Category: Surge pricing

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

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

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

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

26 Feb

Mississauga council to vote on legalizing Uber

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

 Mississauga could be the first city in the GTA to fully regulate Uber and other ride-hailing companies next week.

A staff report to be debated at a council meeting March 2 recommends an “equal regulation” option that would legalize cheaper but unlicensed services like UberX while allowing the traditional taxi industry to compete.

After Calgary approved new rules that Uber rejected last week, a similar move from Mississauga is likely to be closely watched at Toronto city hall, where staff are in the midst of drafting their own regulations.

“I have always maintained that we have to strike a balance between new technologies and an established industry that has a long history of providing quality service,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement to the Star.

“It is important that we create a level playing field that allows for growth and progress within the industry, while protecting public safety.”

But the newly proposed rules are being criticized by both the industry and Uber.

In a move modeled after Calgary’s regulations, Mississauga city staff have recommended creating a separate category of licence that would require Uber drivers to get the same police background check and training as traditional drivers and provide proof of English literacy as well as obtaining “equivalent” insurance. Drivers would also be required to provide proof of vehicle inspection every six months.

To read full article click here

Source: The Toronto Star

23 Feb

Regional vehicle-for-hire bylaw could regulate Uber, taxis and limos

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

Waterloo Region needs a bylaw to regulate ride-hailing services like Uber and can’t afford to wait any longer for the provincial government to take action, says regional councillor Jane Mitchell.

Mitchell, chair of the region’s licensing and hearings committee, says that with no sign of any regulating measures from the Ontario government, it’s time the region put in place its own “vehicle-for-hire” bylaw, bringing taxis, limousines and services like Uber and Lyft under a single legal umbrella.

“Uber is presently illegal and [it] has been here since July. As far as the people who are doing the legal thing, which is the taxis and the limousines, particularly the taxis– they’re getting very concerned that Uber gets [a] free ride and is going into their livelihood,” Mitchell told CBC Radio’s The Morning Edition host Craig Norris on Tuesday.

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

27 Jan

‘I nearly passed out’: A $640 Uber ride for a 30-mile trip to the airport

Taxi Truths News, Story, Surge pricing

Bonnie Lieb said she expected to pay more than usual for an Uber ride from her Sterling, Virginia, home to Reagan National Airport Monday morning. With her car still covered in two feet of snow and her street unplowed, she said, she agreed to pay the Uber surge price of 4.4 times the normal fare.

Neighbours had said an Uber ride to the airport typically cost $50 to $70, so she figured she had agreed to pay about $250 — expensive for a 30-mile trip, but she had to get to Denver for a client meeting.

So Lieb said she was floored when she got through the security checkpoint at Reagan, checked her email and saw her emailed Uber receipt: $640.94 had been charged to her American Express card.

“I nearly passed out,” Lieb, president of the Sage marketing and communications agency, recalled in a phone-call from Denver on Tuesday. “I thought ‘This can’t be right. This has to be a mistake. This is ridiculous.'”

Uber says there wasn’t any mistake. Lieb, a company spokesperson said, ordered the Uber SUV service — the most expensive option. That base rate, it turns out, was $144.76, not the $50 or so cost of the cheaper Uber X option that her neighbours might have used. So the 4.4x surge charge did, indeed, add up to $640.94.

To read full article click here

Source: The Hamilton Spectator

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