Author: Taxi Truths

11 Mar

Made in BC solution coming for taxis and Uber: Peter Fassbender

Taxi Truths News, Regulation, Safety Issues, Story

Made-in-BC solution coming for taxis and Uber: Peter Fassbender

The Minister tasked with finding a way for taxi companies and ride sharing services to co-exist says a solution is coming.

Community and Translink minister Peter Fassbender says we will see a “made in B.C.” solution for Uber and taxi companies to both operate, but he wouldn’t say when the plan would be tabled.

“We are going to see a made in BC solution but I am not going to give you a date because we are going to make sure we do it right and we do it pragmatically and that we ask all the questions that need to be asked before we make any difinitive steps.”


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Source: CKNW 980 AM


10 Mar

Uber seems to offer better service in areas with more white people. That raises some tough questions

Taxi Truths News, Race to the bottom, Regulation, Safety Issues, Story, Surge pricing

An Uber car is seen parked with the driver’s lunch left on the dashboard in Los Angeles in July. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Jennifer Stark is a computational journalist at the College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. Nicholas Diakopoulos is an assistant professor in the College of Journalism at University of Maryland, College Park. This is a guest contribution to Wonkblog.

The goal of Uber’s surge-pricing algorithm is to influence car availability by dynamically adjusting prices. When surge is in effect, and prices are higher, the idea is that the supply of drivers is increased while at the same time demand is decreased. We previously reported that it appears that rather than increase the absolute supply of drivers by getting more cars on the road, existing driver supply is instead redistributed geographically to places with more demand. If drivers are relocating to areas with surge-pricing, those areas will experience reduced wait times for their car, or better service, but the areas the drivers are moving away from will experience longer wait times, or poorer service. So who gains, and who loses? Which neighborhoods get consistently better or worse service?

Our analysis of a month’s worth of Uber data throughout D.C. suggests an answer: The neighborhoods with better service — defined as those places with consistently lower wait times, the pickup ETA as projected by Uber — are more white.

We collected data on wait times — Uber’s estimate for how long you will wait between requesting your car and it arriving — and surge pricing via the Uber API for 276 locations in D.C. every three minutes for four weeks from Feb. 3 to March 2. We didn’t want to miss any surges, so we chose three minutes, knowing that surges in D.C. are no shorter than three minutes. The surge-pricing data was then used to calculate the percentage of time surging. Data were analyzed by census tracts, which are geographic areas used for census tabulations, so that we could test for relationships with demographic information. Only uberX cars were included in our analysis since they are the most common type of car on Uber. (In the interest of making the data analysis transparent, all our code can be viewed online.)

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Source: Washington Post

10 Mar

Quebec government considering buying back some taxi permits, reselling or leasing them to Uber

Taxi Truths News, Regulation, Safety Issues, Story

The Quebec government is considering buying back some taxi permits in order to sell or lease them to Uber.

This is the model advocated by Transport Minister Jacques Daoust, but the terms have yet to be determined. A bill would be tabled by the end of March forcing the transport service to follow the new rules.

On Thursday, the last day of hearings of the parliamentary commission on the paid transport of people in Quebec, Daoust said the government could buy permits that are on sale, and then lease them in order to generate revenue. The takeover of the permits would thus be at no cost to the Treasury.

The value of taxi licenses is estimated between $1.3 and $ 1.7 billion currently at the rate of $150,000 to $200,000 per licence, for 8,500 licences in circulation in the controlled market.

“I’ll buy them, but I will have to find the revenue to be able to purchase them,” said the Minister in a press briefing before the final sitting of the parliamentary committee.

“We will not disburse $1.3 or $1.4 billion at the outset, but we can over a period of six to seven years, be fair with the industry. We will give it the flexibility to be able to evolve. And new players, and those who buy licenses, might not be forced to mortgage their future (to buy a license),” he said.

Year after year, about 500 licences change hands, and as taxi permits are put on sale, the state could buy and then lease them to Uber and its drivers, or to other drivers, in order to recover its stake. The permit holder would not have to shell out a large sum to buy them.

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Source: Montreal Gazette


09 Mar

Laid-off undercover Edmonton Uber cop says city won’t be able to find vehicle for hire ‘creeps’

Taxi Truths News, Race to the bottom, Regulation, Safety Issues, Story

Days before Edmonton’s new vehicle-for-hire bylaw took effect, Edmonton didn’t have one experienced officer ready to enforce it.

Its veteran three-member municipal enforcement team was reassigned. Its only undercover officer was let go Feb. 9. With no plan in place to bring that officer back for court appointments, dozens of cases are set to be withdrawn for lack of a witness.

Despite promising council it would gear up enforcement and report back on how much that would cost, administration scaled back. They now have fewer people on the job and no one going undercover.

The plan, or lack of a plan, has former undercover officer Tom Wilson shaking his head.

“You’re not going to find the creeps. You’re not going to find the people who are ripping people off,” said Wilson, who was the investigator let go Feb. 9.

His contract was supposed to run until next October, but his termination letter says his position is “no longer required.”

“I’m a dad of a daughter,” he said. “If she’s downtown and I’m not able to get there, she’s smart enough not to (get into an unmarked cab), but alcohol does play a factor. I don’t want that opportunity to exist. … You can’t get things done by being in uniform. You just can’t.”

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Source: Edmonton Journal

08 Mar

Committee hears cab drivers’ concerns about Uber

Taxi Truths News, Race to the bottom, Regulation, Safety Issues, Story, Surge pricing, Uncategorized

Ride sharing services like Uber are inevitable and Saskatoon needs to be ready, the city’s transportation committee heard Tuesday.

“We’re going to deal with it rather than have it deal with us,” committee chair Coun. Randy Donauer said.

At the same time, he and other committee members advocated navigating the regulation process carefully and with proper consultation from all affected industries.

“I think we’re in for a fairly lengthy process,” Donauer said.

City council previously expressed a desire to have the province regulate ride sharing services. According to a report the transportation committee received Tuesday, the province responded by saying municipalities should create their own regulations.

The report was passed to council for information, along with motions instructing the administration to consult with the taxi industry and look at whether it’s viable to regulate taxis and ride sharing companies using the same rules.

Seven citizens from the taxi and car service industries spoke at the committee meeting, all in favour of regulating Uber.

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Source: The Star Phoenix

06 Mar

Internal Data Offers Glimpse At Uber Sex Assault Complaints

Taxi Truths News, Regulation, Safety Issues, Story

According to data provided by Uber to BuzzFeed News, the company received five claims of rape and “fewer than” 170 claims of sexual assault directly related to an Uber ride as inbound tickets to its customer service database between December 2012 and August 2015.

Uber provided these numbers as a rebuttal to screenshots obtained by BuzzFeed News. The images that were provided by a former Uber customer service representative (CSR) to BuzzFeed News, and subsequently confirmed by multiple other parties, show search queries conducted on Uber’s Zendesk customer support platform from December 2012 through August 2015. Several individual tickets shown in the screenshots have also been confirmed.

After Uber learned of BuzzFeed’s investigation, the company began contacting customer service representatives in its system who had searched the Zendesk database for the terms rape and sexual assault, apparently in a hunt for the leaker.

In one screenshot, a search query for “sexual assault” returns 6,160 Uber customer support tickets. A search for “rape” returns 5,827 individual tickets. Other variations of the terms yield similarly high returns: A search for “assaulted” shows 3,524 tickets, while “sexually assaulted” returns 382 results.

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Source: Buzz Feed

04 Mar

Uber Accused Of Impeding NLRB Probe Into Labor Practices

Taxi Truths Driver Satisfaction, News, Regulation

Federal officials have accused Uber in new court filings of failing to cooperate with an investigation into whether its drivers are employees or independent contractors.

Over the past few months the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has asked the ride-hailing giant to hand over a wide range of documents about the company’s employment practices after receiving several closely related complaints from drivers last year. In the complaints, workers allege that Uber’s contracts barring drivers from pursuing class-action lawsuits violate federal labor law. Before the board can rule on that question, however, it has to first determine that the drivers are employees — not independent contractors, as the company maintains. Only employees are covered by the law.

Apparently, the NLRB probe hasn’t made much headway: Uber, it says, is not cooperating. On Tuesday, the agency asked a federal judge in California to force the company to comply with two subpoenas it issued last December.

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Source: International Business Times

03 Mar

Men posing as Uber drivers tried to lure woman into their car

Taxi Truths News, Regulation, Safety Issues

Toronto police are investigating after a woman says she was approached by two men in a car who said they were Uber drivers and attempted to lure her into their car.

In a short Facebook post, Rebecca Rocklynn says that in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day, two men drove up to her near the intersection of Yonge and Bloor Streets “and said ‘you call an Uber?'”

They asked her twice, before she accused them of lying. She hadn’t ordered an Uber.

“Then they said ‘get in the car,'” she wrote on Facebook.

She did not, and instead called police.

Toronto police confirmed to CBC News Thursday that they received a complaint from a woman who said she was approached by drivers claiming to be from Uber.

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Source: CBC

02 Mar

Mississauga council directs Uber to stand down

Taxi Truths Race to the bottom, Regulation

“You spin it very well, but you’re peddling a myth — Uber is a success because you work outside a regulatory framework.”

Those stinging words from Mississauga Councillor Nando Iannicca, telling a representative of the popular ride-sharing service that his company’s product is like “illegal cigarettes” and “bootlegged” alcohol, set the tone for a contentious committee meeting Wednesday.

Mississauga council voted unanimously to direct Uber to halt operations in the city until a new bylaw to deal with “transportation network companies” is struck. But the Uber representative wouldn’t say whether the company will comply.

“We’ll take the time as a company to review the motion,” Chris Schafer, Uber Canada’s public policy manager, told the Star.

Iannicca told Schafer his company operates in an “underground economy.”

“Who’s paying taxes on (your revenue)? Nobody seems to know. At the end of the day it’s not your technology, it’s your ability to work outside a regulatory framework,” he said to Schafer, offering up his own reasons for the company’s extraordinary success.

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Source: Toronto Star

01 Mar

Uber suspends service in Edmonton because government insurance policy not in place

Taxi Truths News, Race to the bottom, Regulation, Story

Uber has suspended its service in Edmonton because it doesn’t have an approved insurance plan in place as the city’s new ride-sharing regulations kicked in Tuesday.

“The province has cost thousands of Edmonton families a source of income by forcing Uber to suspend operations in the city,” Ramit Kar, Uber’s Alberta general manager, said in a statement.

“Given the city bylaw applies within the city limits of Edmonton, we will continue to enable ridesharing services in surrounding areas.”

Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason announced Monday the new insurance product Uber needs will not be approved in time for the deadline, even though the basic framework of the agreement is finished.

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Source: Edmonton Journal