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Uber, lyft and other taxis

NYC Uber Rides Are Getting More Expensive

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Uber’s prices in New York — its largest market in the U.S. — are going to be higher in 2019. So are Lyft’s. Any ride-hailing vehicles carrying passengers in the busiest areas of Manhattan have to collect a $2.75 fee starting Jan. 1, a plan intended to reduce traffic and raise money for the city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Uber says a freeze on new licenses has already been putting upward pressure on prices, as will a minimum wage rule for ride-hailing drivers slated to take effect later in the month. Like any self-respecting tech company whose core product is a mysterious algorithm, Uber says it’s not sure exactly what prices will look like next year, saying only that they’ll be higher.

Uber usually opposes anything that makes its service more expensive. It has been relentless in its pursuit of cheaper prices as it has evolved from a luxury black car service to a company seeking to lure bus riders into carpooled commutes. But while the company has fought against both the new wage rules and the freeze on new drivers, it has embraced the congestion fees. Both Uber and Lyft supported the $2.75 charge, and are actively lobbying in Albany, New York and elsewhere for more ambitious plans to charge all vehicles to enter highly-trafficked downtown areas.

So-called congestion pricing has long been popular among transportation policy experts, many of whom see it as a key component to solving the problems of urban transportation. Uber and Lyft — widely blamed as a key source of gridlock — have gotten behind it largely because they’d like their drivers to be able to move crosstown in less time than it takes to walk. The more expensive it is to drive oneself into town, the more attractive ride-hailing appears. Uber also says that it has a stake in propping up New York’s transit system, because the subways allow for low rates of car ownership in the city, creating a large population of potential riders. If the initial round of fees leads to fewer rides in parts of Manhattan, that’s kind of the point, said Josh Gold, a spokesman for Uber.

The congestion fee for taxis is slightly lower, at $2.50 per ride, but drivers fear that any reduction in business will prove calamitous. “The yellow cab industry is in such a dire crisis that I think that this moment in time any kind of surcharge would have a devastating impact,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

The city’s yellow cab industry has been collapsing ever since ride-hailing took off. The number of weekly Uber rides in New York surpassed the number of cab rides more than a year ago, and Uber and Lyft trips combined are now twice the volume of the yellow cab industry. Trips in taxis are down over 30 percent from their levels three years ago, according to the most recent data from the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission. The value of taxi medallions have plummeted, leaving people who own them struggling to pay mortgages on assets with shrinking earning potential.

Adding to the taxi industry’s sense of grievance is the anticipation that the fees set to take effect in January will do little to loosen Manhattan’s gridlock. Charles Komanoff, a policy analyst and environmental activist, forecasts just a 4 percent increase in average traffic speed. He said congestion pricing will only work if fees are levied on most private cars and trucks, but that implementing such a plan will be harder if the first round of fees don’t have an immediate impact. “There’s the unfairness of doing the for-hire vehicles before the private cars,” he said. “And at least as important is the missed opportunity of doing anything serious about traffic.”

Charging to drive in Manhattan could make other parts of the city more attractive for drivers, an opportunity ride-hailing drivers are better positioned to exploit. “We can avoid Manhattan and still make money,” said Saibou Sidibe, who was a cabbie for over a decade before switching to Uber several years ago. “For yellow taxi drivers, Manhattan is the only place.” Uber’s history of unsavory competitive tactics has also led to suspicion that it will tweak fares to hide the new fees in ways that taxis, whose fares are regulated, cannot. Uber says that it is required by law to pass the entire fee along to riders.

Taxi drivers also oppose the reduced fare for shared rides. Passengers requesting a pooled ride from companies like Uber, Lyft, or Via pay only 75 cents, even if they end up riding alone. Uber and Lyft have spent the last year trying to entice rides to take shared rides by making them cheaper, a task the new fees make easier. The incentive has a logical policy goal — more passengers in shared rides translates to less congestion — but pools are less common among taxis. There are apps cab drivers can use to get pooled rides, but taxis rely more heavily on street hails.

Taxi drivers are desperate for Albany to keep the new fees from going into place, or to gain some relief in a broader congestion pricing plan officials will begin debating in early 2019. Every day last week, a small group of taxi drivers stood in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in Manhattan, holding signs that said things like “Congestion Pricing = My Bankruptcy,” and urging passing drivers to attend a larger rally planned for Wednesday. Many cabbies laid on their horns, presumably in support, as they drove by.

Augustine Tang, a 34-year old driver wearing a flat-brimmed Phillies hat and shivering through his puffy coat, said he’d been duped by city officials. It’s a common lament among taxi drivers who bought taxi medallions, only to see their utility and value plummet as the market was flooded with Uber and Lyft drivers. Tang’s father left him his medallion when he died. “I inherited it — and also inherited the half a million dollar loan. I believed in the yellow taxi medallion, mainly because it was something he was so proud of owning. I just decided, you know what, I’ll take it over and try to make it work. That was three years ago,” said Tang, staring out into the traffic crawling up Third Avenue. “It’s been an uphill battle,” he said. “I should be working now, to be honest.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-17/nyc-uber-rides-are-getting-more-expensive

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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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