Labor News

Guatemala: Being a Trade Unionist in Guatemala Will Get You Killed

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LabourStart headline - Source: Upside Down World
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Indonesia: Independent unions challenge the zero rights regime at Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia

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USA: In the Face of Trump Attacks, UNITE HERE unveils 40+ City Mobilization Oct 19, 2017

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Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?

Current News - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 06:39

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20615/puerto_rico_jones_act_unions...
BY KATE ARONOFFPRINT

After Hurricane Maria, many in Puerto Rico have renewed calls to eliminate the Jones Act. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, an obscure law governing maritime commerce has grabbed national headlines: The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known colloquially as the Jones Act. After facing political pressure and at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, on September 28, President Trump issued a 10-day waiver of the Act to ease shipping regulations on the island. That waiver expired last week.

Many in Puerto Rico, along with members of the Puerto Rican diaspora living on the U.S. mainland, argue that the statue is stifling aid by presenting an unnecessary barrier to the procurement of basic relief supplies. Maritime unions, meanwhile, contend that the measure is essential for protecting seafaring workers.

So what is the Jones Act? What does it do? And what other factors might be getting in the way of supplies reaching Puerto Ricans?

What the Jones Act does and doesn’t do

The Jones Act stipulates that only U.S.-flagged ships can operate between U.S. ports, so any American goods coming into Puerto Rico via U.S.-governed ports have to arrive on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-made ships. This mandate prioritizes the use of American ships and workers, and inhibits foreign shipping companies’ access to inter-U.S. shipping routes.

Passed on the heels of World War I, the measure, named for its sponsor, Rep. Wesley Jones (R-Wash.), was intended to ensure that America would thrive in maritime commerce and be full of seafaring men in case they were needed for another war.

The law includes provisions protecting seafarers’ rights, requiring ships transporting goods between U.S. ports to abide by the maritime labor laws and environmental standards outlined in the Jones Act.

Foreign-flagged vessels from foreign ports are not prevented from docking in Puerto Rico, only from shuttling goods from the mainland to the island. The law also doesn’t mandate that imported goods bound for Puerto Rico pass through a mainland port first.

The Jones Act doesn’t apply to goods shipped between the mainland and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but does apply to goods shipped between the mainland and Puerto Rico. By comparison, U.S.-made goods on the Virgin Islands are about half as expensive as they are in Puerto Rico.

The case against the act

Well before Hurricane Maria, the Jones Act was blamed for driving up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, where groceries are as much as 21 percent more expensive than on the mainland. In 2011, the U.S. Transportation Department Maritime Administration found that day-to-day operating costs were 2.6 times higher on U.S. ships compared to international vessels, and that labor costs could be as much as 5 times higher.

On the island and off, a waiver of the Jones Act has been a mainstay of demands for relief and recovery packages, both to ease the flow of goods after the storm and for long-term reconstruction.

“If Maria is enough to get us out of that, that would be amazing,” says Sofía Gallisá Muriente, an artist and organizer from Puerto Rico who was also active in Occupy Sandy before moving back home to San Juan from New York City four years ago. “That’s the best thing that could come of this storm, but I don’t know if we could pull that off. The most I think we could get would be a waiver for a year.”

Among those calling for a permanent lifting of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico is the Climate Justice Alliance, a network of climate justice groups in the United States with ties to several labor unions, but not the National Maritime Union, whose members would be most affected by a permanent lifting of the law. The network held a Day of Action on Wednesday, October 11 to call attention to their list of demands, including full debt relief and a transparent decision-making process around the distribution of aid resources, among other things.

After the Day of Action event in New York, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of Uprose, a New York City-based group and member of the Climate Justice Alliance, told In These Times, “To have the waiver because they want to make the sipping industry happy at the expense of the lives of the Puerto Rican people is an international disgrace.”

Asked about maritime unions’ concerns over lifting the Jones Act, Yeampierre, herself Puerto Rican, says, “It can’t just be about their pay and their resources right now, because climate change is coming for all of us. Justice is not one of those things you can parse. When I have a labor dispute it’s not about getting justice for my people but no one else.”

Why unions and shipping companies like it

Maritime unions have mounted their defense of the Jones Act on the basis that it protects seafaring workers and well-paid American jobs. “The Jones Act is one way to insure that vessels operating between U.S. ports respect fair labor standards and don’t exploit seafarers,” Craig Merrilees, Communications Director for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, told In These Times.

To get around strict labor standards in the United States and elsewhere, ship owners may adopt a practice known as “re-flagging,” or registering a vessel in a country—say Liberia or Panama—with lax worker protections. Flying under so-called “Flags of Convenience” is a way for maritime operators to exploit workers on their ships, who are especially vulnerable to mistreatment due to their dependence on employers during extended trips at sea.

By preventing this evasion, Merrilees says, “the Jones Act is an important protector of decent working conditions and good-paying jobs for seafarers in the shipping industry. Crews on U.S. flagged ships rarely experience anything like the terrible abuse and exploitation often found on vessels flying a flag of convenience.”

The Jones Act has created a somewhat counterintuitive set of political alliances: Shipping companies like it for the access it gives them to U.S. ports and make hay about its importance to national security, while maritime unions want to defend the workplace protections it provides. At the same time, opponents of the Jones Act make the case that the law unfairly drives up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, which is already higher than on the mainland by virtue of the island being largely dependent on imports. Then there are the politicians such as John McCain and free market think-tanks including the Heritage Foundation, that have lobbied against the bill on anti-regulatory, anti-labor grounds.

The scale of disaster

While the politics surrounding the Jones Act remain thorny, several other factors also impede the flow of aid to Puerto Rican residents—including the Trump Administration itself.

President Trump threatened on Twitter last week to disband federal relief efforts on the island entirely. An official statement later clarified that “successful recoveries do not last forever.” Reports in the weeks since the storm have told of shipping containers stranded at ports due to downed logistics networks and government mismanagement, and even goods being confiscated at the San Juan airport after being flown in on commercial planes.

Gallisá Muriente dealt with similar issues after Hurricane Sandy, struggling to procure aid for some of the hardest-hit parts of New York City, albeit on a different scale. “That was a big lesson for me from Sandy: That there’s no such thing as a natural disaster,” she says. “It’s really the human disasters that complicate things—social conditioning, priorities, bureaucracy. And it doesn’t work to go back to normal when that normal was also problematic.”

Already, Gallisá Muriente notes, she and others have put some of the lessons learned in Occupy Sandy to work on the ground, while recognizing that there are major differences between conducting grassroots relief efforts in the Big Apple and on a small, austerity-stricken island.

“There are certain general logistical things that we’ve borrowed from that experience: creating lists of suggested donations, Amazon registries where people can buy specific things that we need,” she says. “The governor keeps saying everything is fine and is talking about all the aid coming in, but no one sees it or feels like things are getting any better.”

Heriberto Martínez-Otero, who teaches economics at a high school in San Juan and at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, told In These Times via Skype that there are still “5 or 6 municipalities that are incommunicado. Most of the municipalities with communications,” he adds, “don’t have ATMs or open banks. The schools are not open, and the hospitals are without power…except for some areas here in San Juan and some of the privileged suburbs, everything is a complete disaster.”

He also notes issues with the sparse relief efforts that are being administered, mainly by the U.S. government. “FEMA, I don’t know where they are. But the U.S. military are moving around most parts of the island with big guns,” says Martínez-Otero. “These guys think this is a war zone.”

What’s next for the island

Many Puerto Ricans—while recognizing the role the U.S. military plays in disaster relief—are weary of having troops on the ground for the long-term. Speaking to me from his classroom in San Juan, Martínez-Otero says, “On the streets here, in front of the school, this is a military state.”

“I am against the Jones Act,” Martínez-Otero continues, “but I don't know if waiving the Jones Act is the way to solve the current situation we’re in.” He also mentioned that it was hard to tell whether the 10-day waiver had improved conditions on the island, saying that a year-long waiver would likely be necessary in order to improve Puerto Rico’s distribution infrastructure.

Debates around the Jones Act aren’t likely to be resolved in the near future, and certainly not before the Senate moves to vote on the short-term, loan-based aid package for Puerto Rico that the House passed on Thursday. What does seem clear is that the overlapping crises on the island aren’t likely to end anytime soon—and U.S. policy is only helping deepen them.

KATE ARONOFF
Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times covering the politics of climate change, the White House transition and the resistance to Trump’s agenda. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff

Tags: Puerto RicoJones Actshipping
Categories: Labor News

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?

Current News - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 06:39

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20615/puerto_rico_jones_act_unions...
BY KATE ARONOFFPRINT

After Hurricane Maria, many in Puerto Rico have renewed calls to eliminate the Jones Act. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, an obscure law governing maritime commerce has grabbed national headlines: The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known colloquially as the Jones Act. After facing political pressure and at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, on September 28, President Trump issued a 10-day waiver of the Act to ease shipping regulations on the island. That waiver expired last week.

Many in Puerto Rico, along with members of the Puerto Rican diaspora living on the U.S. mainland, argue that the statue is stifling aid by presenting an unnecessary barrier to the procurement of basic relief supplies. Maritime unions, meanwhile, contend that the measure is essential for protecting seafaring workers.

So what is the Jones Act? What does it do? And what other factors might be getting in the way of supplies reaching Puerto Ricans?

What the Jones Act does and doesn’t do

The Jones Act stipulates that only U.S.-flagged ships can operate between U.S. ports, so any American goods coming into Puerto Rico via U.S.-governed ports have to arrive on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-made ships. This mandate prioritizes the use of American ships and workers, and inhibits foreign shipping companies’ access to inter-U.S. shipping routes.

Passed on the heels of World War I, the measure, named for its sponsor, Rep. Wesley Jones (R-Wash.), was intended to ensure that America would thrive in maritime commerce and be full of seafaring men in case they were needed for another war.

The law includes provisions protecting seafarers’ rights, requiring ships transporting goods between U.S. ports to abide by the maritime labor laws and environmental standards outlined in the Jones Act.

Foreign-flagged vessels from foreign ports are not prevented from docking in Puerto Rico, only from shuttling goods from the mainland to the island. The law also doesn’t mandate that imported goods bound for Puerto Rico pass through a mainland port first.

The Jones Act doesn’t apply to goods shipped between the mainland and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but does apply to goods shipped between the mainland and Puerto Rico. By comparison, U.S.-made goods on the Virgin Islands are about half as expensive as they are in Puerto Rico.

The case against the act

Well before Hurricane Maria, the Jones Act was blamed for driving up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, where groceries are as much as 21 percent more expensive than on the mainland. In 2011, the U.S. Transportation Department Maritime Administration found that day-to-day operating costs were 2.6 times higher on U.S. ships compared to international vessels, and that labor costs could be as much as 5 times higher.

On the island and off, a waiver of the Jones Act has been a mainstay of demands for relief and recovery packages, both to ease the flow of goods after the storm and for long-term reconstruction.

“If Maria is enough to get us out of that, that would be amazing,” says Sofía Gallisá Muriente, an artist and organizer from Puerto Rico who was also active in Occupy Sandy before moving back home to San Juan from New York City four years ago. “That’s the best thing that could come of this storm, but I don’t know if we could pull that off. The most I think we could get would be a waiver for a year.”

Among those calling for a permanent lifting of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico is the Climate Justice Alliance, a network of climate justice groups in the United States with ties to several labor unions, but not the National Maritime Union, whose members would be most affected by a permanent lifting of the law. The network held a Day of Action on Wednesday, October 11 to call attention to their list of demands, including full debt relief and a transparent decision-making process around the distribution of aid resources, among other things.

After the Day of Action event in New York, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of Uprose, a New York City-based group and member of the Climate Justice Alliance, told In These Times, “To have the waiver because they want to make the sipping industry happy at the expense of the lives of the Puerto Rican people is an international disgrace.”

Asked about maritime unions’ concerns over lifting the Jones Act, Yeampierre, herself Puerto Rican, says, “It can’t just be about their pay and their resources right now, because climate change is coming for all of us. Justice is not one of those things you can parse. When I have a labor dispute it’s not about getting justice for my people but no one else.”

Why unions and shipping companies like it

Maritime unions have mounted their defense of the Jones Act on the basis that it protects seafaring workers and well-paid American jobs. “The Jones Act is one way to insure that vessels operating between U.S. ports respect fair labor standards and don’t exploit seafarers,” Craig Merrilees, Communications Director for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, told In These Times.

To get around strict labor standards in the United States and elsewhere, ship owners may adopt a practice known as “re-flagging,” or registering a vessel in a country—say Liberia or Panama—with lax worker protections. Flying under so-called “Flags of Convenience” is a way for maritime operators to exploit workers on their ships, who are especially vulnerable to mistreatment due to their dependence on employers during extended trips at sea.

By preventing this evasion, Merrilees says, “the Jones Act is an important protector of decent working conditions and good-paying jobs for seafarers in the shipping industry. Crews on U.S. flagged ships rarely experience anything like the terrible abuse and exploitation often found on vessels flying a flag of convenience.”

The Jones Act has created a somewhat counterintuitive set of political alliances: Shipping companies like it for the access it gives them to U.S. ports and make hay about its importance to national security, while maritime unions want to defend the workplace protections it provides. At the same time, opponents of the Jones Act make the case that the law unfairly drives up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, which is already higher than on the mainland by virtue of the island being largely dependent on imports. Then there are the politicians such as John McCain and free market think-tanks including the Heritage Foundation, that have lobbied against the bill on anti-regulatory, anti-labor grounds.

The scale of disaster

While the politics surrounding the Jones Act remain thorny, several other factors also impede the flow of aid to Puerto Rican residents—including the Trump Administration itself.

President Trump threatened on Twitter last week to disband federal relief efforts on the island entirely. An official statement later clarified that “successful recoveries do not last forever.” Reports in the weeks since the storm have told of shipping containers stranded at ports due to downed logistics networks and government mismanagement, and even goods being confiscated at the San Juan airport after being flown in on commercial planes.

Gallisá Muriente dealt with similar issues after Hurricane Sandy, struggling to procure aid for some of the hardest-hit parts of New York City, albeit on a different scale. “That was a big lesson for me from Sandy: That there’s no such thing as a natural disaster,” she says. “It’s really the human disasters that complicate things—social conditioning, priorities, bureaucracy. And it doesn’t work to go back to normal when that normal was also problematic.”

Already, Gallisá Muriente notes, she and others have put some of the lessons learned in Occupy Sandy to work on the ground, while recognizing that there are major differences between conducting grassroots relief efforts in the Big Apple and on a small, austerity-stricken island.

“There are certain general logistical things that we’ve borrowed from that experience: creating lists of suggested donations, Amazon registries where people can buy specific things that we need,” she says. “The governor keeps saying everything is fine and is talking about all the aid coming in, but no one sees it or feels like things are getting any better.”

Heriberto Martínez-Otero, who teaches economics at a high school in San Juan and at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, told In These Times via Skype that there are still “5 or 6 municipalities that are incommunicado. Most of the municipalities with communications,” he adds, “don’t have ATMs or open banks. The schools are not open, and the hospitals are without power…except for some areas here in San Juan and some of the privileged suburbs, everything is a complete disaster.”

He also notes issues with the sparse relief efforts that are being administered, mainly by the U.S. government. “FEMA, I don’t know where they are. But the U.S. military are moving around most parts of the island with big guns,” says Martínez-Otero. “These guys think this is a war zone.”

What’s next for the island

Many Puerto Ricans—while recognizing the role the U.S. military plays in disaster relief—are weary of having troops on the ground for the long-term. Speaking to me from his classroom in San Juan, Martínez-Otero says, “On the streets here, in front of the school, this is a military state.”

“I am against the Jones Act,” Martínez-Otero continues, “but I don't know if waiving the Jones Act is the way to solve the current situation we’re in.” He also mentioned that it was hard to tell whether the 10-day waiver had improved conditions on the island, saying that a year-long waiver would likely be necessary in order to improve Puerto Rico’s distribution infrastructure.

Debates around the Jones Act aren’t likely to be resolved in the near future, and certainly not before the Senate moves to vote on the short-term, loan-based aid package for Puerto Rico that the House passed on Thursday. What does seem clear is that the overlapping crises on the island aren’t likely to end anytime soon—and U.S. policy is only helping deepen them.

KATE ARONOFF
Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times covering the politics of climate change, the White House transition and the resistance to Trump’s agenda. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff

Tags: Puerto RicoJones Actshipping
Categories: Labor News

Malta: Journalists unions condemn murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

China: Min. pay rises trumpeted prior to Party Congress; rates barely catch up with increased costs

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
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Global: Govts have tools: Now deliver an international agreement on modern slavery

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
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Indonesia: Dockworker demands pushed by unions in Indonesia and Madagascar

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Business Recorder
Categories: Labor News

USA: Becoming a Steelworker Liberated Her. Then Her Job Moved to Mexico.

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NY Times
Categories: Labor News

Réforme du code du travail : la victoire des dockers October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.

Current News - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:36

Réforme du code du travail : la victoire des dockers
October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.
https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/politique/reforme-du-code-du-travail-la-... Amélie Bonté, France Bleu Normandie (Seine-Maritime - Eure) et France BleuVendredi 13 octobre 2017 à 17:02

Au Havre, près de 2 500 dockers travaillent sur le port © Radio France - Amélie Bonté
La Fédéréation Nationale des ports et docks CGT a obtenu après plusieurs réunions que son accord de branche prime toujours sur les accords d'entreprises, alors que les ordonnances signées mettant en place la réforme du code du travail permettent d'inverser cette hiérarchie des normes.

La réforme du code du travail ne s'appliquera pas aux dockers. En tout cas, une partie de cette réforme, celle qui met en place l'inversion de la hiérarchie des normes dont on a beaucoup parlé et qui a fait bondir les syndicats. La fédération Nationale des ports et docks vient d'obtenir une victoire face au gouvernement : que sa convention collective prime sur les accords d'entreprises.

2.500 dockers concernés au Havre

Les dockers sont en général de toute les manifestations au Havre. Souvent redoutés d'ailleurs par les autorités locales et les acteurs du Port car ils peuvent à eux seuls bloquer facilement la ville et le premier port Français qu'est Le Havre pour le trafic de conteneurs. Ce fût d'ailleurs le cas l'année dernière, régulièrement, durant 4 mois avec la loi El Khomri. C'est donc une victoire pour cette profession, qui annonce par communiqué que sa convention collective primera sur des accords d'entreprises. Pourtant la réforme du code du travail c'est bien l'inverse et le gouvernement a accepté de faire cette exception, au terme de plusieurs réunions entre ministères des transports, du travail et des organisations patronales. Pour justifier cette exception, CGT et gouvernement avancent la spécificité du "monde portuaire" déjà acté via deux textes de lois, en 2008 et en 2015.

Impossible d'avoir une réaction notamment du secrétaire général de la CGT dockers du Havre, à part le communiqué de presse envoyé, ils ont décidé de ne pas répondre aux questions. La réforme du code du travail, en tout cas cette partie là, ce n'est donc pas pour les dockers, en revanche, ils disent vouloir continuer, par solidarité à s'opposer aux ordonnances de la loi travail qu'ils qualifient de "régression sociale". Les dockers devraient donc faire partie des cortèges le 19 octobre, jour de la prochaine manifestation à l'appel de la CGT.

The National Federation of Ports and Docks CGT has obtained after several meetings that its branch agreement always takes precedence over company agreements, whereas the signed ordinances putting in place the reform of the labor code make it possible to reverse this hierarchy of standards.

The reform of the labor code will not apply to dockworkers. In any case, part of this reform, the one that puts in place the reversal of the hierarchy of norms that has been much talked about and that has made the unions jump. The national federation of ports and docks has just won a victory against the government: that its collective agreement takes precedence over company agreements.

2,500 dockers involved in Le Havre

The dockers are generally from all the demonstrations in Le Havre. Often feared by the local authorities and the players of the Port because they can easily block easily the city and the first French port that is Le Havre for the traffic of containers. This was the case last year, regularly, for 4 months with the El Khomri law. It is therefore a victory for this profession, which announces by press release that its collective agreement will take precedence over company agreements. Yet the reform of the labor code is the reverse and the government has agreed to make this exception after several meetings between ministries of transport, labor and employers' organizations. To justify this exception, CGT and government put forward the specificity of the "port world" already registered through two texts of laws, in 2008 and 2015.

Unable to have a reaction from the general secretary of the CGT Dockers of Le Havre, apart from the press release sent, they decided not to answer the questions. The reform of the labor code, in any case this part, is not for the dockers, on the other hand, they say they want to continue, by solidarity to oppose the ordinances of the labor law which they call " regression ". The dockers should therefore be part of the processions on October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.

Tags: CGTFrench dockers
Categories: Labor News

Georgia: Georgian workers beaten by security guard

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
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Global: Unions Call on IMF and World Bank to Support Global Wage Rise

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
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Kyrgyzstan: Trade unions vow to protect labour rights ahead of Sunday’s elections

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Could this study explain why DC Metro is losing riders to Uber and Lyft? Downsizing Public Transit Leads To Privatization

Current News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:05

Could this study explain why DC Metro is losing riders to Uber and Lyft? Downsizing Public Transit Leads To Privatization
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/10/11/could-this...

By Faiz Siddiqui October 11 at 12:00 PM

New data from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer shows Uber is often a faster way around the District than Metro. (Mike Blake / Reuters)
Metro is the most efficient means of commuting to and from the D.C. suburbs, but when it comes to intra-city travel — trips beginning and ending in the District — Uber is often the faster way around, according to a new analysis from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer. And though ride-hailing is almost always more expensive than public transit, lower-cost pooling options make it nearly as affordable to hail a car in the District as to take Metro, while adding only marginally to travel times.

According to the study, which examined travel times during afternoon rush, the duration of a commute on Metro and Uber is often similar. But variables, such as Metro delays or the night and weekend service reductions so familiar to riders, put the transit system at a disadvantage, while heavier-than-usual traffic can set back ride-hailing users.

Consider this: When the wait for a Metro train is 10 minutes, Uber is the quicker option in 99 of 114 scenarios, according to the research. (During off-peak hours, Metro trains arrive about every 12 minutes; after 9:30 p.m., the frequency is reduced to every 15 to 20 minutes, making a 10-minute wait more likely.) And even during rush hour, when service is at its peak levels, trips that would normally require a transfer on Metro generally favor Uber, according to the analysis.

Still, the study shows, when train service is frequent and reliable, Metro is the fastest way around the region. In a scenario where trains arrived every three minutes — assuming a 10-minute walk to the station — Metro matched or beat out Uber in 67 of 114 trips, according to the analysis. Trains currently arrive every eight minutes across the system, with more frequent service on the Red Line from Grosvenor to Silver Spring.

Metro is fastest for getting to the suburbs. But for travel within the District, or trips requiring a transfer, Uber is often faster and nearly as affordable, according to the study. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).
“Metro is especially efficient for longer trips from downtown to the suburbs that do not require transfers,” the study says.

The comparison solely encompassed Uber because the ride-hailing company has made a trove of data available to city planners that makes its travel times easy to weigh against Metro’s. The app launched in January, Uber Movement, contains travel times and congestion data for select cities. Metro’s travel times were pulled from its online trip planner.

[Uber’s new tool is a glimpse of how much it knows about cities. Planners want the full picture.]

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Metro essentially agreed with the study’s conclusions on long-distance travel but disagreed that the system falls short when it comes to trips within the District.

“While we have not analyzed the report or its assumptions, we agree that Metrorail is often faster and more cost effective than other options,” Metro spokesman Richard L. Jordan said. “In fact, Metrorail’s cost per mile is less than Uber or taxi services, regardless of the trip distance, making it an excellent value.”

In a statement, an Uber spokesman said the ride-hailing service doesn’t see Metro as a competitor.

“Uber has long believed that the Metro is, and will continue to be, the backbone of the region’s transportation system,” the spokesman said. “We are proud to provide first- [and] last-mile options that extend the reach of the public transportation infrastructure hundreds of thousands of Metro commuters rely on every day.”

Researchers said they chose the 114 routes in the analysis because they were common — with a transfer-free trips from Gallery Place or Metro Center to nearly every station in the system. Routes also included trips to common job centers — such as Foggy Bottom and Navy Yard — nightlife hubs such as Shaw, or residential and commercial areas like Columbia Heights. The researchers admit they “purposefully included some trips” where they thought Uber would beat Metro to fully demonstrate the scale of differences in travel times.

Of course, there’s often a simple way to avoid a time-consuming transfer on Metrorail: the bus. Jordan said it was “surprising” that the study didn’t “fully consider” the vast Metrobus network, as buses carry more riders than the rail system in the District — at a cost of $2 per trip.
In fact, the study’s authors did acknowledge that many of the points entailing longer commutes on Metrorail were easily connected by Metrobus.

“With Metro’s spoke-and-hub configuration, it’s not surprising that trips requiring a transfer that have origins and destinations relatively close to each other are quicker in an Uber than on Metro,” the analysis said, noting how the X2 bus, for example, links Union Station and Minnesota Avenue, and the H4 bus connects Columbia Heights and Cleveland Park. “Some folks have their own work-arounds, and might bike between these locations. All of this is to say that even if Uber is faster than Metro for trips with a transfer, there are other modes of transit a person can use to make this sort of trip.”

Uber was often the faster option for trips within the District. Here are the 10 routes where Uber is fastest compared to Metro. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).

Metro was the faster option when there were no transfers or trips extended to the suburbs. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).
As the authors point out, nights and weekends are likely when transit users in the District would find ride-hailing more appealing. A trip between two residential and entertainment hubs is an example. When the wait for a train is 10 minutes, the research says, the Metro trip from Columbia Heights to Eastern Market takes 47 minutes. The Uber trip clocks in at 38 minutes— nine minutes faster. If the wait for a train had only been three minutes, the authors point out, Metro would have been the faster option.

Cost is another consideration. Saving nine minutes by using Uber will cost a rider, or group of riders, an extra $10 total. But if the customer is cost-conscious, they might opt for UberPOOL, which would still take them to Eastern Market faster — in 43 minutes — for a dollar more. The study assumes an extra five minutes for UberPOOL, consistent with Uber’s predictions.

For 74 of 114 trips, the analysis concludes, Uber costs no greater than $5 more than what a rider would pay for the same Metro trip. But $5 can be a lofty sum for riders on a system where the max fare is $6.

And the current costs aren’t guaranteed.

No matter how many seats are filled in an Uber or Lyft, one thing that’s clear is that ride-hailing isn’t a feasible replacement for mass transit — as the companies themselves admit. While an Uber ride might be faster in some cases, a single Metro train can whisk more than 1,000 people from the District to the Maryland or Virginia suburbs in a matter of minutes. To attempt the same with Uber or Lyft would be a guaranteed recipe for Gridlock.“It is unclear how long Uber prices will remain this low,” the analysis notes. “Several news outlets have reported that Uber subsidizes its rides with money from investors, meaning current fares might not reflect the full cost of a ride.”

In a statement, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt said the study underscored the importance of finding a long-term funding solution for Metro, to ensure the system is safe and reliable.

“When Metro is reliable it’s the most cost effective option for riders and why it is so important the region come together on a long term funding solution,” his office said in a statement.

Tags: Public TransitDC MTAprivatization
Categories: Labor News

Could this study explain why DC Metro is losing riders to Uber and Lyft? Downsizing Public Transit Leads To Privatization

Current News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 11:05

Could this study explain why DC Metro is losing riders to Uber and Lyft? Downsizing Public Transit Leads To Privatization
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/10/11/could-this...

By Faiz Siddiqui October 11 at 12:00 PM

New data from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer shows Uber is often a faster way around the District than Metro. (Mike Blake / Reuters)
Metro is the most efficient means of commuting to and from the D.C. suburbs, but when it comes to intra-city travel — trips beginning and ending in the District — Uber is often the faster way around, according to a new analysis from the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer. And though ride-hailing is almost always more expensive than public transit, lower-cost pooling options make it nearly as affordable to hail a car in the District as to take Metro, while adding only marginally to travel times.

According to the study, which examined travel times during afternoon rush, the duration of a commute on Metro and Uber is often similar. But variables, such as Metro delays or the night and weekend service reductions so familiar to riders, put the transit system at a disadvantage, while heavier-than-usual traffic can set back ride-hailing users.

Consider this: When the wait for a Metro train is 10 minutes, Uber is the quicker option in 99 of 114 scenarios, according to the research. (During off-peak hours, Metro trains arrive about every 12 minutes; after 9:30 p.m., the frequency is reduced to every 15 to 20 minutes, making a 10-minute wait more likely.) And even during rush hour, when service is at its peak levels, trips that would normally require a transfer on Metro generally favor Uber, according to the analysis.

Still, the study shows, when train service is frequent and reliable, Metro is the fastest way around the region. In a scenario where trains arrived every three minutes — assuming a 10-minute walk to the station — Metro matched or beat out Uber in 67 of 114 trips, according to the analysis. Trains currently arrive every eight minutes across the system, with more frequent service on the Red Line from Grosvenor to Silver Spring.

Metro is fastest for getting to the suburbs. But for travel within the District, or trips requiring a transfer, Uber is often faster and nearly as affordable, according to the study. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).
“Metro is especially efficient for longer trips from downtown to the suburbs that do not require transfers,” the study says.

The comparison solely encompassed Uber because the ride-hailing company has made a trove of data available to city planners that makes its travel times easy to weigh against Metro’s. The app launched in January, Uber Movement, contains travel times and congestion data for select cities. Metro’s travel times were pulled from its online trip planner.

[Uber’s new tool is a glimpse of how much it knows about cities. Planners want the full picture.]

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Metro essentially agreed with the study’s conclusions on long-distance travel but disagreed that the system falls short when it comes to trips within the District.

“While we have not analyzed the report or its assumptions, we agree that Metrorail is often faster and more cost effective than other options,” Metro spokesman Richard L. Jordan said. “In fact, Metrorail’s cost per mile is less than Uber or taxi services, regardless of the trip distance, making it an excellent value.”

In a statement, an Uber spokesman said the ride-hailing service doesn’t see Metro as a competitor.

“Uber has long believed that the Metro is, and will continue to be, the backbone of the region’s transportation system,” the spokesman said. “We are proud to provide first- [and] last-mile options that extend the reach of the public transportation infrastructure hundreds of thousands of Metro commuters rely on every day.”

Researchers said they chose the 114 routes in the analysis because they were common — with a transfer-free trips from Gallery Place or Metro Center to nearly every station in the system. Routes also included trips to common job centers — such as Foggy Bottom and Navy Yard — nightlife hubs such as Shaw, or residential and commercial areas like Columbia Heights. The researchers admit they “purposefully included some trips” where they thought Uber would beat Metro to fully demonstrate the scale of differences in travel times.

Of course, there’s often a simple way to avoid a time-consuming transfer on Metrorail: the bus. Jordan said it was “surprising” that the study didn’t “fully consider” the vast Metrobus network, as buses carry more riders than the rail system in the District — at a cost of $2 per trip.
In fact, the study’s authors did acknowledge that many of the points entailing longer commutes on Metrorail were easily connected by Metrobus.

“With Metro’s spoke-and-hub configuration, it’s not surprising that trips requiring a transfer that have origins and destinations relatively close to each other are quicker in an Uber than on Metro,” the analysis said, noting how the X2 bus, for example, links Union Station and Minnesota Avenue, and the H4 bus connects Columbia Heights and Cleveland Park. “Some folks have their own work-arounds, and might bike between these locations. All of this is to say that even if Uber is faster than Metro for trips with a transfer, there are other modes of transit a person can use to make this sort of trip.”

Uber was often the faster option for trips within the District. Here are the 10 routes where Uber is fastest compared to Metro. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).

Metro was the faster option when there were no transfers or trips extended to the suburbs. (Screenshot: D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer).
As the authors point out, nights and weekends are likely when transit users in the District would find ride-hailing more appealing. A trip between two residential and entertainment hubs is an example. When the wait for a train is 10 minutes, the research says, the Metro trip from Columbia Heights to Eastern Market takes 47 minutes. The Uber trip clocks in at 38 minutes— nine minutes faster. If the wait for a train had only been three minutes, the authors point out, Metro would have been the faster option.

Cost is another consideration. Saving nine minutes by using Uber will cost a rider, or group of riders, an extra $10 total. But if the customer is cost-conscious, they might opt for UberPOOL, which would still take them to Eastern Market faster — in 43 minutes — for a dollar more. The study assumes an extra five minutes for UberPOOL, consistent with Uber’s predictions.

For 74 of 114 trips, the analysis concludes, Uber costs no greater than $5 more than what a rider would pay for the same Metro trip. But $5 can be a lofty sum for riders on a system where the max fare is $6.

And the current costs aren’t guaranteed.

No matter how many seats are filled in an Uber or Lyft, one thing that’s clear is that ride-hailing isn’t a feasible replacement for mass transit — as the companies themselves admit. While an Uber ride might be faster in some cases, a single Metro train can whisk more than 1,000 people from the District to the Maryland or Virginia suburbs in a matter of minutes. To attempt the same with Uber or Lyft would be a guaranteed recipe for Gridlock.“It is unclear how long Uber prices will remain this low,” the analysis notes. “Several news outlets have reported that Uber subsidizes its rides with money from investors, meaning current fares might not reflect the full cost of a ride.”

In a statement, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWitt said the study underscored the importance of finding a long-term funding solution for Metro, to ensure the system is safe and reliable.

“When Metro is reliable it’s the most cost effective option for riders and why it is so important the region come together on a long term funding solution,” his office said in a statement.

Tags: Public TransitDC MTAprivatization
Categories: Labor News

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