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TNCs and Taxes

Open Forum: San Francisco must use ride tax to promote electric Uber, Lyft cars

Led by Mayor Breed and Supervisor Aaron Peskin, city officials are drafting language for a November ballot measure that would levy a new per-ride tax on transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft (and someday on self-driving cars, too) to raise funds to alleviate traffic congestion. There is, however, growing concern among environmental groups that city officials are more focused on the revenue-raising possibilities than promoting the use of environmentally sensible electric cars.
By Rocky Rushing, SF Chronicle, March 26, 2019

Environmental groups want SF to nudge Uber, Lyft drivers toward electric vehicles

In recent weeks, at least five organizations, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Coalition for Clean Air and the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters, have sent letters to Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors urging them to include tax breaks to push Uber and Lyft drivers toward zero-emission vehicles.By Dominic Fracassa, SF Chronicle, March 21, 2019

LA weighs tax on Uber, Lyft rides

The ride-hailing fee is in the early stages of discussion at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, along with more than a dozen other strategies to manage congestion and fund transportation projects before the 2028 Olympic Games. The earliest such a tax could be assessed would be late next year, and it would require another vote by directors. If all goes according to plan, transportation officials hope to start a congestion pricing pilot program at the same time.
By Laura J. Nelson, SF Chronicle, Feb. 27, 2019

In compromise with SF Supervisor Peskin, Uber and Lyft agree to new ride tax

Weeks of negotiations with Uber and Lyft produced an agreement to tax only net fares, excluding tolls, airport fees and tips to drivers. The money, which Peskin’s office said would amount to $30 million annually over the first few years, would be devoted to transit uses. City voters would have to pass a ballot measure in November 2019 by two-thirds because the tax would go to a specific purpose and not the city’s general fund.
Carolyn Said, SF Chronicle, July 31, 2018

Best Summary

All the Bad Things About Uber and Lyft In One Simple List

Even the comments are entertaining.
By Angie Schmitt, Streetsblog, Feb 4, 2019

Effect on Public Transit

Uber switches filing that lists transit as a competitor

By Matt McFarland, CNN Business, Apr 26, 2019

Uber updated its S-1 filing on Friday ahead of its IPO and largely eliminated references to competing with public transportation. The move follows criticism from public transit experts detailed in a CNN Business article on the broader impacts of the strategy. When Uber initially released the regulatory filing on April 11, the document identified public transportation as competition to its business and said Uber’s growth will depend in part on how it goes up against it.
The language was a shift from how Uber had talked publicly for years about being a complement to public transit. Uber described public transportation as part of its total addressable market, a term it defined as what it can tackle over the long term. Public transportation experts told CNN Business that such a business strategy, if successful, would lead to gridlock in many cities.
Uber changed its tune in an updated S-1, which also revealed pricing for its initial public offering of between $44 and $50 a share. Direct references to competing with public transportation disappeared in many places throughout the 300-page plus document.
Uber declined to comment.

Uber wants to compete with public transit. These experts are horrified

By Matt McFarland, CNN Business Thu April 25, 2019

Political Ramifications

Uber State Interference: How Transportation Network Companies Buy, Bully, and Bamboozle Their Way To Deregulation

This is a book-length work (a short book) Over the past four years, transportation network companies (TNCs), primarily Uber and Lyft, have convinced legislators in the vast majority of states to overrule and preempt local regulations and strip drivers of rights. The speed and sweeping effectiveness of the industry’s use of this strategy, known as state interference (or preemption), is unprecedented.
From the Executive Summary “the TNCs’ strategy has been to create political crises in localities—where for-hire transportation has traditionally been regulated—and then move state legislators to solve the manufactured crisis through state interference.”
Link to the full PDF

THE NEW AUTOMOBILITY: Lyft, Uber and the Future of American Cities
This book-length report combines recently published research and newly available data from a national travel survey and other sources to create the first detailed profile of TNC ridership, users and usage.
Schaller Reports July 25, 2018

UNSUSTAINABLE? The Growth of App-Based Ride Services and Traffic, Travel and the Future of New York City
This book-length report presents a detailed analysis of the growth of app-based ride services in New York City, their impacts on traffic, travel patterns and vehicle mileage, and implications for achieving critical City goals for mobility, economic growth and environmental sustainability in New York and other major cities.
Schaller Reports Feb 27, 2017

What’s It Like Living in a City Without Uber or Lyft?
Vancouver’s public transit system is adding riders even as usage drops in many other cities. Bike commuting is growing, and car-share services like Car2Go are booming.

Exploitation of Drivers

Uber Drivers Plan Strike to Kick Off 2019’s Most-Hyped IPO
The strike is being organized by drivers across various online groups and is being backed by advocacy groups like Gig Workers Rising in Northern California, Rideshare Drivers United in Los Angeles and Chicago Rideshare Advocates. Drivers in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., are slated to join the 12-hour shutdown next month.
Patrick Howell O’Neill, Gizmodo, 4/24/19

Study shows some drivers for Uber in D.C. found it ‘unsustainable’
A Georgetown University study of 40 Uber drivers in the D.C. region released Thursday found some thought the work “unsustainable,” with one-third reporting assaults or safety concerns and saying they went into debt to drive on the platform. Based on interviews conducted in 2016, the study found 30 percent of the drivers were concerned about their safety. The study said 33 percent of drivers fell into a “debt trap” working for Uber, taking on debt to drive. Although Uber ended its auto-leasing program in 2017 after financial losses and criticism it exploited drivers with bad credit, it “still advertises third-party leases at similar rates to drivers,” the study said.
Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, April 18, 2019

96 Percent of Uber Drivers Ditch the Company Within a Year

According to a recent analysis of previously withheld data obtained by The Independent, drivers complain that they are unfairly paid and are unable to receive tips through the app, the way some competitive apps like Lyft allow. Earlier in 2017, Uber agreed to pay out $20 million as part of a settlement with the federal government over allegations that the company mislead drivers about how much they could make, and the company has faced driver strikes in several markets over a list of issues that includes driver pay.
Will Sabel Courtney, The Drive, APRIL 20, 2017

Uber Drivers Earn Less Than $10 Per Hour with Expenses, Survey Says
But before we take a look at the results of the survey, we have to ask why has the issue of Uber driver earnings been so unnecessarily complicated?
by Michael Guta, In Research, Small Business Trends, Dec 17, 2018

How Much Do Uber and Lyft Drivers Make in 2018?
Nine dollars an hour, give or take. As an average driver that’s how much money you’ll make with Uber or Lyft. It’s a photo finish with fast food as the lowest paid work in America, and considerably less than you’d make putting up with people at Walmart.
By Eric Reed, The Street, Dec 11, 2018

Green as in money?

Uber and Lyft drivers say apps are short-changing wages while raising fares
Until recently both companies have relied on Silicon Valley investors and other private backers to bankroll their businesses. But Lyft became a public company last month and Uber will shortly follow. Recently drivers for both ridesharing companies say riders are paying more for price surges, but drivers aren’t receiving extra pay. These price hikes come as both companies are under intense pressure to bring in more money.
Michael Sainato, The Guardian, Thu 18 Apr 2019

Uber Expects to Make Drivers More Unhappy
Uber says it plans to cut back on driver incentives — bonuses to complete extra trips during a week or during peak hours — to save money. It will also continue to withhold employment protections like minimum wage, Social Security contributions, and other benefits from its hundreds of thousands of drivers worldwide. As a result, Uber acknowledges that drivers will grow less happy in their roles. “In particular, as we aim to reduce driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect driver dissatisfaction will generally increase,” the company said in its filing last week. Uber did not respond to multiple requests for comment from MONEY.
By JENNIFER CALFAS, Money, April 15, 2019


Why some green investors are passing on Uber and Lyft

Lyft began trading on Friday and its larger rival Uber will kick off its IPO this month, though neither has shown itself to be profitable and shares of Lyft sank below their initial price of $72 on Monday. One green investor said, “As far as I can tell, they’re actually putting more cars into the congested areas, and they’re pulling business out of the transit systems.” Another said both aim to reduce private car ownership, but “that’s a not an eco-friendly goal in and of itself. It’s overall miles traveled and carbon emissions that count.”
Ross Kerber, Heather Somerville, Reuters Sustainable Business, APRIL 2, 2019

Lawmakers still largely ignoring Uber and Lyft traffic nightmare

Study: Emerging Mobility – Tncs And Congestion
First they create 50% of the new congestion, then they say they are OK with congestion pricing as long as it applies to everyone. Is it just me, or does that seem just a little self-serving.

Popularity of brief Uber, Lyft rides on campus raises environmental concerns
The emissions that result from the cars circling around campus while waiting for riders could be greater than the emissions from the trips themselves.
BY MANYA KIDAMBI, The Daily Bruin, January 29, 2019

Open Letter to DC’s Transit Authority: Don’t Subsidize Uber — Restore Service!

Uber and Lyft Ads Are Really Annoying Us Lately
The matter is pretty much settled: Uber and Lyft are worsening congestion — especially in some of our most congested cities, undermining transit and, according to a recent study, increasing traffic fatalities. Uber and Lyft are even encouraging more people to buy cars, research has shown.

Taking Riders from Public Transit

Lyft, Uber reduce bus use 12.7 percent in SF, says study

Private vehicles still on the rise
Despite ride-hailing’s promise, vehicle ownership (and traffic) is on the rise in America’s biggest, most transit-oriented cities.

Your Uber or Lyft ride could be the reason American airports get worse

Uber and Lyft drop data fight with Seattle, and start another over Sea-Tac Airport data

Uber And Lyft Are Making Traffic Worse While Claiming To Fix It
The ride-hailing companies want you to think they’re reducing congestion and promoting public transit. Their actions tell a different story.

Ridership numbers kept secret until recently give us a clue
As Seattle continues to grow, we know that TNCs are increasing congestion.

Privatization of Public Transit; Uber and the Ongoing Erasure of Public Life
“Uber’s most significant contribution to mobility in cities may be our increasing lack of it.”
By Nikil Saval, The New Yorker, February 18, 2019

Uber Joins Lyft in NY Court Fight
New York City now estimates that it has 80,000 drivers working for ride-hailing apps. Last summer it became the first city in America to force ride-hailing companies to bump up the pay rate for their drivers above minimum wage, from $11.90 to $17.22, even though drivers for Lyft and Uber are technically independent contractors and don’t qualify for the city’s minimum wage laws. The city also put a year-long cap on new licenses for ride-hailing vehicles.
TU Automotive, 18th February 2019

Are TNCs Safe? (Personal & Property)

New Study: Uber and Lyft are Increasing Traffic Deaths
Uber and Lyft are not just increasing congestion and hurting transit, they are literally killing us.
Uber and Lyft have tried to market themselves as green companies that can help solve urban transportation problems, but the evidence keeps piling up that they are making many problems worse.

By Angie Schmitt, Streetsblog, Oct 24, 2018

CNN investigation: 103 Uber drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse
“You are pretty much hitchhiking with strangers,” she told CNN. “How many people is it going to take to get assaulted before something is done?…However, the numbers suggest that there may be many more overall incidents of sexual assault than the 103 cases found in the CNN investigation. “Uber has done a miraculous job at keeping this story quiet.”
by Sara Ashley O’Brien, Nelli Black, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin CNNTech, April 30, 2018

When passenger safety becomes a casualty of innovation; I’ll never forget my first wasted girl
KELLY DESSAINT, SF Chronicle, Apr. 10, 2019
Taxis have color schemes for a reason. Phone numbers are prominently displayed on the vehicles for a reason. Top lights are mounted on the roofs for a reason. Cameras are installed for a reason. Licensing, FBI background checks, proper training, permits and insurance are required for a reason.

Bill would require fingerprints from Uber, Lyft drivers

By MARY MARKOS, Boston Herald, April 3, 2019

New Scam Puts Unchecked Rideshare Drivers Behind the Wheel
The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit goes inside a black market scheme that can allow criminals and unlicensed drivers behind the wheel for Lyft and Uber
By Liz Wagner and Jeremy Carroll, NBC Bay Area, Sep 17, 2018

Uber – Unsafe At Any Price
Even the Uber IPO Prospectus highlights that they may never make money.
Apr. 24, 2019

Uber is basically promising investors it will become a monopoly
The company’s extremely aggressive tactics to undercut local regulatory efforts aren’t just an offshoot of the troubled reign of its former CEO, Travis Kalanick. They’re central to its business model. If Uber is ever regulated like a normal employer or taxi cab business, it’s done for. The company has nothing else going for it.
By Jeff Spross, The Week, April 15, 2019

Robots or Wage-Slaves: The Only 2 Ways Lyft Can Actually Be Profitable
By Chris Roberts • 04/08/19

Uber and Lyft are losing money. At some point, we’ll pay for it
Uber and Lyft are functionally taxicabs — better dispatched and more convenient but, still, taxicabs, pretty much. …How can Uber and Lyft, both of which are planning initial public offerings this year, be price-competitive with car ownership outside of places such as Manhattan? Answer: heavy subsidies, from both the companies and the drivers themselves.
By Megan McArdle, The Washington Post, March 5, 2019

Uber and Lyft are not ridesharing
A driver is requested on-demand at the tap of a button to drive a passenger to a destination of their choice. Passengers are not filling an empty seat on a pre-scheduled trip and therefore are not increasing vehicle occupancy or reducing the number of cars on the road.

Building A Better Bay Area: Rideshare realities

Proposal To Regulate Uber, Lyft Spurs Debate In Oregon Capitol

TNC’s increase congestion, bleed transit

After taking on taxis, ride-share services now challenging public transit in U.S.
Interviews with public-transit spokespeople around the US. “In some of the largest cities in the United States and around the world, public ridership is falling in areas where ride-sharing services are on the rise.” Read the article.
By Clyde Hughes, UPI, Jan 8, 2019
Uber and Lyft hide their data, except from the CPUC – which is legally entitled to collect it, but won’t share it. So the city drew in computer experts and did some data-mining to demonstrate that the TNCs – not just population and employment growth – are making traffic in San Francisco worse. Both companies now say they are “hoping to be part of whatever solutions the SFCTA wants to employ.”
Uber, Lyft responsible for half of growth in SF traffic, study says
Erin Baldassari, SJ Mercury News, Oct. 17, 2018
Uber and Lyft are responsible for about half of SF’s rise in traffic since 2010, SFCTA says
Megan Rose Dickey, TechCrunch Oct 15, 2018
Report summary by SFCTA
Downloadable report

Lyft, Uber increase traffic 180 percent in major cities
Riders are giving up public transit—not their cars—in favor of ride-hailing trips, according to a new report from a transit consultant who served as deputy commissioner for traffic and planning in New York City. Rider surveys show that “about 60 percent of TNC users in large, dense cities would have taken public transportation, walked, biked, or not made the trip if TNCs had not been available for the trip.” Read the article. Read the study.
By Adam Brinklow, Curbed SF, Jul 27, 2018

TNCs Mean More Cars & Fewer Walkers, Bikers, Transit Riders
A new study by UC Davis researchers looks at “ride-hailing” services like Uber and Lyft (aka TNCs) in cities. A large portion of travelers use them rather than taking public transit, biking, and walking trips, or staying home. In other words, these companies put more CO2-spewing cars on the street. Check out this very readable summary in Planetizen, October 11, 2017, by Regina R. Clewlow, or download the report.

Effect on Travel to SFO – Cost pinch for airports and taxis
Fewer people driving to the airport doesn’t affect the climate if the only difference is that a TNC (Uber/Lyft) car takes them there.  This study looks at effects on airports and taxis. Reported by  Amy Zipkin, SF ChronicleDec 13, 2017 Updated: December 13, 2017.

Regulating TNCs

State Regulators Lower Fees for Uber,Lyft
The California Public Utilities Commission voted to decrease the amount of revenue required from Uber, Lyft and other transportation companies in California, with little discussion, after hearing from representatives across San Francisco who demanded transparency and stronger regulation of the ride-hail industry. The CPUC defended the decision, however, and said the total amounts of revenue garnered from Uber and Lyft have increased, giving the regulators more than enough to work with. Read article.
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, The SF Examiner, February 8, 2018

SF Sues California Over SB 182, Law that Shelters  Lyft and Uber Drivers
San Francisco is suing on the grounds that the law gives the drivers an unfair tax shelter and undermines the authority of cities to govern their own streets. “Uber and Lyft need to play by the same rules as every other business in San Francisco,” says city attorney Herrera. Read article.
By Adam Brinklow, Curbed San Francisco, Feb 9, 2018

SB182 Makes Regulation Tough for California Cities & Counties
SB 182 passed in October 2017 despite opposition from cities, counties, environmental and voter groups but with the support of business organizations including TNCs. It prohibits the state from requiring that a TNC driver be licensed anywhere except where the driver lives. This means a driver can be licensed anywhere in the state, and a city that wants to regulate driver training, charge congestion fees, or otherwise regulate TNCs on its own, has no way to figure out which drivers drive where. Read the bill.

Regulations by Cities, States and Countries
Presentation to American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Regulating Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) gives an overview of the situations around the country and the world.Professor Matthew W. Daus Esq., Distinguished Lecturer, University Transportation Research Center, August 2017
Map of TNC legislation by state in the US.  The map was last updated June 1, 2016, but the information consists of links to state sites that may be more up to date.

Effects of TNCs

Does it Help if TNCs Advertise Ride-Pooling Options?
Summary and links to related articles
Full report
New York is the only market in the United States where Uber & Lyft are required to provide trip and milage information (to the New York Taxi & Limosine Commission). This report analyzes the data. One finding: Even though TNCs have offered and heavily promoted “pooled” options such as UberPool and LyftLine since 2015, TNC mileage continued to grow rapidly. Why? First, single-passenger trips still predominate. Second, most TNC customers say they would otherwise make the trip by transit, walking or biking. That translates to increased mileage even if TNC rides are shared.

Just a Velvet Curtain for the Rich?
In this wide-ranging interview, transportation author Jarrett Walker portrays TNC’s as just another thing wrong about car-based cities. “There’s a basic occupational hazard of being a relatively fortunate or successful person, which is that you have to remember that your personal tastes are not a good guide to what’s going to work for the city…. to create efficient urban structures that are going to get us the right outcomes when it comes to emissions or climate change… we have to be continuing to develop urban structures that are versatile, that can be gotten around by several different modes, rather than urban structures that are utterly dependent on the car and that force everyone to be a motorist… The new auto-based technologies are yet another way for fortunate people to just check out [of] reality” Read the interview.
By Izabella Kaminska, Financial Times, Jan 26, 2018

Negative Effects of TNCs 
Analysis and evaluation of the negative impacts that the proliferation of Transportation Network Companies (“TNCs”) have had on the environment, people with disabilities, underserved communities, social responsibility and the sharing economy.  This report was written for  New York University School of Law’s Labor and Employment Law Center and Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Professor Matthew W. Daus Esq., Distinguished Lecturer, University Transportation Research Center

Effect on Downtown SF – Data at Last
Uber and Lyft refuse to provide information, but researchers used GPS, talked to drivers, and sat on the corners counting. They found at least 25% of downtown SF traffic at rush hours is due to these companies driving one customer at at time. There are 15 times as many TNCs as taxis on the road at any given time. Quick summary report here (cool graphs p. 2-4).

Shared Mobility and Transportation Demand Management
The latest Susan Shaheen overview of the effects of bikesharing, carsharing, ridesourcing (Lyft/Uber), carpooling and vanpooling on travel behavior, land use, social relationships and the environment. About 5 pages.


California lawmaker wants all Uber, Lyft cars to be electric by 2028
Senate Bill 1014 from Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) would set goals for the electrification of ride-hailing cars over the next decade, and set aside up to $300 million to help subsidize the purchase of electric cars by ride-hailing drivers. Spokespeople for Lyft and Uber said the companies were reviewing the bill. Read article
By Liam Dillon, LA Times, Feb 7, 2018

Taxing TNCs for Transit, Road Use

Citizens like the idea that TNCs (Transit Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft) ought to pay to use public streets for their profit, as taxis do. New York does it. Chicago does it. Can SF do it?

Uber and Lyft Agree to Pricey New S.F. Tax
The threat of an expensive November ballot measure battle compelled Lyft and Uber to agree to the plan before it reached voters.
Nuala Sawyer, SF Weekly, Wed Aug 1, 2018

N.Y.C.-Style Uber Crackdown Won’t Come to S.F. Anytime Soon
The landmark regulations for rideshare companies represent an interesting model, but in California, such power sits with the court of state regulators – namely the California Public Utilities Commission, which meets in San Francisco.
Ida Mojadad, SF Weekly, Wed Aug 15, 2018

Poll: Voters support new transit taxes, especially on Uber, Lyft
A survey by the SF Transportation Authority found that a majority of San Franciscans want improvements to the city’s roads and Muni system — and they think businesses including Uber, Lyft and food-delivery services, should pay for them.
By Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle, Tuesday December 19, 2017 Read article. Scroll down to cute video of kids learning to ride Muni.

Chicago is Taxing Uber/Lyft to Pay for Transit!
The Chicago city council approved a 15-cent increase to the 52-cent fee that is already added to every ridesharing trip. The original per-trip fee initiated in 2015 was directed to the city’s general fund, but the new ride-hailing increase is the first of its kind to directly fund public transit.
Andrew Small, CityLab, Nov 27, 2017 Read more

The Case for a Road-Use Fee
An academic makes the case for charging a fee to private services that stress the transportation infrastructure. The author is a fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a think tank in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the author of Modern Man: The Life of Le Corbusier, Architect of Tomorrow and Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City.
Anthony Flint, CityLab, Nov. 28, 2017 Read more

New York City Requires TNC Drivers to Have Taxi License
In order to pick up passengers in New York City for a TNC, any driver must be approved\authorized as a TNC Driver, and also get a license issued by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The driver must use a TLC-licensed vehicle, and the vehicle must be affiliated to a TLC licensed For-Hire Base (company). Read the FAQ page for New York City TNC rules.

New York State May Charge TNC Riders for Traffic Congestion
More than a third of ride-hailing cars and yellow taxis are empty at any given time during weekdays in Manhattan’s main business district. Gov. Cuomo is expected to announce a congestion pricing plan, which must be approved by the State Legislature, as soon as January. Read the article
By Winnie Hu, New York Times, Dec 26, 2017

TNC Driver Equity

CA Requires TNCs to Insure Drivers (somewhat)
California passed a bill in 2014 (Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord) to require that TNCs provide some insurance coverage to their drivers. The law signed last year, Assembly Bill 2293, requires TNCs to carry a $1 million commercial policy for death, personal injury, and property damage, and it specifies coverages for different driving periods. Read the article.
Farmers Insurance said they would provide the insurance.
The Farmers insurance covers the period when a rideshare driver has on a smartphone app and is actively looking for a ride. During this period, under AB 2293 either the TNC or driver must have insurance for $50,000/$100,000/$30,000 with excess coverage of $200,000.
By Don Jergler, The Insurance Journal, May 27, 2015

About Bonilla: No longer a representative, she is now at the conservative Council for a Strong America. In addition to the TNC insurance bill, she wrote a bill supporting AV testing for public transit. AB 1592 authorized the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) to conduct a pilot project to test low-speed, multi-passenger, shared autonomous vehicles that are not equipped with a steering wheel, brake pedal, accelerator or operator. This would help expand CCTA’s existing transportation technology testing program at GoMentum Station in the former United States Navy weapons station in Concord. Read the article.
East County Today, Aug 31, 2016

TNCs vs Taxis

Five Key Issues Holding Up Legislation on TNCs
This paper reviews 5 key issues 1) whether creating fair competition between TNCs and taxis requires loosening regulations on taxis or expanding regulations on TNCs; 2)requiring fingerprint-based background checks for TNC drivers; 3) mandates for wheelchair-accessible vehicles; 4) ensuring fair treatment of drivers; and 5) whether state or local governments should regulate TNCs. Downloadable report.
By Bruce Schaller November 9, 2016