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Uber, lyft and other taxis

New York Taxi Commission Puts $20 Million In Medallion Fees On Hold

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New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) has agreed to pause the collection of nearly $20 million in medallion renewal fees which would have been due this week in an effort to give cab drivers some relief, the New York Post reports.

The city typically charges medallion renewal fees of between $540 and $1,650 every two years, according to the Post.

Councilmember Mark Levine has introduced a bill to study the “problem of medallion owners with excessive debt” and a companion bill to provide financial and mental health counseling to drivers, and he called the TLC’s move “a short-term step to provide some relief to the drivers while we work out a longer-term policy.”

“Independent owner-drivers who played by the rules set by the city are now enduring extraordinary financial hardships through absolutely no fault of their own,” Levine said in a statement, reported by the Daily News. “After having bought an asset because they had a guarantee from the city about its underlying value, our city has failed these small business owners.”

TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said that the “renewal fee is one more payment for medallion owners at a time when every penny counts,” according to the Post.

Taxi medallions, which once were valued as high as $1.3 million, according to the NY Daily News, are now worth about a tenth of that, but many drivers either took out enormous loans to buy their own or borrowed cash against the medallions’ value. Melrose Credit Union, which issued many of the loans, is now insolvent. The federal government is now holding the medallion loans, Documented NY reported in September, and once the government took over the loans, it became less responsive, drivers said. Many drivers took out loans in the six figures.

Seven for-hire drivers have committed suicide since November 2017, the Post said, with many citing crushing debt as the reason. Taxi drivers have turned to blaming TLC commissioner Joshi, calling for her firing and chasing her away from a vigil for Uber driver Fausto Luna, who jumped in front of a subway car in September.

The TLC doesn’t have authority to regulate ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft, New York Taxi Workers Alliance executive director Bhairavi Desai told AM New York. Only the City Council can.

This summer, New York’s City Council voted to cap the number of app-based cars on the road as well as mandate minimum pay for drivers. Uber was “none too pleased” by the vote, as Next City reported at the time, but the move could be a boon for drivers if it reduces competition.

Uber driver Tidiane Samassa wrote in an op-ed for the NY Daily News that “sometimes it now takes me over an hour driving around before I get a passenger, because all around me there are thousands of other for-hire cars also empty. All of us are competing for a smaller slice of the pie.”

As for the medallion fees, the city is reserving the right to collect them later, after Levine’s bills move through the legislative process, the NY Daily News reported.

Source: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/new-york-taxi-commission-puts-20-million-in-medallion-fees-on-hold

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Uber, lyft and other taxis

Poorly rated Uber drivers can take training course to improve

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Uber riders might have ratings, but Uber drivers’ ratings determine their standing with the company.

When too many customers complain about a driver’s performance, their rating drops and the company wait-lists them or even deactivates them.

One way to get reinstated is to take a class, like the Uber 5-Star Class taught by the Independent Drivers Guild — a union for drivers. As man as 200 drivers take the class each month.

The day-long class teaches drivers proper etiquette. This can include basics like: remembering to shower before starting a shift; keeping the car clean, offering the customer a choice of music, taking the best and quickest route and even opening the door for a customer.

Most Uber drivers are immigrants and may not be used to the rules of the road in New York City. And many of them invest a lot of money in the cars they drive for Uber.

If they can’t get reinstated, many say they can’t make a living.

IDG offers the classes for free but hopes drivers join the union to help strengthen their position.

Source: https://abc7ny.com/traffic/poorly-rated-uber-drivers-can-take-training-course-to-improve/4681718/

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Uber, lyft and other taxis

The debate on car seats for taxis and ride-sharing services

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Like many parents in New York, Caroline Hwang doesn’t use a car seat when traveling with her son in a taxi.

“It’s a calculated risk, because you’re not going very fast and the chances of you being in a serious high-speed collision are pretty low,” she said.

Research from Virginia Tech University finds New York is among 35 states where cabs are exempt from laws that require young children to travel in a car seat. Except for Georgia, it’s not clear if ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft are also exempt. In the other 15 states, children must have a car seat in all for-hire vehicles.

“There’s a lot of confusion that parents experience when they want to carry their children using rideshare services. The laws across the nation are inconsistent from state to state,” said Justin Owens with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Owens says in many states that require car seats, it’s not clear if the parent or driver needs to provide them.

“State legislatures really need to work on catching up the laws and regulations.”
In New York City, Uber will have a driver like Rafael Serrano provide a forward-facing car seat for an extra $10. Lyft has a similar program, but also, only in New York City.

“It’s super safe and reliable, so I’d rather have the kids safe than sorry you know,” Serrano said.

Uber and Lyft both tell us that drivers and riders in the rest of the country need to follow all local laws and drivers can turn down riders who do not provide a proper child safety seat.

Source: https://www.wdtv.com/content/news/The-debate-on-car-seats-for-taxis-and-ride-sharing-services–499967641.html

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Voting Today Can Get You A Bunch Of Free Stuff

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Today is election day in the US and with comes not only an opportunity to exercise your civic responsibility, right and privilege, but also to get a bunch of free food and services. Although ideally people would vote even if they didn’t get a free side of fries in return, it’s good that people are going to get to the polls somehow.

Uber and Lyft are both offering discounts today, taking their political rivalry to the next level. Uber, you may remember, has been boycotted after showing inadvertent support for Trump.

The company declined to participate in a work stoppage that New York taxi drivers were engaged in to protest Trumps travel ban. Lyft became the service of choice for many people after the #deleteuber movement took hold. Now, both companies are offering deals on rides to the polls.

Uber’s is a discount only for first-time users if they put in a special election day code and Lyft is giving across the board 50% discounts for those going to vote.

Source: https://www.hotnewhiphop.com/voting-today-can-get-you-a-bunch-of-free-stuff-news.63937.html

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