Uber’s latest feature shows how badly it wants to replace owning a car

By  : techinsider – excerpt

Uber is experimenting with a ride option through its app that gives morning commuters a cheaper fare for longer trips into San Francisco.

For people in the areas of Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose, Uber is offering rates of $20-$26 for rides into San Francisco between the times of 6 and 10 a.m. during weekdays. The fare is set ahead of time, which means it won’t be susceptible to surge pricing like normal Uber rides.

The cheaper fare is made possible through Uber Pool, the latest ride option in the app that splits the cost of a trip between multiple passengers traveling along a similar route. Uber Pool launched in New York City this past summer, and the company says the feature “guarantees you a cheaper fare” and “only adds a few minutes to your trip.”

For the new Pool to SF option, Uber charges an additional $10 per passenger, the cost of which can be split between friends through the app…

“If we can make Uber cheaper than owning a car, look at all the great things that happen: you no longer have parking problems in San Francisco,” he said. “You no longer have congestion because half of the riders in San Francisco are in an Uber Pool, which is kind of amazing.”… (more)

      Kind of amazing when you can convince a lot of people to buy your service and make you rich so you can buy more influence and power. No thank you!
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Lawsuit says new L.A. streets plan creates more air pollution, not less

Where is our App?

By Herman Haluza :  TransporationPerception – excerpt

Recently, I downloaded the MUNI Transit App which tells you, based on location, what time the next bus or underground will come.  It is very sophisticated as you can see the many buses around you and it will precisely tell you how far away it is.  Every mode of transportation on the App is MUNI; however, there is one more: Uber.  There is a space on the app, very visible, that tells you how far away, in time, the closest Uber is and you can press it and it will bring you an Uber.

So I ask, why would Uber be on the MUNI app when they have nothing to do with the TNCs, or do they?  That the taxis are under the MTA, why is not the Yellow App there, as well, telling the customer how far away is the closest Yellow, or, for that matter, even Flywheel?  There is something that we do not know, from my perspective, and I hope such a question is raised at the next MTA Board Meeting.

Not quite sure what SFMTA thinks it is or what it is, but a fair and balanced regulatory system they are not.

Phil Matier: San Francisco’s DeSoto Cab Company Ditches Longtime Name For Flywheel App

By Phil Matier : cbslocal – excerpt (audio track)

The oldest cab company in San Francisco is rebranding itself to keep up with its high-tech competition. After more than eight decades, DeSoto is hopping on board with Flywheel. Phil Matier reports. (2/18/15)… (more)

New paint job and billboard image, but they are keeping the standard cab prices instead of on-demand sliding scale.

Report says SF taxis suffering greatly

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Just how big a hit the taxi industry has taken since app-based ride services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar rose to popularity has been quantified, and The City’s transit agency, as cab regulator, has several courses it can take to help level the playing field.

The taxi industry’s health “overall is being impacted clearly” by competing transportation network companies, said Kate Toran, who took over as interim Taxis and Accessible Services director for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency in June and was named to the position permanently a couple weeks ago.

In her first presentation in the role to the SFMTA board of directors at 1 p.m. today in City Hall Room 400, Toran plans to discuss the downward trend in average trips per taxicab from 1,424 per month in March 2012 to 504 this past July…

“It’s time for [the] MTA as a regulator to really review the regulations and make sure our regulations have been thoroughly reviewed and that they still make sense,” Toran said. “Our bottom line is public safety, but to the extent that the regulations can be more flexible and more responsive and we have a process to update.”…  more)

RELATED:
SF Cabbies Closer to Becoming an Affiliated Union
Uber, Lyft Fallout: Taxi Rides Plunge in San Francisco
MTA Board Meeting on line  

Uber and Lyft Have Become Indistinguishable Commodities

By : nytimes – excerpt

If you need a ride, pull out your phone and load up the Lyft app. Or try Uber. Really, it doesn’t matter which you pick.

Though the two ride-sharing giants have carried on like the bitterest of enemies recently, their services have become pretty much indistinguishable. In many places, they both offer ubiquitous, cheap and mostly high-quality service.

They’ve become commodities.

That’s my conclusion based on the last two months of riding Lyft and Uber in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s difficult to say that either is much better, or much worse, than the other. From pickup speed, to driver and car quality, to price, they’re both pretty good.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Take Uber’s. This week The Verge published memos detailing Uber’s campaign to recruit Lyft drivers. According to the report, Uber hires contractors who request Lyft rides and, before the ride is out, attempt to recruit drivers to sign up for Uber.

What is most notable is the indiscriminate nature of Uber’s campaign. During recruiting missions, contractors were paid $750 for any Lyft driver they signed up. The contractors had to be warned to wait a few minutes between rides, so as not to call the same driver twice.

Uber is not going after the best Lyft drivers and cars. It’s going after any Lyft driver with a car and a pulse. And that’s the problem: If Uber itself thinks almost any Lyft ride can be easily transformed into an Uber ride, why shouldn’t we just use Lyft?… (more)

These companies are out to corner the market and once they do, they will raise their rates to take advantage of demand pricing the way they did during outside lands. Do everyone a favor and avoid these vultures.

RELATED:
Uber’s Secret Agents: When Poaching Becomes Unethical

Taxis in San Francisco are fighting back through apps, with the city’s blessing

by  Time – excerpt

Standing on the corner of California and Polk in San Francisco, I took out my phone and ordered a ride from Flywheel, an app that’s competing with rival transportation services like Uber and Lyft by leveraging the thousands of taxis already on the road. Like with those services, once I order a Flywheel ride, a map pops up with a car icon, showing me where my ride is in relation to me and allowing me to monitor the driver as he or she gets closer.

On this particular morning, as I watched multiple Lyfts go by (unmissable with their trademark giant pink mustaches attached to the cars’ grilles), and a couple Ubers (the black cars now identifiable by small logos that must be placed on their windows), my driver’s icon drifted away from me. After some minutes passed, I called the driver, who assured me he was on his way. When he continued to travel not towards me, I canceled the order and got a new Flywheel, which picked me up and promptly delivered me to the company’s San Francisco office, with my bill and a 20% tip paid automatically through the credit card I stored on the app.

Once at Flywheel, Chief Product Officer Sachin Kansal explained what had likely happened with my misguided driver. “He may have been ride-stacking,” Kansal explained, meaning that the driver accepted my order on the app and then took a street hail, thinking he could deliver the latter before I ever knew the difference. But the moment I canceled my ride, the driver’s plan was foiled. He would be blocked from the system until Flywheel investigated the case, and these did not appear to be circumstances that would yield quick forgiveness from administrators. Kansal made sure I knew how swiftly justice would be dealt, because this is not the kind of mistake companies can afford to treat lightly in the midst of the Great Ride App Wars…

Using apps like Flywheel is a way for taxis to fight fire with fire instead of tattling, however justified it might seem. Flywheel’s Kansal says that drivers may double the amount of rides they get in a shift through the efficiency that the system provides, matching people who need rides with nearby drivers. “There are weaknesses that others have. There are regulations that they may be breaking,” he says. “But 90% of our energy is spent on making sure this experience always stays top notch. That the experience that you had this morning never happens again.”…  (more)

 

 

Lawsuit could mandate local control for Lyft, UberX, and SideCar

By Tim Redmond : 48hillsonline – excerpt

A taxi association has filed a pair of legal appeals that could directly undermine the state’s decision to allow companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar to pick up passengers in San Francisco.

The case has received very little press attention, but it could upend a key part of the “sharing economy” in the city and force companies that are trying to act as unregulated cabs to curtail their operations – at least for now — or subject themselves to local regulation.

In San Francisco, that could mean seeking taxi permits, adopting stricter driver-screening and training rules, accepting rate regulation, and allowing passengers to complain to the Taxi Commission about service problems.

Among other things, the two legal filings argue that the California Public Utilities Commission had no right to legalize the ride-share companies without a full review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

The claims also suggest that the state agency undermined the ability of local government to regulate the cab industry… (more)

A big a question that has not been answered or discussed much is when is “how does one differentiate between a rental and a share?” This applies to more than taxi and ride shares. How are SFMTA car and bike shares not rentals when there is an exchange of funds between two parties and the charge of use of the vehicle is based on how long it is used? How are they not competing against traditional car rental companies?

SF exploring ways to regulate ride services like Uber, Lyft

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

As many as 4,000 rideshare vehicles are on San Francisco streets during peak times, according to Supervisor Eric Mar.

San Francisco city officials are exploring whether they have legal authority to regulate transportation services such as Uber or Lyft as the taxicab industry continues to complain about impacts to revenue, safety and disability services.

Supervisor John Avalos said Thursday that he is working with the City Attorney’s Office to explore a legal case for imposing certain local regulations.

“We’ve gotten to almost a crisis mode,” Avalos said. “We cannot let [the taxicab] industry fail.”

The so-called transportation network companies emerged out of a movement known as the sharing or peer economy, even though nothing is technically shared since the services cost money. Their growing popularity has created controversy, including with the traditional taxicab industry, which is held to stricter regulatory controls… (more)

“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there”: SF Supes Hear Harsh Words At Ridesharing Hearing

by – excerpt

“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there”: SF Supes Hear Harsh Words At Ridesharing Hearing

Ridesharing companies that are growing in popularity in San Francisco have had unintended consequences and need to be better regulated, city supervisors were told today at a committee meeting on the issue.

Supervisor Eric Mar called for today’s hearing on businesses like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which match riders to private cars via GPS-based smartphone apps and are defined by the California Public Utilities Commission as “transportation network companies.”

The companies have drawn increased attention from the city after an Uber driver struck and killed 6-year-old Sofia Liu on Polk Street on New Year’s Eve. They have also been sharply criticized by taxi drivers for operating under looser regulations than those required for cab companies and.

Christiane Hayashi, director of taxis and accessibility services for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said the TNCs require less comprehensive background checks than those for taxi drivers and do not provide cities with the number of cars they have out on the streets.

“It’s really starting to be a free-for-all out there,” Hayashi said. “So many vehicles are competing for business that it’s beginning to get quite dangerous.”… (more)