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Uber, lyft and other taxis

New York City cab drivers face depression and debt amid increased competition from Uber and Lyft

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Nic Hunt has been driving a taxicab in New York City for more than 30 years. Hunt’s best friend, Nicanor Ochisor, died by suicide in March. Friends and family members of Ochisor, who was also a cab driver, believes his suicide was the result of financial pressure due to increased competition for passengers with ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft.

“I still have texts in my phone when he text[ed] me. ‘Half an hour I couldn’t pick up a passenger’ or ‘40 minutes, I couldn’t find a passenger,’” Hunt said on Mic Dispatch.

Six taxicab drivers in NYC have died by suicide since November, sparking protests and rallies aimed at protecting drivers’ wages. Lyft’s revenue soared to $1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017; in the second quarter of 2018, according to a Bloomberg report, Uber generated $2.8 billion in sales. 2017 also marked the first year Uber outpaced yellow taxis: Uber provided more than 400,000 trips per day in NYC that year, compared to around 300,000 per day for yellow taxis.

Meanwhile, NYC’s taxicab revenue dropped 9% in 2016, and operating your own cab by purchasing a coveted taxi medallion also means drowning in debt for many drivers. NYC taxi medallions, often passed from generation to generation, were once considered safe investments — in 2014, a medallion was worth as much as $1.3 million. Today, many of those medallions are worth much less than what drivers borrowed to buy them, something many attribute to the rise of Uber and Lyft.

According to retail website nycitycab.com, a medallion now retails for as low as $100,000. The cheapest medallion currently on the site is being sold as part of a foreclosure sale, a growing trend among taxi drivers around the country right now. In Chicago, 774 taxi medallions had been surrendered to the city as of May 22, 2017, with drivers unable to afford taxes and license fees associated with ownership. Many of those end up moving to foreclosure.

“You sleep like two, three hours, then you wake up and you turn around in bed,” Hunt said. “It’s a difficult time, mortgage for the medallion, mortgage for the house. One time I didn’t feel good and I told my wife, ‘I’m going to the hospital, I won’t come home.’ I had an anxiety attack in my physician doctor’s office. So then I find out I suffer [from] depression.”

But there’s hope for some cab drivers, at least, in NYC. According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission’s rulebook, one of its duties is to establish and enforce standards to ensure all taxi driver licensees remain “financially stable.” In August, NYC became the first major metro area to aid drivers affected by the rise of ride-hailing apps: The New York City Council passed legislation to “cap the number of for-hire vehicles for a year.” and to establish minimum pay rates for taxi drivers, the New York Times reported.

“More than 100,000 workers and their families will see an immediate benefit from this legislation,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter. “And this action will stop the influx of cars contributing to the congestion grinding our streets to a halt.”

Not everyone agrees with de Blasio. Thirty-nine council members voted in support of the cap on licenses, but Councilman Eric Ulrich was one of six who opposed it.

“I believe in capitalism,” Ulrich said on Mic Dispatch. “Standing in the way of Uber, as I said on the floor with [the] City Council, would be like standing in the way of Netflix because we wanted to save Blockbusters from closing.”

Uber communications manager Alix Anfang said the regulation will threaten “one of the few reliable” transportation options in the city.

“As Uber continues to grow in communities outside of Manhattan, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that no New Yorker who needs a ride is left stranded,” Anfang said in an email.

Uber drivers serve more boroughs than yellow cabs do, with 22% of Uber rides starting outside of Manhattan compared to just 14% of all yellow and green cabs (also known as Boro Taxis, a fleet of cabs deployed specifically for travel outside of Manhattan).

Joseph Okpaku, Lyft’s vice president of public policy, reiterated the importance of its service for outer-borough travel in an emailed statement.

“These sweeping cuts to transportation will bring New Yorkers back to an era of struggling to get a ride, particularly for communities of color and in the outer boroughs,” Okpaku said. “We will never stop working to ensure New Yorkers have access to reliable and affordable transportation in every borough.”

And while regulations on Uber and Lyft could be good news for taxi drivers, it’s only a temporary solution — and only one of the issues affecting drivers who struggle to compete against corporate behemoths like Uber.

“They stopped the bleeding now — no more bleeding for one year,” Hunt said. “But the fight is just beginning.”

Check out episode 20 of Mic Dispatch above — only on Facebook Watch.

Source: https://mic.com/articles/191390/new-york-city-cab-drivers-face-depression-and-debt-amid-increased-competition-from-uber-and-lyft#.3n9yBaPQ1

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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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