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Uber, lyft and other taxis

New York City Just Sent Its Transportation Industry Back to the 1930s

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At 5 o’clock on Aug. 14, New York City turned its clocks back to the 1930s. The Taxi and Limousine Commission officially stopped issuing licenses to most for-hire vehicles, effectively declaring war on Uber and Lyft in an effort to protect taxis from competition.

This is the first of many steps that aim to constrain popular app-based ride-sharing platforms within the antiquated regulatory structure that city officials first imposed on taxis when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.

The package of new laws signed recently by Mayor Bill de Blasio imposes a one-year moratorium on new for-hire vehicle licenses for any non-wheelchair accessible vehicles; requires the commission to set minimum pay; and mandates a 12-month study of traffic congestion and other issues. Once the study is completed, the commission will be able to artificially raise fares and restrict the number of ride-sharing vehicles.

The upshot for New Yorkers: Getting around town will get harder and more expensive—mainly because lawmakers have been co-opted by a powerful special interest.

The mayor has wanted to crack down on ride-sharing for years. He and others baselessly blame these services for everything from congestion to declining subway ridership. They even claim competition has encouraged taxi-driver suicides.

De Blasio touted his victory on Twitter: “New York City is about to put big corporations in the back seat and let the people take the wheel.”
What incredible hypocrisy. After all, he himself accepted more than $500,000 in campaign contributions from ride-sharing’s main competition—the taxi industry.

Meanwhile, “the people” have already spoken. Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who ride or drive for these services each day have expressed themselves through the market, embracing ride-sharing and implicitly rebuking the city’s costly, unreliable, and heavily regulated taxicab industry.

Unfortunately, aspiring central planners have little interest in allowing such free choices—especially when what “the people” want conflicts with their paternalistic preferences.

Still, these leaders are already having to answer for their decision. Council Speaker Corey Johnson, for example, assured New Yorkers that “we are not diminishing service” because “vehicles that are out there now will remain out there.”

These claims are disingenuous. They do not take into account driver turnover. Lyft estimates that one-quarter of its drivers leave the platform each year. Under the new law, these losses will not be replaced, meaning the new cap is really a policy of reduction by attrition.

The consequences are predictable: Service shortages and higher prices are inevitable when artificial caps prevent supply from growing to meet demand. Taxis experienced both problems, and now Uber and Lyft will, too.

Those high prices will only be worsened by the proposed $17.22 minimum wage for drivers—an average pay hike of more than 22 percent, some estimate. Consumers will bear that cost.

And that’s just to start. Regulators have been empowered not only to raise wages, but to set fare minimums, meaning they may decide to raise rates even further just to stop ride-shares from outcompeting taxis on price.

These price hikes will fall particularly hard on low- and middle-income riders. They will feel the sting from New York’s determination to make life even more expensive in a city already struggling with an affordability problem.

Shortages will hit the outer boroughs, where half of all Uber rides in New York originate, and low-income and minority neighborhoods in particular. That prompted Al Sharpton and civil rights organizations like the NAACP to oppose de Blasio’s plan.

City leaders promise they have prepared for this by authorizing the commission to issue licenses to expand service to neighborhoods “where such services are needed.” But that already occurred before New York’s “reforms”—riders easily demonstrated their “need” by simply downloading an app. Under the new plan, one can only imagine the arbitrary and tortuous processes bureaucrats will devise to measure “need” and weigh it against other political priorities.

But perhaps the worst result of the new plan is that it may cause more congestion, rather than alleviating it.

One recent study found that ride-shares have a higher occupancy rate than taxis, meaning they require fewer trips to service an equal number of riders. The report cautioned that “broad restrictions” on ride-sharing may push people toward less efficient transportation options, like taxis or personal vehicles. The result: more cars on the road.

The report sensibly called for further study, but lawmakers decided to push ahead. Imagine a doctor pressuring a patient into invasive surgery without running any tests to confirm his diagnosis. Most people would find a new doctor.

Now, some lawmakers admit that their new policy is not a solution to traffic woes. Johnson said so candidly after the vote, indicating that the real answer is “congestion pricing.”

That’s at least partially correct—congestion pricing (i.e. charging drivers for using certain roads) is worth further study. But the city also needs to deregulate both taxis and ride-shares. Competition and innovation have done more in a decade to improve ground transportation than 80 years of regulation.

It should also unwind its medallion system, which transformed a small cabal of corporate fleet owners into a cartel that dominated the market and fleeced riders.

Those reforms would truly “let the people take the wheel.”

Source: https://www.dailysignal.com/2018/09/19/new-york-city-just-sent-its-transportation-industry-back-to-the-1930s/

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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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