ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON, Tesla CEO Elon Musk dropped a bombshell via—what else?—a tweet. “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420,” he wrote. “Funding secured.” The dude was serious, it turned out. But it’s not clear he had cleared the announcement with his lawyers. Nor his board. Nor the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has reportedly opened an investigation into whether that “funding secured” statement was, in fact, true. If it wasn’t, it just might cost the electric carmaker a metric ton in lawsuits. Or, worse comes to the absolute worst, prison? Elsewhere in the transportation universe, New York City’s city council made history by placing a one-year freeze on the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles on its streets, and by creating a minimum wage for its ride-hail drivers. This week, being a giant in the transpo space may prove expensive. Let’s get you caught up.
Four years ago, Greg Lettieri and Adam Pasquale found their startup idea in the garbage.
The CEO and COO, respectively, of Recycle Track Systems (RTS) offers up environmentally focused waste removal and recycling by connecting its clients with independent haulers. Its major selling point, however, takes a page out of Uber’s driving manual, using technology that tracks trash from pickup to drop-off.
New York-based RTS partners with local sanitation companies to transport garbage by installing rideshare tech in their trucks. Client companies get multiple notifications on where their waste is going via RTS’s proprietary software and experts in waste management. RTS also offers on-demand service for larger items, like furniture or electronics. In June 2017, the company closed a series A financing round with Volition Capital worth $11.7 million.
The startup aims to take food waste straight to the farm where it is converted to soil. Waste with high potential to be laced with plastic gets sent to a facility to be cleaned. In fact, the CEO explained that environmental concerns are a focus of his company.
“Food waste is 35 percent of the waste stream, making it a real problem with landfills,” Lettieri told CNBC recently. “We need more people on this, the amount of material being thrown out needs to change.”
City leaders need to reckon with the reality that sometimes shared ride services are not part of the answer to urban congestion, argues transportation researcher Bruce Schaller.
Last week, the New York City Council took a big step toward stemming the traffic-clogging proliferation of Uber and Lyft vehicles, temporarily halting issuance of new vehicle licenses as well as authorizing a wage floor for ride-hailing service drivers. The historic bills, which Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law on Tuesday, signal that these companies can no longer run roughshod over legislative bodies in pursuit of growth and eventual profits.
But there has been pushback to the idea, contained in both the legislation and in my recent report, “The New Automobility,” that Uber and Lyft’s impact on big-city traffic needs to be contained. Some of this resistance comes, not unexpectedly, from the companies themselves, which strongly object to the moratorium while also accepting the wage-related provisions.
Perhaps more notable was criticism from other quarters. In a recent CityLab post, for example, Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase wrote that focusing on ride service growth “sets us up for failure” because Uber, Lyft, taxis and the like “account for just 1.7 percent of miles traveled by urban dwellers, while travel by personal cars accounts for 86 percent.” She calls for making “all shared modes of transit better and more attractive than driving alone.”
Monday, Aug. 13
Metropolitan Restaurant Week at area restaurants: Late summer brings sweet corn, ripe tomatoes and Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, when eateries across the area serve up multicourse meals for a fixed price that’s easy on the wallet. This year, more than 250 restaurants in the city, Maryland and Virginia are participating in Summer Restaurant Week. That includes new spots you might not have tried yet, like José Andrés’s America Eats Tavern in Georgetown, the lively Mexican restaurant Mi Vida at the Wharf and the Israeli-themed Sababa in Cleveland Park. Peruse Restaurant Week menus online, and then book a table in advance for a summer dining deal. Through Sunday. $22 lunch and brunch, $35 dinner.
WASHINGTON — The District is set to lay out new rules this month for dockless bikes and app-based electric scooters.
The pilot program that started last year was extended through Aug. 31 after the companies that run the services complained about an initial proposal this spring that would have required payments to the city, continued data sharing and that the dockless rides be parked in proper areas.
Some bike advocates had also complained the regulations could have limited the usefulness of dockless bikes and scooters for people who visit, live or work in the city.
Though some advocates have asked that the city allow thousands more bikes as part of the program, a number of District residents have complained that the bikes and scooters simply litter sidewalks in the best of circumstances, while some end up trashed down alleys or hillsides in others.