A Transportation Revolution is Coming to West Boca and the World

This post was motivated in part by a conversation the other night with a junior at West Boca High.

Our world has changed dramatically over the last hundred years or so. It’s already visible in West Boca and the changes are accelerating. For one take on all the changes and the coming artificial intelligence revolution see this great blog post on Wait But Why.

Imagine taking a time machine back to 1750 … When you get there, you retrieve a dude, bring him to 2015, and then walk him around and watch him react to everything …

This experience for him wouldn’t be surprising or shocking or even mind-blowing — those words aren’t big enough. He might actually die. …

Because of the Law of Accelerating Returns … the 21st century will achieve 1,000 times the progress of the 20th century. If … correct, then we may be as blown away by 2030 as our 1750 guy was by 2015

One piece of this change has already started happening with Uber and Lyft changing how we get places. Cars that drive themselves are becoming reality. But that’s just the beginning.

There’s a 2016 report from McKinsey on autonomous cars that gives some idea of what’s coming, though it may underestimate the speed of these changes.

Once technological and regulatory issues have been resolved, up to 15 percent of new cars sold in 2030 could be fully autonomous.

Companies like Tesla and Google subsidiary Waymo are pushing hard toward fully autonomous cars. They may only be a few years away. Combine this with the Uber/Lyft ridesharing model as Tesla plans to do, and the cost of a ride drops by 50% or more because you no longer have to pay the driver. There are other potential savings including reduced insurance costs and lower operating costs for electric vehicles.

But that’s only part of the transportation revolution. Along with Tesla, Elon Musk is also pursuing another radical change through tunnels The Boring Company. There are two big ideas in this. For local transport within a metropolitan area they’re pursuing Loop:

Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric skates traveling at 125-150 miles per hour. Electric skates will carry between 8 and 16 passengers (mass transit), or a single passenger vehicle.

For longer distances such as trips between cities they’re talking about Hyperloop:

Hyperloop is an ultra high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric pods traveling at 600+ miles per hour in a pressurized cabin. Similar to Loop, Hyperloop pods will transport between 8 and 16 passengers (mass transit), or a single passenger vehicle.

Musk and his Boring partner Steve Davis discussed what they’re doing in an hour long session this past May:

There’s a good summary of that on GeekWire.

On a local level picture a typical metropolitan area like South Florida with several tunnels. A couple of them run north to south from Miami to Jupiter and several run east to west such as underneath Glades Road in Boca, Atlantic in Delray, and Hillsboro south of the county line. The vast majority of residents live and work within a few miles of a tunnel. You can get where you want to go with a short and inexpensive rideshare from home, a high speed loop ride, and another short walk or rideshare to your destination. You go from your home in West Boca to the American Airlines Arena in 30 minutes for $10. You can go to Mizner Park or the beach in 10 minutes for $6. Add Hyperloop to this story and you get to DisneyWorld or UF in 30 minutes for $25. New York City is a 2 hour ride for maybe $60. If you really get into it SpaceX may deliver travel to anywhere in the world in under an hour.

This may be only 20 years away. Many people will decide not to bother owning a car, saving thousands of dollars a year. This frees up a lot of money for consumer spending in other areas, and it will impact existing industries.

From an investor perspective many car companies and airlines will collapse. BMW and Mercedes sedan sales are already starting to go down due to Tesla’s rise. We already see a lot of this in and near West Boca with a Tesla store in Town Center Mall and a large Tesla charging area at Delray Marketplace.

New Tesla charging station at Delray Marketplace; image from https://www.teslaownersflorida.org/Public-News/6353657

Some car companies will manage to join the electric revolution, but others will fail. Autonomous tractor-trailers like the Tesla Semi could deliver a death blow to conventional truck manufacturers and the rail industry, all while lowering the cost of consumer goods. Car insurance companies will be toast as rideshare companies self-insure. Reduced car accident deaths will increase life expectancy. Miami may become tolerable.

The shift to electric transportation will dramatically reduce demand for oil. According to the US Energy Information Administration 71% of US oil consumption goes to gasoline and diesel for cars, trucks, trains and boats. The price of oil will plummet, taking oil companies down. Millions of jobs in the US will vanish, and the same for millions more overseas.

Some of the effects are harder to see. Parking garages will become unnecessary as riders are dropped off by the rideshare. Plazas like Mizner Park and Promenade could replace their parking structures with apartments or more shops. The parking nightmares at Westwinds and Delray Marketplace would be over.

Individual and family housing decisions might change. Some might choose to live near a tunnel for convenience, but it also becomes easier to live out in the sticks. New homes won’t need garages – though many of us use garages for storage rather than cars.

As these changes take place, capital will be freed up along with consumer dollars that can open up new markets, industries and job creation that are very hard to predict.

How do you think this might play out? Let us know in the comments.

Warren Redlich, the author of this blog, is an investor in Tesla, along with other companies (such as Honda) that might be affected by these projections.

Q & A with Owners of Dynamite Dance, Lisa Bradby-Towers and Alan Towers

What year did your business start?
We opened our studio, Dynamite Dance, in the Shoppes at Loggers’ Run in West Boca in 2008. We also run a studio in Coral Springs.
What is your background?
We represented Great Britain in Figure Skating from 1985 to 1990. Our highest achievement was a silver medal at the World Professional Championships in 1990. After our competitive career we toured with ice shows all over the world, primarily with the company called Holiday on Ice. We have coached figure skating in the UK, Canada and the U.S. and served on the coaching staff at the Panthers Ice Den in Coral Springs from 2000 to 2014.

How and why did you get into the business?
Lisa has been dancing since the age of five. Her love of dance and music led her into ice dance. When she retired from ice dancing, she decided she wanted to continue working with kids. And she didn’t want to be cold anymore!
What classes do you offer?
Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Contemporary and Acro. We offer the American Ballet National Training Curriculum. We also have programs for dancers as young as 18 months and a competition dance team. See our schedule.

What do you love most about the business?
The flexibility and meeting new people.
What do you think is your biggest challenge with the business?
Getting the word out that we are in the area.
What do you want the community to know about you?
We are a family kid friendly business and we like what we do. We are not a high drama studio of the type typically shown on TV shows. We are professional and courteous!


Fidelity Investments Website Problems Today

The Fidelity Investments website was slow and difficult this morning causing problems for a number of traders, including this author. We saw several complaints from others on Twitter.
I had trouble loading various screens including positions and “activity and orders”, as well as placing trades. Fortunately for me I was only placing a few small trade orders that were not critical, and after the delay I experienced the stock I was purchasing was actually at a lower price. Other users may have had more serious problems. This is why it’s important for every business website to have website monitoring systems in place, especially investment and stock trading websites, where real time information is of upmost importance.

Twitter users complaining including @tigga117, @MJolitz, and @dnleeson.
We attempted to reach Fidelity to express our concerns but were not able to get through, and we see nothing on their Twitter account. Hopefully this is a short term glitch that the company will resolve quickly.

I used two different browsers and this occurred while other websites were working fine for us.

Say No to Johns Glades West – aka Uptown Boca

Update – The new developer is calling it Uptown Boca.

Image of Johns Glades West from zoning application

We took a hard look at the Johns Glades West proposal and we’re opposed. The Palm Beach County Commission approved this on April 26th. It might be too late to do anything about it, but we suggest you contact Commissioner Mary Lou Berger.
You can call her at 561-355-2205, or e-mail her at MBerger@pbcgov.org.
Developers plan to build a very dense project on the south side of Glades Road. The front on Glades would be a fairly large commercial plaza including a grocery store, a theater, restaurants and more.

Here’s the developer’s depiction of what it will look like:

The back part of the project is more disturbing and completely out of character for West Boca. It would include seven five-story buildings with over 450 apartments.

County zoning staff wrongly concluded this fits in with the existing development around it.
“Staff Analysis: The proposed amendment is consistent with the character and development pattern of the surrounding communities, which can be characterized as a built development pattern with higher density and higher intensity.”
This is ridiculous. Yes it’s true that the nearby commercial plazas are similar to the commercial part of the proposal. But neither Westwinds nor Shadowood have housing at all, much less 5-story towers packed with 10 apartments per floor.
Nothing around it would be nearly this dense. Look at this image:

The residential neighborhoods to the north, east, and southwest are far less dense with much more greenery. Same with the Jewish Federation campus to the south. Residents of Palma Vista, to the southwest, have legitimately complained about the R2 building (lower left) which will tower over the homes in the northeast end of their neighborhood.
The developer is seeking 12 residential units per acre for the whole 38 acres of the site, but that the county is ignoring the fact that half of those acres would be used for commercial space. So they’re really getting 24 residential units per acre.
There’s no space for trees, grass, etc., allotting less than two acres for a lake. All those hard surfaces with no green space means big stormwater runoff problems.
The apartment complex will consist of over 450 tiny apartments (we estimate an average size of 800 square feet) with minimal amenities. There isn’t even a pool in the plan.

Reading through the details of the submission (see pdf below) we see numerous agencies referencing their ability to handle the project at 300 residential units, with some saying that density would be a problem and others indicating issues. But the proposal is 450+ units, not just 300.

Johns Glades West

PDF Johns Glades West – Uptown Boca

For one thing, with 300 units it still fails the long range traffic test.

In other words it will create long term traffic problems on Glades Road, Lyons Road, and US-441.
According to the school district it will overcrowd Eagles Landing Middle School, and add a significant burden to both Olympic Heights and Sandpiper Shores. We all know how great the traffic is at Sandpiper Shores already.
Did you realize what the county was allowing to happen? Do you feel that Mary Lou Berger, your representative, communicated sufficiently with you about this?
Before writing this article we reached out to Ms. Berger and Ms. Scarborough. They did not respond.

Sprint Slowly Screws – Updated

Update: It took quite an effort but our problem with Sprint now appears to be resolved. Our account was properly credited for the amount we overpaid, and in our online account our plan looks correct going forward.

Sprint Corporation has gone out of the way to make customers hate them. What follows is a tale of false promises and repeatedly delaying tactics. It is comical that a company named Sprint screws its customers slowly.
It all started a couple years ago when a friend working for Sprint encouraged us to sign up with the company for a business plan. It sounded good and was mostly okay. One issue was the quality of phone service at our home.
We were told Sprint was about to upgrade the nearest tower and all would be just fine. While that upgrade did happen, it took more than a year longer than we were originally told.
As our 2-year contract was coming up, a new Sprint representative contacted us about signing up for a new deal.
She tried to sell us on various plans that would upgrade our phones and, of course, cost us more money. Since we don’t need new phones, our main goal was and is to reduce our monthly cost. She kept sidestepping this and trying to sell us on different plans. But finally she sent the following in an e-mail on October 25th:

Hello Warren,
If you can wait until 11/25/2016 you will be out of contact for 4 lines. In which your plan will drop down to $100 automatically because 4 of the lines instead of paying $35.00 you will then pay $10.00. Until then this is the best plan we have.

While her e-mails were inconsistent and confusing, we understood that each of the four lines coming out of contract would drop $25/month, for a total savings of $100/month ($35/line dropping to $10/line is $25/month per line). This is typical – you get a “free” phone with your plan but the monthly rate is increased by a certain amount per month for two years to pay for the phone.
November 25th came and went. Our bill did not go down. We never heard from her again. She did not respond to follow-up e-mails. We figured it would be corrected on the next bill but it wasn’t.
Since she was not responding, I ended up speaking with another rep on January 6th, and followed up by sending him e-mails. he confirmed that our bill was supposed to drop by $100/month, and that we were due to get a $110 credit ($100 for the current bill and $10 for the three days from the previous bill).
He called me again on the 11th saying that the problem had not been resolved yet but he was working on it. I followed up to document the conversations, but he never responded to any e-mails.
Today I checked my Sprint account online. The latest bill is due in four days and the issue has not been corrected.
So I called Sprint. First I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with “Tyrone.” I have no idea why this simple issue would take so long but I kept waiting and waiting. He kept telling me he was taking care of it, and then that he had to clear it with a supervisor. Then he told me his supervisor set it to credit our account on the next bill.
“Why not on the current bill?”
Of course Tyrone had no answer to this question. Finally I’d had enough and asked to speak to a supervisor. After another substantial delay “Archie” came on the phone.
This is where it really starts to go downhill. Archie now tells me that my monthly rate is not supposed to drop by $25/month for each line out of contract. He doesn’t know why previous reps told me that. He does not have access to the e-mails between myself, Ms. Soto and Mr. Addison (even though Tyrone spent 45 minutes or so working on this and told me did see the e-mails). When I asked Archie for his last name he refused to tell me.
After multiple phone calls with four different employees of Sprint, I realized that they are never going to give me a straight answer and they’re not going to honor any promises they make. I told Archie that we’re not going to pay this bill. We are going to shop for new phone service with a different company (which will probably screw us just as badly when they get the chance).
I told Archie they had 24 hours to get this straight and hung up. My phone showed I had been on the phone with them for over an hour, all to resolve what should be a very simple issue following what previous Sprint reps had told me would be done.
The conversation was about an hour ago. After I started writing this I ran an errand and came back to finish the article. My Sprint account now shows two credits totaling $95 (not the $110 I was promised). The monthly rate does not appear to have changed.

It also indicates “new activity will be displayed in 15 minutes.” It is possible that more credits might appear, and/or that the plan rates might be fixed. But this was a very unpleasant experience. There is no conceivable reason for Sprint to take this long to resolve an issue and to refuse to give straight answers or honor their promises.
This does not bode well for the company either. The current market cap is $34 Billion with the stock trading around $8.50/share. If the company is this poorly run, expect the stock to fall.
This author does not own stock in Sprint, nor in any of its competitors.