On Monday, the INDY reported that Bird, complaining about the Raleigh City Council’s “unreasonable” $300-per-scooter fee, would begin applying a $2-per-ride “transportation fee” while encouraging riders to lodge their disapproval with city officials. As several readers pointed out, Bird looks to be doing a little more than just covering its costs: Is the company really suggesting that each of its 500 permitted scooters is only ridden 150 times per year, or about once every other day?
On Twitter, Tim Niles makes this point: “If Bird needs a $2 per-ride fee to cover a $300 annual fee, they are saying their scooters are only ridden about 3 times per week. Why are we arguing about a service the provider admits isn’t being used?”
“This is a money grab, and Bird is playing people at the city’s expense,” writes Nelson Betancourt. “It costs less than the first dollar Bird collects on the first ride of the day to cover the imposed tax, yet they’re now charging an additional $2 per ride each ride and blaming it on the city. The way they rolled out that announcement has people shilling for them and ready to do their lobbying for free, which is exactly what this was designed to do. People keep getting pimped by these companies, and they don’t even know it. It’s hilarious.”
But Jason Baker sees this as the result of a terrible policy: “I work in Raleigh but leave my car at home in Chapel Hill and use GoTriangle to get to work every day. Scooters have vastly opened up Raleigh to me and have allowed me to visit and spend money at places I never would have otherwise. Don’t want people breaking the rules on scooters? Great. Enforce the rules. But a tax on low-carbon transportation is about the dumbest thing I can imagine. Fortunately, I can afford the price increase. I can also afford to start donating money to Raleigh candidates who run on pro-alternative transportation platforms, and will be in 2019.”
“The city council,” adds Aaron Averill, “made a decision to warp economics and put its finger on the scales of classic transport modes such as cars. The net effect, intended or unintended—this decision by the council removes an option for lower-income people by making it artificially more expensive.”
“The city could make their money by just giving out tickets to the scooter riders zooming through downtown on the sidewalks,” argues Chris Howell. “I have almost been wiped out by them more than once. No helmet: ticket. Ride on sidewalk: ticket. The city could make their money quick!”
“At that point, it’s cheaper to take an Uber X,” writes Elise Oras.
On the subject of public transit, Daniel Deleuze comments on a recent story about DPAC general manager Bob Klaus’s reaction to GoTriangle’s proposed light-rail tunnel under downtown Durham. DPAC, which feared being cut off from downtown under GoTriangle’s original plan, was OK with the idea of the tunnel but not with making Pettigrew Street one-way, and Klaus worried about the effect construction would have on the theater.
“I’m personally shocked by the lack of concern about comments made by Mr. Klaus, [Capitol Broadcasting senior vice president] Michael Goodmon, and others downtown,” Deleuze writes. “This light rail is designed to serve low-income people who need a reliable way to get to work at the major job centers in the area. What Mr. Klaus is saying is that the inconvenience to wealthy white people who may or may not live in Durham actually outweighs the extraordinary benefit that the light rail will have for communities of color and low-income families in Durham. Where is Durham’s leadership in all of this? Where is the activist community? Where is Durham CAN? Where is the Durham People’s Alliance? Where is the Durham Committee? And why isn’t anyone fighting for the thousands of jobs this thing will create, the affordable housing plans around stations that have taken so much effort, and the reconnection of N.C. Central and Hayti to downtown? Where is the real Durham when we need it?”
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Daniel Deleuze wrote, “What Mr. Klaus is saying is that the inconvenience to wealthy white people who may or may not live in Durham actually outweighs the extraordinary benefit that the light rail will have for communities of color and low-income families in Durham.”
Durham Orange light rail, if it benefits anyone, will benefit employees at UNC Hospital and Duke Hospital. I don’t see how those are “low-income families.”
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