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Menlo Park: Should city pay for Uber, Lyft rides to reduce parking congestion downtown?

Original post made on Jul 24, 2017

The city of Menlo Park is looking at the idea of subsidizing Uber and Lyft rides for local residents as a way to reduce parking congestion downtown.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, July 24, 2017, 11:36 AM

Comments (32)

Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 24, 2017 at 1:40 pm

They should do this just for times of peak congestion; it's a better use of city funds. It's better for the Lyft and Uber drivers as well; they'll be occupied traveling in both directions.


Posted by dana Hendreickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Once the CS commission develops a concept for this program it needs to survey residents to see how many would likely use it and then estimate the cost of subsidizing rides. The CS should also talk to other cities that have already done this to learn from their experiences. This MIGHT be a great idea; but it also might be a poor one.


Posted by Eric
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 24, 2017 at 6:05 pm

This might reduce downtown parking congestion but it would increase the volume of traffic. Currently, someone making a round trip from the Willows to Walgreens would generate two trips - 1)from home to downtown plus 2)the return home. Someone using Uber would generate four trips in and out of their neighborhood - 1)Uber car to the passenger's home in the Willows, 2)Uber car with passenger to Walgreens, 3)Uber car with passenger to home in the Willows 4)Uber car out of the Willows to next passenger.


Posted by Julie
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 24, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Another way to encourage people not to drive is to put in sidewalks that are wide enough for two people to walk side by side. Even better is build sidewalks on both sides of the street so that pedestrians can choose the shady side.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jul 24, 2017 at 9:15 pm

If we have a problem with parking congestion now, the right solution is to make parking times shorter and let people pay to park. I rarely have a problem with parking, though, so I don't know why we need to subsidize carsharing.


Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2017 at 10:04 pm

I, as a resident, have been involved with Palo Alto's slow (very slow) effort to create a Transportation Management Association in Palo Alto. The focus has been on low wage workers in concentrated downtown areas. Extension of on-demand, small city transportation services in Menlo Park to the general public is not only unproven but premature. Palo Alto at least has opportunity to test the concept workers in its two larger downtowns.

I am convinced that any such association for common benefits will work best only with economies of scale from smaller employers and cities jointly working together. City governments can provide seed funding for this concept but none of the local cities have sufficient financial resources to move from concept to sustaining, small scale transportation systems.

It is premature for very small towns such as Menlo Park acting alone to enter and subsidize public transportation schemes for citizens young or old.

If Menlo Park has excess funds, then trial programs with strong evaluation are worthy ideas. However, competing city priorities and economies of scale have upset the plans of many well intentioed cities large and small.


Posted by Parking spaces?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 25, 2017 at 12:18 am

Is this the foreshadowing of an effort to take more parking spaces anyway?

How about saving the money and using it for a parking garage.


Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 25, 2017 at 1:30 am

Will Uber and Lyft transport mobility-impaired people? How about people in wheelchairs?

Or are mobility-impaired people supposed to use only paratransit, such as VTA's Outreach and Samtrans' Redi-Wheels?

Just wondering.


Posted by Unnecessary
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 25, 2017 at 6:44 am

Umm, why? Not once have I been unable to find parking downtown. Parking has never even come close to factoring into a decision about whether or not to go downtown. Our downtown, unlike PA or Burlingame, can generally be described as dead at any given time rather than vibrant.


Posted by home body
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 25, 2017 at 10:04 am

>>Will Uber and Lyft transport mobility-impaired people? How about people in wheelchairs? Or are mobility-impaired people supposed to use only paratransit, such as VTA's Outreach and Samtrans' Redi-Wheels?

Uber & Uber do not have to provide any of the services to our community that are mandated by regulation for the cab industry (safety, discrimination, etc..) We are already seeing more Ubers "cruising for fares" in our densest areas. In the not-distant future, they will be sending driverless cars throughout downtown and down our streets. Down Santa Cruz at 3pm, past Hillview.

They can also jack up prices any time they want, whether it is just a busy period, or a time of emergency.

Look at Uber's corporate culture - the "rules don't apply to us" mentality.

If Menlo is going to divert public funds to Uber, Menlo should have say in the 'rules of the road'.

Yes, of course I use Lyft, sometimes Uber. However, I frequently will take a cab for a buck more, to encourage free market competition.


Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 25, 2017 at 11:15 am

home body wrote:
"Yes, of course I use Lyft, sometimes Uber. However, I frequently will take a cab for a buck more, to encourage free market competition."

Where on earth do you find a cab these days? Many have gone out of business because of Uber and Lyft, and the few that are left are one-man operations, and the cabs leave a lot to be desired as far as safety is concerned, not to mention the driving habits of the cabbies. And no one is doing any background or driving records or drug tests on any of those one-man taxi companies, nor are any of those cabs required to pass any kind of safety checks -- AFAIK. If I am wrong about any of this, please correct me and cite your sources for your corrections, Thanks!

Our City Council should not be giving public funds to either Uber or Lyft.

And both Uber and Lyft should be put under sensible and strict and fair government regulations so they are forced to serve everyone, and the company should be required to own and maintain all the vehicles the public rides in, and all of their drivers should be company employees, and should be required to pass strict pre-employment background and driving record and drug checks, and be given and pass regular background and drug and driving records checks. and it must be mandatory that requests for rides can be made form any kind of telephone: land line or flip phone or smart phone, or on the web. Then, and only then, should Uber and Lyft, or any other similar ride-hailing company, be allowed to do business anywhere in the US.


Posted by home body
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 25, 2017 at 12:06 pm

"And no one is doing any background or driving records or drug tests on any of those one-man taxi companies, nor are any of those cabs required to pass any kind of safety checks -- AFAIK. If I am wrong about any of this, please correct me and cite your sources for your corrections"

And your sources?

Uber doesn't drug test. Their background checks are handled by one of the online database companies to protect themselves from liability - hardly an indicator of a drivers true background. They perform no car safety check - originally they just had another driver do a walk-around new applicant cars. Hardly a safety test.

"one-man taxi companies"? If they have a license or medallion of any sort, then they shouldn't be any different than a "2 man company" or a thousand driver company.

" and the company should be required to own and maintain all the vehicles the public rides in, and all of their drivers should be company employees, and should be required to pass strict pre-employment background and driving record and drug checks, and be given and pass regular background and drug and driving records checks. and it must be mandatory that requests for rides can be made form any kind of telephone: land line or flip phone or smart phone, or on the web. Then, and only then, should Uber and Lyft, or any other similar ride-hailing company, be allowed to do business anywhere in the US."

Nice soapbox. I don't disagree with much of it, but Uber lobbyists and lawyers will see almost none of that happens.

And "the company should be required to own and maintain all the vehicles"??

They will, once they launch their driverless fleet.

That's the endgame, and thus the insane valuations.


Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jul 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

You've got to be kidding me. How do you reduce congestion by paying for other cars?


Posted by Western Hillsider
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 25, 2017 at 1:58 pm

Unless you're determined to park directly in front of your destination, Menlo Park doesn't really have a "parking problem." It is Downtown, after all, where many people go. That means traffic, pedestrians, bikes, etc. If you don't like crowded places, go elsewhere...or walk, bike, take a cab, Uber, Lyft or whatever at your own expense. For those who prefer not to move their bodies or, unfortunately, can't, an accessible circulating minibus system during peak hours might help.


Posted by Enuff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 25, 2017 at 2:19 pm

This means the city would be using our tax dollars to subsidize two multi-million dollar companies. No thanks.
And this would put our licensed taxicab drivers out of business in the process.

I've lived and shopped in the downtown for many years and can ALWAYS find parking.

It ain't broke--don't "fix" it.


Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 25, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Bad idea.

The city will find itself a defendant in any accidents or issues with the cabs or Uber.


Posted by double traffic
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 25, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Eric is correct - this might ease parking a little but will double the car trips. That makes no sense. Bad idea.

I have never had a problem finding parking, as long as I am willing to walk a block or two. That is what people have to do in other towns. Why not in Menlo Park?

I would FAR prefer any city money go instead to fixing the parking lots that have 3rd world run-down surfaces, to creating a safe path for bicyclists throughout town, and to even consider making Santa Cruz Ave downtown restricted to pedestrians (maybe bikers) like Boulder and European cities have done. Think Barcelona's Ramblas.


Posted by Howard Crittenden
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 25, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Menlo Park should begin building the promised parking structures. If Flegel's Furniture doesn't want one built behind their building build the first one at the other agreed location.
The time in now.


Posted by V
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 25, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Use regulated taxis not pirate uber.


Posted by Clunge
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 26, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Great idea (not really) Sounds like we're going to be a mini NYC. Instead of yellow cabs we'll have a bunch of Uber's and pink mustaches lined up waiting to take us around town.


Posted by Lisa
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 26, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Have they tried to drive in San Francisco recently? There are so many Uber and Lyft drivers who just stop in the middle of a street to let someone out at their exact destination or to wait for their passenger to find them and get in. It has caused major safety and congestion issues. On a street like Santa Cruz, with a permanent median in the middle and not enough spots for cars to pull over to the curb, these cars stopping will cause traffic to back up for blocks. It is too hard to "circle the block" in Menlo Park (not to mention that having a bunch of cars circling will cause more issues), so rest assured that they will just stop in front of the destination and ignore the inconvenience to anyone else (why wouldn't they when the only person rating them is the passenger). Menlo Park would need to create designated pick-up/drop-off zones in the back parking lots...and enforce their use. But that would further impact parking. Bad solution all around.


Posted by Matt
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jul 27, 2017 at 12:19 am

Looks like April Fools came late this year!


Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 27, 2017 at 4:52 am

in all the years I've lived here, I've never had an issue parking in downtown mp, never. this is a non problem


Posted by Jaggi Ayyangar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 27, 2017 at 1:09 pm

This is a ridiculous idea.

The city should spend its money to provide the services it had signed up for. Fix our roads and sidewalks. Make sure city owned trees and parks are cared for. Keep us safe. If you have money left, invest in the Library and perhaps a facility for concerts.

If people find parking difficult, they need to use alternative means (walk or bike for heavens sake!).


Posted by Portola Valley Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jul 27, 2017 at 5:49 pm

It's very unfortunate how crowded downtown MP is. I have to drive through sometimes and its just depressing. Overpopulation, especially in cities like Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and almost everywhere East of 280 is a problem. This would temporarily reduce congestion but in the long run its not a sustainable solution. Like a previous commenter mentioned, the funds should be spent on other improvements. For example, Alpine road east of 280 is terrible. Incredibly dangerous. Residents should sue the town for misuse of funds.


Posted by Pot meet Kettle
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 28, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Everyone in this thread who said parking isn't a problem is correct. There is plenty of downtown parking if you use Menlo or Oak Grove Ave and park in the lots behind the businesses on Santa Cruz. Congestion on Santa Cruz, however, is a problem. The problem would only get worse will a bunch of Uber/Lyft drivers who aren't familiar with downtown circulation start double parking on Santa Cruz waiting for their fare.

I really wish City staff would stop cribbing ideas from cities with much larger downtowns, and completely different root problems, as potential solutions for Menlo Park. Downtown Menlo Park is not, and will never be, Palo Alto, Mountain View, or even Redwood City. And I am perfectly fine with that. But could we please do something to make it more like Burlingame, or even San Carlos?


Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 29, 2017 at 9:42 am

SteveC is a registered user.

Menlo Park is Menlo Park. Stop thing it needs to be like Palo Alto, ect.


Posted by Lyndsey G.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2017 at 10:23 am

Encouraging more car travel seems counter to the city's climate and congestion goals. How about expanding the existing shuttle program to get people downtown without needing to park? That seems like a winner to me.


Posted by Reason
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 30, 2017 at 12:14 am

Have you Proponents all gone mad?
As I assume not, I need to believe that you benefit from supporting one of the car sharing companies mentioned?

Who in his right mind would spend public funds projects that bring even more cars downtown?

Already car sharing companies take up parking space waiting for customers with engines idling....





Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 31, 2017 at 7:09 am

Bad idea in so many ways -- still more cars in the downtown area since these drivers will be "hovering" waiting for people to "text" for a pick up. The City is trying to relieve parking issues but is creating more traffic issues.

Also, why should government be paying for people's transportation. It's not like most people in MP need ride subsidies. Don't want my tax dollars going for this project!


Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 1, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Bob
how come "hovering" and "text" are in quotes?

agree that this is a huge waste of money that would only add to congestion


Posted by Kellen Nicholson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 1, 2017 at 7:27 pm

Have the Complete Streets Commission and Environmental Quality Commission weighed in on the impacts of this? Big mistake if they're being bypassed due to CC'er ambitions...


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