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Tag Archives: uber

Parallel Issues in London: Uber vs. Taxi Cab

In London, or across the pond, Uber vs. taxi cabs has centered as the narrative. The taxi cab in London has a long history, whereas Uber arrived in 2012. In London, the Uber is normally the cheaper ride. Some have claimed Uber is killing the business model and culture of the traditional black cab (London’s version of the NYC yellow cab). It is interesting to see the comparisons between NYC and London’s taxi-Uber rift. What do you think of this?

If you receive a summons for a speed, disobey traffic device, or any other moving violation, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Please call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Uber Drivers Will Receive Tips?

New York City is debating whether or not to force For-Hire Vehicle services like Uber to offer tipping. The Taxi and Limo Commission is pushing forth the idea of enabling a tipping feature on the Uber app. The tipping proposal will be formally introduced to the City Council in July. Uber drivers seek to have a hiring earning potential, and find that a tipping option will better help cover the cost of insurance, gas, and maintenance.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

 

 

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For-Hire-Vehicles Out On Long Island?

A new deal would allow for-hire-vehicle companies Uber and Lyf to operate on Long Island. Governor Cuomo did not release the specifics of the deal, but informed the public last week that “we basically have an agreement [on the deal].”  The proposals that were under discussion included requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to obtain specific insurance in order to operate on Long Island. This deal comes after various polls demonstrate an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers seek better transportation opportunities, and Uber and Lyft may provide just that on Long Island.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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How Self-Driving Cars Can Aid The Elderly

Nearly 16 million adults over the age of 65 live in areas with poor access to public transportation. This has prompted many of our senior citizens to ask how will I go to my doctor’s appointments or even the grocery store? The elderly face the question of whether or not they can safely operate a motor vehicle from point A to Point B. Some of the senior citizens point to the self-driving car, which could greatly relinquish those driving fears.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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Self-Driving Uber Crash

Although Uber, and many have demonstrated the capabilities of self-driving cars, a crash earlier this month has demonstrated the negatives of fully autonomous cars. The car accident took place in Tempe, Arizona, and the Tempe Police Department later proved that the Uber car was not at fault for the accident. However, Uber temporarily shut down its self-driving cars in San Francisco and Pittsburgh as a precautionary measure.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Uber's NYC HQ

With the increase in Uber, Lyft, and for-hire vehicles, city officials all across the United States are forced to look further into their transportation policies. Uber has invested in a luxurious center for Uber drivers to relax, use the restroom, and eat complimentary pretzels and soft drinks all in an effort to entice more drivers to use Uber. In fact, there are four luxurious Uber centers in New York City alone. Some Uber drivers however, have switched to driving for yellow cabs as Uber’s fare cuts drain the profits of Uber drivers.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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TLC Ticket: Unlicensed Vehicle

All  Uber, Lyft, and for-hire vehicle drivers should pay attention to this message. There are specific TLC tickets directly related to for-hire services. For example, there is a summons issued for an “unlicensed vehicle”. One can receive this ticket if one picks up a passenger without proper consent by one’s car service/dispatch. For example, if an Uber driver picks up a passenger who has not sent a notification to the Uber driver’s phone, that driver can receive an unlicensed vehicle summons. The max fine of $10,000 is applied ff the unlicensed vehicle ticket is issued to the owner of a car. Additionally, the driver’s license (of an Uber, Lyft, or taxi cab driver) may be revoked, meaning that their TLC license will be taken away.

For-hire drivers should not pick up a passenger who is not one’s direct customer, even if they say they will pay you extra to take them somewhere.
If you receive a summons for an unlicensed for hire moving violation, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com

 

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Previous Tesla Crash Investigation Results

Remember the Tesla accident that involved a fatal crash a few months ago? Auto-safety regulators said their investigation of the car found no defects in the system. The regulators did let other semi-autonomous car manufacturers know that they need to be more clear about the operation of autonomous car systems, to avoid fatal crashes like the one last May.

If you receive a summons for a moving violation in New York, please contact us at 212-227-9008

 

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Uber and the DMV

Uber ended its autonomous car service in San Francisco after it had defied state officials orders telling uber the autonomous service was illegal. In Uber’s hometown of San Francisco, uber was forced to shut down its autonomous car service system. State regulators in California made sure that uber would adhere to state regulations.
Uber still contends that their autonomous cars require human oversight and are not illegal. Do you think that uber should be allowed to have its autonomous cars on the road?
If you receive a moving violation while commuting to or from the city, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at Michaelblock.law@gmail.com.
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Uber Surcharge Fee?

The New York State legislature is moving on a special session this January to discuss the idea of adding a surcharge on Uber rides. The surcharge would raise revenue for the Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE). The state already charges a 50 cent surcharge fee on taxi rides, and would do the same on Uber rides. These new funds would greatly aid the NICE bus system, which faces budget cuts and subsequent route cuts.

 

 

 

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Self-Driving Cars: On Their Way To Becoming Reality

As some of you may already know, self-driving cars have hit the streets. Some countries are even testing out the use of self-driving cars in the form of taxis. In Singapore, the company known as nuTonomy already allowed hail free rides earlier this month. In North America, self-driving cars are on their way to becoming a real life phenomena. Take the city of Pittsburgh for example.

 

In Pittsburgh, Uber has begun to allow self-driving cars to hit the road. Interestingly, a passenger has to be located in the front seat of the self-driving Uber during Uber pick-ups at all times. This “engineer” sits in the drivers seat alongside the Uber rider at all times. If at anytime the engineer does not feel safe, he can smack a big red button on the dashboard to disengage from driverless mode. If the Uber rider feels unsafe, then he or she may ask the engineer to switch out of driverless mode. Thus far, self-driving cars have been unable to fully hit the road unmanned in the city of Pittsburgh.

 

Uber allowed for some of its more loyal members to first try out the self-driving Ubers. At first Uber considered using the Volvo XC90 as its self-driving car model in Pittsburgh. However, Uber elected to use the Ford Fusion as its first self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Uber has said that autonomous cars can reduce vehicle-related deaths (over 40,000 vehicle-related deaths in 2015).

 

One must note that the self-driving Uber cars in Pittsburgh are not your typical automobiles. Uber has installed over twenty cameras, seven lasers, and about fourteen hundred alternative parts that render millions of bits of data onto their self-driving cars.

 

Uber’s goal seems to be to eliminate the use of human drivers. Let us know what you think. Leave a comment about whether or not you think that self-driving cars will actually become a reality.

 

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.

Check out the full article here:

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.”

Uber is attempting to make your Commute Easier with $5 Carpools

Uber is editing their carpooling system. They are offering $5 rates during a pilot program for using UberPOOL, but there are a few catches.

Check out the full article below:

Uber will now offer flat $5 carpool rides in Manhattan during peak hours, but there are plenty of catches.

Commuters must be picked up and dropped off in Manhattan below 110th Street and they’re going to have to walk to get to their driver. The deal is part of a new pilot program that will reshape UberPOOL service to more closely resemble that of a local bus: instead of heading to a customer’s specific location, UberPOOL drivers will be picking up and dropping off customers along corners of their route.

The e-hailing app hopes that this will help streamline UberPOOL routes to provide cheaper and more efficient peak service, according to a blog post the company published on Sunday. It’s the first time the company is implementing the concept.

“By making it easier and more affordable to carpool, we’re working toward our goal of getting more people into fewer cars,” read the blog. “Corner pickups and drop-offs make driving routes more direct, so you’ll save time and arrive at your destination faster.”

The service will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. To take advantage of the deal, commuters need to download latest version of the Uber app. Select “POOL” and Uber will direct commuters to the nearest corner to be picked up. Riders will be dropped off at a corner near their destination.

Uber did not specify an end date for the pilot.

Photo: AMNY

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Watch Out Uber, Yellow Cabs May Be Making a Comeback!

Thanks to this mobile app, taxis and black cars may be back on top. Karhoo, a London based mobile app works like a search engine for taxis and black cars and plans to have 30,000 cars at launch. Karhoo is set to launch in New York City within the next six weeks.

Karhoo-Feature-Image1-e1451935298981

Check out the full article below:

Karhoo — a new mobile app that works like a search engine for taxis and black cars — says it will be bigger than Uber when it launches in the Big Apple next month.

The deep-pocketed startup has cut a deal to add 66,000 cabs across 60 US cities, casting itself as a high-tech savior for old-school cab companies that are pitted against Uber in a battle for survival.

London-based Karhoo said it aims to go live in New York within the next six weeks, when its users will instantly have access to 14,000 yellow and green taxis as well as 17,000 other licensed and regulated cars, according to the company.

Those numbers would dwarf the Gotham ranks of Uber cars, which last year numbered 16,000 by some estimates.

“We’ll have more than 30,000 cars out of the gate, and that puts us in a very strong position,” Karhoo founder and Chief Executive Daniel Ishag told The Post.

The fleet-by-fleet growth strategy — as opposed to Uber’s driver-by-driver approach — is poised to put 1 million cars on Karhoo’s platform worldwide by the end of 2016, Ishag says.

Other cities launching in the coming months include London, Singapore, Chicago and San Francisco.

In New York, the three-year deal with Verifone, a mobile transaction middleman, includes yellow cabs that have also gone live on the Way2ride and Curb mobile apps. Black car companies being added to Karhoo’s platform include Carmel, Dial 7, Elite and La Puma.

“I love the whole concept,” says Berj Haroutunian, CEO of Vital, which operates 300 black cars in the metro area. “It goes through us in central dispatch,” instead of directly to drivers like Uber does.

Karhoo’s search engine finds and ranks traditional taxis and car services according to real-time proximity, like Uber. Drawing on a wide variety of cab dispatchers, it can also sort by name and price, much like travel sites find and rank flights and hotels.

The app charges a commission of about 10 percent a ride, while Uber charges between 25 and 30 percent.

Karhoo has raised upwards of $250 million to fund its expansion, sources said. Ishag anticipates the total will reach $1 billion over the next 12 to 18 months.

Karhoo’s ambition to serve as a “universal platform” for the patchwork of legacy taxi companies could make the difference, says Matthew Daus, a former commissioner of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

“Uber never would have gotten any traction if all these cab companies were on the same platform,” Daus said.

An app promising immediate access to cars without surge pricing is a powerful idea, he added.

“If they do the advertising correctly and get the word out it’s going to be what Coke is to Pepsi,” he said.

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Fed Up Uber drivers protest the App during the Super bowl

Fed Up Uber drivers protest the App during the Super bowl in an effort to slow down business and get corporate headquarters attention on one of the busiest Sundays of the year. Tired of price cuts, no benefits for full time drivers and all around poor treatment, the driver partners led by fellow Uber driver Abdoul Diallo are in the process of creating their own e- hailing app that would better benefit employees.

Check out the full article from the New York Times below:

On Super Bowl Sunday, a few hundred Uber drivers met in the cold in a public park in Queens, plotting to disrupt the app that thousands of New Yorkers were about to use to get in place to watch the big game. Gathered angrily on rows of wooden benches were Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Kenyans, Serbs and Bangladeshis, many of them waving handmade signs. Their yellow placards attacked the ride-hailing service in the innumerable languages of polyglot New York. “Shame on Uber!” one announced in Spanish. “Uber Broke Our Hearts!” said another in Tibetan. Then in English: “We Made You Billionaires!” and “We Are Not Slaves!”

“We want to show Uber that without us full-time drivers, they won’t have any cars on the road,” Abdoul Diallo shouted from atop a concrete stage. Mr. Diallo, a Guinean immigrant who has emerged as a leader of the strikes, was holding up his own sign: “No Drivers, No Uber — It’s That Simple.”

“This is the formula!” he hollered to the crowd.

It has been nearly five years since Uber arrived in New York City. With its Randian philosophy and proprietary algorithms, the company promised to reshape the driving industry, and in many ways that promise has come true. A million New Yorkers have become accustomed to making cars materialize by pulling out their smartphones — and not just in Manhattan, but also in the other boroughs, which have long been underserved by for-hire providers. In part as a result, taxi owners have seen their profits crumble, taxi lenders are slowly going under and taxi unions are scrambling to protect their members’ jobs.

More recently, however, Uber’s indomitable rise has been clouded by an insurgency from a small but vocal portion of its own drivers who say they feel neglected, even used. From spring 2014 to spring 2015, the company quadrupled its business in the city, and for nearly a year it has been signing up new customers at a rate of 30,000 a week. The drivers argue that such dynamic growth would not have been possible without them: They, after all, supply the cars that keep the network liquid. Drawn to the company by advertisements that promised decent wages, many now contend that they are victims of a corporate bait-and-switch. As Uber has obtained a solid foothold in the market (and a $60 billion valuation), the drivers are complaining that it has slashed its prices in an effort to destroy the competition and to finance its expansion on their backs.

“In the beginning, your company was great for both drivers and customers,” Mr. Diallo and his partners wrote this month in a letter to the service. “You treated drivers well and we loved you for that. Little did we know that it would be a short-lived momentary ecstasy that you used to lure us in in great numbers, just so that you can execute your plans and strategies toward world domination.”

Uber, mostly through the voice of Josh Mohrer, the 33-year-old general manager of Uber New York, has said it is pained by the grievances of the drivers, who, while not employees of the service, are known as “driver-partners” in the company’s jargon. Like most tech operations, Uber has a data set for everything, and Mr. Mohrer said his numbers proved that January’s price cut, like a steeper one two years ago, increased the demand for rides and therefore led to larger driver paychecks.

“It’s not intuitive to think that lower fares will mean more money, but that is the reality,” Mr. Mohrer said. He added that he understood why the drivers might be anxious. “It’s a big ask to say, ‘Just trust us.’”

And yet there are underlying reasons for the drivers not to trust him. Uber, like other players in the gig economy, has a tenuous relationship with those who make a living from its software. Its drivers — 34,000 in New York — are independent contractors who buy their own cars, pay for gas and maintenance, and provide their own insurance. Although they get no benefits, they remit to Uber 20 to 25 percent of what they make as a fee to use the service. And unlike its competitors like Lyft, Uber does not permit tipping through its app, but it still reserves the right to “deactivate” its drivers, sometimes for little more than a subpar rider rating.

Two years ago, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said in an interview about the company’s plan to field a fleet of driverless vehicles that a reason the service was relatively expensive was that customers were paying for “the other dude in the car.” As the company’s ridership explodes and the investor class anticipates a potential public offering, the drivers say they often feel like just some other dude: a frictional human substance that gets in the way of an idealized experience of seamless digital travel.

“Uber treats its drivers however it wants,” Mr. Diallo said. “But we’re the ones who do everything except provide the technology.”

A former import-export trader who studied for a business degree, Mr. Diallo, 29, has been driving for the company for three years in a $50,000 Chevrolet Suburban. At first, he said, the job was great: He could afford his lease and still make money because he was taking in as much as $5,000 a week.

But in 2014, Uber cut its rates by 20 percent and not long after that it increased its commissions. Last year, it forced new drivers working for its luxury arm, Uber Black, to pick up passengers through its less expensive option, UberX. On top of this, Mr. Diallo claimed that Uber’s aggressive hiring has flooded the city with too many drivers chasing too few fares.

The price cuts last month were the final straw that set off the rebellion. Most of the drivers learned about the change through a company email, whose lack of warning and remoteness were softened by the fact that Uber promised, for a month, to guarantee an hourly wage at pre-cut levels. Within days of the announcement — and despite the guarantees — Mr. Diallo and two other drivers, Fabio Krasniqi and Farrukh Khamdamov, decided on a strike. Calling themselves the Uber Drivers Network, they created a Facebook page, designed a flier and paid for nearly 20,000 copies at a print shop near La Guardia.

“People can’t make a living,” Mr. Diallo said on the phone after a meeting to coordinate the New York actions with others in London and San Francisco. “They’re picking up $8 fares. They’re driving their cars into the ground. Collectively, there’s a lot of money coming in, but no one individual is making much.

“It’s gotten to the point,” he said, “where it’s literally unbearable.”

Uber likes to say that its drivers, not its riders, are its customers. And while the company might not give its customers health care or a pension, it does provide them access to high-tech support centers, modeled on Apple’s Genius Bars, where they can ask questions about commercial licenses, receive free medical exams or get a can of soda. Uber also helps its drivers negotiate leases with car dealers.

The conflict over the price cuts has been especially vexing for the company, which is adamant that the lower rates have been a boon to both the drivers and its own bottom line. Shortly after the strikers wrote to Uber, Mr. Kalanick posted a memo onto his Facebook page showing that the previous cuts had increased the average driver’s gross hourly wages from $28 to $37. On Tuesday, Mr. Mohrer released numbers indicating that from the three weeks before the last round of cuts to the three weeks after, drivers’ wages went up by 17 percent.

Uber also disputes the claim that there are too many drivers in New York. There are still more taxi riders that the company could woo, and, according to Mr. Mohrer, after the recent cuts were made, trips in the Bronx and Queens, where many drivers live, went up by nearly 25 percent.

But if all this data has the weight of scripture for Uber executives, it has been less persuasive to the drivers, who say the statistics do not fully describe the experience of working for the company. Though lower prices might increase their workload and thus their gross, they say, the increased revenue will be eroded by a corresponding increase in expenses.

At the Super Bowl rally, a driver named Mustafa, who declined to give his last name because he feared reprisals from Uber, said he expected to make about $40 an hour after the cuts. But that was before he paid for higher costs of maintenance, gas and washes; for his car lease, insurance and sales and income taxes; for emissions inspections and the 2.5 percent of earnings he gives each year to the Black Car Fund, a drivers’ trade group, for workers’ compensation; and, of course, for his commissions.

“When you put it together, the numbers don’t add up,” Mustafa said. “I’m taking home less than minimum wage.”
And beyond money, culture matters, too, the drivers say. Some mentioned a photograph that Mr. Mohrer posted on Twitter during his early days at Uber, which showed him smiling with Mr. Kalanick above a message that read, “Jamming with @travisk and plotting city domination.” Others pointed to their own support of Uber this summer when the company went to war with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wanted to cap its growth, ostensibly to lessen road congestion. During the fight, which it won when Mr. de Blasio dropped his plan for the cap, Uber mobilized millions of dollars and an all-star team of political tacticians, but it also made use of the sympathetic image of hard-working immigrants telling City Hall that Uber put food on the table for their families.

“We stood behind them,” said Ronnie Paulino, a driver who has worked for Uber for a year. “Then they turned around and cut our pay.”

After speaking this month to an economics class at New York University, Mr. Mohrer acknowledged that when he first came to Uber, there were fewer drivers and stronger bonds between them and his management team. But as the fleet has grown, he said, he has tried to remain responsive to the drivers, who, on average, work 30 hours a week — or triple the rate of their peers in smaller cities.

“They’re more vested and engaged in Uber, so we take a more careful approach here,” Mr. Mohrer said. He added: “It’s a deeper relationship.”

But deeper doesn’t necessarily mean easier. A few weeks ago, Mr. Mohrer met with the leaders of the strikes at his office on West 27th Street in Chelsea’s gallery district. He said they had a frank discussion about the rate cuts, which could be rescinded if the cuts do not achieve their goals. While he was not explicit about what those goals might be, he insisted that the conversation had been useful. “I want to do this regularly,” he said. “Giving drivers the opportunity to speak to me and my staff can result in more rapid change.”

The strikers found the meeting less successful. “It was a joke,” Mr. Diallo said. “They treated us like jokers.” From his perspective, Mr. Mohrer offered no concessions on the cuts and was firm on only one position: that there would never be a tipping option on Uber’s app.

And that was the message Mr. Krasniqi delivered to the crowd in Queens on Super Bowl Sunday. Cupping his hands to his mouth, he reported on the meeting, then told the drivers to call their friends and relatives who also worked for Uber and urge them to stop driving.

“That’s how we built them up — with our friends and families,” Mr. Krasniqi roared. “And if we built them up, we can destroy them!”

It is hard to tell at this point just how serious the threat to Uber from sustained unrest would be. The challenges of organizing a work force composed of men and women of disparate ethnicities and languages loosely connected by a cloud-based app are significant. “If the drivers can come together in a block causing problems, they might get something,” said Evan Rawley, a professor of strategy at the Columbia Business School who studies the taxi industry. “But this is not West Virginia coal miners who all grew up together in the same small town.”

Uber has been somewhat clumsy in dealing with the problems with its fleet. In a stroke of unfortunate timing, Wired magazine published a 3,000-word treatise on Uber’s new corporate logo one day after the drivers went on strike outside its New York office. It was an inadvertent study in tech-world navel-gazing: as hundreds of immigrants were splashed across the Internet attacking Uber, Wired described how Mr. Kalanick had been working for two years on the logo, immersing himself in organic color schemes and kerning.

There is a potential wild card: Class-action lawsuits have been filed against Uber, including in the federal courts in Brooklyn and San Francisco, which seek to make the drivers full employees. If the suits are successful, they could cripple Uber’s business model, though some legal experts have said they are skeptical that the drivers could prevail when they use their own vehicles, and decide themselves when and whether to pick up passengers.

That leaves the traditional route of union organizing, which, in the case of the strikers in New York, has become chaotic. About a year ago, the Uber Drivers Network approached Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, one of whose organizers has been helping them plan rallies and collect union cards. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, an advocacy group for yellow cabdrivers, claims to have signed up nearly 5,000 Uber drivers in the city. And on Feb. 2, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1430, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking to represent another 600 Uber drivers who work at La Guardia.

Mr. Diallo and his team have been working on a secret weapon: a driver-owned app to compete with those from Lyft and Uber, those from other ride-hailing companies like Gett and Via, and the taxi industry’s own two e-hailing systems, Way2Ride and Arro. The drivers designed the app themselves and have hired a company called Swift Technologies to build it. It could be ready as early as next month.

“The solution is not to stay with Uber,” Mr. Diallo said. “The solution is to have our own platform — to build a real partnership and really be partners.”

For now, however, they are still planning strikes, even if the one on Super Bowl Sunday was of questionable effectiveness. The drivers celebrated the action on their Facebook page, posting a screen shot of Uber’s app that night — accompanied by the hashtag #SHUTDOWNSUPERBOWL — that showed a wait time at Kennedy Airport of 72 minutes.

But the very next morning, Uber sent an email to its drivers announcing that the day before, it had broken its record for the most trips on a Sunday.

“Thanks to you, our driver-partners,” the email read, “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers moved safely around the city this weekend.”

photo credit: nationofachange.com

US Attorney General’s Daughter Arrested after Failure to Pay Her Uber-T Fare in Brooklyn

The stepdaughter of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch found herself in trouble with the law after failing to pay a cab driver in Brooklyn, police sources said Sunday.

Kia Absalom was taken into police custody and placed in a holding cell at the 69th Precinct stationhouse in Canarsie after she couldn’t cover her $20 fare about 3:30 p.m. last Monday, according to police sources.

Hassan Almaweri drove the cab that Kia Absalom, stepdaughter to U.S. Attoney for New York Loretta Lynch, allegedly couldn’t pay for.

Hassan Almaweri drove the cab that Kia Absalom, stepdaughter to U.S. Attoney for New York Loretta Lynch, allegedly couldn’t pay for.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

 

“I asked her to pay me,” Almaweri told the Daily News.

“She said, ‘No, I paid by the app.’”

“What do you mean, the app?” Almaweri says he responded.

 

Almaweri is a taxi driver signed up for UberT — Uber’s taxi hail option, according to a spokesperson for the app. For a $2 fee, riders can use Uber to book a yellow or green cab and then pay with cash or credit, not through the app.

Absalom, whose father, Stephen Hargrove, married Lynch in 2007, said she didn’t have any credit cards on hand but had credit card numbers, which the driver refused to accept, police sources said.

“So I drive her to the police station,” Almaweri said. “I go to the police and say, ‘This lady doesn’t want to pay me.’”

A sergeant who was involved with the dispute said Absalom never made mention of her relationship to Lynch.

After Absalom was placed in a cell, her boyfriend came and paid the fare, the cabbie and police sources said. Police voided the arrest, and Absalom was released without ever being fingerprinted or processed, sources said.

Later that day, a lieutenant at the precinct notified the department of the arrest and an internal review was launched, police sources said.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

On Thursday, Absalom’s father, along with FBI agent John Robison, visited the precinct to make sure that Absalom didn’t get preferential treatment and that the incident was handled properly, sources said. They even verified that Absalom’s shoelaces were removed after she was placed in a cell, just like anybody else in custody, sources said.

Lynch was sworn in as attorney general in April.

Article Originally Featured on NY Daily News

*Photo Credit: “Loretta E. Lynch Addresses the CERD Committee” By: United States Geneva’s Photostream/Source: Flickr

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

New Technology and Apps Shaping the Way We Hail a Cab

Hailing a cab in the city is officially high-tech, and these are the apps that are currently being ushered.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a yearlong pilot program to let New Yorkers hail one of the city’s more than 13,000 yellow cabs from their smartphones, the first time anything other than street hails will be allowed. Similar programs have existed in cities around the world and across the United States.

Most of the apps follow the same general format: The app will use your phone’s GPS to find you or you enter an address; you then tell it to ping nearby cabbies; and then a driver in the area who gets the request will come pick you up. Most of the apps allow live GPS tracking of the driver, as well as automatic payments (in addition to cash).

The drivers need to have the cabbie version of the apps activated for them to work.

“It’s the TLC’s job to represent passengers, and when new technology comes along, we want to make sure it’s available to them,” TLC Commissioner David Yassky said when the program was approved. “New York City is known for embracing innovation, and we’ve certainly done that today.”

Traditional caller and dispatch cab companies have also had to make some changes throughout the years.  Rafael, owner of Delancey Car Service for over 30 years, informed us that they have had to incorporate new technologies as.  Their current website allows clients to schedule a cab pick-up or drop-off.  On the site they’re also able to pay and specify specific needs or requirements that a cab company may have.  They are currently working on a mobile app that should be available within a year.

Here are four of the apps that will launch or have already launched:

  • Hailo

One of the biggest international cab-hailing apps, Hailo has enormous footprints in London, Toronto, Tokyo, Ireland and other locations. It was started by three London cabbies and three entrepreneurs, and launched in the United States in October in Boston, followed by Chicago in November.

Founder Jay Bregman said the city took a “huge step in the right direction” by allowing smartphone hails.

“The market is really inefficient; people find it difficult to get a taxi,” he said. “We create efficiency. . . . We want to bring the tech we know to help solve some of the fundamental problems.”

Technology: iOS apps you need right now

 He added: “It’s really just the natural evolution of a hail.”

Price: Riders pay $1.50 per hail, more during rush hour

Features: After hailing a cab, you can watch the cab’s progress throughout the city in real time; users can enable automatic payments so they can jump out of the cab when they reach their destination.

Platforms: iPhone, Android

 

  • Uber

Uber has become the best-known name in the country for its car services, and has launched in dozens of cities including Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles. Its app has already been active for livery cabs in New York for some time, but faced trouble when it launched a hailing program for yellow cabs in September, which it shut down after about a month.

Still, Uber’s reach is undeniable, and its already massive foothold in the city gives it a leg up on competitors.

“Only Uber has a proven record in New York City, successfully connecting drivers and riders thousands of times and delivering more money for drivers,” spokesman Stu Loeser said.

Price: Unconfirmed, but in the ballpark of $1.50 to $2.50 per hail

Features: Has an existing infrastructure in the city with its livery cab service, so if no yellow cabs are available, users can easily get a sedan, town car or SUV; users can keep credit card info on file.

Platforms: iPhone, Android, Web app and SMS

 

  • TaxiMagic

One of the oldest apps in the car-hailing space, TaxiMagic this month is marking its four-year anniversary. Some 25,000 cars in 51 U.S. cities are on its network, including San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and more, making it one of the largest such apps in the country. It has long had its eye on the city, but only now has the chance to swoop in.

“This is just going to be a huge opportunity. New York is the most iconic taxi market in the entire world,” said TaxiMagic spokesman Matt Carrington. “This has become such a hot start-up space with a lot of momentum; we’re just really excited to be able to move in and show off our capabilities.”

TaxiMagic already serves New York with its sister app SedanMagic, which, like Uber, gives it a built-in familiarity with the market.

Technology: Android apps you need now

Price: Unconfirmed, but about $1.50 to $2.50 per hail

Features: Users can submit requests to pre-schedule rides; live GPS taxi-tracking; users can keep credit card info on file.

Platforms: iPhone, Android, Web app, SMS

 

  • GetTaxi

 

A popular international service, GetTaxi is an Israeli-based cab-hailing app that operates in more than dozen cities worldwide, including Moscow, London and a handful of cities in Israel. After launching in February 2010, the app quickly grew, and now it used once every second during peak times.

GetTaxi initially expressed interest in New York City in June, when it submitted a proposal to the TLC to become the city’s official taxi app. Though that ultimately fell through, the app’s chief executive has said the app is ready to be one of the first apps to participate in the program.

Price: Unconfirmed

Features: Estimated time of arrival and distance show in the app in real time; passengers can rate drivers and track previous rides; users can keep credit card info on file.

Platforms: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry

Original Article Featured on Newsday (has been modified for accuracy and a company feature for Delancey Car Service)

*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

Carpooling with UberPool Leads to Love Connections

Uber is fast becoming the Big Apple’s hottest dating app — as single New Yorkers are using the car service’s ride-share option to meet up with strangers for some back-seat romance.

Although taxi riders were once reluctant to share a late-night cab ride with someone they didn’t know, passengers say the UberPool service offers the perfect setting for a spontaneous blind date.

“I’ve actually never met anyone at a bar, but being in a car with someone puts you in a situation to really talk to people,” said Upper East Sider Ian Sebastian Gall, 34.

The Midtown lawyer says he has gotten his share of phone numbers while sharing rides around Manhattan with available women.

While using the ride-share service one evening in September, Gall struck up a conversation with a woman who lived a block away. They chatted about sports — he made fun of her for being a Red Sox fan — and grew so comfortable together that he got her phone number.

On another ride, he convinced an engaged fellow passenger to hook him up with her friend.

Artist Joshua Hurt took an Uber to La Guardia on Friday morning and ended up meeting the man of his dreams. He plans on calling him for a date when he gets back into town later this week.

“I’ve found a lot of things in the back of an Uber and I’ve done a lot of things in the back of an Uber, but I never thought I’d find love in the back of an Uber,” said Hurt, 28, of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

These love connections are possible because New Yorkers are, for the first time, willing to share car rides with strangers.

Back in 2010, the Bloomberg administration experimented with taxi-sharing stands in the hopes of encouraging riders to get into cabs with strangers, saving themselves money and keeping cars off the streets. But passengers were not willing to share their space and the trial fizzled.

Uber, however, seems to have finally cracked the code. During one week in October, nearly 50,000 passengers used the UberPool service, effectively taking a car off the road for the equivalent of 60,000 miles by sharing, company officials said.

The difference is that, unlike with the ride-share stations where passengers had to sort out where they were going and who was paying what, the app does that work for them, said Josh Mohrer, Uber’s general manager in New York City.

“Riders can’t be standing around asking, ‘Are you going that way?’?” Mohrer explained.

Article Originally Posted on The New York Post

*Photo Credit: “Lincoln Town Car” By: Jason Lawrence/Source: Flickr

Uber Expands to College Towns in Upstate New York to Curb Drunk Driving

Uber Moves to College Towns in Upstate New York to Curb Drunk Driving

As part of the ride-hailing service Uber’s push to expand to upstate New York, it has a specific message for college students: We want to help you get home safely after a night of drinking.

The company’s app is popular among millennials, but it is not available in upstate college towns. Uber officials hope the State Legislature will pass new rules allowing the service to move beyond New York City next year.

Despite its many fans, Uber has faced legal problems in the United States and abroad, and criticism over its aggressive tactics. As part of the company’s efforts to adopt a softer tone, officials have said the service can help reduce drunken driving.

Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber NY, spoke at the state Capitol on Tuesday in favor of expanding the ride-sharing service into the Albany area. A Push to Use Ride Sharing to Drive Economic Growth in Upstate New York.

Travis Kalanick, chief of Uber, last month in Munich. He spoke about compromising with regulators he once sparred with.   Some students are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Uber and other ride-hailing apps like Lyft. At Syracuse University, Aysha Seedat, the student association president, has recently called attention to the need for the apps in the city. When students leave bars late at night, she said, many are

Friends toast at P.J. Wheelman’s after using the program in Evesham, where local officials said drunken driving had increased.

Over the summer while she was home in northern New Jersey, where Uber operates, Ms. Seedat and her friends used the app instead of trying to figure out who would drive home.

“We’re going to take an Uber, and we’re not going to take any chances,” Ms. Seedat, a 21-year-old senior who is studying public policy, said.

In the next few weeks, the university’s student assembly plans to vote on a resolution to support new ride-hailing legislation. Ms. Seedat has talked to students at other universities, including Rochester Institute of Technology and the State University of New York at Buffalo, about sending a joint letter to state legislators arguing that the services would improve safety.

This month, Uber began offering free rides home from bars in Evesham Township in southern New Jersey, a community where local officials said drunken driving had increased. From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., residents can request a ride from Uber or another ride service, and the township will pay for them through Jan. 2.

“If you feel that you’re not capable of driving home, we’re going to make it really, really simple for you,” the township’s mayor, Randy Brown, said at a news conference this month.

In New York, Long Island is known for having among the highest number of alcohol-related crashes in the state. A crash this summer in Suffolk County, in which a man was charged with driving while intoxicated after hitting and killing four young women riding in a limousine, brought renewed attention to the problem.

About four out of five alcohol-related crashes in the state happened outside New York City in 2013, despite the city’s huge share of the population, according to state data. The counties that include Buffalo and Rochester, where a number of colleges are, also have among the highest number of crashes.

Donald Hallowell, 46, an Uber driver participating in the Evesham program.

The state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving plans to lobby for a ride-hailing bill during the next legislative session, which begins in January. Richard Mallow, the group’s state executive director, said the apps reach young people where they spend much of their time — on their smartphones.

Last week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, signaled that he wanted to create a statewide licensing system for ride-hailing companies. As Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, quarreled with Uber this summer over his proposal to cap the number of for-hire vehicles in New York City, Mr. Cuomo praised the company for creating jobs.

But taxi groups and others have questioned whether the company creates good-paying jobs. Uber says its drivers are independent contractors, but several recent local rulings have said that they should be considered employees. Opponents have also argued that new state rules could remove current consumer and driver protections in the industry.

Not all students support the effort. Stony Brook University on Long Island already has plenty of safe travel options for students who are drinking, including a reliable local taxi service called Lindy’s, said Cole Lee, the president of the university’s undergraduate student government. Mr. Lee, 20, who lives on campus and owns a car, has never used Uber.

“Although it sounds nice, I can’t say that I could see it being extremely successful here,” he said.

In Buffalo, a blog and apparel company called Rise Collaborative recently started an online petition calling for ride-hailing apps in upstate New York, and many college students have signed on. The founders of the blog and Ms. Seedat said they were not prompted by Uber officials to take up the cause — they simply see a need for it.

The mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie A. Miner, a Democrat, said she wanted Uber in her city and believed the competition could prompt local car services to improve.

“There is a big need for it here,” she said, “and I think you’re seeing particularly among young people an expectation to have Uber.”

Article Originally Featured on The New York Times

*Photo Credit: “51920006” By: Samantha Cohen/Source: Flickr

  1. Pingback

Uber Driver Says: Driving for Uber Lets Me Live My American Dream

Uber Driver Says: Driving for Uber Lets Me Live My American Dream

Article Originally Featured on The New York Post

People are constantly talking about the American dream, but I want to talk a bit about the New York City dream. As a first-generation New Yorker, I was struggling to support a family in this expensive city until I started partnering with Uber. Now, I’m supporting three sons and a wife and am able to pursue my real passion on the side — music.

I was born in the Dominican Republic, and moved to New York City when I was 9 years old. I’m proud to have called The Bronx my home for 25 years. New York is the greatest city in the world but, as everyone knows, it’s not the most affordable.

I drove a yellow taxi for more than 10 years, and it was a constant struggle to make ends meet. I was always stressed about the fact that I couldn’t spend enough time with my family and wondered how I’d pay the bills each month.

I was earning between $30,000 and $40,000 a year. I thought that finding a job that allowed me to earn enough to support my family and give me time to pursue my dream of becoming a singer and spend time with my children would be impossible — until two years ago, when I found Uber.

The difference between driving a yellow taxi and partnering with Uber is like day and night.

With Uber, I make about $60,000 a year — and right now, I’m only working three days a week. Friday nights are incredibly busy for both taxi riders and Uber riders. When I was driving a yellow taxi, the most I could take home on a Friday was about $200 — and I had to work until 4 a.m. With Uber, I can make up to $600.

And last year, there were several instances when I made $7,000 in one month alone. The earning potential along with the flexibility and freedom is incredible.

I certainly don’t miss those grueling 12-hour shifts I was forced to work when I drove a yellow cab. I started off every day owing the medallion owner money. I barely slept. I barely saw my family. I always had a medallion owner breathing down my neck, and I was unable to take a vacation or else I would risk losing my right to lease the vehicle. I had no control over my life or my time.

Partnering with Uber doesn’t just mean more money in my pocket. It means I have time to work with my wife (who is also a singer) on recording our second album together because I can start or stop working whenever I want. We have time to perfect our craft and promote our work.

It also means I take my kids to baseball practice, music classes and school. Anyone who has three boys under the age of 7 knows how much time it takes to ensure they all get quality time with their dad.

Being a positive role model in their life is priceless. My family and I also got the opportunity this summer to visit the Dominican Republic, where I grew up, so I could show my children my roots — and what has grown from them, thanks to Uber.

But the most important benefit of working for Uber — for myself as well as my family — is the peace of mind we’ve gained. We’re no longer stressed about paying the bills and are more focused on spending quality time with one another and doing what we love. We’re happier — after all, we’re living a life we only dreamed of not all that long ago.

And as I’ve learned since becoming an Uber partner, my experience is far from unique — it appears to be par for the course.

Partnering with Uber gives you the chance to create your own earning potential — to stop letting others set limits on your own career. That’s the true New York City dream. I’m living proof.

Samuel Nunez has been an Uber driver-partner for two years. He lives in The Bronx with his wife and three sons.

*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

  1. I’ve heard about the “great” earning potential with Uber, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that an Uber driver can net anything more than $500 a week working three days. Leasing or renting a TLC vehicle is costly and so is gas.

TLC Lawyer: TLC Illegally Took Away Taxi Cars and Ubers

Illegal car seizures violated drivers’ constitutional rights: judge

Original Article Featured on The New York Post

The city Taxi & Limousine Commission violated ​the constitutional rights of ​​ drivers by illegally seizing their cars, a ​Manhattan ​federal judge ruled ​Thursday.

​The ​TLC ​officers have ​been taking the cars of drivers ​they believed were acting as cabbies​ without a hack’s license​, as well as the cars of Uber drivers suspected of driving outside the scope of their licenses.

The vehicles were held until the owners either plead​ed​ guilty and pa​id a fine or post​ed a bond equal to the highest possible penalty.

​In her ruling, ​Judge Valerie Caproni said grabbing drivers’ cars violated their 14th and Fourth amendment rights to due process ​and freedom from unreasonable seizure.

Five ​car owners sued TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi, Deputy Commissioner Raymond Scanlon and the city last fall after their cars were seized​. They are just a fraction of the up to 8,000 cars the TLC seizes per year.

“It’s a whole scam,” said Uber driver Michael Krepak, whose car was seized at Kennedy Airport last month. “They are doing it to hundreds of people a day and taking advantage of working people.”

TLC officials said they have instructed their officers to immediately stop seizing cars while the agency ponders its next move.

As a TLC lawyer with over 25 years of experience, we can defend your TLC and NYC traffic tickets.  An experienced Traffic Attorney can help lower points on your license or get rid of charges altogether.  Call (212) 227-9008 immediately or email MichaelBlock.Law@gmail.com for more information on how to fight your NYC traffic tickets.

*Photo Credit: Taxi Driver by Jim Pennucci/Source: Flickr

A New Look for Yellow Cabs to Compete with Uber

Traffic Ticket Lawyer: A New Look for Yellow Cabs in New York City

As of this month, New York City’s standard yellow cab will be the Nissan NV200, reports fortune magazine.  This change should result in a more comfortable ride for passengers as the new vehicle has a sunroof and charging outlets.  The entry of the new vehicles comes at a time of struggle for traditional yellow cabs.  Since Uber has entered New York City, Mayor Bill de Blacio’s administration has attempted to cap the amount of Ubers on the streets, but Uber’s successful campaign against de Blacio’s proposed regulations shut down the possibility of the cap.  The newer solution is to offer a better taxi experience to boost yellow cabs as an industry.

*Photo Credit: “NYC TAXI” By: Vinoth Chandar/Source: Flickr

Why is Uber so Successful?

Uber has successfully created more job opportunities and transportation opportunities for low-income neighborhoods, according to Economic Policy for the 21st Century.  Uber’s boom and success in garnering clients and faithful employees can be attributed to its partnerships and business model.

Since Uber is considered a ride-sharing company, their employees own their own vehicles and work as independent contractors.  This gives each employee more autonomy to work on their own schedule.  Technically, the Uber app is a tool that links drivers and passengers.  Drivers work with Uber instead of for Uber.  This makes ride-sharing an attractive employment opportunity.  Interestingly, the majority of Uber’s drivers work part time.  Reports also show that they’re highly satisfied.

Uber continues to grow and expand.  There were almost 9.5 million UberX rides last year and a 450 percent increase in monthly ride share from January to December in 2014.  Uber’s rapid growth is proof that they’re keeping clients and employees happy.

*Photo Credit: “Lincoln Town Car” By: Jason Lawrence/Source: Flickr

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Uber Statistics Are In!

Uber has recently revealed the highly anticipated information on its drivers servicing New York City. Uber has released the exact ride numbers for the past 2 months in an attempt to rebuff Mayor Bill Deblasio following the City Council’s vote on a potential new cap for ride share companies. Uber released this information in a 56-page Excel document that details the number of pickups and active drivers currently on the road with the Uber app turned on for the last couple of months, all broken down by hour. Rides are also broken down into sections of New York City, like below 59th street in the city’s central business district. On July 19th, there were 3,198 Uber drivers active during the full 24 hours of that day. An interesting fact from the data revealed that the month of June saw 3,492,389 Uber pickups in New York City. Another fact to look at is that Uber’s busiest times are almost always late at night, with some days nearing 150 requests a minute between 9pm – 12am. What do you think of these statistics?

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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City Council to Hold Vote on Uber Cap Next Week

The City Council will take up a vote on two bills next week that could cause serious problems for Uber and other ride sharing companies. The first bill proposes a moratorium on licenses issued for app-aided private car services in NYC until the industry is sufficiently regulated. The second bill will set up a study to analyze the effect the influx of Uber and ridesharing cars have caused on the city environment in terms of traffic and air quality.

Opponents of these bills could cut thousands of jobs for drivers currently employed by

Uber and believe these new bills are simply Mayor de Blasio’s way of supporting the yellow taxi industry, which was a large source of donations to his mayoral campaign. The yellow taxi industry has been hit especially hard by the competition presented by Uber and Lyft, as evidenced by the value of yellow taxi medallions dropping dramatically and the fact that there are more Uber cars in NYC than yellow taxi cabs.

Do you think this cap is a good thing? Or should Uber be allowed to grow at their own pace?

 

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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?

City Seeks to Limit New For-Hire Cars

Last Tuesday, New York City officials introduced a proposal to limit the number of new for-hire vehicles like the ones employed by Uber. Uber had previously announced its goal to add 10,000 new drivers for the city by the end of this year. The new proposal, however, will limit the amount of drivers that companies like Uber can add to the streets. One reason behind the proposal is the assumption that the 25,000+ vehicles that Uber has already added to the streets of Manhattan since 2011 have caused a rise and worsening in the traffic congestion of the area. The proposal is backed by a study examining the affected traffic, noise, air quality, and public health of NYC. The study is currently undertaken by the Taxi and Limousine Commission which regulates the taxi and car service industry of New York City. Uber has opposed the proposal claiming that the legislation would “stifle innovation”.

496 Uber Cars Seized for Illegal Pickups

The TLC has been cracking down on illegal taxi pickups, and that has resulted in 938 black, livery, and luxury cars taken off the street – with 496 of them being affiliated with Uber. Many of the Uber cars that were seized took part in illegal pickups at JFK, which has been an ongoing problem for the TLC. Unlike yellow taxi cabs, black cars cannot take street hails – pickups must be made through a base dispatch, or in the case of Uber and other companies like Lyft, through smartphone apps.

We want to know: do you think these Uber drivers should have received a summons before their cars were seized? What should happen if they keep making illegal pickups?

Long Island Uber Drivers May Face Jail Time

23 Uber drivers have been charged with violating East Hampton’s taxi licensing law, and the attorney representing the drivers expects that jail time could be a very real possibility. Uber, which came to the Hamptons 3 years ago, was suspended by the town last week for the licensing violations. The penalties for the taxi license violation, which is a misdemeanor crime, are a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail.

Town officials claim that Uber has had over a year to work with the town’s licensing law, but the ride-sharing app chose to withdraw from the town and start a petition campaign instead of complying. Other local-based ride-sharing apps are beginning to launch and could provide competition to Uber if and when the company returns to the Hamptons.

Please let us know your thoughts: Do you think jail is too stiff a penalty for the Uber drivers?

10% of all Uber Rides Happen in China

While it might seem like Uber has taken over New York City, especially since Uber cars now outnumber Yellow taxi cabs, it has just been reported that 10% of all Uber business takes place in China. That works out to 100,000 rides a day in China, compared to the roughly 34,000 rides a day Uber makes in NYC. Still, Yellow taxi cabs make much more rides per day than either of those numbers combined, with a whopping 485,000 rides a day in NYC.

What do you think of these numbers? Are they surprising? Do you expect the number of Uber rides to keep increasing?

Record Number of Fines Issued for Illegal Airport Pickups

Over the past two years, the number of tickets issued by the TLC to taxi drivers for illegal airport tickets has skyrocketed by 150%. The TLC issued 431 illegal pick up tickets in April 2015, compared to 171 issued in April 2013. The yellow cab industry claims that the spike in tickets is due to Uber and other ride-sharing apps that are making illegal pickups, while the TLC claims that the increase came about because they have added many more patrols to the airports to combat the illegal pickups.

If you are a taxi driver and have been issued an illegal airport pick up ticket, please contact us as soon as possible at 212-227-9008 to see how we can help you.

Uber Drivers Turning Cars into Yellow Taxi Cabs

The TLC recently amended a law to allow cars that are not brand new to become yellow taxi cabs, and some drivers have jumped at the chances. The original law, which was enacted almost 20 years ago, stated that only new cars could join the city’s taxi fleet; this amendment allows for cars that are no more than 2 years old to become yellow taxi cabs. 5 drivers have already gone through the process, with another 7 ready to go. One taxi driver was quoted as saying that “There are too many problems driving for Uber,” while another pointed to the fact that Uber has slashed fares in an attempt to undercut competitors. By undercutting fares, some Uber drivers cannot earn as much money and cannot afford to drive full time. Uber has stated that over 100 yellow taxi cabs join its fleet each week since they provide much more flexibility than taxi cab garages which often only offer 12 hour shifts.

Do you think this was a good move by the TLC?

Lawsuit Accuses Uber of Promoting Reckless Driving and Breaking NY Cell Phone Laws

A lawsuit brought against Uber by XYZ Two Way Radio Services and Elite Limousine Plus claims that the company’s drivers are a “pack of predatory drivers racing to win fares with their eyes on their phones instead of the road.” This is in reference to the fact that Uber fares are accepted via the smartphone app and also that the company urges drivers to communicate with each other by texting or calling. Since Uber drivers only have 15 seconds to accept a fare in their area before it goes to another driver, the lawsuit states that the drivers must be accepting fares on their phones while driving, which is in direct defiance of New York’s cell phone laws. The plaintiff’s attorney also claims that “Uber’s business model unleashes in this city thousands of drivers encouraged to engage in conduct that is not only unsafe, but unlawful.”

Reckless driving tickets and cell phone tickets both carry 5 points in New York in addition to heavy fines, and reckless driving is also a criminal charge. If you are a driver in New York and receive a reckless driving ticket, a cell phone ticket, or any other traffic ticket, please contact us at 212-227-9008 or michaelblock.law@gmail.com to see how we may help you.

Baby Born in Uber Car on the Way to the Hospital

A woman gave birth to a baby in an Uber car while they were on their way to Mt. Sinai Hospital. David Horvitz checked his Uber app when his wife woke up experiencing contractions and hailed the car since it was only 5 minutes away from their Crown Heights home. But they only made it to 57th and Park before the baby was born. Uber gave the driver two Knicks tickets for his good work, as well as having his car cleaned for him. The driver, as expected, said that this was the craziest thing to happen in his car. We wish all the best to the new happy family!

Judge Freezes NYC Taxi Medallions, Denies Seizure Request

A Manhattan judge has put a freeze on 87 medallions and taxi cabs owned by Gene Friedman, the “Taxi Kingpin,” but denied the seizure attempt made by CitiBank to collect on outstanding debt – for now.

Friedman owes CitiBank $31.5 million, and he used the taxi cab medallions as collateral when borrowing the money. The judge ordered Friedman to settle his debt with CitiBank by April 30, otherwise he would grant the seizure request. Friedman claims that he has been unable to pay back the loans due to the financial stress that Uber has put on the NYC taxi industry, and also because of the tightening of the bank’s lending practices.

Will Friedman be able to pay CitiBank what he owes in the next month? Or will Uber put the “Taxi Kingpin” out of business?

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More Uber Cars than Yellow Taxis in New York City

TLC data shows that there are 13,587 Yellow medallion cabs in New York City, compared with 14,088 Uber cars. The New York Post reports that Uber’s “competitive rates and higher pay have quickly lured drivers and customers away from traditional taxi service,” but Yellow taxis still make about 10 times the amount of trips that Uber cars make in the NYC. Uber drivers also do not have to worry about customers that skip out on paying their fare, which is a risk that all Yellow taxi drivers must face. Opponents of Uber, such as the TLC and Committee for Taxi Safety, are concerned because Uber does not pay surcharges to the MTA that help fund traffic improvements, takes away tax revenue from New York City because they do not participate in taxi medallion auctions, and contributes to traffic congestion in the city. What are your thoughts on Uber? Have you used the service or are you an Uber driver? Are the opponents correct?taxi3

Uber Forces "Taxi Kingpin" into Debt

Gene Friedman, known as New York City’s “Taxi Kingpin,” is facing foreclosure on at least 90 of his Yellow Taxi Cab medallions due to the car-hailing app Uber. It has been said that Friedman has been having trouble renting out his medallions because of Uber, and this has affected his ability to pay bills. Friedman, who owns a fleet of 900 Yellow Taxi Cabs, borrowed against his medallions, something an industry source claims in common in the NYC taxi cab industry. The New York Post reports that the value of medallions has dropped from $1.05 million in June 2013 to $800,000 as of this past January, and most experts claim that Uber is the cause for this loss. Citibank has now brought Friedman to court to recoup their money in what they say is an “absolute last resort.” What are your thoughts on Uber and the state of Yellow Taxi Cabs in New York City?

Yellow Cab Fares Dip as Uber and Other Services Pick Up Steam

taxi1The TLC reported that yellow taxi cab rides dropped by 6% from 2013-2014, while black car pickups from app services such as Uber have grown 200% in the same period. That’s not to say that people aren’t using yellow taxi cabs anymore, though – there was an average of 432,763 yellow taxi cab trips per day in 2014, compared with 28,843 Uber trips and 3,973 Lyft trips a day from July through September 2014. Do you think app service rides like Uber will ever overtake yellow taxi cabs? Or will yellow taxis always have a place in New York?

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