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Uber, lyft and other taxis

Force Your New York Cabbie To Keep A Clean Taxi? This Startup Is Trying

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Next time you hail an NYC Taxi, you might find a surprisingly clean late-model car and even a chipper driver. That’s because drivers of those classic-looking yellow cabs have a new option in renting vehicles they’ll use for their shifts around Manhattan and its adjacent boroughs.

Lacus is a Zipcar-like model of for-hire taxis curb-parked in designated spots. It launched publicly in September 2017 and now has over 3,200 drivers using its app, or about 6% of all medallion-licensed drivers in New York’s five boroughs.

As with Zipcar, each new user checks into the car using a smartphone as a key and immediately reports its internal and external condition, forcing the previous driver to leave it as pristine as found or face sanctions. Beyond just paying a fee tacked on to the day’s rental bill like a Zipcar member, Lacus drivers could get suspended and be forced to go back to a time-wasting traditional fleet. (Zipcar and Lacus have no affiliation, apart from overlap in their systems of user accountability.)

In the Lacus model, drivers simply have to do better on hygiene than they did when they picked up well-worn vehicles in Brooklyn for a grinding 12-hour shift. They’re still working the same half-day haul so their preference is to maximize time on the road earning and minimizing time cleaning up after sloppy passengers or otherwise maintaining a vehicle. Lacus’ founder Aleksey Medvedovskiy reasons they’ll be more than glad to do so because of the time saved that actually does extend time on the road. Plus cleaner cabs translate to happier customers apt to tip well.

The cars still belong to NYC Taxi Group, and drivers take the same cut of their earnings, which is everything after the rental fee, fuel and a new congestion fee effective in January on rides through some areas. That Lacus is only a technology provider, essentially the fleet’s vendor, is a critical piece of its leverage over its drivers.
Since it’s not a fleet, Lacus isn’t subject to the voluminous regulations of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, a city agency. One TLC division, the Driver Protection Unit, exists to shield drivers from a range of actions by the fleets they rent from, including being forced to maintain the vehicle.

Drivers also have a local union. But unlike that union’s recent drive to restrict ride-hail companies’ presence on its turf, there’s little incentive to attack Lacus because it’s not skimming business away. The drivers of these vehicles parked around the city work for the same decades-old fleet populated by longtime union members and medallion holders, circle the same patches of New York and charge the same fares. The difference, according to Lacus, is their earnings likely increase as their time at the depot decreases.

The Brooklyn depot where drivers pick up cars for shifts that run from 5 to 5, whether morning or night, is in the Kensington neighborhood, across the bridge and far from Manhattan’s plum fares. All drivers pick up their cars at the same time, meaning they’re herded through a long line with about 200 drivers, according to Lacus’ counts. It works out to about a 3 a.m. or 3 p.m. arrival, plus the time to wrap up one’s shift afterward.

That wrap-up includes returning the car’s keys and an accounting procedure that requires the fleet’s review of the day’s credit card receipts before the drivers can be approved for payment. According to Medvedovskiy, it’s a ratio of one fleet staffer to every 75 drivers. Instead, Lacus digitizes transactions for the passengers paying the fares, the fleet doing the math and the drivers receiving the payment. Drivers get a system akin to Lyft’s Express Pay or Uber’s Instant Pay, but fleets earn by saving too, cutting labor costs and paperwork.

After counting commute time to and from the commercial zones where taxi depots are sited, far from drivers’ homes in residential areas, Medvedovskiy clocks up to five hours of wasted driver time per day. At Lacus’ internally surveyed $40 per hour average gross earnings, that’s up to $200 lost per day. Getting to and from the curb-parked cars in Manhattan is still a trek for the drivers who mostly reside far outside New York’s pricey real estate, and keeping a clean car takes some time away from from picking up fares, so Medvedovskiy estimates an average realistic time savings of three hours or $120 gross earnings per day.

But what about Uber and Lyft? Does it matter how much more time on the road old-school cabbies have if the market is flooded with lower-priced alternatives? Between cabs and ride-hail cramming the landscape, Manhattan streets can feel like a parking lot whose contents periodically drift and shift, hopefully in the direction of your destination.

Medvedovskiy says this gridlock is good news for his growing business. “The congestion and traffic that Uber and Lyft created works as a great benefit for the taxi drivers,” he said.

A ride-hail driver that can’t connect with a passenger at pick-up is forced to circle a large city block, a slow trip around a clogged square while Lacus’ ubiquitous driver-clients pass by ready to pick up the ride-hail user who is standing there frustrated, eyeing a pin on a map and later-than-expected arrival time. In Lacus’ own research, it learned that six out of 10 Uber fares were canceled because the wait time exceeded the duration of the ride. Those yellow cabs that Uber helped empty are now hovering to take back frustrated New Yorkers , with no commitment to any individual passenger, only the closest one with an arm in the air.

And it goes beyond just obtaining the passengers; taxi drivers can earn more on each one. “This congestion that everybody’s talking about, that Uber and Lyft created, it’s a great plus for the taxi,” Medvedovskiy said. “Because once the meter is clicking and [the taxi] is sitting in traffic, the driver is going to make $36 an hour. With the Uber driver, it’s totally different. You’re going to get upfront pricing.”

Lacus’ long-term goal is to become the go-to platform for any for-hire driver. Black cars and trucks are in the pipeline. It started with taxis because it was the thorniest case study in managing a fleet. It tested its own capacity with the chore of integrating technology between a fleet’s accounting needs, the cabs’ rooftop lights and meters, local traffic and drivers’ bank accounts.

“It’s always easier to start with the easy things, but when it gets complicated that’s when you get stuck,” Medvedovskiy said of building and scaling his concept. “So we took a different approach. We decided to start with the complicated stuff, and get into the simple things much later.”

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/juliewalmsley/2018/11/27/force-your-new-york-cabbie-to-keep-a-clean-new-taxi-this-startup-is-trying/#ec5b457536c9

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Uber, lyft and other taxis

Lyft Is Another Step Closer to Driverless Ridesharing

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Ridesharing company Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) inched a little bit closer toward self-driving ridesharing last week when it said in a blog post that it’s adding Chrysler Pacifica hybrids to its autonomous vehicle (AV) testing fleet and opening a new self-driving vehicle test facility.

The new facility, located in East Palo Alto, California, will allow the company to increase the number of AV tests it can run. It will also let the company test how the systems do with different road configurations, including intersections, merging lanes, traffic lights, and similar challenges. The company said in the post that the new facility will let Lyft “further accelerate the speed of innovation.”

Lyft says that it’s driving four times more autonomous miles per quarter than it was just six months ago and has about 400 employees worldwide working on self-driving tech. That figure is likely to expand, considering that Lyft has more than 40 autonomous vehicle job openings listed on its website.

In addition to the new facility, Lyft said that it’s adding Pacifica minivans to its AV fleet, which is the same vehicle that Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car company, uses for its public self-driving ridesharing project and AV tests. Lyft said that, “The minivan’s size and functionality provide our team with significant flexibility to experiment with the self-driving rideshare experience.”

Why does all this matter for Lyft’s autonomous-vehicle future? Because to have a successful, public self-driving ridesharing fleet in the coming years, Lyft needs to lay the groundwork right now.

Isn’t Lyft already doing AV testing?

Lyft is, of course, already working on AV testing. The company’s original self-driving test facility has been up and running since early 2018. The company also started a partnership with Waymo earlier this year to test autonomous ridesharing. Additionally, Lyft also works with Aptiv, an AV tech company, and together they’ve created “the largest publicly available commercial self-driving program in the country” and have completed more than 75,000 rides through the partnership.

But the recent announcements by Lyft show that the company is taking its AV focus a bit further. The Pacifica minivans have been used by Waymo’s AV ridesharing program in Phoenix for more than a year now, making them a proven choice for shuttling around ride-hailing passengers. Lyft may not be ready to launch a wide-scale autonomous ridesharing service just yet, but testing out these vehicles likely means that it’s moving past earlier stages of AV testing and is now looking at how its next-generation self-driving tech can handle new vehicles.

Why this matters for Lyft

Lyft and other ride-hailing companies, including Uber, are keeping a close eye on self-driving developments and testing out the technologies themselves because it could eventually become an integral part of their business model. Research from Intel predicts that the AV ridesharing market could be worth $3.7 trillion by 2050.

Additionally, as regulations surrounding ridesharing drivers continue to increase, Lyft is likely looking to AVs to eventually replace some human drivers. Just a few months ago, the state of California introduced a bill that could pave the way for independent contractors, including Lyft’s drivers, to be reclassified as employees. If a version of the bill becomes law and other states follow California’s lead, it could significantly increase operating costs for Lyft. That could be bad news for the company, which is unprofitable right now and hoping to be in the black just two years from now.

While Lyft’s announcements may not seem all that significant right now, investors should know that these baby steps moving the company closer to AV ridesharing could have huge results in the coming years. For now, investors should be pleased that Lyft is beefing up its own AV testing. Each move the company makes now means that it’ll be much more ready for a self-driving ridesharing future.

Source www.nasdaq.com

By Chris Neiger

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Uber, lyft and other taxis

Uber fined $650 million by New Jersey over driver classification

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New Jersey is the latest state to say Uber’s drivers should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. The state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development said that because of this misclassification, the ride-hailing company owes it roughly $650 million in unemployment taxes and disability insurance, according to Bloomberg Law.

The Department of Labor reportedly has been trying to get unpaid employment taxes from Uber going back as far as 2015, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg Law. It said the company owed the state $523 million in overdue taxes along with another $119 million in interest and penalties for the last four years. Uber disputes these findings.

“We are challenging this preliminary but incorrect determination,” an Uber spokesman said in an email. “Because drivers are independent contractors in New Jersey and elsewhere.”

Driver classification is an issue that government regulators have been taking a closer look at over the past year. California passed a law in September that could require Uber and other on-demand companies to reclassify their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors. The law is set to go into effect Jan. 1. New York, Oregon and Washington state have considered similar legislation.

Uber, Lyft and several other tech companies have vowed to fight the California law, collectively putting more than $90 million behind a ballot initiative that’ll take the issue to voters next November. Many drivers have said this move is a slap in the face as they struggle to earn a living wage.

Uber’s and Lyft’s business models depend on bringing aboard hundreds of thousands of independent contractors, whose labor is typically cheaper than that of employees. That’s because Uber and Lyft drivers supply and maintain their own cars and also pay for their own health care and benefits, such as sick days or overtime pay.New Jersey is the latest state to say Uber’s drivers should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. The state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development said that because of this misclassification, the ride-hailing company owes it roughly $650 million in unemployment taxes and disability insurance, according to Bloomberg Law.

The Department of Labor reportedly has been trying to get unpaid employment taxes from Uber going back as far as 2015, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg Law. It said the company owed the state $523 million in overdue taxes along with another $119 million in interest and penalties for the last four years. Uber disputes these findings.

“We are challenging this preliminary but incorrect determination,” an Uber spokesman said in an email. “Because drivers are independent contractors in New Jersey and elsewhere.”

Driver classification is an issue that government regulators have been taking a closer look at over the past year. California passed a law in September that could require Uber and other on-demand companies to reclassify their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors. The law is set to go into effect Jan. 1. New York, Oregon and Washington state have considered similar legislation.

Uber, Lyft and several other tech companies have vowed to fight the California law, collectively putting more than $90 million behind a ballot initiative that’ll take the issue to voters next November. Many drivers have said this move is a slap in the face as they struggle to earn a living wage.

Uber’s and Lyft’s business models depend on bringing aboard hundreds of thousands of independent contractors, whose labor is typically cheaper than that of employees. That’s because Uber and Lyft drivers supply and maintain their own cars and also pay for their own health care and benefits, such as sick days or overtime pay.

 

“New Jersey is sending a message that the state’s labor laws aren’t dictated by corporations,” Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said in a statement. “It’s a stinging rebuke of the architects of the gig economy, and we hope it permeates across other sectors.”

Even if Uber’s drivers were determined to be employees rather than independent contractors, Uber said the $650 million New Jersey tax fine would be too high — particularly if it’s based on what the company has earned in the state. Uber didn’t disclose the revenue it generated in New Jersey over the past four years, but its combined revenue for all the markets where it operated in 2018 was $11.3 billion.

 

 

 

Source www.cnet.com

By Dara Kerr

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Uber, lyft and other taxis

Adams Clinical removes hurdle to clinical trial participation

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How Adams Clinical increased retention and streamlined operations by switching to Uber.

One of the hardest parts of conducting a clinical trial is identifying willing participants. Once a participant is identified, strict qualifications and an often-lengthy time commitment limits who can participate, and a lack of access to transportation can make it difficult for participants to commit to and complete the study. To help improve recruitment and retention rates, Adams Clinical offered taxi rides to their participants. However, this solution became a burden on operational efficiency since taxis were only accessible to participants who lived close by and required the staff to pay at the end of each ride.

Finding the perfect transportation solution with Uber Health

To expand their transportation offering, Adams Clinical became an early beta partner with Uber in 2016. The team started using Uber’s web dashboard to arrange and pay for rides for participants with just a few clicks. Over the three years of this partnership, the switch to Uber Health simplified operational management, while reducing time spent on recruitment with increased retention rates. The easy-to-use Uber Health dashboard tracked all the rides and processed payments from one centralized interface, allowing the staff to arrange rides without the hassle of paying at the end of each trip. This flexibility, plus the extensive reach of Uber driver-partners in the Boston area, provided Adams Clinical with the transportation solution needed to successfully manage their participants in need of rides—which removed the headache from recruiting and retaining their study participants.

The result: Improved retention rates, simplified financial records, and an overall lift in team morale

By teaming with Uber Health, Adams Clinical enjoys a number of key benefits including:

• Expanded Recruitment—Using Uber Health cut down the length of enrollment by providing a larger pool to recruit from, resulting in a 5 to 10 percent reduction in recruitment time over the last two years. 

• Centralized Billing—All rides are charged to one company credit card, which is then processed at the end of each month to streamline the amount of administrative effort required.

• Reliable Service—Each ride is tracked in the dashboard so the team knows when the participant will be arriving to help keep the rest of the study on schedule.

• Improved Retention—In the first two years of the partnership with Uber, Adams Clinical estimated up to 20 percent fewer people dropped out of a trial when transportation was arranged to and from the clinic.

• Financial Accountability—Details for each ride are available in the dashboard, and can be downloaded to a spreadsheet, offering convenient management with trial-specific reporting per participant.

• Easy to Use—Using Uber Health has been easy for both staff and participants, even among populations without smartphones or passengers new to Uber.

 

by Kendall Brown

Source uber.com

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