Tuffa Riolo didn’t start driving Uber for the extra cash. Heartbroken after separating from his wife in 2014, he was searching for something to keep himself busy outside of his real estate job. Almost 9,000 rides later, it’s become more than a job for this baby boomer: It’s about dancing and singing and strings of miniature red Solo Cup lights. Dozens of pastel Post-its push-pinned into Riolo’s black Ford Escape’s interior read: “Best Uber ever!” “I feel honored to be here right now.” “IDK how we didn’t crash!”
Since last winter, Riolo has incorporated the Solo Cup lights, artificial flowers, glow sticks, and photos—selfies with riders shrouded by the exclamation-point studded notes—to create a meticulously curated Uber experience. He spends up to 3 hours a week making sure everything is in the right place. Every new Post-it gets a spot in the backseat.
Riolo, who is originally from Egypt and now lives in Rockville, started keeping a pad and pen in the backseat as a nod to his previous job at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Northwest. But instead of writing notes or to-do lists for themselves, riders began leaving paper sentiments behind, so he thought, “I’m going to have fun with the people,” and turned the notes into wallpaper.
I like the word Robert Griffiths uses to describe commuting in the Washington area: “robust.” It makes commuting sound like a rich, full-bodied coffee rather than the hellscape we face every time we step outside.
Griffiths is a data guy, so he chooses his adjectives with care. When he says “robust,” he means complex, with lots of options, options that weren’t around even a decade ago. As a numbers cruncher with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), Griffiths spent more than 40 years studying area commuting patterns. He retired in 2016, but he’s back as a consultant on a megaproject that may be coming soon to a mailbox near you: the Regional Travel Survey.
The undertaking is so huge — polling 15,000 households from Southern Maryland to West Virginia at a cost of $3 million — that COG does it only once every 10 years.
WASHINGTON — Taxi trips have dropped dramatically at Dulles Airport since Uber, Lyft and similar services took off a few years ago, so the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is planning to cut the number of cabs at the airport by more than 16 percent.
Documents prepared for the authority’s board show a 6.7 percent drop of Washington Flyer taxicab trips leaving Dulles in 2016 and another 6.5 percent through the first nine months of 2017.
The drop in Washington Flyer cab usage for trips to the airport is even more dramatic: down 14.2 percent in 2016 and 18.1 percent more through September 2017.
If you need to get home this holiday season and you’ve had a few too many, why not take a Lyft? It’s free.
That’s right, starting Dec. 15 and running through New Year’s, the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) will offer the annual Holiday SoberRide program between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. each evening to “keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk, holiday period,” according to a statement.
Under the program, area residents 21 and older may download Lyft to their phones and then enter a SoberRide code in the “Promo” section of the app to get a free transportation home (up to $15). The promo codes will be posted each week to www.SoberRide.com: at 2 p.m. on Dec. 15, Dec. 23, and Dec. 31.
It’s been barely five years since Uber came to life in Washington. The impact on transit, taxi service and use of personal vehicles has been staggering, but app-made-easy transportation has also begun to shape the residential real estate market.
Uber and competitors like Lyft now make the neighborhoods once considered “fringe” easily accessible. And the exponential growth in home values in those neighborhoods promises to exert a profound influence on future development.