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Uber convert

You say you want a revolution. Well, there’s an app for that.

Since I’ve talked about AirBnb in my previous post, I should amention that I’ve been a user of another ‘sharing economy’ darling in the past few months : Uber.

I used Uber to drop me home after getting rid of the MB leased car.

I used them to take me to the airport where I was going to Milwaukee for thanksgiving and to avoid the parking nightmare. By co-incidence, the driver was from Wisconsin so I got a few tips from him of what to see etc. As a side note, the officials at Hobby Airport pounced on him for documentation as soon as I got dropped off and even after I’d checked in my luggage about 10 minutes later, I could see out the window he was still being questioned. Not sure what that was about.

I used Uber in Milwaukee to get to / from downtown. The ability to send the driver a text – when the GPS address for your restaurant is nonsense – worked great. On the app map showing the driver, you could see them driving to you, then obviously overshooting and going the other way.

One feature I liked was the quote before hand to do a ‘what if’. I wanted to know the price of an Uber from Milwaukee to Midway airport  – around ~$120. I compared it to AVIS one way where the car rental gave me ( with a very good AWD#) and it was around $55. Obviously with this, I went to AVIS. When I checked the car in, I was dismayed to find out that they’d charged me per mileage charge where bill came to $108. Bloomin’ bunch of Sock cutter$. If I add in tolls, gas and CDW then Uber would have been cheaper.  Even if it had been cost neutral, I would have not had the hassle of driving for 90 minutes and getting to the MKE airport to pick up the car.

As for AVIS and the discrepancy, I later I checked out why I had not flagged this earlier as I darn well knew about the potential for one way add ons. I looked and the AVIS booking site was blank about mileage but when I looked at the confirmation email, it calls it out as $0.40 per mile. Buggers.  Today, I just looked at the same AVIS website today, and it does now call it out (@ $0.28 per mile). So Caveat Emptor (or Emperor..) and all that with my miscalculation on the 1 way rental but it still illustrates why bother with that option : Just get an freakin’ Uber assuming their prices stay where they are. I mention this as they continually monkey with fare structures.

The thought of getting a regular taxi driver when Uber is an option, does not appeal any more. I’ve had my fair share of rides with filthy cars overflowing with cigarette butts going to a destination with no idea what the final charge will be and they’ll only take cash at the end. The days of taxi’s are done in areas legally serviced by Uber, Lyft or their counterparts.

Long like the revolution !

PS: I am not ready to give a full thumbs up to Uber as I don’t trust Mr Kalanick past the future IPO.

Two Texas Cities give Uber and Lyft the finger

Prop minus one

Latest news from Texas is that two most liberal cities of Texas – Houston and Austin – have demanded that Uber / Lyft, conduct more stringent security  background checks above what the companies are currently willing to do.

  • May 7th Austin: Prop 1 was voted DOWN so that potential drivers MUST do finger print based criminal checks.
    • Both Uber and Lyft are now saying they will shut down. Temporarily of course.
    • Uber and Lyft argues that their own background checks were stringent enough and that finger-printed checks by Austin city was an overkill.
    • From the Austin Statesman: The Voting populace didn’t agree and in Austin’s case, the vote was a backlash against the Uber/Lyft campaign who had spent $8m versus anti-prop 1 spend of $0.1m

In Houston, the City push back is bigger where City Hall requires finger-printing, drug testing and a physical which is far more than what Austin requires. Lyft has already had previously balked while finger printing requirement existed. Uber is threatening to follow.

Meanwhile the Texas legislature may come up with a State wide direction. That will be interesting considering Austin’s rhetoric about Big Government over-riding local voters.

An Indian take away

Karma suit Ya?

Karma suit Ya? The company doing the dirty to Uber

Uber is in court again. This time they are not the defender where in this World War on Taxis (WW T), they are taking their rival Ola to court in India.

From Reuters:

A flurry of complaints from Uber drivers about an unusually high number of canceled bookings was the spark that ignited a bitter legal fight with Ola, Uber’s rival for dominance of India’s $12 billion taxi market, according to court documents and a source with direct knowledge of Uber’s case.  

Uber is suing Ola for $7.5 million to compensate for lost revenue and goodwill, alleging the Indian market leader created about 94,000 fake user accounts with the ride-hailing service and used them to make more than 405,000 false bookings.

The broad outlines of the lawsuit were reported when it was filed last month, but a Reuters review of court filings and interviews with sources close to both sides have uncovered new details about how Uber says it was able to trace fake bookings and calls to Ola employees, and Ola’s response to the allegations.

I am shocked—shocked—to find that there dirty tricks going on here!

Before you all jump to Uber’s defence, I’d like to remind our Roaman audience of a prior instance where Uber was accused by Lyft of doing the very same thing in the US. – see ” NOW, PLAY NICE AND SHARE : UBER DIRTY TRICKS ON IT’S COMPETITOR, LYFT“.

Oh I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

Lyft leaves Houston / Uber stays for now

The Revolutionary Che'ring economy.

The Revolutionary Che’ring economy.

It’s been a while since I looked at taxi revolution / war of backseat independence but in Houston, there have been some changes recently.

The first being that Houston council announced rules about regulating drivers that involve potential drivers presenting their vehicle for inspection and submitting a warrant check and personal information to the city and undergo drug screening. [Houston chronicle 10/29/14]

Both Lyft and Uber say they already take many of these steps, but their procedures differ. Although they use online background checks, City of Houston will require applicants to use the Texas’ fingerprint-based background check company. Lyft have balked at this and claimed “We have found a more efficient way to do these things” according to said David Mack, Lyft’s director of public affairs. Lyft further add that the procedures are onerous especially for people who wish to do this as a hobby job and the drug tests and permits would be expensive. The cost for this would be $62.

The kicker is that Lyft have threatened to exit from the Houston market unless the rules get relaxed or as they describe it, “pause operations”.

The second is that Houston is going to allow ride sharing at the airports where they will be allowed to get an airport permit. [Houston chronicle 11/12/14].  I am not sure how that will work in practice especially if Uber (sole survivor) then charged surge pricing.

So, is this the next stage ie/a counter revolution where other cities follow Houston’s lead and define higher driver and automobile standards if they wish to do business in that city? If so, it will not be the ‘laissez-faire’ environment that Lyft and Uber want.

Ah, C’est la guerre. (Look at moi: I’m showing off my french tonight ! )

The Medallion Millionaire Heist: Behind the curtain of the Big Taxi cab racket

Boston Globe's Excellent investigation into the problems with Boston's $1B Taxi industry.

Screen capture of Boston Globe‘s Excellent investigation into the problems with Boston’s $1B Taxi industry. A MUST READ.

I wanted to understand a bit more about Taxis and the medallion system. Boston Globe has one of the best pieces of investigative journalism that I have seen. Please take the time out to read it.

Driven to the Edge :

The Globe Spotlight Team spent nine months examining Boston’s $1 billion taxi industry.

My jaw dropped when I read how the Medallion system works in Boston.I have no reason to think it is different for the other large cities in the US.

The owner of Boston Cab – Edward Tutunjian- owns  20% of the 1825 medallions. Boston cab, then leases each cab out on a daily basis where it costs that driver, $120 per day. It is up to that driver to make over $120 or take a loss. The owner of the Medallion gets a steady stream of income regardless and doesn’t even drive the cab.

Continue reading..

BlaBlaCar is a Ja Ja Ja : App for digital hitching

R2R thumbs up‘BlaBlaCar‘ is an interesting idea that literally is part of the Sharing economy.  It is an web based business that you use for sharing a car journey with someone where you contribute to the costs. It is a form of digitial hitch hiking. From Bloomberg:

People who sign up to drive on BlaBlaCar offer rides to passengers in 12 countries, including France, Germany, Spain and the U.K., at prices that undercut other methods of transportation. In England, a peak-time train ticket from Manchester to London costs as much as 160 pounds ($267), whereas a quick search on the BlaBlaCar app showed the same trip being offered by a dozen different drivers for 12 pounds.

Since it is unlikely to be used as a ‘job’ like a taxi, it is not attracting any of the legislation. Unfortunately it’s plans are only to operate this in Europe.

This is a fantastic idea and gets a big Roads-2-Roam thumbs up. In addition, the prices are extremely reasonable.

That Giant Sucking Sound : Surge pricing on Uber

Some Giant sour suckers: Coming to a town near you.

Some Giant sour suckers: Coming to a town near you.

As we said before on the ‘sharing’ economy, careful what you wish for. Houston is allowing the likes of Uber and Lyft into it’s market but it will also liberalize it’s standard fares to allow surge prices.

To see what surge prices may look like, read the Marketwatch article titled “Uber car service twists sharing economy into ‘sucker’s economy’. It’s main piece is about riders at a San Francisco festival being charged anything from $290 to $470 to go a few miles.

The story originates in Scallywag which shows screen dump of such a trip where the driver took a 11 mile trip instead of a 4 mile trip and in the meanwhile, the fare came to $391.

Ouch.

 

 

 

Now, Play nice and Share : Uber dirty tricks on it’s competitor, Lyft

A well known board game.

A well known board game but we do not remember it’s name.

After reading a news article in CNN Money, it seems like the Uber and Lyft are not getting along where Lyft is accusing Uber of dirty tactics by calling in rides, then canceling them last minute.

According to data provided by Lyft, 5560 rides were ordered by Uber affiliates then cancelled. The smoking gun is the telephone numbers from which the rides were ordered, cross-reference back to known Uber recruiters. One account in LA had 49 cancellations from October to May.

CNN also reports that Uber were busted doing something similar in a NY rival taxi App, called “Gett” and after that Uber agreed to “”tone down their sales tactics.”

So much for the sharing economy where CNN quote an earlier interview with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick by Laurie Segall

“The taxi industry [is] trying to protect a monopoly that has been granted them by local officials, so they’re trying to slow down competition.”

Oh the hypocrisy.

Meet the new Taxi boss. Same as the old Taxi boss.

Vive La Revolution : Houston allows Uber and Lyft to operate with conditions

The Revolutionary Che'ring economy. [1]

The revolutionary Che’ring economy[1].

In the war against the old style Taxi and municipal regulation, Houston City council came down on the side of Uber and Lyft and voted to allow them to operate in Houston City limits.

Click2Houston.com says:

“After months of discussions, City Council has approved the operation of ride-sharing services in Houston.

Taxi cab drivers have been fighting it, but on Wednesday Houston city leaders gave the green light to companies like Uber and Lyft.

For months Uber and Lyft have been asking to operate within city limits, but city leaders have been slow to say yes because there were questions about how to regulate the new mobile app-based services.

City Council members discussed the topic for more than five hours Wednesday and focused on insurance, accessibility for the disabled and how to make sure there weren’t any gaps in regulation that could lead to lawsuits down the road.”

And this is where Mr. Devil meets Ms. Details as there are different models under the Uber and Lyft banner. Continue reading..

Licensed to Kill : NY Taxi and Limousine commission with a concession from Lyft.

From Bloomberg Businessweek

After a few weeks of setbacks and standoffs, Lyft has found a way to bring its car service to New York City: just abandon the core of its business model. The ride-sharing startup, which lets ordinary people with privately-owned cars  use its service to sell rides to one another, will launch Friday as more of a conventional, Uber-like service that deploys only licensed livery drivers.

Lyft has wanted to come to New York for quite some time, and over the last two weeks Lyft’s dispute with state and city officials has become the conflict du jour between a sharing economy startup and local government. The fate of similar startups in the big city has set an ominous backdrop to Lyft’s ordeal. After Sidecar, another ride-sharing company, staged a local launch last year, it only stuck around for a few weeks.

And so it goes. This round goes to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the NY’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.