Bird electric scooters: Lafayette issues cease and desist, promises to impound

City, frustrated by lack of communication with Bird, promises to impound electric scooters by the end of next week. Negotiations continue with West Lafayette and Purdue

LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Lafayette is about to give Bird electric scooters the boot after less than a month in town.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Bird Rides, Inc., the Santa Monica, California, company that dropped more than 100 of its electric scooters in Greater Lafayette unannounced in early September, the city warned it would start impounding the popular two-wheelers on Oct. 12.

The reason isn’t to get rid of the dockless scooters permanently.

“We’re actually excited about the opportunity to have them in Lafayette,” said Patty Payne, the city’s marketing director. “We understand that this is something some people really want.”

Instead, the city is asking Bird for time – possibly several months – to come up with regulations and a pilot program “to address all types of personal conveyance vehicles and sharing operations.”  

“It’s been 3½ weeks, and they haven’t reached out once,” said Margy Deverall, the bike/pedestrian/mobility coordinator in Lafayette’s redevelopment office. “We feel we need time to work some things out.”

Bangert: Purdue plays bad guy on Bird electric scooters students love

Bangert: Escape from Chauncey Hill Mall begins, lands far from Purdue

Bangert: Chauncey Hill Mall plan has Von’s tamping down rumors about future near Purdue

 

Messages left for representatives from Bird were not immediately returned Thursday. Deverall said the city also had not received a response.

Bird scooters are touted as a “last mile” mode of transportation. The company allows customers to use a smartphone app to find a scooter and pay a $1 initial fee, plus 20 cents per minute, to ride. The system allows customers to leave the scooters wherever their rides end.

The letter called out Bird for “users riding scooters illegally on our sidewalks downtown” and scooters parked on our sidewalks in ways that violated Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.

“We have also taken numerous complaint calls from residents, business managers and business owners puzzled by our lack of knowledge and the careless approach of the entire operation,” Deverall’s letter read.

Deverall said the city is following the lead of other cities, including Indianapolis, that asked scooter companies to back off until they could find ways to manage the system. She said Lafayette was working with West Lafayette and Purdue University, where the scooters are getting heavy use, to write unified rules for Bird and other ride-sharing scooter companies considering the market.

Erik Carlson, West Lafayette development director, said West Lafayette had a meeting this week with an Indianapolis law firm representing Bird.

Carlson said West Lafayette isn’t going the cease-and-desist route – even though West Lafayette police spent the first weekend rounding up scooters left in sidewalks and other random places. Carlson said West Lafayette hopes to keep the scooters on the street – “We’re trying not to be the bad guy, here,” he said – while getting Bird to start living up to some regulations that have been in the works since before the scooters arrived.

Carlson said the city wants some assurances about ways to crack down on dangerous riding; “geo-fencing” to keep scooters clear of places they’re likely to cause problems (“I’m thinking breakfast club here,” he said); and establishing direct lines of communication with Bird officials, which have been difficult to arrange in the past month.

He said that if those talks are fruitless, West Lafayette could ask Bird to halt operations temporarily, as well.

“None of us are against this form of transportation,” Carlson said. “And you shouldn’t be in a position to get on a Bird at Purdue and ride to downtown Lafayette being covered by three sets of regulations. We just need time to coordinate all of those and put them in place.”

In Indianapolis, city officials asked Bird and Lime, a rival company, to pull scooters from city streets this summer, allowing them to return after the city created an application and licensing system. The companies returned on Sept. 4, under a system that calls for a $15,000 fee to operate as well as a daily, $1 fee per scooter.

Deverall said Lafayette is looking into how that agreement is working for Indianapolis. She said the city is also looking at what other communities are doing.

At Purdue, Aaron Madrid, the university’s alternative transportation coordinator, started impounding scooters parked illegally on campus – basically, any not in a bike rack – the week the scooters arrived. He said the university, which recently signed an exclusive contract with a bicycle ride-sharing company, wasn’t given notice about the scooters and wasn’t in a position to police them.

“They’re still super-fun,” Madrid said. “But they’re still annoying on my end.”

Madrid said he has about 40 scooters locked in storage on campus. He said no one from Bird’s corporate offices has come to ask for them. He said quite a few of Bird’s independent contractors, who are paid to find and charge the scooters, have come, lured by dozens of icons that pop up on the smartphone app. Madrid said all of those people have gone away emptyhanded, unwilling to pay the $15 impound fee for a scooter that might return only a few more dollars on top of that for charging services.

Alex Mason of West Lafayette said he’s used the Bird scooters several times, even using the app to get a free helmet from the company. Low vision keeps him from driving a car. A Bird ride from his home in New Chauncey neighborhood in West Lafayette to downtown Lafayette is less expensive than hailing car rides via Uber or Lyft. He said the comparison is $3.50 for Bird versus $8 for an Uber or Lyft.

“I would most definitely miss them,” Mason said. “I just hope things work out and they can stick around in some way, shape or form.”

Reach Dave Bangert at 765-420-5258 or at dbangert@jconline.com. Follow on Twitter: @davebangert.

 

Read or Share this story: https://www.jconline.com/story/news/2018/10/04/bird-scooters-lafayette-issues-cease-and-desist-promises-impound/1525306002/

Read More

Pro-weed ‘political front is developing very quickly:’ Constellation Brands CEO

The politics around cannabis are shifting rapidly towards legalization, Constellation Brands CEO Rob Sands, whose company has a major stake in marijuana producer Canopy Growth, told CNBC on Thursday.

“Mad Money” host Jim Cramer in an exclusive interview.

Sands, whose alcohol distributor boasts popular brands including Corona and Modelo, said Constellation will work with Canopy on non-alcoholic cannabis drinks that resemble beer, champagne, spirits, water and tea.

“I think you’ll see a lot of beverages introduced, probably non-alcoholic or in, I would say, most cases, non-alcoholic, to take advantage of at least the CBD legalization,” the CEO said.

And while products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, could still be several years out from hitting U.S. shelves, Sands said the political scene was becoming more accepting to the idea of what could be a several hundred-billion-dollar industry.

“THC-containing cannabis, that’s going to be some time off, but I would say that the political front is developing very quickly there,” he told Cramer. “In the United States, we believe that it’s an inevitability that cannabis will be decriminalized at the federal level. And, as we already know, a lot of states have legalized it recreationally.”

Beyond that, Constellation’s stake in Canopy allows the beverage producer to “play in” international markets that have moved faster on cannabis legalization than the United States, Sands said.

“You shouldn’t lose sight of the international opportunity. There’s huge countries — UK is looking at medical legalization. Germany has already legalized medical marijuana,” the CEO said. “These are all places, given our Canopy investment, that we can play in. We think it’s important to be able to play in all channels and in all segments, not just beverages and not just recreational.”

Shares of Constellation Brands surged 5.38 percent on Thursday after the company reported earnings well above Wall Street’s expectations and raised its full-year forecast. The stock settled at $222.10 a share.

Read More

GE lays out pay package for new CEO Culp

New General Electric (NYSE:GE) CEO Larry Culp could receive $21.3M in annual compensation and earn shares valued at more than $200M if he manages to reverse the company’s deep stock slump, according to an SEC filing.

Culp will receive a $2.5M annual salary and is eligible for a $3.75M target bonus, an annual long-term incentive of $15M and a special stock grant, all dependent on performance goals.

The grant could total as many as 7.5M shares if the price closes on average at least 150% above its current level for 30 consecutive trading days before Sept. 30, 2022 – a block currently worth $95M that would soar to as much as $237M if the performance condition is met.

“The board’s package to attract Larry is overwhelmingly tied to performance,” the company says. “Nearly 90% of his annual pay will be at risk.”

Read More

RBI seen raising rates again as rupee slide accelerates

MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to raise rates for a third time since June on Friday to combat inflationary pressures as it grapples with a weakening rupee, surging oil prices and market instability sparked by a major non-bank finance firm’s defaults.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) head office in Mumbai, India, December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade/File Photo

Anticipation of a rate hike has increased in the past month as oil prices climbed, the rupee’s slide accelerated and concerns on liquidity emerged.

Rising U.S. interest rates, capital outflows from emerging markets and India’s weakening balance of payments and current account deficit are also expected to make the central bank act.

A rate hike should make domestic yields on debt more attractive for foreign investors and contain inflationary pressures from high crude prices as India imports more than two-thirds of its oil needs.

The monetary policy committee will hike interest rates by 25 basis points to battle inflation risks from costly crude oil and the weak rupee as well as “provide assurance about durable liquidity,” predicted A. Prasanna, chief economist at ICICI Securities Primary Dealership.

“You cannot wish away the depreciation in the rupee if you are a current account deficit country,” he said, adding that another reason to hike is so India does not “fall behind the curve in terms of interest rate differential given that central banks globally are raising interest rates.”

A 25 basis point repo rate hike to 6.75 percent would mean a 75 basis point rise since June, the steepest increase since the last tightening cycle, between September 2013 and January 2014, when India faced its worst currency crisis since the 1990s.

A Sept. 19-25 Reuters poll showed 35 of 64 respondents expect a rate hike on Friday. In a July poll, only 11 of 56 projected the rate to be 6.75 percent by December.

While a majority of analysts expect a quarter-point raise, some analysts said they would not be surprised if there’s a 50 bps increase, given surging oil prices and the rupee’s battering.

The rupee, which inched towards 74 to the dollar on Thursday, has fallen 13.5 percent in 2018, making it Asia’s worst-performing currency.

Emerging market central banks including Indonesia, Argentina, Philippines and Turkey have raised rates to contain inflation pressures and currency weakness with the U.S. Federal Reserve set to keep raising rates.

MARKETS ON EDGE

The RBI is also expected to assure markets that adequate funds are available after investors panicked when a series of debt defaults by Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) led to redemption pressure at other companies in the shadow banking sector.

India’s inflation rate was 3.69 percent in August and is expected to go above the RBI’s projected 5 percent by June 2019 on higher fuel prices, the weak rupee and strong consumer spending.

The 10-year benchmark bond yield has risen by 50 basis points to 8.20 percent since the last policy-making meeting in August.

DBS economist Radhika Rao expects a rate hike, along with the RBI shifting its stance to “hawkish” from “neutral”.

“For bond markets, a 25 bps hike accompanied by a hawkish stance could trigger the 10-year bond yield to rise to 8.25 percent,” Rao told Reuters after yields surged on Thursday.

BALANCING ACT

The IL&FS debt problems have pushed up short-term interest rates sharply with one-year commercial paper rising by nearly 70 basis points to 9.20 percent since early August, while the one-year treasury bill rate is up 50 bps to 7.73 percent.

One underlying concern is that the RBI’s selling of dollars to stem the slide in the rupee has drained 1.5 trillion rupees from the banks since April.

Analysts ruled out chances of a cut in the central bank’s cash reserve ratio (CRR) on Friday.

To alleviate cash crunch fears, the RBI has unexpectedly outlined a large bond purchase programme worth 340 billion rupees ($4.61 billion) for October on top of 200 billion rupees of purchases last month.

“The RBI is ready to keep real rates high because the policy mandate is to anchor inflation,” said Anindya Banerjee, deputy vice president, currency derivatives at Kotak Securities.

“The biggest policy anchor for rupee is high real rates. Raising the repo rate will increase the real interest rates and help in attracting fresh foreign inflows which will help in containing the rupee.”

($1 = 73.7600 Indian rupees)

Additional reporting by Swati Bhat; Edited by Martin Howell and Richard Borsuk

Read More

Surging Treasury Yields and Dollar Hit Asian Markets

Asian currencies and bond prices wilted on Thursday, after fresh evidence of a robust U.S. expansion pushed Treasury yields to seven-year highs and stoked a further surge in the dollar.

The yield on Japan’s 10-year government bond touched its highest level since January 2016, following U.S. rates higher. Bond yields rise as prices fall. Indonesia’s currency, the rupiah, dropped to a fresh 20-year low at 15,165 per dollar, while the Indian rupee hit the latest in a string of record lows.

Read More

Uber’s first electric-scooter service takes on Lyft in Santa Monica

Uber has just launched its first scooter-sharing service as part of further efforts to diversify its business.

Coming only a few weeks after ridesharing rival Lyft launched its first scooter service in Denver, Colorado, Uber has chosen the Californian city of Santa Monica for its own debut.

Uber’s electric scooters don’t bear its company branding — the service is operated by Jump, the bike- and scooter-sharing business that it acquired in April, 2018.

Each of the 250 red-colored electric scooters can be rented via the Uber app. Riders can see nearby available scooters on a map, and reserve them straight away for $1. Rental costs 15 cents a minute but that doesn’t kick until the first five minutes have passed. In a bid to grab some attention for its new service, Uber has made the scooters free to use through October 7.

Take note, though, Uber’s electric scooters aren’t dockless, so you’ll have to leave them in designated pick-up and drop-off points located across Santa Monica.

The company goes up against similar services in Santa Monica, with Bird and Lime, as well as Lyft, also operating scooter-sharing schemes there as part of an 18-month pilot scheme. Uber actually partnered with Lime in July and hopes to integrate its service into the Uber app by the end of the year.

“As we work towards having your phone replace your car, we’re thinking about all the possible times you’d hop in the car and go, and what smart, equally as convenient option we could offer to get you there instead,” Rhea Dookeran, Uber’s product manager for scooters, said in a post announcing the new service. “Whether going that last mile home from the train, to your favorite nearby restaurant, or between offices, scooters are an affordable, environmentally friendly way to get there.”

The launch of the scooter is in line with the company’s recently stated desire to become what Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi describes as an “urban mobility platform.”

The boss said he believes two-wheelers are better suited to inner-city travel than large cars, saying in an interview in August that particularly during busy times of the day, it’s “very inefficient for a one-ton hulk of metal to take one person 10 blocks.” Uber (via Jump) and a slew of other companies already operate bike-sharing schemes in many U.S. cities.

Bike- and scooter-sharing services from multiple companies have been launching in cities across the U.S. over the last few years, though the reception among locals has been mixed. While riders find them a convenient and cheap way to zip across town, some residents have complained about cluttered sidewalks and reckless riding habits. Many city governments were taken by surprise by the rapid influx of such services, and are only recently beginning to properly regulate them in a bid to ensure their safe integration into city life.







Read More

National Taco Day 2018: Best Deals at Taco Bell, Del Taco and More

Taco-lovers get ready—Thursday marks the annual National Taco Day, a fun foodie holiday that celebrates the tiny tortilla vessels of yummy goodness. In anticipation for the exciting taco holiday, restaurant chains around the country have announced special food deals.

Newsweek has rounded up the best deals for National Taco Day 2018 that will fulfill all your taco cravings.

Tacos


National Taco Day lands on Thursday, October 4 this year and restaurants around the country are offering some great deal. Hormel Taco Meat tacos being prepared at the GQ Jam In The Van Artist House sponsored by Hormel Taco Meats on March 18, 2016 in Austin, Texas. Gary Miller/Getty Images for GQ Jam In The Van

Taco John’s is offering a free crispy beef taco every day from October 1 to October 5. Taco-lovers do not need to purchase anything from the Wyoming-based fast food chain, but they will need to download the TJ Rewards mobile app. The app provides a coupon for the free taco. The offer reloads daily, so customers can visit Taco John’s for repeat free tacos during the week, Thrillis reported.

Craving a fish taco instead? California’s Rubio’s Coastal Grill is offering a free Original Fish Taco for free with any beverage purchase. 

Taco Bell is back again with its annual $5 National Taco Day Gift Set in all of its U.S. locations. The $5 “gift set” comes with four tacos: the classic Crunchy Taco along with the Fiery, Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos. The fast-food chain also announced that it will celebrate the holiday in its international locations as well. Costumers in Australia can score free exclusive merchandise with any taco purchase, while those in Sri Lanka can get free tacos with any order.

Chuy’s, a Texas-based Tex-Mex chain, is offering taco and drink specials for National Taco Day. Customers can add a taco to any entree for just $1. The restaurant also teased specials on Modelo and Patron floaters.

On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina knows that two tacos are better than one, but endless tacos are the best. The restaurant chain announced on Thursday that it will offer “endless tacos” for $8.99 on National Taco Day. The promotion, which only applies to dine-in orders, will allow customers to mix and match as many Seasoned Ground Beef or Chicken Tinga tacos as they want all day long. The tacos will come with rice, beans and bottomless, fresh chips and salsa.

Baja Fresh is offering a free Chicken, Carnitas Baja or Americano taco to every customer who joins Club Baja with any purchase. 

Jimboy’s Tacos is also offering a free taco when customers join their Taco Nation rewards program.

Del Taco is celebrating the foodie holiday with a BOGO special. The California-based fast food restaurant is offering a buy one-get one free shredded beef soft taco. Customers are asked to present a coupon when ordering. The coupon is valid at participating restaurants.

Read More

Jeff Bezos shares his advice for dealing with criticism

To deal with those conflicting views, Bezos said it’s important to develop a framework.

For him, that means listening to criticism, asking if it’s right — or at least partially right — and then changing as needed.

“You listen, you ask are they right, or even if they’re not completely right is there some piece of it that’s right that you can be inspired by,” Bezos said at the event in Washington D.C.

“If you decide that your critics, that there is something, then you should change,” he continued. “If you decide, by the way, that the answer is no … then no force in the world should be able to move you.”

Read More

Amazon’s Minimum Wage Hike Comes With Cuts To Other Compensation

Managers at an Amazon fulfillment center probably thought they would be leading a celebration when they explained the company’s new pay scheme to employees on Tuesday.

Instead, some workers turned angry, convinced their take-home pay would go down.

The world’s largest online retailer announced Tuesday that starting in November, all its workers would receive at least $15 per hour ― a key demand of labor advocates and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who had been trashing the company for its pay practices all year.

But Amazon is making other changes to employees’ compensation to help pay for the new wage floor in its fulfillment centers. Those changes include getting rid of what’s known as the “variable compensation program,” or VCP, which is based on a worker’s attendance and his facility’s production level, and eliminating a stock allotment program for certain employees.

“You guys are taking VCP away!” shouted one worker during a Q&A session following a presentation about the raises. HuffPost obtained a secretly recorded video of the presentation from a source who said the video is from a facility in Arizona.

Speaking into a microphone, a manager tried to assure the roomful of workers that everyone would be better off.

“Please, please understand, you will all see a benefit from this … Please be patient,” the manager urged as workers talked over him.

An Amazon spokesperson said in an email that despite the cuts to the bonus and stock programs, all hourly workers would still come out ahead.

“The significant increase in hourly cash wages more than compensates for the phase out of incentive pay and [restricted stock units],” the spokesperson wrote. “We can confirm that all hourly Operations and Customer Service employees will see an increase in their total compensation as a result of this announcement.”

Workers already earning more than $15 per hour will be receiving dollar raises so everyone sees some kind of hourly pay hike. But several of those workers told HuffPost they have a hard time seeing how their pay will go up, considering the other changes. 

I don’t come out ahead. It seems like the same pile of money, they’re just moving it around.
Amazon employee

One Amazon fulfillment center worker said he pulled down around $2,000 in pay through the variable compensation program over the course of a year. Losing that money, he said, would basically negate the dollar-per-hour raise he’s expecting through the new program. (A 40-hour workweek translates to 2080 hours per year.)

Taking the loss of restricted stock units into account, he suspects he will have less annual take-home pay than before.

“I don’t come out ahead,” said the employee, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely. “It seems like the same pile of money, they’re just moving it around.”

An employee in Florida said that as a new hire, he was glad to get a raise, but that some of his longer-tenured colleagues feared they would lose out.

“Associates are torn,” he said.

The worker said the company awarded one share of restricted stock to employees after they’d worked at the company for a year, with the stock vesting a year later, meaning employees could then sell the stock for cash. One share of Amazon stock as of Wednesday afternoon is worth nearly $2,000.

The worker said the VCP program had amounted to 8 percent of his pay each month.

The tradeoff should be a good thing on the whole for many employees. As in many workplaces, a lot of Amazon workers don’t stick around long enough for their stock to vest, making it a benefit only on paper. In a high-turnover environment, workers might prefer cash wages to stock, depending on the latter’s value.

“The net effect of this change and the new higher cash compensation is significantly more total compensation for employees, without any vesting requirements, and with more predictability,” the company said in a press release Tuesday.

Amazon’s announcement of its new wage floor followed weeks of harsh criticism from Sanders, who said it was a disgrace that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ― the world’s richest man, according to Forbes ― paid his workers so little that some qualified for government programs like Medicaid and food stamps.

Sanders pilloried Bezos in interviews and even in legislation, introducing a bill called The Stop BEZOS Act.

The minimum wage announcement brought Amazon and Bezos glowing news coverage and even the plaudits of Vermont’s most famous democratic socialist.

Read More

Toyota, SoftBank to team up in self-driving and other technology – sources

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) said they will team up to develop car services that rely on self-driving technology, such as hospital shuttles, as they envision a future in which fewer people drive their own vehicles.

Toyota Motor Corp President Akio Toyoda and Executive Vice President Shigeki Tomoyama poses for a photograph with SoftBank Group Corp Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son and SoftBank Corp Representative Director and CTO Junichi Miyakawa during their joint news conference in Tokyo, Japan October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The partnership between Japan’s top automaker and its most influential tech giant shows that even big well-funded players fear being left behind in the race to develop autonomous and connected cars.

“SoftBank alone and automakers alone can’t do everything,” said Junichi Miyakawa, chief technology officer at SoftBank Corp who will be CEO of the new company. “We want to work to help people with limited access to transportation.”

The announcement adds to a slew of deals and discussions aimed at sharing costs and securing expertise that has resulted in myriad pairings between global automakers, ride-hailing companies as well as major tech firms.

Slideshow (8 Images)

Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T) said on Wednesday it would invest $2.75 billion and take a 5.7 percent stake in General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Cruise self-driving vehicle unit, in which SoftBank is also an investor.

On the same day, Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) and Renault (RENA.PA) said they may expand their cooperation to batteries, self-driving vehicles and mobility services.

Toyota and SoftBank’s new venture will start with 2 billion yen (£13.5 million) in capital, with SoftBank owning just over half of the business.

It will be called MONET, short for mobility network, and potential car services could include meal deliveries, shuttle buses as well as vehicles that offer onboard medical examinations, they said.

While both firms have been independently developing technologies for self-driving vehicles and car sharing, and each have investments in ride-hailing firms Uber Technologies [UBER.UL], Grab and Didi Chuxing, this is first time they have come together.

“We are trying to take traditional car making into new fields,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda told reporters. “We realised that Softbank shares the same vision when it comes to the future of cars, so it’s time that we partner together.”

Toyota, which has been mainly developing automated driving and artificial intelligence technologies in-house, expects the future will include convoys of shuttle bus-sized, self-driving multi-purpose vehicles used, for instance, as pay-per-use mobile restaurants and hotels.

It has been developing a service called “e-Palette” based on this concept. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Didi, Uber and Pizza Hut are early partners in the project, and Toyota has said it plans to use the service to ship athletes and guests around during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

MONET will roll out an autonomous driving service using e-Palette by the second half of the 2020s, the companies said. SoftBank will provide technology to collect and analyse transportation data to ensure cars are efficiently dispatched when and where they’re needed, they said.

SoftBank has its own autonomous vehicle unit, SB Drive, which has been developing self-driving technology for buses.

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu and Sam Nussey; Additional reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida and Maki Shiraki; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Read More