Category: Safety Issues

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

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.

To read full article click here

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.”

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

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.

To read full article click here

Source: Buzz Feed

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.

To read full article click here

Source: CBC

20 Feb

Uber: Underpaid, assaulted and disillusioned UK drivers file lawsuit exposing dark side of company

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

While Uber might have dodged attempts by Transport for London (TfL) to regulate the app-based taxi firm, British drivers have now revealed that they are so badly treated by the company they are now suing the firm for workers’ rights and compensation for lost earnings.

James Farrar, 47, from Hampshire, was formerly a software developer. In January 2015 he decided to start an NGO advocating better networked rights for workers. To support himself while working on his NGO, he decided to become an Uber driver.

However, just three months after he joined, Farrar was assaulted by a passenger during an Uber job. When the police wanted to investigate his case, Uber took 10 weeks to cooperate with the law and provide the details of the customer who assaulted him.

“I realised I had no rights. Uber has all the control, over the customer details, over how much I can charge, over which passengers I take, but I take all the risks. If I crash, get injured or assaulted, it’s all on me. I realised that if Uber didn’t cooperate, there’s nothing I could do about it,” Farrar, a founding member of the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) union, told IBTimes UK.

“When I went to talk to Uber about why it had taken 10 weeks, they were quite hostile to me. The head of driver operations accused me of trying to record the meeting and then said I was trying to ‘reverse engineer the process’. I don’t even know what that means.”
Weekly Uber earnings below the minimum wage.

To read full article click here

Source: International Business Times

26 Nov

Competition Commissioner: Taxis, ride-share apps and consumers deserve a level playing field

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

When was the last time you watched a movie on VHS? In the early 2000s, nobody was talking about banning DVDs to protect those who manufactured VCRs and video tapes. Instead, we embraced innovation and benefited from the superior quality of DVDs.

Why, then, are some regulators taking steps to ban ride-sharing applications?

Apps, such as those offered by Uber and Lyft, can provide Canadians with more choice, lower prices and better service. Recent reports found that Uber prices in Ottawa were about 36 per cent less than taxi fares, and that passengers in Toronto waited an average of nine minutes for a traditional taxi, but two to four minutes for an Uber driver.

Despite these benefits, both ride sharing and taxi drivers – and their customers – are suffering due to taxi regulations that restrict the competitiveness of ride-sharing apps in the marketplace.

While the taxi industry is heavily regulated in Canada, ride-sharing services are not. This creates an uneven playing field in the industry.

To read full article click here

Source: The Globe and Mail