Daily Scot – Popping up in Auckland

Thanks to my good friend Kent Lundberg in Auckland for sending through these photos of a cool little pop up park recently unveiled in the City of Sail’s CBD.  Griffiths Gardens, is a temporary respite from the dust and disruption of Auckland’s ambitious City Rail Link project, providing an “inner-city back yard for CBD residents, workers and visitors.”

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“As well as seating, picnic tables and play equipment there will be a garden shed for gardening tools and bike repair gear.”  

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Indeed a well programmed space packing in the amenities for a variety of users, including those city slickers running low on cell phone power:

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More on Griffiths Gardens from the Auckland Council website here

 

Evergreen Preview

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ever-12Yesterday Councillor George Affleck and Rob McDowell got a preview of Evergreen (formally, the Evergreen Extension of the Millennium Line) – and sent some shots from the initial run.

PT welcomes your impressions as you get a chance to try out what is now (again) the longest automated light-rail line in the world.  (Theological arguments aside on the definition of light rail when it comes to SkyTrain.)

The 11-km $1.43 billion line took long enough to reach Coquitlam (PoCo, not surprisingly, thinks it would have made more sense to cross the river to them).  But at last it’s open – connecting at Lougheed.

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And then through the Motordom landscapes of the northeast part of region.

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Entering a six-km tunnel – apparently the coolest part of the trip, according to George.

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Paralleling the main line of the CPR and serving Port Moody, still industrial and port-serving in ways not seen from the road.

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ever-4Moving on to the residential and commercial centre of Coquitlam.

Evergreen already has a lot of intermodal connections with the frequent bus network and West Coast Express, and there is already a substantial amount of residential density near some of the stations. There will be about 40,000 passengers a day anticipated on the line, rising to 70,000 in about five years.

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Transit lines are century-long commitments to city building.  There will be short-term impacts (the crowding induced elsewhere along the rapid-transit network), medium-term (more affordable housing options with better transit links) and long-term (the movement of job centres into some of these locations to make them truly complete communities).

Evergreen is a manifestation of the half-century-long regional vision (“cities in a sea of green”) – still proving to be far-sighted once we make the commitment to actually follow through on its intentions.

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Streetfilms: Vancouver’s Multi-Modal Success Story

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Long traditionally a region that prides itself on transportation options and rejecting the freeway movement in the 1960’s and 70’s (still the only major city in North America that boasts no freeways within its core) what Vancouver has done is set an impressive goal to have at least two-thirds of all trips by sustainable ways by 2040.

Streetfilms was lucky to be at the ProWalk ProBike ProPlace 2016 this Summer where we got to hang with many of the smartest folks in the world and meet many of Vancouver’s coolest citizens including former Vancouver Chief Planner, Brent Toderian, the Manager of Transportation Planning, Dale Bracewell and Melissa and Chris Brunlett, the husband-wife activist combo behind Modacity, who do so many great things, I’ll just make you visit their website to enjoy their journalism and ability to capture cycling with their cameras.

Item from Ian: Upping the Targets Down Under

Ian sends this in from The Conversation:
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The release this week by the Greater Sydney Commission of city-wide draft plans mandating some measure of affordable housing in new developments is a step in the right direction. However, the target of 5-10% on rezoned land is too low to make a serious impact on the city’s affordable housing shortage. It must be more ambitious. …

Housing researchers and academic housing economists across Australia agree that an essential part of the policy mix is to mandate a significant percentage of affordable homes in all new housing developments. This is known as “inclusionary zoning”.

Government is conflicted

Other global cities such as New York and London have recognised the important role of housing in their economies and have inclusionary zoning policies. Other states in Australia have also set affordable housing targets. These have not had harmful impacts on housing investment. …

The New South Wales government has been reluctant to set significant inclusionary zoning requirements for new developments in several important parts of the city. One possible reason is that the government itself stands to reap revenue from rezoning and/or redevelopment of government-owned land. …

What targets should be set?

We join those in the housing sector who believe that at least 15% of housing in new private developments should be affordable. On publicly owned land, at least 30% of new housing developments should be affordable.

Of course, the details of land zoning matter. If targets are set, we must ensure the definition of “affordable” actually achieves the goal of reducing housing stress for people on low and moderate incomes while maintaining housing quality.

Substantial inclusionary zoning requirements will not make development more expensive. They will make it harder for land speculators to make large profits while making no contribution to the social and economic future of New South Wales. It is high time the foxes in the henhouse were called to account.

Get Rid of Speed Bumps, Fix Air Pollution.

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As reported in the British Telegraph, Motordom’s last gasp is alive and well with a science reporter letting us know that removing speed bumps (called speed humps in Britain)  on the road will lessen pollution and save lives. I am not making this stuff up.

“In a report looking at how to make air cleaner, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), said that measures which help motorists stay at a constant speed, rather than accelerating and decelerating, were preferable to humps. It follows a study earlier this year by Imperial College which found that forcing drivers to slow down and speed up again produces significant harmful emissions”

But that is not really what the NICE link says when you click on it. It says if you slow down and drive smoothly, you will reduce pollution. The Imperial College report goes on more of a tangent, stating “road humps should be removed from streets close to schools and playgrounds because they increase the amount of pollution from cars, experts have said. Scientists have found that by forcing drivers to slow down before speeding up again, road humps cause vehicles to produce a greater amount of harmful emissions” And yes, they have made the link that speed humps impact air quality where “large numbers of children gather, such as outside schools or play areas”. There is no discussion that the speed humps are placed outside schools and play areas to slow vehicles and protect children.

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What of the lives saved and reduced injuries from speed hump slower speeds? We know that a child or adult being hit by a vehicle at 50 km/h has a 10 per cent of survival. That increases to a 90 per cent survival rate if the vehicular speed is reduced to 30 km/h. Speed humps or bumps reduce vehicular speeds and increase the likelihood of pedestrian survival in crashes. At the C40 Cities Summit in Mexico City incoming chair Mayor of Paris Anne Hildalgo has just announced that  the use of diesel vehicles will be prohibited  in four major C40 cities by 2025. Emissions can be reduced by the use of electric vehicles.

It is hard to believe in the 21st century that this vitriol for motordom supremacy is still being published by newspapers. There is a national movement started in Toronto to start calling crippling and deadly vehicular/pedestrian crashes “road violence”, a term that was first used in the early 20th century. Slower speeds save lives. Speed humps or bumps slow cars. Until we have better driver behaviour and streets designed for slower speeds, we need humps.

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The Friday File-Public Art and Not So Public Art

Thanks to the quick eye of an artist and an article in a British newspaper, a large piece of public art has been shielded from view in Shanghai and is being dismantled.

Why? Because while it is art, is an exact copy of  Wendy Taylor’s Timepiece which sits close to Tower Bridge. An ardent fan of Ms. Taylor’s work saw the installation in Shanghai and sent a photo of the work to her. Trouble was that while it was certainly a copy of Ms. Taylor’s work, it also certainly had not been authorized by her.

“At first I thought someone had done a clever Photoshop and changed the background, but then I looked more closely and thought ‘oh my god no, this is a complete copy’,” Ms Taylor said.“They only difference is the angle has been changed for the time.”

This isn’t the first time a work of art by a famous public artist has appeared unauthorized in China. A very surprising replica of Anish Kapoor’s masterpiece “Cloud Gate” (which is in Chicago and installed in 2006) replicated itself in Karamay, China.

You may also remember Florentiijn Hofman’s work Rubber Duck that toured cities around the world. Apparently a set of large rubber ducks appeared in China too, except they were not Hofman’s.

While Ms. Taylor has decided that life is too short to go after the City of Shanghai for plagiarism, the  city’s other 3,500 pieces of public art will now be analyzed. A few have already been identified as potentially replicated from other sources.

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Kickstart – The Greatest Security Threat in Vancouver

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By Gord Price

… and not just Vancouver.

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A building branded with the name of an American president — any president, but perhaps especially Mr. Trump — would be a tempting target for terrorists and other enemies of the United States.

Who is going to protect the buildings? Will the Trump organization hire a security firm to do the job, or will the American taxpayer be on the line for the bill? Will foreign governments offer to pay to secure the properties — a subsidy of the Trump organization that would probably violate the Emoluments Clause? – NY Times

Will Vancouver be expected to pay for that security, not to mention deal with the disruption of protests in front of the big gold ‘Trump’ sign on Georgia Street?  Well, of course.

But it will only take one significant terrorist attack at any Trump-branded hotel for the loss of business to be felt at every related franchise.

If I were Holburn, the company with the contractual obligations, I’d be more than a little anxious.

Metro Sustainability Breakfast: Food Waste – Dec 15

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Canadians waste an astonishing amount of food – about a third of Canada’s food never gets eaten – with significant environmental, economic and social consequences. This results in higher disposal costs for local governments and their ratepayers and higher greenhouse gas emissions all through the food value chain and from landfills. Conservative estimates of the value of food waste is $100 billion in Canada and good, nutritious, edible food is being thrown away.

Join us to learn how the National Food Waste Reduction Strategy, launched by Canada’s National Zero Waste Council at the 2016 Zero Waste Conference, provides a means to reduce food waste in Canada through policy, innovation, and behaviour change, and hear about efforts underway in the Metro Vancouver region to tackle this issue at a local level.

  • Malcolm Brodie, Chair, Metro Vancouver Zero Waste Committee; Chair, National Zero Waste Council
  • Bob Long, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, NZWC Board Member
  • Andrew Marr, Director, Solid Waste Planning, Metro Vancouver
  • Larina Lopez, Division Manager, Corporate Communications, Metro Vancouver

Register Now

Connect to a Social Movement – Dec 8

From Vancouver Coastal Health:

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Do you see yourself actively involved in the front lines of an organisation seeking to help residents in the lower mainland foster a greater sense of CONNECTION and BELONGING? If so, we are inviting YOU to:

  1. ENGAGE around the common goal of increasing social connections and BUILD MOMENTUM to reach this goal through collaboration and leadership.
  2. INSPIRE by sharing your initiatives, research and current practices to increase our collective impact and enable greater positive change.

Thursday, December 8

12 – 9:00 pm

Museum of Vancouver at Vanier Park in Kitsilano – 1100 Chestnut Street

Daily Scot: Parks and Politics on False Creek

Scot: “This is great news for Vancouver, some much needed outside design influence to help us get more funky.”

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High Line architect picked to design park in one of Vancouver’s last undeveloped waterfront propertiesThe Globe and Mail

The landscape architect behind New York’s award-winning High Line has been selected to design a major new park in Vancouver. James Corner will design a multi-use park for about 21 acres of space in northeast False Creek – on one of the last undeveloped areas of waterfront land downtown. …

The project, which is tied to the dismantling of the viaducts leading into downtown, includes a new Creekside Park Extension, renewal for Creekside Park and Andy Livingstone Park, and a pedestrian and cycling bridge that will take people up into the downtown core.

“It’s a generous, open scale that will be significant,” said Mr. Corner, founding partner and chief executive of James Corner Field Operations.

“That part of the city is quite fragmented and confused at the moment between the roadways and the stadium and the derelict land, parcels of land that are presently disconnected. [It’s an] opportunity to really build connective tissue that ties things together and allows people to walk or cycle more seamlessly from one part to another,” he added. “[We’re] looking for ways to tie this park more meaningfully into the neighbourhoods so that it’s a park for people, a park that is used by people.”

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Gord Price: Good to see progress on this site – and the choice of Corner, along with local firm PWL.  But I’ve always thought it more than a bit disingenuous of those who have criticized the City, Park Board and Concord for not proceeding with the site earlier – as though a promise had been broken to the local residents, mainly those in the CityGate complex who are almost completely surrounded by existing parks.  

Having been on Council at the time the Official Development Plan was approved, I understood that the contract called for the parks to proceed at the time when development approvals for a certain amount of housing had been issued, according to the long-range plan.  Which is what has happened further west.  The rezoning of the northeast part of the site and the reconsideration for the removal of the Viaducts changed the expected timeline- but just as well.  If the park had proceeded, we would no doubt be lamenting an inferior design or considering whether to rebuild it at some cost to take advantage of the proposed changes.

The Celebration of Light, New Year’s Eve and the Big Bangs

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Fireworks are big business in the City of Vancouver, and are the centre piece of a summer “celebration of light” where we celebrate which country can make the most impressive display and percussion. Years ago it was a tobacco company that had its name on this festival-now it is a car manufacturer.

City Council has just announced that they will be approving $50,000 for  a New Year’s Eve celebration downtown with live bands and two fireworks displays-one at 9:00 p.m. for families with kids, and one again at midnight.

Fireworks do produce light, noise and air pollution, although in the moment the light and noise are pleasurable to viewers. They  also release  chemicals and particle-laden haze. But what is the impact of fireworks on birds and animal life? Does it make a difference to make that kind of noise in the summer or the winter? And why is there so little written about the ecological impact of fireworks?

The  Audubon Society cites the case of New Year’s Eve 2010 when 5,000 red-winged blackbirds were startled from their nests in Beebe Arkansas when professional grade fireworks were set off by amateurs. They died by colliding into buildings, cars and trees. It appears that fireworks are also more problematic in the winter months when large groups of birds cluster together at night.

There are other studies that show that shorebirds leave nests and become disoriented, including a  2011 study from a New Year’s Eve in the  Netherlands that recorded thousands of birds taking flight for 45 minutes “clearly disturbed and stressed by the fireworks, with wetland areas and nature reserves being especially sensitive areas due to the large number of birds that gather there.”

The impact on whales in captivity of large percussion fireworks has also been studied and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has set up standards for coastal areas where marine mammals and birds could be disturbed by fireworks. It can also be argued that fireworks are similar to  natural occurring thunderstorms and lightning to wildlife.

There is no doubt that fireworks and celebrations have gone hand in hand in the 20th century. Are fireworks still ecologically appropriate in the 21st century? Or are fireworks so culturally tied to our ideas of celebration that any ecological impact is not important?

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Kickstart – Hope, Change and Climate in the Age of Trump

By Gord Price

I think it’s time to cut the comment responses on Trump’s Climate Legacy – 2.  But to give those of you who care about this issue, well, there’s this from the NY Times:

Earth Isn’t Doomed Yet. The Climate Could Survive Trump Policies.

Is the battle to contain global warming now lost?

Don’t give up just yet. True, international diplomacy will become more difficult as China and India weigh their own energy policy commitments in the light of the possibility that the United States will walk away from its promises. But President Trump’s climate policy — or his lack of one — could work out in surprising ways.

Ted Nordhaus and Jessica Lovering, in a report published on Tuesday by the Breakthrough Institute, pointed out that real progress on reducing carbon in the atmosphere has been driven so far by specific domestic energy, industrial and innovation policies, “not emissions targets and timetables or international agreements intended to legally constrain national emissions.” …

As Robert Stavins of Harvard University put it, “The most important factor in terms of carbon emissions in the United States is the price of natural gas.”

And for all the hand-wringing over the future of the Clean Power Plan, its demise might not even make that much of a difference. The shift from coal to gas will continue to happen anyway. …

This is not to say that the world could survive forever an American administration that doesn’t believe in climate change and does nothing to contain it. …

“If a Trump administration lasts only four years, the process could maybe absorb that,” said Oliver Geden, head of research at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

The bomb is ticking, but the world still has some time.

Daily Scot: Motordom in the Fraser Valley

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Scot knows PT wants to comment on this story from The Sun:

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A series of bad crashes and increasing congestion on Highway 1 between Langley and Chilliwack have turned the road into a “nightmare,” in the words of one driver, and have some calling on the government to speed up plans to widen the highway to three lanes in each direction. …

The B.C. government has identified highway widening between Langley and Abbotsford as a priority in its 10-year transportation plan, released in 2015. The project is in the “very early planning states,” said a statement from the Ministry of Transportation, which goes on to say that increasing the lanes from four to six is “critical for safety and congestion relief.”

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said he wants to see the widening happen “sooner rather than later.” …

With the population south of the Fraser continuing to increase, Abbotsford is expected to reach 200,000 people in a few years. Rising house prices in Metro Vancouver have sent more families east in search of affordable homes. In a region where public transit is limited, that’s meant more traffic on all roads — but particularly those running east to west, like Highway 1, the Lougheed Highway and Fraser Highway. …

Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce executive director Allan Asaph agreed, saying he hopes the federal government will step up with money as it determines its infrastructure priorities.

“It’s not necessarily the commuter traffic that’s concerning, but the truck traffic,” he explained. “As the Port of Vancouver continues to expand, all those goods have to move from the port to the rest of the country. The primary route for trucks is Highway 1.”

It’s a story with all the earmarks of Motordom:

  • A car-dependent part of the region calls for an expansion of highway capacity to solve a problem created by the expansion of highway capacity and auto-dependent urban design.
  • Goods movement leads the way, combining the two arguments always used by Motordom: safety and the economy.
  • Public transit is dismissed because it’s “limited.”  And it’s limited because we keep expanding Motordom.
  • No matter how often it’s disproved, there’s still an assumption that expanded highways will solve congestion, and hence improve safety.  
  • Roads and bridges are always on the top of ‘shovel-ready’ projects when new infrastructure programs are announced.  Once money is available, it has to be spent. 

But there’s this:

Highway delays and closures are particularly difficult for transport truck drivers who require reliability to meet specific schedules, said Louise Yako, president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association.

“The thing that is most problematic is not so much the congestion, because you can plan for that, but the variability,” she said. “If some days it takes one hour and another day it takes three hours — that’s a problem.”

But while the BCTA supports highway widening, there’s a realization that “we won’t be able to build ourselves out of congestion,” said Yako. Earlier this year, the trucking organization called for a regional mobility pricing strategy — essentially a system of tolls to charge people for how much and where they travel.

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Which do you think will come first: the highway widening or an actual plan for regional mobility pricing?

Raw Meat: Should cyclists be licensed?

This is irresistible:

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Why Bicycle Licensing Usually Doesn’t Work CityLab

The idea of licensing and registering bicycles like motor vehicles gets bandied about frequently in the endless debates over whether cyclists are freeloading on infrastructure the Good Lord (or at least, the tax code) intended for cars and trucks when they ride on public roads. (Here’s a good study on why bicyclists are in fact paying more than their fair share to use roads, in case you feel one of these debates coming on.) A handful of municipalities do require such fee-based licensing, however. And it’s not always a complete and utter waste of time, money, and resources. (However, it usually is.) …

Probably the best examination of whether licensing succeeds on any of these fronts comes from … Toronto, where, from 1935 to 1957, bicyclists were indeed required to register their rides for annual licenses, for 50 cents per year. There was a metal license plate and everything, according to this very thorough website from the City of Toronto. The law was scrapped for a delightfully Canadian reason—the fear that licensing “results in an unconscious contravention of the law at a very tender age,” which can lead to “poor public relations between police officers and children.”

Still, efforts to revive velo-licensing surfaced several times in the 1980s and ’90s, only to be batted down by voters. The first and best reason: It would be too expensive to run the required bureaucratic machinery. “If cyclists were asked to cover the cost of licensing, in many cases, the license would be more expensive than the bicycle itself.” …

Another example is Salt Lake City, Utah, where there’s also a state law requiring licensing. “Both are somewhat lightly used,” says Becka Roolf, the city’s bicycle/pedestrian coordinator. She’s not sure how long the laws have been on the books. The license itself consists of a sticker; it costs up to $2, but this local nonprofit will pick up the tab for you. “It’s largely to aid in returning stolen bikes,” she says. “It’s definitely not a moneymaker.”  … And, of course, there’s the inconvenience of losing your license every time you ride beyond the city limits.

The inherent goofiness of this situation, Roolf admits, reflects a deeper disconnect about bicycles in American life, a confusion that continues to foil even good-faith efforts to integrate these devices into our civic fabric. “It’s an interesting dynamic. Sometimes our laws are set up based on the idea that a bike is toy, and sometimes it’s a form of adult transportation,” she says. “As a society, we don’t seem to have worked that out.”

 

Mark Busse has a question for you

Mark Busse – “design professional, creative community activist & food fanatic,” as well as host of Creative Mornings – needs to tap other creative minds to answer this question:

Does Vancouver drive away more creative people than it attracts? Affordability aside, what other factors influence this issue? In particular, what are the forces that draw people here? Where does the potential lie?

And we know that Price Tags contributors have a lot to say on that.  You can say it directly to Mark by going to his Facebook page here.  Lots of interesting comments too.  (Or you could go directly here:  6 Things I Learned After Moving from Montreal to Vancouver.)

The Impact of Uber on Transit

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From Joe Sulmona:

I predicted the harm that these peer to peer commercial ridesharing services will do to public transit…

Why do we need a Broadway subway when it might very well be cheaper just to subsidize the services instead… Oh, we might need to widen the streets for all the extra cars.

BART’s Oakland Airport Connector Losing Money; Uber, Lyft to Blame? 

Nov. 27–OAKLAND — BART’s Oakland Airport Connector — the sleek trams that whisk riders from the Coliseum station — seems to be falling victim to the ride-booking phenomenon that has also bedeviled taxis, shuttles and other airport transit services.

The $6 one-way fare may not be helping fill seats, either.

Rather than making a projected $2 million profit in its first two years, the service has cost the agency $860,000. And ridership dropped 4.5 percent during the three-month period ending Sept. 30 from the same period a year earlier, as ride-booking services tripled their numbers over the same span.

Social justice advocates blasted the service when it was first proposed as a “shovel ready” candidate for federal stimulus funds, calling the automated people mover a “boondoggle” that does little to benefit the mostly low-income East Oakland communities the trams pass over. And several groups challenged BART’s assumptions that it could use the connector’s high fares to cover its operating costs.

Data recently obtained by this newspaper show those concerns have come to fruition, though not for reasons anyone suspected at the time. The introduction of ride-booking services, such as Uber, Lyft and Wingz, at Oakland International Airport last year have consumed nearly all of the new business from the airport’s growing passenger traffic.

The precipitous rise of ride-booking took everyone by surprise, including the staff at Oakland International Airport, said Stephen Gordon, the airport’s business manager.

“Anybody who said they saw this coming is full of baloney,” he said. “Every month, we continue to be astonished by the growth in the use of (ride-booking).”