Back in August, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) voted to enact a “cruising cap” to reduce the number of vehicles that drive around the city without passengers. And last week, as The Verge reported, Uber sued the city for the rule, arguing that it is “arbitrary and capricious, preempted, and otherwise contrary to law,” the complaint reads.
When the new rule was announced, TLC said that 41 percent of the time for-hire vehicles are on the road is spent idling without passengers. The cap requires app companies to reduce the number of idling vehicles with no passengers in the Manhattan core (below 96th Street) to 31 percent by August 2020. Along with the “cruising cap,” the TLC announced in August that it would extend a cap on for-hire vehicle licenses.
But in the lawsuit, Uber says that the rule was the product of a “rushed and unlawful process” arguing that the city based the “extremely ambitious” 31 percent target on a “deeply flawed economic model” and doing so without responding to comments from drivers and community groups who oppose the rule. The lawsuit also argues that the rule interferes with the state’s congestion pricing plans.
“Drivers’ flexibility is already being threatened by Mayor de Blasio’s regulations, and the cruising cap will only make that worse,” Harry Hartfield, a spokesperson for Uber, told Curbed in a statement. “This arbitrary rule used a flawed economic model, did not take into account how drivers are affected by previous regulations, is preempted by the state and was voted on despite the objection of City Council members and community groups.”
Additionally, the suit argues that the 31 percent target is not achievable given that no other point-to-point service providing mostly individual rides has achieved similar percentages and that it would “threaten the viability of the ridesharing model as it currently exists, jeopardizing the benefits this model has created for riders and drivers.” The complaint also alleges that the target levels of utilization can’t be sustained because, among other reasons, TLC considers “en route time,” or the time spent picking up passengers, as “cruising.”
The city says that both the cap on vehicle licenses—which Uber also sued the TLC for back in February—and the cap on cruising are legal and needed to reduce congestion.
“We will continue fighting for the people of New York City against a company that seeks to put profit first, and the people and drivers they serve last,” Seth Stein, a City Hall spokesperson told Curbed in a statement. “Extending the cap on the issuance of new FHV vehicle licenses for at least the next year in tandem with the cap on cruising is not only legal, it will bring needed relief to congested streets and hardworking drivers.”
The cruising cap and other measures to reduce the amount of vehicles driving around the city is something that taxi workers (who currently face crippling amounts of debt as the value of medallions dramatically decreased) have long supported.
“Uber has plenty of money to sue against life-saving rules that protect drivers drowning in a race to the bottom—but apparently not enough money to actually pay drivers,” Bhairavi Desai, president of the Taxi Workers Alliance, said in a statement. “Last week, Uber blamed the minimum wage and utilization rate on the company’s decision to log drivers off—Now, Uber wants to be able to flood the streets without limit and keep app drivers with their cars empty for longer, all the while wiping out yellow taxis and other sectors.”
Adams Clinical removes hurdle to clinical trial participation
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
Get a discounted lift to the polls on Election Day
By Jonathan Sperling
No MetroCard? No excuse to stay home on Election Day.
Ride-sharing giant Lyft is getting in on Get Out the Vote efforts by offering discounted rides to polling locations in New York City on Election Day.
Use code VOTENYC19 between 4:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. on Election Day to receive 50 percent off the price of a Lyft ride, up to $5. The deal is inspired by the fact that more than 15 million registered voters didn’t vote in 2016 because of transportation issues.
“At Lyft, we’re working to improve lives by connecting people and their communities through the world’s best transportation. This Election Day, we want to help make it easier for people in New York City to get to the polls,” said Lyft’s Director of Public Policy Jen Hensley. “Every voice is important, and we’re excited to help make them heard in this year’s elections.”
Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash kick off $90 million fight against California’s gig worker law
Under the ballot measure, drivers could get earnings guarantee of 120 percent of minimum wage
A group of drivers and couriers for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash launched a new group called Protect App-Based Drivers and Services, which is aimed at passing a ballot initiative in California to counteract the effects of the state’s recently passed gig worker bill. The effort is being supported by the companies, which have vowed to spend $90 million to get the measure passed in 2020.
Assembly Bill 5, which was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on September 18th, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” for determining whether someone is a contractor or employee. Legal experts agree the law will make it more difficult for gig economy companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to classify their drivers and couriers as independent contractors. And the companies have argued that the law represents an existential threat to their business models.
As such, the companies were preparing this contingency plan even before Newsom signed the bill into law. On August 29th, The New York Times reported that Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash would spend $90 million ($30 million each) to pass a ballot initiative that would essentially exempt them from the law. (InstaCart is also involved, but it hasn’t committed to spend any money to support its passage.) The hope was that after striking out with lawmakers and labor groups, the companies could win a reprieve by appealing directly to voters.
The ballot measure would ask voters to approve the following:
- At least 120 percent of the minimum wage
- $0.30 per mile for expenses such as gas and vehicle wear-and-tear
- Health care subsidies consistent with employer contributions under the Affordable Care Act for drivers who work 15 hours a week or more
- Occupational accident insurance to cover on-the-job injuries
- Automobile accident and liability insurance
- Protection against discrimination and sexual harassment
- Recurring background checks of drivers
- Mandatory safety training of drivers
- Zero tolerance for alcohol and drug offenses
- A cap on driver hours per day to prevent sleepy driving
It’s a new spin on the failed proposal that Uber and Lyft presented to state officials as a compromise to prevent the passage of AB5. The companies had promised to pay their drivers $21 an hour (but only while on a trip), provide them with sick leave, and “empower” them to “have a collective voice” — a nod toward drivers forming a union.
After AB5 passed, though, Uber and Lyft warned that drivers could lose their flexibility to drive when they wanted. “Drivers would not be able to choose when to sign on anytime they want it,” Tony West, Uber’s general counsel, said in September. “They would work in shifts like every other employee works in shifts.” Experts have said there is nothing in federal or state law that precludes Uber from offering its drivers the same flexibility as employees as they have now as contractors.
(West also claimed that Uber could ultimately pass the ABC test because “drivers’ work is outside the usual course of Uber’s business.”)
The ballot measure is a risky — and costly — move for Uber and Lyft, insofar as it could further antagonize labor unions that have been hugely influential over the passage of AB5. Unions championed the bill throughout the legislative process, and have been at the center of the fight over gig work in California.
“This measure is another brazen attempt by some of the richest corporations in California to avoid playing by the same rules as all other law-abiding companies in our state,” Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, said in a statement. “California’s unions will join drivers who want fair wages, better treatment and flexibility to defeat this corporate ploy.”
Meanwhile, union-backed groups and other supporters of AB5 are planning to protest outside the homes of key Uber investors, including Uber board member and Benchmark Capital partner Bill Gurley.
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