Political waves over sea level rise

By Tom McLaughlin, tmclaughlin@nwfdailynews.com
Published Aug 24, 2018

 

deep political divide runs through American politics. It’s a gap stretching from a place where talk of sea level rise ends and conversation about climate change begins.While sea level rise is a subject most lawmakers are willing to at least touch upon, the topic of climate change is either ignored or ridiculed in many corners of Tallahassee and Washington.

“Sea level rise is more palatable,” said Susan Glickman, the Florida director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “That’s due in part to its undeniability.”

Long-time Republican strategist Mac Stipanovich, who splits his time between Tallahassee and Destin, lays climate change “denialism” squarely at the feet of the party he represents.

“Denying climate change has become a part of the right-wing Republican dogma, just like Second Amendment absolutism and lower taxes in all cases,” Stipanovich said.

If climate change is real, and manmade, Stipanovich said, it becomes “a huge serious problem” to be dealt with, and attempting to address the issue, either through carbon taxes, zoning restrictions or other means “would be politically unpopular.”

That, the strategist concluded, makes addressing climate change a low percentage play for Republicans. Implementing policies that will only make a small group of environmentally concerned activists happy “would be politically unpopular.”

“It’s now enshrined in Republican dogma to be a climate denier,” Stipanovich said. “And if we’ve learned anything recently, you can’t twitch a bit when it comes to the new right wing Republican dogma or you’re excommunicated.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has proven the equal to any Washington D.C. denialist. Arguably the state’s most famous Republican, the governor turned U.S. Senate candidate made national news in 2015 when he was credibly accused of preventing state employees from even uttering the words “climate change.”

Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis, who are competing as Republicans to replace Scott in the governor’s mansion, appear poised to stay the conservative course where climate change and sea level rise are concerned. Neither Scott, Putnam nor DeSantis responded to several Gatehouse Media requests to complete a short sea level rise survey.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam. (Associated Press / John Raoux)

Putnam was the only Republican offered the survey who even responded to it with a statement.

“The threat of sea-levels rising presents a challenge to our beautiful beaches and booming tourism industry,” Putnam said. “This is an issue of focusing more efforts into investing in the infrastructure for Florida to be a strong, resilient state. We need to have beach re-nourishment, we need to support our estuaries, we need to invest in infrastructure that will harden our coastlines and allow us to move well fields inland.”

Asked to differentiate between sea level rise and climate change, a Putnam spokeswoman offered “we have no change to the statement as submitted.”

Long after the survey was sent, DeSantis, at a campaign stop in Englewood, did acknowledge that climate change “may be a factor” in creating an ongoing red tide crisis in the Gulf of Mexico in South Florida.

“I certainly wouldn’t rule out warmer waters having an impact; it seems reasonable,” DeSantis told Gatehouse Media’s Zac Anderson.

He termed climate change “more of a national and international issue” than one facing Floridians.

Share your thoughts on sea level rise in Florida by completing this interactive survey

 

Tide gauge measurements at several points across Florida provide proof that not only are the world’s oceans rising, but that the pace with which they are doing so has accelerated since 2006. Studies consistently show the flooding is happening with more frequency.

This year flooding caused by high tides is anticipated to occur 60 percent more often in the United States than it did in 2000, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study.

A dock is submerged after heavy rain moved through the area in 2017 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. (Nick Tomechek / Daily News)

Glickman said sea levels can be expected to rise between six inches and 2.9 feet by 2050. Experts say that between 2005 and 2017, $7.4 billion has been lost in home value across 5 coastal states due to sea level rise, and Florida’s $5.4 billion in losses are the most of any state.

“No matter what we do now we’re looking at an impact,” she said during a recent conference call. “We need to be making long term decisions.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine. (Associated Press / Chris O’Mear)

Phil Levine, one of five Democrats running this year for governor, became known as an advocate for steeling Florida against sea level rise when he was mayor of Miami Beach. Levine even boasts of having campaigned for that job from a kayak, paddling down the middle of a busy street inundated by flooding for which sea level rise was to blame.

“While some people get swept into office, I kind of got floated into office,” Levine likes to say.

Levine and two fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Andrew Gillum and Chris King, provided lengthy answers to the Gatehouse Media survey questions about sea level rise.

Gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham and Jeff Greene did not participate. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson also declined to participate.

Levine used the survey to point out that hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent in Miami Beach to raise roads, install seawater pumps, improve building codes and erect sea walls to protect the city.

“The city has become a model for others around the world confronting climate change,” he said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. (Associated Press /  Lynne Sladky)

Gillum called for state-wide investments in infrastructure, the elimination of carbon emissions and coordination between local, regional and federal governments to find solutions to climate issues.

“I would direct all relevant state agencies to begin planning for sea level rise mitigation and adaptation, and to prevent further salt water intrusion,” he said. “And I would put scientists and science back in charge of our state’s climate change policies, not lobbyists.”

King said he has made environmental policy a cornerstone of his campaign.

“I have big, bold ideas for Florida on issues such as climate change, rising seas, Everglades’ restoration, clean water and air and building a clean energy economy,” he said in response to the Gatehouse Media survey.

Glickman and Rafe Pomerance, a former State Department official, contend that now is a crucial time to be talking about sea level rise and risking the leap to the scientifically linked proposition of climate change.

The Washington D.C. culture, though, has come to be exemplified by people like GOP Sen. James Inhofe, who, as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, once famously tossed a snowball onto the floor of the Senate and asked how snow could exist if the planet were warming.

Politics is hindering the country from moving forward on climate issues at a critical time in the nation’s history, Pomerance said.

“Congress is tied down fundamentally because of denialism,” he said. “This is holding us hostage to actually doing something about the issue.”

U.S. Rep Charlie Crist, a Democrat representing Florida’s 13th Congressional District, said unlike many others, Florida’s congressional delegation seems willing to see things differently when sea level rise and climate change are debated.

“Our delegation, they’re pretty moderate on the thing, for the most part. It’s hard to be a Floridian and not kinda get the environment thing,” Crist said.

Florida’s First Congressional District U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, of Fort Walton Beach, is as conservatively Republican as anyone in the House, but he’s also a member of the 84 member Climate Solutions Caucus.

“I don’t agree with some of the views some Democrats and even some Republicans have about the strategy to combat the problem, but I certainly can acknowledge that the earth is warming and humans make some contribution to that warming,” Gaetz said. “I see sea level rise as a consequence of climate change.”

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) answer questions during a Freedom Tour” campaign stop in Navarre, Saturday, August, 18, 2018. (Michael Snyder / Daily News)

The sea level rise/climate change discussion is “far too driven by peoples’ partisan lens,” Gaetz said.

“I think Republicans and Democrats need to be able to look at the same data and come to the same scientific conclusion, and then we can disagree about what the best strategy is to deal with the problem,” he said. “I’ve been very disappointed that too many in Washington aren’t even willing to establish a common set of baseline facts.”

The Climate Solutions Caucus, Gaetz said, is a “Noah’s Ark” caucus, that only admits a member of one political party alongside a member of the other political party. He said he’s encouraged to see the 84-member caucus continuing to grow.

The Caucus was actually founded by Florida House members Carlos Curbelo, a Republican and Ted Deutch, a Democrat. Fellow Floridian Bill Posey, also a Republican, recently became the newest of the state delegation to become a Caucus member. Republicans Gaetz, Brian Mast and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrats Crist and Stephanie Murphy are members.

The Caucus has established three primary short term goals.

Its first is to bring Democrats and Republicans together to acknowledge the basic science behind sea level rise and climate change, Gaetz said.

“It’s hard to deny the clearance on bridges in Florida is changing,” Gaetz said. “That seems to be indicative of sea level rise.”

The second Climate Solutions Caucus objective is to educate House members about bad climate-oriented legislation.

“There are times in bills when someone will try to ban a review or study about the impacts of climate change,” he said. “Usually the Caucus sticks together to maintain an analysis of climate change in the other work that the Congress does.”

Water from the Santa Rosa Sound in Mary Esther Florida in the Panhandle laps against seagrass. This year flooding caused by high tides is anticipated to occur 60 percent more often in the United States than it did in 2000, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study. [Devon Ravine / Daily News]

The third objective, Gaetz said, is coming together as a non-partisan caucus to find “solutions we can agree on.”“I think the federal government is going to have a role in dealing with the consequences of climate change because many federal assets will be impacted by the affects of climate change, notably our military,” he said. “We cannot expect states to deal with the evolving territorial claims in the Arctic that are exacerbated in their complexity by climate change.”

The military and protecting the nation’s military assets from rising seas has continued to be a priority in Washington, even while other agencies, notably the Federal Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency have slashed programs.

On Aug. 13, President Trump signed a defense authorization bill that includes a requirement that the military design and modify its buildings to better resist flooding, and calls for new military installations constructed in the 100-year flood plain be designed to withstand an additional two feet of flooding.

It also authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard to acquire six new ships capable of moving through sea ice, and calls upon the military to look into Chinese activity in the Arctic.

As with many other sea level rise or climate change-related issues, even the proposed military appropriations ran into resistance. Reps. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) attempted to delete a requirement for a climate vulnerability study that had been added to the defense bill.

The amendment was defeated by 234-185, with the victory secured, at least in part, through the work of the Climate Solutions Caucus.

“It’s challenging, with the makeup of the body as it is, at present,” Crist said of moving climate-related legislation through Congress. “There’s an opportunity, though, this year, for things to change, at least in the House. If that occurs, maybe we can do a lot of good things.”

Senator Bill Nelson speaks to members of the media recently in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. (Nick Tomecek / Daily News)

With primary elections fast approaching in this year’s governor’s race, and the U.S. Senate showdown between Nelson and Scott on the horizon in November, a coalition of environmental organizations on Aug. 15 released a study meant to advise competing candidates on the state’s gravest concerns.

Climate change is one of six issues specifically addressed in the document, called Trouble in Paradise.

“With approximately 75 percent of this state’s population in counties lining the coast, Florida must prepare for the increasingly severe weather and sea level rise caused by climate change,” the report states.

The study calls for Florida to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, invest in renewable energy, harden vulnerable infrastructure and steer development away from “areas vulnerable to the impact of severe weather,” Gatehouse Media’s Dale White reported.

It also calls for opposition to offshore drilling, the adoption of building codes the promotion of higher energy efficiency and expanded tax incentives for electric vehicles.

Pointing out the risks and economic impacts from flooding and higher storm surges, the report issues “a clarion call for leadership,” calling on the new governor to hire and appoint respected leaders who understand the myriad issues facing the state, the report said.

“Addressing community resilience and climate change in a proactive manner not only prepares this state for future challenges but also will result in more livable communities and long-term economic savings for taxpayers.”

_____________

GateHouse Media reporter Dinah Voyles Pulver contributed to this report.

Citizens Group Files Lawsuits to Stop Neal Project in Sarasota

Staff Report•TheBradentonTimes.com
Sunday, Aug 19, 2018
SARASOTA — A group of affected neighbors filed two lawsuits against Sarasota County on Friday that could put a massive Neal Communities subdivision east of I-75 and south of Clark Road on hold.
The Sarasota County Board of County Commissioners approved the Neal Village development, known as Grand Lakes, on July 11 in a series of 4-1 votes, as part of the county’s 2050 Village concept, an optional development framework that permits additional density. Neal is set to build 1,100 homes on 500 acres he purchased for $20 million last December.
This extra density is in exchange for public benefits that guide development in the rural areas east of I-75 into compact, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly villages by protecting large areas of open space, and ensuring that supporting infrastructure is paid for by the development.
Casting the dissenting votes, Commissioner Charles Hines asked, “Where is the walkability? Where is the compatibility? Where is the connectivity with the larger overall village?”
A large group of Serenoa, Serenoa Lakes and nearby large lot homeowners, along with Twin Lakes Park users, presented their objections during the public hearings leading up to the boards’ July decisions.
The citizens group argue that developer Pat Neal’s privately-initiated comprehensive plan amendment, which enabled the rezoning to proceed, violates the county’s long-range growth plan. They also say the rezoning itself violates several of the county’s zoning regulations.
The lawsuit asks that the State of Florida hold an administrative hearing to find that the Neal amendment is inconsistent with the other goals, objectives, and policies in the county’s comprehensive plan because eliminating the village mixed-use requirement promotes urban sprawl.
Eliminating the mixed-use requirement was previously considered by the county in 2014 during a public initiative known as 2050 Revisited. At that time, several large landowners and developers, including Neal, proposed eliminating the mixed-use center. County staff rejected the developers’ proposal because staff’s analysis determined that, without direct access to a commercial center, a core 2050 plan principle would be violated.
Nevertheless, when Neal proposed eliminating the mixed-use requirement as a privately processed amendment, the 2018 county staff reported that they had no objections and recommended approval.
“It is a shame when citizens have to dig into their own pockets just to make sure the planning officials follow their own rules, said David Anderson, spokesperson for the petitioners. It is very discouraging that the commissioners ignored the merits of our arguments and approved the Grand Lakes proposals, so, our only recourse available is very costly litigation.”
The second suit asks the Sarasota County Circuit Court to reverse the rezoning approval because the Grand Lakes application did not satisfy the protected open space and non-residential use requirements in the county’s village zoning regulations.
The petitioners’ attorney, Ralf Brookes, says the outcome could have major implications throughout the county for future 2050 village development.
The Manatee-Sarasota Sierra Club, a leading environmental group, and 1000 Friends of Florida, Inc., a leading smart growth advocate, are providing financial support and legal assistance in the Grand Lakes challenges.

Legislative ‘usurping’ brings costly lower Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority bond rating

Written by on August 14, 2018

Legislative ‘usurping’ brings costly lower Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority bond rating

Citing “unprecedented intervention” by the Florida Legislature, one of the nation’s top credit-rating agencies has downgraded the outlook on all Miami-Dade County Expressway Authority (MDX) senior-rated bonds from “stable” to “negative.”

By “usurping local autonomy” in reducing state tolls and diverting surplus revenues to other county projects, state lawmakers forced MDX to slash its tolls system-wide by an average of 6.28% this year, overriding MDX’s plan to increase tolls to match the rise in the consumer price index in 2019, according to a July 27 report by Fitch Ratings.

The May 2017 bill, sponsored by Rep. Bryan Avila and supported by Florida House Speaker Pro Tempore Jeanette Núñez and Sens. Anitere Flores and Rene Garcia, also requires MDX to allot at least 20% of its surplus revenues to other county transportation and transit projects near MDX roadways.
Ms. Núñez, Ms. Flores and Mr. Garcia did not respond to requests for comment, and Mr. Avila’s office was not provided sufficient time to respond.

Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Esteban Bovo Jr. at the time said he applauded the move, adding it would “provide much needed toll relief and further development of transit operations” for county residents.
Mr. Bovo, currently on recess, did not provide a comment for this article.
This June, MDX’s then-chairperson Shelly Smith Fano said she was “thrilled to announce” the toll reductions, effective July 1.

“The MDX board has always acted on the best interest of Miami-Dade County, MDX bondholders and most importantly our valued customers,” Ms. Smith Fano said in a prepared statement for the June 8 release. “MDX has been an exceptional steward of our customers’ toll dollars and have continually kept our promises by delivering roadway projects on time and on budget.”
MDX officials declined to comment for this article. “The press release has all the information,” MDX spokesperson Tere Garcia wrote.

But Florida Transportation Commission member Maurice Ferré, a former MDX board member and four-term Miami mayor, says the toll reduction and revenue rerouting were done for political reasons, and any short-term savings for residents will be undone by even higher tolls down the road, the result of increased bond interest rates whose costs will be passed on to drivers.
“It really should be categorized as criminal negligence,” he said. “It’s a tragic move by ignorant people going in the wrong direction with good intentions based on political considerations without understanding the consequence of their actions. They don’t understand the system.”

Other major metropolitan areas in the state, like Tampa and Orlando, whose Central Florida Expressway Authority last year froze tolls while voting to keep future toll increases to 1.5% over five years, are further evidence, Mr. Ferré said, that state legislators are discriminating against MDX.

“Even after we increased our tolls in 2013 and 2014, which is why Jeanette Núñez is angry, we were still the average, so Miami users – the toll users of MDX – are not paying more than toll users in Tampa, Orlando or other places around the country,” he said. “MDX had to be very cautious to not go over these averages. The question is, why did the legislators in Tampa and Orlando react differently than the ones from Miami-Dade County? They mean well – I don’t think they do this out of malice or to hurt. But what Jeanette Núñez is doing – she thinks she’s being bold and brave, but what she’s really being is brazen.”

MDX has maintained its system and facilities satisfactorily and kept a “robust’ roadway inspection schedule, Fitch Ratings personnel wrote, but ongoing maintenance could be impacted by the state-ordained reductions.

Such a “fundamental policy shift,” the report states, raises concern about the state intervention’s long-term impact on MDX’s future fund allocation for capital expenditures, its ability to issue additional debt and future legal actions further impacting the organization’s independent rate-making flexibility.
“In the near term, the measurement prompted MDX to suspend $192 million worth of projects not currently under project,” the team, led by primary analyst Stacey Mawson, wrote. “However, the majority ($561.6 million) of the authority’s five-year $678.2 million work program is earmarked for expansion and capacity improvements, leaving a manageable amount for system maintenance and repairs.”

That budgeted amount, which runs through fiscal 2022, is reflective of a larger $1.2 billion project cost encompassing 50 projects, 45% of which is already completed.

Fitch Ratings affirmed MDX’s “A” rating on $1.434 billion outstanding revenue and refunding bonds.

The rating, the report states, reflects the essentiality of MDX’s roadway system to Miami area commuters, its logistical proficiency in managing system assets and effective maintenance, planning and expansion, such as its recent implementation of the Open Road Tolling system.

Because limited alternative routes exist for commuters to travel through the corridors MDX serves on its five expressways, the system has “a mature traffic profile with steady annual increases in toll transactions,” though the report added that growth is “projected to level off in forthcoming years.”

Future potential developments that Fitch Ratings determined could lead to negative rating action include:
■An unclear long-term toll policy and/or continued legislation requiring toll rate reductions.
■Transferring surplus cash for non-project county uses, which limits economic rate-setting and timely investment in system assets.
■Demonstrated lack of legal independent rate-setting authority.
■Underperformance of traffic and revenue with an unwillingness or inability to accordingly adjust tolls.

In 2017, transactions on all MDX roads stabilized, increasing 5% to approximately 495 million transactions in fiscal 2017, the second year 100% of tolls were collected electronically. SunPass collections accounted for 81%. Toll-by-Plate accounted for 17%.

Actual transactions for the first 10 months of fiscal 2018 are 6% lower than forecast due to 18 days of lost toll collections due to Hurricane Irma, though the Fitch report states transactions would still be 1.1% lower than expected if hurricane days were excluded.

MDX, formed in 1994, is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving an expressway system currently comprising the Airport (SR 112), Dolphin (SR 836), Don Shula (SR 874) and Snapper Creek (SR 878) expressways, as well as the Gratigny Parkway (SR 924).

Where Ride-Hailing and Transit Go Hand in Hand

Partnerships between traditional public transportation agencies and Uber and Lyft have boomed since 2016. Where are they going?

Ever planned to take the bus, but wound up calling an Uber? That’s what the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority did in 2016.That year, ridership across St. Petersburg, Florida’s fixed route bus lines plummeted by 11 percent—twice the drop PSTA experienced in the first year of the recession, and one of the deepest declines of any major U.S. system. Pinellas County constituents had recently rejected the concept of transit even more directly: PSTA’s one-cent “Greenlight Pinellas” sales tax proposal to spread bus service and build a light rail system bombed at the ballots in 2014.That forced the agency to eliminate some of its existing routes, and to rethink how it was doing business. So it called in the apps. To cover the areas it had left transit-bare, PSTA became the first agency in the country to subsidize Uber trips. Since its “Direct Connect” program launched in February 2016, PSTA has given $5 discounts on rides provided by Uber and a local taxi company (and as of more recently, Lyft) to and from 24 popular bus stops in its service area to as many as 1,000 riders per month. “This is the future,” PSTA CEO Brad Miller told reporters on the day of the launch of the program, which was widely hailed as an example of what an amicable partnership between mass-transit and ride-hailing would look like.

By and large, much of the North American transit industry would seem to agree. According to a report released this week by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development, since 2016 at least 27 more communities across the United States have joined arms with Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNCs) to supplement or substitute traditional service—even as questions linger about the wisdom of undertaking these kinds of programs.

In many ways, the same factors that pushed Pinellas County to the world of ride-hailing have pushed the rest of these cities: a desire to provide higher-quality mobility in areas where transit options fall short or where there’s not enough parking. There’s also a degree of brand-consciousness at play, said Joseph Schwieterman, the director of DePaul’s Chaddick Institute, who co-authored the report with Mallory Livingston, a DePaul graduate researcher. “Transit agencies can’t afford to become like the taxi industry and let the world pass them by,” Schwieterman said.

Working in tandem with Uber, Lyft, and other similar offerings is a way for transit agencies to insert themselves on the primary communication channel riders are already using—their smartphones—and could be a step towards reimagining the on- and off-board customer experience.The question of whether ride-hailing apps are pulling riders on or off public transit—complementing it, or cannibalizing it—has been a cloud over the transportation industry for years. Transit ridership is declining on systems across the country, particularly on buses, and especially in smaller and mid-sized cities. While Uber, Lyft, and others TNCs have frequently taken the blame, the more significant drivers in ridership declines are likely service cuts and lower gas prices. “The writing is on the wall for many lightly used bus routes,” Schwieterman said. “Everybody is scratching their heads about how to better deliver their product, given how fast-paced society is becoming.” Establishing a link to on-demand transportation could be one way to do it.But as the transportation analyst Bruce Schaller has recently written, surveys in several major U.S. cities show in aggregate that a majority of TNC users in those cities would have taken public transit, walked, biked, or forgone their trip if the ride-hailing apps hadn’t been available. These services are siphoning off some transit passengers who can afford it, in some areas.

On the other hand, Uber and Lyft also appear to be penetrating neighborhoods with poor transit coverage and low car ownership rates, places traditional taxi services would not go. And in some cases, when it’s late at night and transit options are scant, calling a car is a far more time- and cost-effective option.In most cities, rider demand for Uber and Lyft trips through these transit agency partnerships has not been overwhelming. That much-ballyhooed pilot program in Centennial, for example, was not extended due to insufficient demand. PSTA has seen consistent ridership increases with its Direct Connect program, growing 210 trips per month in March 2017 to 994 trips per month by August of that year, according to PSTA data provided to CityLab. That’s still not much: A mixed-traffic lane with frequent buses can move at least 1,000 people per hour.These TNC partnerships have hardly boosted transit demand. And plenty of transportation advocates fear they could be counterproductive, by unwittingly contributing to the perception that Uber and Lyft can meaningfully replace mass transit. “I’m sure we’ll get some criticism with this report for creating a risk that funding for transit will fall as these partnerships come to the table,” Schwieterman said. “It’s a fine line between maintaining the system and outsourcing parts of the system.”

There are other risks tied to partnering with TNCs. These companies are notoriously protective of ridership data, which is a limitation for transit agencies trying to judge the success of these subsidy and tie-in programs. When PSTA signed its original contract with Uber, for example, “there was nothing in it about data,” said Bonnie Epstein, a senior planner at PSTA. The agency did eventually get some ridership totals from Uber (as noted), but nothing about the origin or destination of the trips, for example.

Similarly, there’s nothing stopping Uber, Lyft, or any other private transportation company (including taxis) from raising minimum fares without notifying public agencies first. Uber has done this repeatedly in Pinellas County since the Direct Connect program launched in 2016. According to Epstein, some riders have complained that the $5 public subsidy is no longer as useful as the cost of the Uber becomes equal to (or greater than) the cost of a second bus ticket in addition to the one they’re already buying at their connecting station. This story will be updated with responses by Uber and Lyft to requests for comment.Partnerships between ride-hailing companies and transit agencies are still in a delicate courting stage, said Jon McBride, a business strategist with a focus on emerging transportation modes. As far as agreements go, “I expect public agencies to become more specific about their data sharing requests, ways to influence equitable access and compensation models,” he said.