Category: Race to the bottom

25 May

Uber knows when your phone is running out of battery

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

‘We do have access to a tremendous amount of data’
Uber knows when the battery on your phone is running low – and that you are more likely to pay higher “surge” prices for a car as a result.

The taxi-hailing app captures a huge amount of data on all its users, and the company’s head of economic research Keith Chen has revealed how Uber uses that to inform its business strategy.

Speaking to NPR’s Hidden Brain programme, Mr Chen said the amount of battery users had left was “one of the strongest predictors of whether or not you are going to be sensitive to surge” – in other words, agree to pay 1.5 times, 2 times or more the normal cost of a journey.

Uber knows whether a user is on low battery because the app needs to use that information to go into power saving mode.

“When your phone is down to 5 per cent battery and that little icon on the iphone turns red, people start saying I’d better get home or I don’t know how I’m going to get home otherwise,” he said.

To read full article click here

Source: Independent

24 Mar

Uber vehicle inspections get a failing grade

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

First, let me make this very clear: I am neither for the taxi industry, nor am I for the ride-sharing companies. I am writing as an Automotive Service Technician, and I have real concerns about Uber. So far, most of the debate has been about driver and rider safety, following bylaws and getting the right insurance. But there’s another issue that isn’t being discussed: Did you know that an UberX vehicle can pass the company’s vehicle inspection, yet fail the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s (MTO) minimum safety standards? And this isn’t just in Ontario – I’m confident that if I put Uber’s inspection form up to any province’s standards, it’s possible to have the vehicle pass UberX and fail the provincial inspection.

There are many vehicles on the road that don’t meet the Ministry’s minimum standards. We advise our clients about their unsafe vehicle but it’s their decision whether they want to fix it or not (that issue in itself warrants another article). As a private citizen, you make that choice. The concern with Uber is that a paying customer can ride in a potentially unsafe vehicle; that vehicle is being used to directly generate income and, as such, I believe it should be considered commercial in nature.

To read full article click here

Source: Driving.ca

23 Mar

Unionizing Uber: New front in battle over wildly successful ride-hailing app

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

There’s a four-wheeled workers’ revolution spinning through the streets of Seattle that could end up rolling over one of the most profitable business models of the so-called “sharing economy.”

Uber playbook: Why the ride-hailing app will be coming soon to a city near you
Uber should be regulated like taxis, say Canadians in poll
Rise of Uber forcing Canadian insurance to adapt

Drivers for the ride-hailing service Uber have been given the right to unionize by Seattle city council, the only jurisdiction in North America to do so.

The union drive brings the potential to achieve what regulators in cities around the world, including in Canada, have been mostly ineffective at doing — imposing local rules and labour standards on how Uber relates with its drivers.

“We have no say,” Seattle Uber driver Don Creery told CBC News on a recent visit to the city. “We can email the company about issues, but they just get ignored. It seems the company has an agenda to push the prices as low as they can.”

To read full article click here

Source: CBC.ca

18 Mar

Aviva has introduced a new insurance product for ridesharing programs. But we’re predicting most drivers won’t even bother

Taxi Truths Insurance, Race to the bottom, Regulation, Safety Issues

A prediction, and a challenge.

As promised, Aviva Canada, one of Canada’s largest insurers, now has a plan in place for ridesharing programs in Ontario, and are currently with regulators in other key markets, such as Alberta, Quebec and the Maritimes. They don’t call it the Uber plan, but it’s the Uber plan. While acknowledging they want no part of ongoing legal gymnastics taking place over the legality of Uber in centres across Canada (Uber is not legal in most centres across Canada), they do want to make sure their customers are protected should they sign up to drive for a ridesharing program.
To read full article click here

Source: Driving.ca

16 Mar

Uber drivers often unaware of tax obligations

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

Income tax, GST/HST and company’s commission cut deep into drivers’ take-home pay

March 16, 2016 – It’s been said there’s no such thing as a free ride and, at tax time, that’s as true for Uber drivers as it is for their passengers.

The controversial app-based ride-hailing service, and its competitor Lyft, are a source of income for tens of thousands of Canadians. But some of them are operating under some misconceptions, tax experts say.

The most common misconception is that their earnings are tax-free.

“And that’s obviously not true,” says Allan Madan, who heads a small accounting firm in Mississauga, Ont.

Drivers must report their earnings, as well as fill out and include Form T2125 with their personal tax returns. And if they made more than $30,000 on the road during the year, they must register with the CRA to charge GST/HST.

Getting the paperwork right is one of the biggest challenges faced by Uber drivers, according to Madan, because they’re often new to the responsibilities of self-employment.

“They may not necessarily be business people with exposure to business taxes,” he says. “They need education on their filing requirements, on what they can claim and what their obligations are to the CRA.

To read full article click here

Source: CBC News

16 Mar

Uber safety a source of concern, Toronto-area survey says

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

When it comes to Uber, Toronto-area residents are less concerned with what the ride-sharing company is doing to the taxi industry than they are with their personal safety in the absence of municipal regulations.

An independent Environics Research Group survey found 56 per cent of residents support Uber with the support being stronger among those who use the service. Only 49 per cent of non-users support it.

But 60 per cent of respondents overall were concerned about the lack of municipal licensing and the implications for their safety with unlicensed Uber drivers.

The results were released Wednesday in conjunction with an online discussion platform designed to gather residents’ thoughts on regulating the app-based service.

To read full article click here

Source: Toronto Star

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.)

To read full article click here

Source: Washington Post

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.”

To read full article click here

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.

To read full article click here

Source: The Star Phoenix

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.

To read full article click here

Source: Toronto Star