Whoa, Pittsburgh’s Mayor is usually definitely Ticked Off at Uber
Pittsburgh has branched beyond its Rust Belt roots in recent years along with worked to recast itself as a hotbed for testing along with development of advanced transportation technology. So far, the standard for those efforts had been the city’s work with Uber, which first based its Advanced Technologies Center inside city along with then launched, with much fanfare, a pilot project involving the testing of self-driving vehicles on city streets. nevertheless the relationship between the municipality along with Uber has become strained.
Frustrations with the company’s conduct both within the city along with elsewhere have boiled over, along with Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto along with another top city official have been ramping up their criticism of the company in private meetings along with public statements.
“We’ve held up our end [of] the bargain, nevertheless we haven’t seen much via Uber,” Peduto, a Democrat, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week. “in which is usually a two-way street, not a one way. I need to see more interest via them in our communities, both locally along with internationally.”
carte blanche access to our city.”
—Michael Lamb, Pittsburgh city controller
Beyond the city’s borders, he directed his anger at the company’s perceived efforts to profit via a taxi-driver protest of President Trump’s temporary ban on travel via seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who initially had accepted a position on a business advisory council created by the president, only to abandon the idea following an avalanche of criticism.
Within the city, email correspondence obtained in a public-records request made by statewide news outlet PennLive showed the relationship deteriorating last year during the final stages of the Smart City Challenge, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation in which one city would likely win $40 million in public funding for ambitious transportation projects.
Pittsburgh was one of seven finalists. As did its competitors, city officials sought to create public-private partnerships they could highlight in their applications. Pittsburgh officials asked Uber to kick in a $25 million commitment for a transit connection between Carnegie Mellon University along which has a proposed test track for Uber’s self-driving cars. On the day before the application was due in May 2016, Uber instead offered nothing nevertheless a laundry list of its own demands in which asked for special privileges for its own vehicles on public roads.
“You aren’t offering anything back to the public,” Peduto wrote back. “I guess we won’t be able to offer a proposal. I trust Austin [Texas] along with Google won’t beat us because of in which.”
A month later, federal officials named Columbus, Ohio, which had secured $0 million in local matching contributions, the winner. One part of the Columbus application detailed its intentions to use self-driving vehicles to improve transportation services in a neighborhood in which carries a high proportion of “carless households” along with unreliable access to public transportation along with employment opportunities.
Peduto might have been exasperated because, only a month before being frustrated during the Smart City application process, he had gone out of his way to pen a letter of support for Uber, which had been fined $11.4 million for illegal operations inside state by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
nevertheless their partnership remained intact at least through the fall. Emails obtained by Motherboard portray a close working relationship between Peduto along with Kalanick. On September 1, 2016, the utility commission upheld the fine, along with Peduto quickly emailed Kalanick, writing, “Bad news out of Harrisburg.”
the idea’s unclear what happened between September along with the shift in Peduto’s public tenor last week, nevertheless after the mayor implored Uber to establish a two-way relationship, Michael Lamb, the city’s controller, wrote a letter in which supported the mayor’s skeptical view of the city’s relationship with the ride-hailing service.
“They currently operate as if they have been given carte blanche access to our city,” Lamb wrote, per a transcript of the letter published at WPXI.com. “At Uber’s request, the city of Pittsburgh has opened its streets to a fleet of data-collecting robotic vehicles. in which is usually much more than ride sharing. These vehicles are capable of collecting endless amounts of data about our city. Who owns in which data?”
in which’s a question in which cities across America are asking. Municipalities along with transit agencies via brand-new York City to Pinellas County, Florida, have been asking for greater access to Uber data. So far the data has straddled a blurry line between what is usually public information along with what is usually proprietary company information. Last month, the company said the idea had created a dashboard to make anonymized traffic data available to transit officials along with city planners.
“These are important points in which need to be discussed, along with I trust they have been,” Lamb wrote. “nevertheless they also should be publicly aired in order in which our citizens fully understand the relationship in which has been established along with the terms in which have been negotiated. Don’t let Uber ignore our citizens inside crosswalk.”
In a statement regarding the dustup, a spokesperson for the ride-hailing service wrote: “Uber is usually incredibly proud of our work in Pittsburgh. Since we set up shop in 2015, we’ve brought hundreds of high-tech jobs to the city along with invested millions of dollars inside local economy.”
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Uber is usually just one of the linchpins inside city’s overall push to attract along with develop advanced-transportation business. Carnegie Mellon (CMU) has served as a hub for much of in which activity, along with the idea has spun out startups including Ottomatika, a company in which builds perception along with planning software for autonomous vehicles along with was acquired by Delphi Automotive in mid-2015. The city recently expanded on collaboration with CMU in which has included the testing of traffic lights at dozens of intersections in which use artificial intelligence to help gauge backups along with improve traffic flow.
Pete Bigelow is usually the transportation, technology, along with mobility editor at Car along with Driver. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org along with followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.