Tag Archives: Uber

Uber Can’t Replace Transit — Here Are 3 Reasons Why

Transit projects from Detroit to Nashville are running up against a new argument from opponents. The latest line from anti-transit types is that ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft are going to make fixed-route bus or rail service obsolete.

It doesn’t hold up if you’ve given some thought to the huge amount of space cars consume compared to buses or trains. But many people don’t spend their days thinking about the spatial efficiency of transit.

1. Uber and Lyft hog too much space

Let’s say, hypothetically, that a city gives up on transit service because officials think Uber and Lyft can take care of things from now on. Imagine what happens next: Everyone who rides the LA Metro Bus system suddenly crowds onto the 405 in an Uber, every passenger on New York’s L train has to hail a ride over the Williamsburg Bridge. The result would be total gridlock.

Uber and Lyft have some advantages in certain contexts. But car services can’t overcome urban geometry.

2. Even lightly-used transit beats heavily-used ride-hailing services

Not every bus is packed, but even a mostly-empty bus can use streets more efficiently than Ubercars. A bus carrying about 10 passengers per service hour is generally considered to be “low-performing,” TransitCenter points out. But that still beats the pants off ride-hail services.

“For an Uber or Lyft driver to serve ten people per hour,” writes TransitCenter, “it would mean the driver is picking up a new passenger every six minutes, physically impossible in American cities.”

3. Demand for transit peaks at different times than demand for taxis

If you look at when Uber and Lyft are most popular, it’s during the night, when transit runs less often. Meanwhile, transit is at its fullest during the a.m. and p.m. rush. Not many people use Uber and Lyft for regular commuting.

Transit and ride-hailing services can complement each other — especially at times or in places where transit is weaker. But don’t be taken in by anyone predicting the end of transit — buses and trains aren’t going anywhere.


Road Worrier: Uber and GoTriangle could become a dynamic duo

A bicyclist takes off from between two GO Raleigh city buses at the Moore Square Station in downtown Raleigh. A new app will make riding the bus more convenient by allowing riders to plot the best bus route and book an Uber driver to take them between the bus stop and their destination, if it’s too far to walk. Harry Lynch hlynch@newsobserver.com

This week we might begin to see whether Uber can help smash public transportation’s “first mile, last mile” barrier.

Yes: Uber, the new-fangled nemesis of old-fashioned taxis everywhere. Uber, so cheap and ubiquitous that it has begun luring riders off Charlotte’s trains and buses.

Why didn’t each of us relax on the bus to work this morning, reading books and digging WiFi? One answer is that most of us live too far away (hi, Cary!) from the nearest stop. First mile.

And maybe the office is a long hike (yo, Research Triangle Park!) from the last stop, too. Last mile.

So we drove the car instead.

Here’s a new option with the potential to overcome this considerable obstacle: Use one smartphone app to plot the best bus route – and, if it helps, book an Uber driver to cover that “first mile” to the bus stop or the “last mile” to the destination, or both. All with the proverbial one click.

Uber has made modest moves to acknowledge public transit options in other parts of the country. But the San Francisco-based company is going farther with GoTriangle.

It all comes together in the Rider app distributed by Durham-based TransLoc, which shows commuters where their bus is and how soon it will arrive.

“Our mission is to make transit so great that it becomes everybody’s first choice for transportation,” Doug Kaufman, the TransLoc CEO, said in an interview. “This Uber partnership is a way to make transit more viable, by making it easier to get people to the bus stop.”

GoTriangle, better known as Triangle Transit, is the three-county bus agency that hauls students and commuters from one town to another. TransLoc’s Rider app tracks buses for GoTriangle and 140 transit agencies across the country. Rider will be Uber-enhanced for transit users in Memphis, Tenn., starting March 22 – and for GoTriangle riders starting Thursday.

GoTriangle, Uber and TransLoc will roll out the new app in an event scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at Durham Station, the downtown bus hub. Wool E. Bull and Mayor Bill Bell will be there.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/traffic/road-worrier-blog/article63211972.html#storylink=cpy

Uber target of protests by cabbies, disability rights advocates

Yellow and green cab drivers rallied at City Hall on Tuesday with disability rights advocates to call for legislation that would make Uber wheelchair-accessible.

The app company has a service in New York City that connects passengers with wheelchair-accessible yellow and green cabs, but its black cars are not accessible.

Advocacy groups like the United Spinal Association and Taxis for All have been calling for Uber to have wheelchair-accessible black cars, and hope the City Council and Mayor wil back them.

“Nobody would put up with Uber if it was refusing rides to African-Americans, or gay New Yorkers,” said Edith Prentiss, who chairs the Taxis for All Campaign. “They shouldn’t put up with discriminating against us either.”

Bhairavi Desai, the executive director of the New York Taxiworkers Alliance, which represents thousands of cabbies and Uber drivers, hailed the accessibility of the yellow and green cab industries.

“This is a long-term battle for us, and we stand here united with the disability justice community,” Desai said.

The app company said ir does almost 4,000 wheelchair-accessible trips monthly through the app by connecting riders with yellow and green cabs, and that foldable wheelchairs can be stowed in their black cars.

“Uber has helped expand transportation options for New Yorkers with disabilities,” said a statement from the company. “Before Uber, these riders were too often left stranded waiting for one of the small number of accessible cabs to pull up. We are actively exploring new ways to build on this progress and better serve all people with disabilities.”

A study on apps like Uber released last week showed that slower speeds in the city have been driven by population growth and construction, and haven’t been spurred by the rise in the black car industry.

The City Council is calling for greater regulation of car service app companies in New York City.

By Rebecca Harshbarger   rebecca.harshbarger@amny.com


Newest Business Term is “UBERIZED”

Ride service UBER and its little buddy Lyft, had yet another encounter about rules in Boston. Nothing happened.

According to the account in BostInno,

“Even with questionable ethics, Uber and Lyft aren’t merely winning the war against Boston taxis — Uber and Lyft have already won.”
It isn’t surprising that Uber, like other disruptors that have successfully offered an alternative to the status quo (e.g., Netflix, the cloud, the iPhone), is experiencing pushback. The ridesharing service seems to be rapidly cycling through the four stages of disruption recently described by former Microsoft executive Steven Sinofsky, starting with upsetting the applecart — or, as he puts it, “disruption of the incumbent” — and ending with “complete reimagination.” Who isn’t going to fight being completely reimagined?
I Phone
I Phone
In its protest of Uber practices, the taxi industry is also following the script to the T: According to Sinofsky, now a board partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, the threatened industry judges the disruptor “by using the existing criteria established by the incumbent.” At the same time, the incumbent (pathetically) tries to compete by copying the disruptors. In the Boston case, the incumbent’s criteria are based on livery rules established in the 1920s, and the attempt at competition comes in the form of taxi-hailing apps, such as Hailo. The attempt to compete, however, just validates the disruptors, Sinofsky argues. Cue the vicious cycle here in America’s college town, where there is no shortage of mobile app users.

So what does this pattern of disruption mean for enterprise CIOs who want to drive innovation, but are unsure of how to balance that disruption with their legacy systems and don’t know if it will even benefit the bottom line?

Some of Sinofsky’s advice to incumbents could just as well pertain to CIOs: “Your key decision is to choose carefully what you view as disruptive or not,” he said. This requires a clear understanding of the possible ways new offerings can provide value to your customers and business partners — a balancing act that is easier said than done, he cautions: “Creating this sort of chaos is something that causes untold consternation in a large organization.”

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UBER Is All Over The Place in Today’s News: Never Anything Good

We have been covering UBER since they first sneaked into the taxi scene. Our other writers KC and the Hippie usually write about them; but they didn’t want to touch UBER when they read the headline on one of the stories:

An executive at the ride-sharing startup suggested that the company could access journalists’ personal information.

I just said: “screw them”.

I agreed with them to use the same Mercedes taxi photo they have: belongs to a cool driver and can be found along side the Negresco Hotel in Nice, France.

First the story about journalists:

Uber is in the news Tuesday morning after an executive made some boneheaded remarks in public.

Emil Michael, SVP of business at Uber, suggested that Uber could spend “a million dollars” to form a group of people that would research the “personal lives” and “families” of journalists who are critical of the company. 

Michael was speaking at a dinner in New York when he made the remarks. He thought he was off the record, but BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote up the comments, saying that at no point was BuzzFeed told the comments were off the record. 

To be clear, this was all theoretical. Uber did not say it gathered the information. 

However, in Smith’s story, there was something that was more than just theoretical, and it’s a good reminder of the scary power Uber has over its users.

Here’s what Smith reported: “The general manager of Uber NYC accessed the profile of a BuzzFeed News reporter, Johana Bhuiyan, to make points in the course of a discussion of Uber policies. At no point in the email exchanges did she give him permission to do so.”

If that’s not clear, Smith is saying that Uber accessed the profile of a journalist to see where that journalist had traveled while using Uber. Uber did this without permission. For the thousands of people who use Uber, this should be the most alarming thing in Smith’s report. 

Uber knows where its users are going and when they are going there. That is powerful, potentially damaging data to control.

An Uber spokesperson told Smith this was against Uber’s policies: “Any such activity would be clear violations of our privacy and data access policies. Access to and use of data is permitted only for legitimate business purposes. These policies apply to all employees. We regularly monitor and audit that access.”

–This story first appeared on Business Insider.

Next story was “Why I Deleted My Uber App”

I have been an unabashed Uber fan since my first time using the ride-sharing service. It was late 2013 and my friends and I used Uber promo codes to get around Nashville for an entire weekend. From then on, uberX has been my preferred method of transportation. It’s cheap, incredibly easy, and almost fun.

And because of my infatuation with Uber, I’ve been able to look past its faults. I’ve dismissed the concerns of drivers who say they can’t earn enough money. I’ve looked past Uber’s lapses in background checks. And I’ve even been willing to brush off the “God View” accusations because, hey, it’s Uber, and this is innovation!

But after the latest story about how an Uber executive threatened a journalist, contemplating performing “opposition research” to dig up dirt on reporters who criticize the ride-sharing giant, I’ve had enough. Uber has finally crossed the line, and I have deleted the app from my phone.

If you haven’t read BuzzFeed’s story that details a dinner party where Uber Senior VP of Business Emil Michael describes a (probably) hypothetical $1 million plan that would hire a team to do opposition research to publicly shame critical journalists, read it here. At the party, which was attended by BuzzFeed’s Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith, Arianna Huffington, Ed Norton, and others, Michael described using the team to combat negative press by looking into “your personal lives, your families,” to give the media a taste of its own medicine, BuzzFeed reports.

Michael failed to communicate that the dinner was off the record.

The focus of Uber’s revenge was on PandoDaily editor Sarah Lacy, who has accused Uber of sexism and wrote that she deleted the app from her phone after the company apparently had a deal that paired Uber riders with “hot chick” drivers, according to BuzzFeed. From BuzzFeed’s piece:

At the dinner, Michael expressed outrage at Lacy’s column and said that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers. He said that he thought Lacy should be held “personally responsible” for any women who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted. 

Then he returned to the opposition research plan. Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.

Fuck that. Even if there is no real intention to put together a plan like this (BuzzFeed writes that there was no indication that this has or will happen) the fact that executives at Uber talk like this—in front of other people (journalists, even!)—speaks to how no tactic is off the table when it comes to annihilating the competition, and that doesn’t stop at other ride-sharing companies.

Lacy has a beautifully written response to Michael and the BuzzFeed piece, and you should read it. In it, she describes a type of behavior at the top of Uber that mirrors the comments at that dinner party. She hits on how Uber drivers are treated as disposable commodities, the ineffective background checks, and the sexism Uber has shown. She’s seen the company’s PR team discredit female passengers who were attacked by saying they were drunk or dressed provocatively. And apparently, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick calls the company “boober” due to how much action he gets since founding it. From Lacy’s piece:

I first heard of this when Smith called me for comment over the weekend. I was out late at a work dinner in London and stepped out into the cold to take the call. A chill ran down my spine that had little to do with the weather, as he described the bizarre interaction. I immediately thought of my kids at home halfway around the world, just getting out of their baths and groggily pulling on their pajamas, and how the new line that this company was willing to cross would affect them.

Uber’s dangerous escalation of behavior has just had its whistleblower moment, and tellingly, the whistleblower wasn’t a staffer with a conscience, it was an executive boasting about the proposed plan. It’s gone so far, that there are those in the company who don’t even realize this is something you try to cover up. It’s like a five-year-old pretending to be Frank Underwood. Only one with billions of dollars of assets at his disposal.

Uber knows your name, your credit card information, and can keep track of your every twist and turn as you ride cheaply through the city. Personally, I don’t trust this company with my information and money, and I’m following Lacy’s lead and getting rid of the app. There are plenty of other transit options in Chicago, and I’ll be in a Lyft, Sidecar, or even a goddamn cab before I step inside another Uber.

Next year Uber is bringing 420 new jobs to Chicago and opening a new office in the West Loop. I wish those employees well. And I will continue to cover Uber responsibly and professionally. I just won’t be taking one to my next interview.


If all this is not enough: Uber, Nevada Taxi Legal Battle Gets Complicated


“I think you’re jumping around to different jurisdictions trying to get a ruling,” a district judge said.

A legal battle between Nevada’s highly regulated taxi industry and ride-sharing company Uber has gotten complicated as two state judges laid claim to hearing the same case.

In court Monday, Clark County District Judge Douglas Herndon blamed the overlap on the state attorney general’s office.

“I think you’re jumping around to different jurisdictions trying to get a ruling,” he said.

The attorney general represents the Nevada Taxicab Authority and Nevada Transportation Authority. The state regulators want to put an end to Uber, which allows people using a smartphone app to hail a ride from one of its drivers in the driver’s personal car.

Uber attorneys, in filings Monday with Nevada’s Supreme Court, also accused the state of shopping for a courtroom.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Kimberly Arguello told Herndon her office may have handled the filings “inartfully.”

Hours after Uber launched its ride-sharing services Oct. 24 in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City, the state hastily sought orders to halt the company’s business in all three cities.

Herndon said his office got a call from the attorney general’s office the next business day asking if the judge had granted the request to temporarily stop Uber in the Las Vegas area. He hadn’t and said he wouldn’t until he held a hearing.

Not long after, the attorney general filed its complaint and motions in Washoe County, Herndon said.

Herndon later denied the state’s request to halt Uber’s business.

That decision came days after a Carson City judge signed a temporary order. The judge there eventually deferred to Herndon to take the lead on the case in Clark County.

Washoe County District Court in Reno, which also issued a temporary order for the business to stop, continued to hear arguments in the case as recently as Friday. In that case, Judge Scott Freeman said his court should take the lead because his was the first to receive the state’s complaint.

Herndon said it’s not that he and others are trying to rid themselves of the matter. “We don’t really care who hears the case.”

It comes down to timing, he said.

Herndon said the state’s case was first filed with his courtroom, as he listed the chronology of events down to the minute. Freeman has said his court got it first.

In the meantime, Uber on Monday asked the state Supreme Court to stop the Washoe County case. The company expects a decision in several days.

The attorney general’s office sought to consolidate the case in Freeman’s courtroom and withdraw its request to halt Uber’s operations in Clark County. But Herndon said Monday he would wait to act until the high court rules.

The court confusion hasn’t stopped regulators from citing Uber drivers and impounding their cars.

And it hasn’t stopped Uber.

The company has continued to offer rides in Nevada since it launched late last month.

–Associated Press

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