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Uber, lyft and other taxis

NEW YORK CITY FLEXES AGAIN, EXTENDING CAP ON UBER AND LYFT

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In many ways, New York stands apart from other American cities. It’s got yellow cabs and Broadway and these goofy things called boroughs. It has a sprawling subway system. Another way the city differs: New York regulates ride hailing more thoroughly. The city licenses Uber and Lyft vehicles, and collects information on where they drive. (In places like Los Angeles, Boston, and Austin, the state, not the city, regulates.) That’s turned New York into the country’s premier ride-hail regulation lab—often to the ride-hail companies’ chagrin.

New York is again flexing its control. On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city would seek to maintain its almost year-old freeze on “for-hire vehicle” registrations, a category that includes black cars, livery cabs, limos, and vehicles hailed by app. About 80,000 of those vehicles—two-thirds of them—are operated by drivers working for ride-hail companies like Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno. (There are 13,500 traditional taxicabs in the city.) De Blasio also said New York would force the ride-hail companies to cut down on how much time their drivers spend “cruising”—that is, waiting for their next rides, or driving to their next passengers.

Officials in New York and elsewhere say the ride-hail business model depends on crowding the streets with as many drivers as possible, keeping both wait times and driver wages low. That’s not fair to workers, and it’s not fair to the other New Yorkers who get stuck in traffic, de Blasio said Thursday.

Other cities have observed similar phenomena. A recent study blames ride hailing for the bulk of congestion increases in San Francisco between 2010 and 2016, though the study didn’t account for other factors such as the growth of home delivery services.

According to a report released this week by New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, 29 percent of all Manhattan traffic is now for-hire vehicles, and those cars spend 41 percent of their time empty (and not making their drivers money) as they pick up or wait for fares. (The report assumes that cars spend a lot of this downtime double-parked or circling the block, which would also affect traffic.) New York would like to force the companies to reduce such “cruising” to 31 percent by August 2020.

As for how New York would practically limit cruising—that’s to be determined. The city is slated to post a more specific proposal next week. Both of these new ride-hail regulations will be subject to public hearings, and then a vote by the nine-member Taxi and Limousine Commission.

In a statement, Uber spokesperson Harry Hartfield said extending the cap would “create another medallion system,” a reference to New York’s 80-year-old system requiring a taxi owner to purchase a special license to operate in the city. The company suggests that the owners of licensed for-hire vehicles might sell or lease those licenses, and that prospective Uber drivers might have to rent more expensive licensed cars instead of using their own. In other words: Uber says the city is re-creating the system that ride-hail so successfully “disrupted”—and that the city allowed it to disrupt.

In fact, Uber sued the city in February over the ride-hail vehicle cap, arguing it unfairly affects riders in the outer boroughs. A state judge will hear the latest on that case on July 15.

At Lyft, a spokesperson said in a statement that congestion pricing would be a better solution to New York’s traffic issues. The New York State legislature passed a first-in-the-country congestion charge plan for the busiest parts of Manhattan in March. But it’s not yet clear how the new road charge might apply to ride-hail vehicles. Via, which operates a fleet of minivans, called the cap on for-hire vehicles “counterproductive,” but the company said it supports rules to cut down on cruising.

In the past year, New York has implemented other rules that affect Uber and Lyft. It added a $2.75 surcharge to any ride-hail trip that begins, passes through, or ends below Manhattan’s 96th Street, the most congested part of the city. (Taxis got an extra $2.50 fee.) The city also passed a law requiring ride-hail companies pay drivers a minimum wage of at least $17.22 per hour, which has netted them an estimated $172 million extra in pay since that rule went into effect in February. Lyft and another local ride-hail company, Juno, argued the city’s rationale for its wage floor was biased towards Uber, and sued. A judge dismissed that case last month.

There’s a reason ride-hail companies are so prickly about the rules in New York. It’s one of their most important global markets. Uber’s public S-1 filing shows New York is one of its top five markets globally, which are together responsible for nearly a quarter of all its bookings. As some guy once said: “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” Ride-hail companies hope that goes for their business model, too.

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/new-york-city-flexes-extending-cap-uber-lyft/

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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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