s allowed to drive, too. Pretty nuts, right?” The report ultimately concluded that only 62 total Americans are intelligent and thoughtful enough to operate a motor vehicle… "  Read more Hmmmm….  I know, its old but it is The Onion. Alan

Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time

cid:<a”>  Studies note steep climb to improve rural transportation

L. Parnass,"No car. No go. That’s long been the deal for people in rural Western Massachusetts, where life is all but impossible without owning a vehicle.

When it comes to rural transportation, past looks like prologue, two recent studies suggest. Amid talk of renewed rail travel to and from the Berkshires, public transportation is thin or nonexistent outside urban centers.

And when "self-driving" cars come of age, expect rural regions to fall further behind, officials caution. Hundreds of country roads in Berkshire County will be off-limits to autonomous vehicles, unless telecommunications gaps are plugged and roads themselves improved. …"  Read more Hmmmm….  Again, mixing up SmartDrivingCars…

Driverless shared-ride aTaxis can operate even in the Berkshires and even though the trip density is low, there are opportunities for ride-sharing (like to school, church, any gathering).  Operating on low density roads isn’t that tough.  While Shared-ride aTaxis may not be as productive as they can be in Mercer County, they certainly can be much more productive that the 4 or so trips made by each private car in the Berkshires that never share rides. Think about it.Alain

 C’mon Man!  (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)

Simply ClickBait

cid:<a”>  How to Make Roads Safer for Autonomous Vehicles

 cid:<a”> Nissan-Renault alliance to join Google on self-driving cars

Hmmmm…  I could not find any substantiation of this one.  Of course Nissan is looking for any good news and maybe if Waymo wants to go to Japan, they’ll use Nissan as the 4-wheel commodity.    I can’t otherwise imagine Alphabet/Google/Waymo needing Nissan as anything more than a commodity supplier.  ??? Alain 

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  On the More Technical Side