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Tag Archives: Lyft

More Women Are Behind the Wheel Driving Cabs in New York City

More and more women are behind the wheel and driving Taxis, Uber and Lyft. With safety not being such a major concern any more, many women are taking on jobs with TLC and e-hailing car services.

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More women are behind the wheel – and getting paid.

High crime and dangerous streets have pushed many women out of the industry since the 1970s. But as the city, and services like Uber and Lyft, have beefed up safety measures through new technology, more women are opting into the profession.

Women first became part of New York’s taxi force in the 1940s, according to 2014’s “Taxicab Fact Book.” By the 1970s several thousand women were a part of the city’s yellow taxi fleet, but that figure shrunk to a few hundred by the 1990s, said Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

“There was definitely a mass exit of many female cab drivers in the 1970s due to the wave of crimes,” Fromberg said. “When crime was brought more under control and the city was a significantly safer place, starting in the ’90s, unfortunately women did not come back in those numbers.”

But that’s changing now.

About 349 women were registered as active medallion taxi drivers in 2015, 63 more than 2010, and 1,375 women were working in the for-hire vehicle service industry in the city.

Companies such as Uber and Lyft have made the profession more attractive for women, since they track client information and allow their drivers to make up their own schedule.

“I never thought that I would drive a taxi,” said 53-year-old Bronx resident Adalgisa Sanchez. She started driving with Uber three years ago, after leaving her job as a graphics designer to take care of her daughter. “I didn’t want anybody getting in my car without knowing who they are, and I didn’t want to handle money in my car.”

Uber has about 76,000 women drivers nationwide, about 19% of its fleet. About 30% of Lyft drivers are female.

Women make up about 4% of New York City’s for-hire operators and 1% of medallion drivers.

The flexible scheduling offered by for-hire services has helped make them more attractive for women, especially mothers, compared to working as medallion drivers, who often work set shifts because the vehicle or medallion is shared or rented, according to Bhairavi Desai, founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

“Most women (medallion) drivers I’ve known through the years tend to be driver-owned vehicle operators because they own the vehicle and have more control (over their schedules),” Desai said. “In the same way that women could organize their schedules or sense of control being in the DOV model, that’s similar to how people would view the Uber model.”

Taxi drivers had the highest number of deaths due to violence compared to any other occupation from 2006-2013, according to data from Bloomberg News. And the Bureau of Labor has classified the profession as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

But Fromberg said that the statistics reported by the BLS don’t accurately reflect the industry in New York City. “There is no question in my mind that New York City has skewed the national take on the dangers of being a cab driver.”

Melissa Plaut, a 40-year-old yellow cab driver since 2004, found that being a female cabbie was filled with other pressing concerns outside of the realm of danger.

Plaut who is also a student at Hunter College and the author of “Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do With My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab,” said that the biggest hurdle for her and many other female cabbies was breaking from a shift to use a restroom.

“(It’s) hardest thing about being a female cab driver,” Plaut said.

“Having to look for parking every day and using a restroom somewhere gets expensive. Almost all of the guys I knew circumvented that.”

Photo: AmNY/ Melissa Plaut

Melissa Plaut is the author of “Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do With My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab.”

GM Invests $500 Million on Lyft while Planning Self-Driving Car Network

–General Motors Co. will invest $500 million in Lyft Inc., giving the hailing startup a valuation of $5.5 billion and a major ally in the global battle against Uber Technologies Inc.–

The investment, part of a $1 billion financing round for Lyft, is the biggest move by an automaker to date when it comes to grappling with the meteoric rise of the ride-hailing industry.

GM and Lyft said they will work together to develop a network of self-driving cars that riders can call up on-demand, a vision of the future shared by the likes of Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick and Google-parent Alphabet Inc. More immediately, America’s largest automaker will offer Lyft drivers vehicles for short-term rent through various hubs in U.S. cities, the companies said in separate statements on Monday.

GM President Dan Ammann, who is joining Lyft’s board as part of the deal, expects the automotive industry to “change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50 and we obviously want to make sure we’re at the forefront of that change.”

Global Alliance

Ammann called the investment an “alliance” with Lyft. Rather than stay neutral in the battle between Uber and Lyft, GM invested because of the “level of integration and cooperation that will be required, particularly for the longer term nature of this,” he said in a phone interview.

Uber’s Kalanick, whose company has been investing aggressively in self-driving cars, has said that it could take between 5 and 15 years before such vehicles are meaningfully deployed around the country.

GM is open to working with some of Lyft’s international partners, which include Didi Kuaidi in China, Ola in India and GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia, Ammann said.

“We certainly see an opportunity to work together through those relationships,” Ammann said. “The U.S. is our home market and it continues to be our largest market and we think this is the right place to begin the journey.”

The partnership is a blow for Uber, which has fought to overwhelm Lyft, its only substantial U.S. competitor. Sidecar, another American rival, announced in December that it would shut its network.

Uber has raised more than $10 billion in financing and is spending aggressively to grow. Its last round of financing valued the company at $62.5 billion.

Doubling Financing

Ford Motor Co. is experimenting with its own ride-sharing initiatives: the company last year started offering a network of shared cars in London to tap the growing market for on-demand driving. Fontinalis Partners LLC, the venture firm funded by Ford family heir Bill Ford, has previously invested in Lyft.

Lyft’s latest financing round nearly doubles the three-year-old startup’s total financing. Since 2013, Lyft has raised more than $2 billion, the company said. Bloomberg previously reported that Lyft had filed to raise $1 billion as part of this financing round. Its latest $5.5 billion valuation is post-money, meaning it includes the value from raising its latest $1 billion.

Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Co. invested $100 million as part of the round and existing investors Janus Capital Management, Rakuten Inc., Didi Kuaidi and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. also participated, according to the statement.

Lyft lost $127 million in the first half of 2015 on $46.7 million in revenue, according to fundraising documents obtained by Bloomberg. It said in November it has gained share in key markets such as San Francisco, and has a gross revenue “run rate” of $1 billion. Lyft has said it’s operating in more than 190 cities.

Article Originally Featured on Bloomberg Business

*Photo Credit: “LYFT” By: Alfredo Mendez

Uber May Expand to Upstate NY: Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse

Lawmakers returning to Albany for the usual debates over taxes and spending will also take on an issue even more basic to many New Yorkers — the options for getting home from the train station, the airport or a long night out on the town.

Uber is hoping lawmakers approve statewide regulations during the 2016 legislative session that will allow the app-based ride-hailing service to expand into upstate cities including Buffalo, Albany, Rochester and Syracuse.

The service is now legally permitted to operate only in the immediate New York City area. The company, whose smartphone-based service allows users to quickly order car service, has expanded rapidly throughout the country in recent years. Josh Mohrer, Uber’s New York general manager, said rules allowing Uber to operate have been passed in 27 states.

“People really want this, being able to push a button and get a ride,” he said. “Buffalo is now the largest American city by population that doesn’t have Uber. My goal is to go where we’re not.”

The company has assembled a large coalition of local mayors, drunken driving activists, state lawmakers and even clergy who support the expansion. Aside from a new transportation alternative, Uber promises to create thousands of flexible driving jobs throughout upstate.

But the taxi companies aren’t giving up without a fight. The industry warns that Uber’s expansion will threaten the jobs of dispatch operators and other back-room employees who aren’t necessary for Uber’s web-based business model. They’ve also questioned the effectiveness of background checks on Uber drivers and said the company’s vehicles are required to be accessible for the disabled.

Bill Yuhnke, president of Buffalo’s Liberty Yellow Cab, said Uber doesn’t want to abide by the same rules — taxes, fare regulations, insurance — that have long applied to the taxi industry. He noted his company has long offered an app that allows riders to order a car.

“It’s not a level playing field. If they played by the same rules I wouldn’t have any problem,” he said, noting that Uber sets its own fares while taxi fares are closely regulated. “You can’t be half pregnant. You’re either a taxi or not. We’ve been doing this for years. We have standards in place.”

Lawmakers are expected to consider various options that would allow Uber — and rival Lyft — to expand throughout the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in October that he is in favor of a statewide licensing system.

“You can’t do Uber city by city,” he said.

Syracuse-area resident Donna Keeping hopes to be one of Uber’s first upstate drivers. The 61-year-old already has a job at a hospital but said driving for Uber part-time could help her cover college tuition for her children. Uber drivers are responsible for maintaining their own vehicles but get to set their own hours, an idea that appeals to Keeping.

“I haven’t found the right scenario for work,” she said. “I’m social. I love to drive. I’m ready to roll as soon I can.”

New York City taxi driver Ayman Ahmed said Uber may be a good fit for people looking for part-time work, but not for full-time taxi drivers. Ahmed left the taxi business to drive for Uber for six weeks, only to find it a disappointment. He said it doesn’t pay as well as driving a cab.

“Uber hires anyone. It might work if you need a few hours. But this is the only job I have,” he said. “I have rent, kids, a wife.”

Article Originally Featured on NY Daily News

*Photo Credit: “An UBER application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)” By Mark Warner/Source: Flickr

Lyft Increases its Presence in NYC

In the battle for New York City riders, Uber isn’t the only smartphone-driven car service gaining ground. Its smaller rival known for pink mustaches is also racing ahead.

Lyft, which like Uber is based in San Francisco, has significantly boosted its business since its July 2014 launch in New York City, a Wall Street Journal analysis of new city data show.

Lyft drivers took New York City riders on an average of about 10,000 trips each day in August, more than double the average of the year-earlier month, according to data provided by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.

The data provide a glimpse into Lyft’s performance in the U.S.’s biggest taxi market in terms of revenue as the company revs up a push to attract riders and drivers in New York City to its ride-hailing app amid fierce competition by Uber and yellow cabs.

Lyft executives said the company’s gains in New York highlight its potential as a new transportation option and alternative to car ownership. The company said more than half of its New York City trips come via its carpooling option.

“This is inning one or two of a long game, and the market in a few years is worth way more than it’s worth today,” said John Zimmer,Lyft’s co-founder and president. “We want to aggressively grow into that.”

Fueled by cash injections from Uber’s Chinese rival Didi Kuaidi and activist investor Carl Icahn, Lyft has taken out subway and bus ads while offering generous discounts to riders and incentives for drivers.

 

The company’s 10,326 average daily trips in August add to a robust rise since April, the month it began regularly providing data to the city. But Lyft’s slice of the New York City market is dwarfed by that of Uber. Its deep-pocketed rival notched an average of 106,986 trips each day in August, more than 10 times the number of daily Lyft trips that month, the city’s data show.

The number of Uber’s trips in August marked a fourfold increase from a year earlier. The company’s rapid growth fueled a push earlier this year by New York City to impose a cap on for-hire vehicles city officials blamed for worsening congestion in Manhattan. Facing a backlash, the city backed off the proposed limit in July.

Despite Lyft’s push in New York, Uber executives said the company continues to see a stream of new drivers, riders using the app for the first time, and trips via its carpool feature.

Josh Mohrer, Uber’s general manager in New York City, said it wasn’t clear whether Lyft or any of the city’s hundreds of car services was taking the company’s market share in the five boroughs.

“There’s room for multiple players,” Mr. Mohrer said.

The city began regularly collecting trip records from the city’s livery and black-car services this year as part of an attempt by taxi regulators to understand changes afoot in the taxi and for-hire vehicle industry.

Uber, which launched in New York in 2011, and Lyft operate as city-licensed black-car companies. Lyft started operating in the city last year without regulators’ blessing, but backed down after a brief legal fight.

 

The city’s trip data, which the taxi commission provided in response to a public-records request from the Journal, didn’t include records from some other new ride-hailing companies trying to make inroads in New York, such as Via and Gett.

 

A taxi-commission spokesman said the agency hadn’t yet been able to process trip records from Via, a service focused on carpool trips in Manhattan. Gett doesn’t own any for-hire vehicle bases in the city and instead dispatches rides through other car services.

The city’s Uber and Lyft data offer insights into how the companies are faring in New York.

Evan Rawley, who teaches strategy at Columbia Business School and has studied the taxi industry, sees dim long-term prospects for Lyft in the city, saying Uber’s size and resources enable it to easily fend off competition. “Lyft is just so far behind,” Mr. Rawley said. “It’s going to be incredibly difficult for them to catch up.”

But Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s business school, said Lyft’s increase in trips this year showed “impressive growth,” a sign it could continue to increase its market share despite an uphill battle against Uber. “Don’t count Lyft out,” he said.

For drivers, the competition can mean new options.

Sukhjinder Singh, 31 years old, had been driving primarily for Uber but said he has increasingly been taking rides for Lyft as the company attracts more riders.

He appreciates that Lyft’s app, unlike Uber’s, lets passengers tip drivers, but Lyft alone doesn’t yet provide him enough for full-time work. “There is an increase of Lyft riders, but it’s not that dramatic, where I could fully depend on them,” Mr. Singh said.

Article Originally Published on The Wall Street Journal

*Photo Credit: “LYFT” By: Alfredo Mendez

Study on Rideshare Cars in New York City?

Most commuters already know that traffic congestion in Manhattan is not getting any better, and quite possibly, it may be getting worse. City officials are pointing some of the blame of this congestion towards ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft while Mayor Deblasio has proposed to cap the growth of these ride-for-hire services. Under Deblasio’s plan, the city would study traffic congestion and cap the amount of Uber cars out on the streets for up to a year. Other factors that could potentially be causing such high traffic congestion are the rapid growth of the city’s population and economy. However, subway ridership is at its highest level in 65 years, which has helped to create opportunities for companies like Uber to connect with more commuters. Interestingly, the number of for-hire-vehicles has grown by 25,000 cars in New York City, or 63%, since 2011. The amount of rideshare companies could have a significant impact on the amount of traffic congestion and air pollution in the city, but these companies do create jobs and provide a strong convenience to residents of neighborhoods that do not receive enough service from taxicabs. How will this apparent traffic congestion affect traffic tickets and the way we drive throughout the city?

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Can we ever know how many Uber and Lyft cars are really out there?

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft are concealing data regarding the number of vehicles on the streets in San Francisco. These ridesharing companies avoid giving out any information because of their ongoing battles with each other, the city, and taxi driver unions, as well as the fact that both companies do not wish to give out any information to the public. Withholding the number of ride-for-hire cars creates great difficulties for city planners who must attempt to estimate how many cars are actually out on the streets. Lyft’s national accounts manager says that the company’s end goal is to reduce car ownership, but gave no specifics on their goals for the total number of Lyft drivers. How many ride-for-hire cars do you think are in New York City?