Uber & Lyft Drivers Will Need Business Permits in San Francisco

When it comes to “ridesharing” apps like Uber and Lyft, the law has been slow to catch up on the latest app-driven taxi scheme. Debating if they are consultants or employees, cities have been torn apart as Taxi drivers argue that they use loopholes to avoid extra charges that Taxis have to pay. This may change thanks to San Francisco now requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to own a business permit if they want to keep working within the city.

City Treasurer Jose Cisneros has apparently sent out 37,018 letters to drivers within the city to let them know about the new requirement, ultimately forcing Uber and Lyft to either recognise their drivers as staff or get business permits and act as contractors. With each permit costing only $91 a year (if you make less than $100,00 a year) then the funding coming in from the new requirement comes to around $3.37 million a year!

Uber responded in a statement to SFGate saying that as its drivers were independent contracts they were “responsible for following appropriate local requirements” while Lyfts spokesperson Chelsea Wilson was less than candid in saying that their company opposed thew new plans, saying that the company has “serious concerns with the city’s plan to collect and display Lyft drivers’ personal information in a publicly available database”.

Jakarta Taxi Drivers Are Protesting Against Uber

Recent years have seen the rise of apps that sometimes disturb common practices, things that have been going on for many years already. One of the things disturbed has been Taxi’s with many apps offering similar services, often for cheaper fares. Taxi Drivers in Jakarta have had enough and are now protesting against Uber and similar apps.

Taxi drivers in Jakarta are saying that apps such as Uber and grab have impacted their business, resulting in reduced salaries. The impact they say is because unlike Taxi companies, the apps are not affected by the costs and regulations that Taxi companies have to pay.

The protests have been less than calm though with reports of violence erupting. One man stated that he saw a passenger being threatened with rocks when a taxi driver accepted a passenger and footage has shown taxi drivers being threatened and attacked for not taking part in the strikes.

No matter what their opinions on the matter, attacking other taxi drivers does nothing but harms their reputation, arguments and relationships with fellow workers as they fight for the “good of the group”. The protesters have taken to blocking roads outside many government buildings, including the ministry of communication and parliament, resulting in heavy delays in the capital.

With apps like Uber offering features that taxi’s simply can’t, such as the new Family ride service, are taxi’s able to keep up with the apps or are they sticking to a model which technology has made dated? Do you use Uber or are you a Taxi person? Which is better in your opinion and why use one when the other is available? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below

Robotic Car Sharing Could Have 400 Million Users By 2030

People like using things which are easy to navigate and control. This may be the reason for the recent boom of car sharing app’s and systems in place. With people using systems like Uber to quickly call a taxi and having someone pick you up with ease saving you precious minutes (and $$$) when you need to get somewhere. With the use of automated cars though you could see as many as 400 million users relying on robotic car sharing by 2030.

You wake up and realise you are running late to work. You send a quick text to request a pickup and start getting ready, within half hour a car is sitting outside your house and you are off to work. You’re not driving, and neither is your work colleague who is sharing the same car because he lives in the next set of buildings down the road. Robotic cars could soon see you doing away with steering wheels and instead rely on LiDAR technology and exterior cameras to drive you safely to work.

With groups like the White House looking to create self-driving cars alongside companies like Google, it was only a matter of time before the idea of self-driving sharing taxi’s arrived. Google have already announced that they want to have some out on the roads this year, something that we can all look forward to.

Uber Lowers Prices In US And Canada Due To Low Demand

Uber gets in the news a lot. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has called it out for being breaking the law, three cities in Germany no longer have the service and French Uber drivers even created a rival app. Amongst all of this Uber can’t be having too good a time, even though popularity and usage of the app are growing? Not in the U.S it would seem as Uber lowers their prices to help pick up usage in the new year.

It’s a new year, it’s still cold and we still have to get around. Seems like people aren’t using Uber as much as they expected as Uber posted explaining that people staying indoors to keep warm and save money means that this time of year, people tend not to use the service. In order to get usage of the service up, in over 100 cities in the US and Canada, the service will cut prices for riders and stating that they are “guaranteeing earnings for drivers to ensure that no one is disadvantaged”.

With them continuing on to say that the percentage cut to prices will be different from city to city, and no exact figures on what each location will receive or even what the  guaranteed earnings for drivers will be users may be skeptical. If you’re in the US or Canada though, now might the right time to pop out and do that little bit of shopping you’ve been putting off so far.

Google Plans Self-Driving Taxis for 2016

Google will launch its self-driving car initiative as a separate business, offering rides for hire in direct competition with firms such as Uber, under parent company Alphabet Inc next year, according to Bloomberg Business.

An anonymous source briefed on Google’s self-driving car strategy claims that, initially, the vehicles will not be sold, but instead will be available for hire to customers during the day, returning to Google depots for service and maintenance at night.

“These potential ride-for-hire services could allow consumers to experience the technology and embrace it in a bigger way,” said Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner Inc.. “That would help not just Google but the entire industry.”

Self-driving cars that don’t require a human driver are not yet legal on public roads in the US, so unless Google has inside information regarding an imminent change to the law, its vehicles will only be permitted for use on private property, such as university and business campuses, military bases, or airports.

While Google waits for the law to catch up with new automotive technologies, Uber has invested over $10 billion it has raised in private markets to develop its own fleet of self-driving cars, as well as recruiting a number of autonomous vehicle engineers from Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics program.

Image courtesy of Google.

French Uber Drivers Launch Rival App

Uber is known for a lot of things, from their drivers employment stance ranging from contractors to employee’s being charged with crimes. One of the more recent decisions they’ve had to face with was the decision to cut fares across Paris. Some drivers have had enough though and have created their own app in order to compete with the taxi app.

VTC Cab is an app created by former uber drivers to complete with the popular app. The app is available on the Google Play store and now iTunes, and shares some similarities with the Uber app. Users can hail cars and rate their drivers, but VTC Cab also allows you to place orders for a taxi in advance and works on a different model to Uber. Instead of the commission taking a cut of the raised funds there is a membership fee.

Instead of the 20% that Uber takes off all trips, VTC Cab will only charge its drivers a monthly fee of €250 (around £180), meaning that anything after that initial fee is theirs to keep. Mohammed Radi, the app’s founder, also stated that they will offer a customer service phone line, instead of following the email based system other app-based taxi services use.

Do you use Uber? Do you drive for an Uber-type service? What are your thoughts on a flat fee per month instead of a commission?

London Cabs Set To Allow Contact-less Payments By 2017

So there you are, having been busy rushing around London doing your shopping and decide you want to quickly grab a taxi back home, only to find you won’t be able to because you don’t have any cash on your person. It happens and normally the alternative for people these days is either to walk it or use alternative transport such as Uber. With the app based service looking to only grow and grow, not taking in mobile and card payments has limited London’s cabs. This could be set to change though as soon as mid-2017.

Transport for London (TFL) and Mayor Boris Johnson have agreed to move proposals for the scheme that would see all taxi’s requiring the capability to accept card payments, including contactless. This chance could be seen as soon as October 2016, just in time for next year’s Christmas rush, a welcome change I bet for the 86% of the people who responded to a consultation saying that they wanted cards accepted.

TFL have agreed to bring down the cost of transactions charges from 10% to around 3%, this meaning that you won’t be charged extra (after the additional 20p increase that’s set to come in earlier in the year).

With services like Uber and other forms of public transport already taking card and contactless payments, is it about time that Taxi’s joined the fold?

Boris Calls Out Uber For “Breaking The Law”

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, is known for a lot of things, from his wacky antics to the ‘Boris’ bikes that you can ride around London. He has even pledged that London will have 5G by 2020. This time, his words were a little less welcoming and was targeted at a common form of transportation, Uber.

Boris Johnson has a weekly column in the Telegraph and this week it would appear he has used it to defend the classic sight of black London taxi’s and this week he has gone on the offensive.

Johnson is the chairman of Transport for London and has often spoken about the transportation within London. In July, Johnson stated that Uber drivers would need to pass a knowledge test to be able to work in London, but his more recent comments state that the law is clear and that only hackney carriages (the other name for black cabs) can be hailed on the streets.

Another possible area for discussion is that only black cabs can operate with a taxi meter, meaning that fare calculating apps like Uber technically breach this law. Either way, Transport for London are looking at amending the law regarding taxi’s to help clarify systems like Uber, from their rights and responsibilities to outlining just how they can operate within cities like London.

Are you a Uber user? Do you think that Uber should be held to the same standards as a taxi company?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Thank you BBC for the image.

Podulator – A Sign of Future Transport?

James May is known for a lot of things, amongst which is the show Top Gear of which he only recently stopped hosting. Known to have a keen interest in motorised vehicles, James’s latest twitter post is of a different type of vehicle.

As seen above, James seems to be at Heathrow, advertising the future of transport displayed at Terminal 5. The pod-based system allows you to travel between the station at terminal 5 and the two based in terminal 5’s car park. The system is not a new one, with it celebrating over 1 million autonomous miles back in 2013.

Featuring 3.8 kilometers of one-way track for the pods, it’s almost like a personal train between the stations. The one comparison I can draw is with trains, but the private and personal carriage like nature reminds me of the old cabin based trains, for those who have never experienced this, think about the Hogwarts train (shown below).

With companies like Google making automated cars, we could soon see Pod like cars working on a large scale, across an entire city or maybe even a country? Could companies like Uber and your local taxi soon be replaced by automated cars which you call at the press of a button?

Thank you Ultra Global PRT for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Ultra Global PRT and Harry Potter Wiki.

Uber Set to Buy out Tesla’s Autonomous Car Stock

We all know that the Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution is coming, be it in the form of cars, trucks or busses; we are destined to rely on these vehicle types in the very near future.

Uber, ride share taxi company has recently announced that they want to purchase every autonomous vehicle that Tesla will produce in 2020. Now for those of you that haven’t been paying attention, Tesla is currently the worlds leading EV company producing the ground breaking P85D, which can give cars such as the Mercedes SLS AMG a huge run for their money.

As we already know, Uber has a range of vehicles from luxury, suburban and even hybrids; so the jump to an all EV is a step in the right direction for taxi services and this could be something that more tansport services could adopt in the near future.

Now it’s not all about the economy and paying drivers, autonomous cars can analyse the road in front of them and adjust the suspension to suit the conditions. They are also 10x safer than a traditional human driver and even marginally quicker due to being constantly connect to other vehicles and traffic services in the area.

Would you get a ride in an autonomous vehicle when they become available? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ComputerWorld for providing us with this information.

Uber Leaders Arrested In France

Uber has been in the news a lot recently. From having accounts sold on the dark net to being banned in countries due to its drivers behaviors. All of these have been large problems for a company which relies on the public not only using their app but also providing the cars for people to use. Today it all changed as two officials in Uber’s French branch were taken into custody.

Uber France CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe GM Pierre-Dimitir Gore-Coty were taken into custody in Paris today, this follows on from a raid that took place in its Paris office back in March. The two executives were charged with different allegations, the first of which being the running of an illegal taxi operation. This is a problem they have encountered in a few countries, with some debating if Uber can be considered a taxi service and others debating if their drivers are contractors or indeed employees.

The second allegation was concealing digital documents following on from the March raid, which in turn was slowing down the investigation.

France already has a strict stance on Uber, banning UberPOP (the equivalent of Uber in France) which allowed people to sign up and become Uber drivers without professional licenses. In response to this ban police have been issuing fines, these fines would be paid for by Uber.

So after being fined and possibly having their vehicles taken away they are still willing to drive for an app which considers them “contractors” (this avoids a lot of legal implications, such as providing health insurance in certain countries). After having two of its senior members taken into custody maybe Uber will have to rethink how it does business, or maybe France will have to go one step further and ban UberPop with a Justice Court ban on the service?

Thank you Tech Crunch for the information.

Uber Drivers Can Track You if You Agree

Uber, the car sharing phenomenon that has taken the world by storm; has recently updated its terms and conditions to include a new tracking feature for the drivers. This new tracking will allow swifter and more efficient pick-ups as the driver will always know where you are; it will be more accurate than just placing a pin and hoping for the best.

This follows an external review of Uber’s privacy policy prompted by some PR issues involving customer privacy. “If you recall, some Uber employees used the “God View” tracker embedded in the app to spy on the whereabouts of a Buzzfeed reporter and a high-profile venture capitalist last year. All its corporate employees (but not its drivers) reportedly had access to God View and could monitor a user’s activities. Let’s not forget the time an exec made a remark about hiring a team to dig up personal dirt on journalists that criticize the service, as well.”

Along with those changes, this new privacy update list the kind of data it wants to collect from its customers. It makes very clear that it wants to keep records of your transactions, including frequency, cost, distance travelled, etc… and also gathers some information about your device such as make, model, network, etc. Along with that, Uber also wants to collect data of your contacts to provide targeted marketing to them.

This new update will take place on July 15th, so expect some permission pop-ups. If you decide not to activate the new features; Uber stated that the app will work as it currently does.

Thank you to engadget for providing us with this information.

Germany to Get a Legal Uber Taxi Service Soon

Earlier this month a German court banned Uber from operating while using unlicensed cab drivers and set stiff fines for any violations of local transportation laws to reinforce the decision. The company’s German chief told the magazine Wirtschafts Woche (WiWo) that it is planning a new service that will fall in line with the law.

Uber will launch the new service by this summer, and under it, Uber drivers will hold commercial passenger transport licenses. The cost of the licenses will be paid for by Uber which will be between 100-200 euros, as stated by Uber’s Faben Nestman. Faben also said “We will also pay the 150 to 200 euros it would cost our partners to have the Chamber of Commerce license them as taxi companies.”

There is no word on if the new service will have a different name, though as of now it looks like it will UberX so as to fall in line with the company’s naming scheme.

Source: Reuters

Uber CEO Could Face Up To Two Years in Jail in South Korea

Despite never actually being arrested in South Korea, the CEO and founder of the taxi app service could face up to two years in jail in the country.

Essentially, Uber is considered highly illegal in South Korea, thanks to the incredible amount of regulation in the way of becoming a licensed taxi operator. Taxi drivers themselves need to pay an accumulative 70 million won (around $63,477) just to become a registered driver.

South Korean prosecutors have indicted Travis Kalanick without him actually being arrested or appearing in court, with him facing the jail time or a 20 million won (around $18,121) fine. If he has the option of taking the fine, I think we all know which one he’ll go for.

Bizarrely, Uber continues to operate in Seoul, the South Korean capital. It’s even more bizarre when you consider that the authorities in Seoul have essentially placed a bounty on the heads of Uber drivers, offering 1 million won (about $910) to any citizen who has evidence of the service operating. They even have a “dedicated squad” that is “clamping down on Uber drivers”.

Uber has faced a tricky legal path since its inception, with intense opposition from governments and taxi drivers alike. So far, it’s seemed pretty invincible – they give off the impression that they’re above the law. It’ll be interesting to see how this latest story pans out though.

Source: The Verge

 

 

Uber Under Fire After Raising Prices in Sydney

Uber has been under fire today after the ride sharing app put prices up in Sydney following the alleged terrorist hostage crisis in the city. The app raised prices in the Sydney area before quickly backtracking.

Prices were raised up to 4 times the normal rate, according to the BBC. The company responded to the backlash by refunding some customers and offering free rides out of the Sydney central business district. They also tweeted that the price hike was to encourage more drivers to get in the area to help people get home.

“We are all concerned with the events happening in Sydney. Uber Sydney will be providing free rides out of the CBD to help Sydneysiders get home safely. Our thoughts are with those affected and the NSW Police Force. We are in the process of refunding rides.” – Uber.

Source: BBC News

Uber Banned in Delhi Following Alleged Rape by Driver

The Delhi transport department has banned the popular ride sharing service following allegations of rape by an Uber driver. The male driver allegedly raped a 25-year-old female passenger on Friday.

Shiv Kumar Yadav was previously arrested for rape in 2011, but charges were dropped following a settlement between him and the alleged victim.

The news comes as a significant blow for Uber in India, a country where the ride sharing app has been growing quickly. India’s economic status combined with the easy business opportunities and subsequent cheap fairs that Uber can deliver, makes the service ideal for the country. The loss of the service in Delhi will bo doubt hamper that growth.

A statement from Uber’s CEO, delivered before the ban, made suggestions that Uber’s plans for background checks were to be more comprehensive than those already delivered by the Indian government in their own “commercial transportation licensing programs”.

“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.” – Travis Kalanick

Uber has had a pretty rough time recently, with allegations of spying, supposed plans to “dig up dirt” on journalists and opposition from governments and the transportation industry.

Source: Gizmodo

Rideshare Applications Put Taxi Companies in Turmoil

Have you gotten on the Uber or Lyft craze yet? New reports have just come to light that thanks to these new offerings, Taxi business has been majorly disrupted due to the new their technological advantages and pricing structures.

It’s a common complaint in much of the Western world, users upset that their taxi and/or driver is one, or a combination of: smelly, late, unsightly, rude, knowledgeable or in disrepair. Ride-share apps like Lyft and Uber have been designed to take these short-distance travels into a more personable situation.

According to a New York Times analysis, owning a taxi service has become less worthy in recent times. They claim that price of medallions have plummeted sharply over 2014, seeing the price drop by 17-20 percent within major US cities such as Boston, Chicago and New York. This is alongside news that Philadelphia has cut their prices to the customer drastically and half of New York’s most recent sales have been foreclosures.

Unfortunately there isn’t a 100 percent straight link between the Taxi service plummeting and ride sharing app business because of no reported ride numbers released, however it gives us insight into the taxi industries performance as a whole. As far as the local market is concerned here in Australia, many of my friends are taking the application plunge – seeing them utilize services like Uber for hotel to airport transfers and a safe ride home after a night of partying. Although Australian Uber prices are can be slightly higher than that of the localized taxi business, users are happy to bear the cost due to the improved benefits and claimed safety aspects.

Do you agree with these claims? Are Taxi’s going out of business due to public transport or own methods, or are they seeing a downturn due to their nature?

Image courtesy of Wake Up News
Information courtesy of Engadget