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The Taxi News for Tuesday July 29, 2014

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Marquette Park man held on $2M bail in taxi-driver murder case

Chicago Tribune - (Chicago, Illinois)

By Geoff Ziezulewicz Tribune reporter
4:38 p.m. CDT, July 27, 2014

Gregory James, 29, of the 6400 block of South Richmond Street, is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Edwin Obazuaye, a 48-year-old Forest Park man, on March 14, 2013, according to county prosecutors and court records.

An unnamed co-defendant, whose case is pending, called Obazuaye’s cab using James’ brother’s phone on that date, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Beth Novy.

The co-defendant told James he wanted to rob the cab driver and James decided to take part because committing robberies was sexually arousing to him, Novy said.

The two men got into Obazuaye’s cab in the 0-100 block of West 91st Street in Princeton Park and the co-defendant pointed a gun at the driver and demanded his belongings, Novy said.

But Obazuaye, an unlicensed cab driver, resisted, locking the back car doors as he drove around looking for police, she said.

The co-defendant struck the driver in the head with the gun and James grabbed Obazuaye from behind, Novy said. - more....

Taxicab driver stabbed by exiting passenger who didn’t pay fare

The Buffalo News - (Buffalo, New York)

on July 27, 2014 - 12:57 PM

A taxicab driver was stabbed by a passenger around 10:20 p.m. Saturday while dropping him off at 15th and Vermont streets and waiting for fare payment, Central District police said.

After the passenger exited the vehicle, he asked the cabbie, Lester Sessum, if he could use his cellphone. He grabbed the driver’s phone and stabbed him in his chest, stomach and hands, police said.

The suspect, described as a 30-year-old man with short hair and wearing blue jeans, a gray shirt and a baseball cap, fled, authorities said.

Sessum, 55, of Laurel Avenue, drove himself to Women & Children’s Hospital. He was transferred to Erie County Medical Center, where he was listed in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Taxi driver beaten in Wasaga Beach - (Oshawa, Ontario)
By Trina Berlo

A taxi driver is seeing Wasaga Beach in a new light after being beat up at the main beach while picking up a late night fare.

Rick Craddock was responding to a call to a main beach bar at 1 a.m. on June 22 when a group of people on Mosley Street attempted to hail the cab near First Street.

“I really couldn’t tell you how many there were but there was quite a few of them. Witnesses say there was six or seven of them. They jumped in front of the cab, they had me stopped and they were trying to get in,” said Craddock, 58.

He said he rolled down the window and explained that the cab was not available as he was going to pick-up customers at Bananas. He told them to phone the cab company and he would be back to get them.

“Of course, that wasn’t good enough. As I pulled away there was a huge bang on the side of the cab,” said Craddock. “I got out and approached the kids.”

He said groups of people were standing around, arguing about who was to blame when one person pushed him to the ground.

Craddock got up and approached the young man.

“As I did, he grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and just started pounding on my face,” he said. - more....

Cab Attack

East Boston Times-Free Press - (Revere, Massachusetts)

July 25, 2014
By Times Staff

An East Boston couple was arraigned yesterday on charges they beat and robbed a cab driver that refused to break traffic laws in order to get them to their destination, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

Kristy Morgan, 28, and Robert Chamness, 32, both of East Boston, were arraigned in Boston Municipal Court yesterday on charges of unarmed robbery, malicious destruction of property over $250, and assault and battery. Morgan was additionally charged with resisting arrest and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Assistant District Attorney Jessica Erickson requested $2,500 bail for each defendant; Judge Michael Coyne declined to impose monetary bail and released Morgan and Chamness on their own recognizance.

According to prosecutors, a Tunnel Taxi cab driver walked into the District 7 Boston Police station on Friday to report that a man and a woman entered his taxi at the Maverick MBTA station shortly after 10:50 a.m. and paid $30 to be driven to Boston Medical Center. The woman allegedly instructed the driver to hurry up in order to get her to the medical center by 11:00 a.m., prosecutors said. When the driver refused to break the speed limit in order to comply, the woman allegedly reached from behind the driver’s seat to scratch the cabbie’s face, leaving red marks on the right side of the victim’s face near his eye. The male passenger then began punching the victim in the neck and at the base of his skull, prosecutors said. The victim’s glasses were broken during the assault. - more....

Mile High Cab rolls in metro Denver

KUSA-TV Channel 9 - (Denver, Colorado)

Denver Business Journal, news source 9:01 a.m. MDT July 28, 2014

DENVER - After a years-long legal and regulatory battle, Mile High Cab Inc. says it has begun providing transportation services to the public, making it Denver's newest taxi company.

"Mile High Cab will begin providing top-notch competitive taxicab services to the people and communities of the Greater Denver Metro area today," Mekonnen Gizaw, president of Aurora-based Mile High Cab, said in a statement Sunday. "We have worked hard and have overcome many obstacles to earn this opportunity. This is our American Dream."

Mile High has authority to operate 150 taxis in metro Denver. - more....

Throwing up in a cab may land you a $75 clean-up fee

CKWX 1130-AM - (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Industry admits it will be hard to enfroce

Sonia Aslam and Denise Wong    July 25, 2014 10:32 am

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Having too much to drink and losing your lunch in a taxi can now cost you more than your dignity; you could be hit with a clean-up fee.

The general rule has actually always been in place, but Carolyn Bauer with the Vancouver Taxi Association says there is now a set $75 fee.

She says this rule isn’t in place for children or people with a stomach flu; it’s geared towards people partying on Friday and Saturday nights.

“We’ve looked at absolutely everything and felt that $75 was reasonable. [We considered the time] the taxi has [to take] to leave the location where the situation has happened, come back to the lot or find a gas station with the shampoo in it, clean it, make sure that the seats are completely wiped down and try to get an air freshener in the vehicle so that he can again transport passengers,” explains Bauer.

She tells us it can take up to four hours for a cab that has been vomited in to be cleaned. - more....

Cab drivers in St. John's concerned about insurance increase

CBC News Newfoundland & Labrador - (Canada)

CBC News Posted: Jul 27, 2014 6:37 AM NT Last Updated: Jul 27, 2014 6:37 AM NT

Taxi drivers in St. John's say they're facing another steep increase in their insurance rates that could possibly put some companies out of business.

Facility Insurance, the cab industry's insurer, has applied to the Public Utilities Board for a 50 per cent rate increase, coming on the heels of a 50 per cent increase in 2013.

Doug McCarthy, general manager of Co-Op Taxi, said the consequences for cab drivers in the city would be dire.

"We know we're in a high-risk business, but we can't afford to accept it. It would bankrupt a lot of companies," he said.

McCarthy said while he accepts the general nature of the industry, the approval of the request would leave a big black hole.

He added if the insurance rates were increased again, taxi fares would double if cab companies passed the increase on to consumers.

San Diego Committee Wants Worn-Out Cabs Off The Road

KPBS - (San Diego, California)

Monday, July 28, 2014
By Megan Burks

Of all the days to call a hearing on taxis, the city of San Diego's public safety committee chose one during Comic-Con, a big moneymaker for cab drivers. But drivers who say drive unsafe cars and make poverty wages filled the committee room – and an overflow room – to push for reforms.

The skipped Comic-Con fares may prove worthwhile for those leasing worn-out cabs. The committee voted to cap the age of taxis on the road at 10 years and prohibit salvage vehicles from operating as cabs.

Speak City Heights found 40 percent of cabs in the city have passed the 10-year mark, and 20 percent have salvage titles, which could indicate they've been severely damaged in the past. Some drivers who spoke separately with Speak City Heights and San Diego State University researchers said they fear for their safety because of the condition of their cars. Some are in service for nearly 24 hours a day if leased by two drivers. - more....

FastCab app to leave Calgary after cab companies launch lawsuit

CBC News - (Calgary, Alberta)

CBC News Posted: Jul 26, 2014 12:11 PM MT Last Updated: Jul 26, 2014 12:11 PM MT

A Calgary company that developed a new way to hail a cab is now dropping the project.

FastCab was a smartphone app that linked licensed cab drivers to customers using GPS. At one point, the company owner says they had 200 taxis using the service, but the established cab companies they worked for stepped in to put a stop to it.

"It's a win for the driver, it's a win for the customer, it was a win for the city," said Jeff Doepker, founder of the company. "Everybody wanted to use it, and then the drivers' jobs were threatened."

He says the drivers then stopped using the app and many of the major taxi companies started launching their own smartphone apps.

The companies also launched a $1 million lawsuit against FastCab.

Doepker says now, FastCab is leaving Calgary but he hopes to start it up in a major Canadian city as well as in the United States.

Wanna Catch a Philly Cab? There's an App for That

WCAU-TV Channel 10 - (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

By Elizabeth Fiedler |
Monday, Jul 28, 2014 • Updated at 12:16 PM EDT

Gone are the days of standing on the corner with your arm outstretched, trying to hail a taxi. Or at least these days, there's another way — apps.

"We implemented an app that a customer can just use to their Android or iPhone devices and with a couple clicks on their phone, a cab will come to their location without them even having to provide an address - just based on their GPS location," said Ed Burkhardt, vice president of All Threes, a luxury sedan and taxi cab company so named because of its memorable phone number: 215-333-3333.

It isn't the only tech-savvy Philly area cab company.

Everett Abitbol is the owner of Freedom Taxi — those powder blue and maroon cabs on Philly streets.

"We wanted to be able to provide an app that allows you to, what we call, 'e-Hail a taxi.' Companies like Uber have forced the hand of the taxi industry across the country to embrace technology, and I think it's been a great thing," Abitbol said. - more....


Weld for Birmingham - (Birmingham, Alabama)

The cab situation in Birmingham stinks. I’ve never used one (like most people here I never drink when out because I’ll have to drive home at some point) but I’ve the heard stories and seen plenty of people wait endless hours for the cab they’ve called to arrive. Now Uber’s looking to move in to make all our cabbie sorrows disappear. I’ve used the service, and the ability to do everything from reserving a ride to paying through the app is infinitely better than the yellow cab model. Uber could be great for Birmingham. The Birmingham City Council apparently isn’t convinced.

The fight we’re having in Birmingham isn’t a personal vendetta against Uber. The problem is that Uber wants to move into the area while completely ignoring laws we’ve established to ensure our public safety and wellbeing. The “ride sharing app” is a taxi company that wants to pretend it isn’t a taxi company. It promises a safe, reliable service at a fair rate, but wants to skirt municipal regulations designed to ensure it carries out this promise. Taxis are considered common carriers, which under common law means those providing this service are exposed to heightened liability when things go bad. City governments tend to favor proactive measures to ensure the public’s wellbeing, so common carriers, including taxis, are generally subject to regulations and licensing requirements. Liability for its drivers’ actions and the need to comply with safety regulations is specifically what Uber aims to avoid by pretending it’s not a taxi service. - more....

The War Against Uber


The talented and lovely Jamie Murguia over at the S.C. Policy Council has an interesting piece up this week on Uber – the ride-sharing service that represents the very best of technological innovation, free market principles and environmental stewardship.

Uber is a web-based application that allows people to contract for transportation services and ride-sharing.  Founded in San Francisco in 2009, it recently launched in Greenville, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Have state officials welcomed Uber?  Hell no.  As Murguia points out in her piece, “the Office of Regulatory Staff issued a memo discouraging citizens from using the ride-sharing app because Uber vehicles and their drivers had not been properly inspected and licensed by the agency in the way traditional taxi cabs and their drivers are.”

ORS agents also infiltrated an Uber planning meeting in an attempt to “obtain information … regarding the driver/partner recruitment process.”

Meanwhile the City of Columbia, S.C. has announced a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to Uber users. - more....

UberX Drivers Might Never Get Any Better at Navigation

Citylab - (Internet)

GPS and the low-cost ride-hailing service make an inefficient combo.

    Aarian Marshall
    11:10 AM ET

A couple of years ago, British researchers discovered that London cabbies have particularly beefy brains. Their study, which followed 79 trainee taxi drivers and 31 non-taxi drivers (the controls) for three to four years as they got acquainted with London’s winding and congested streets, discovered that the taxi drivers eventually developed notable differences in their posterior hippocampi—changes not found in the brains of the controls. (The hippocampus, as the neurosurgeons among us will recall, manages the brain's memory tasks, including navigation.)

At the end of the study, even those taxi drivers who failed to pass their training tests were significantly better at memory tasks involving London landmarks than the control group. Maybe that's not surprising: Over the course of their driving, these cabbies learned London.

So what does all this have to do with UberX? Here in Washington, D.C., where the low-cost ride-hailing service has been around since August 2013, UberX generally works something like this: You request a car through the app, and a clean, mid-size vehicle shows up a short time later, piloted by a polite but confused driver from the suburbs. He asks where you're going, but really needs an address, because he's not very familiar with the city. He plugs your address into his GPS device, and away you go.

The obvious problem here is that GPS isn't always the most efficient way to navigate through a congested city. GPS won't remind you that it's closing time at the big club on K Street, which will create a traffic jam at the unlikely hour of 2 a.m. It won't tell you when the Nationals game is getting out. It won't tell you to avoid packed Connecticut Avenue below Dupont Circle under any and all circumstances. - more....

Europe, Africa, and the Middle East

Refuse a fare? Scunthorpe taxi drivers told they’ll get 8-12 points on their licence

Scunthorpe Telegraph - (Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, England)

By Scunthorpe Telegraph  |  Posted: July 26, 2014
By Harriet Whitehead

SCUNTHORPE cabbies have voiced their anger over new rules that they say could put them in danger.

As part of their Licensing Taxi Policy, North Lincolnshire Council has suggested drivers could receive eight to 12 points on their Hackney licence if they refuse fares "without a reasonable excuse" – with 12 points meaning they could lose their licence.

Now drivers have set up a new association to challenge the rules.

John Fleming, owner of Triple A Taxis and chairman of the new Scunthorpe branch of the National Taxi Association, said the drivers objected to the proposals.

He said: "At a licensing committee meeting we were told that we had to take fares no matter what and if we refuse for any reason we will be prosecuted.

"What happens if I get someone in my taxi who is threatening? I'm worried about my safety. Where is the safety for the drivers?

"There has been no consultation with us on this."

At a meeting this week, taxi drivers spoke of being verbally and physically abused and losing money because of people running off without paying.

One driver, Mahmoud Asaduzzaman, said: "Someone got into my car and said they did not have any money. I drove him around for about an hour and a half while he went from house to house saying he would get the money, but he didn't. I called the police, but they said it was a civil matter so I ended up with no fare."

Another, Dhilwar Hussain, said: "I refused to take somebody because they were too drunk and they smashed the window of my cab. Now the council is saying we can't refuse fares." - more....

Cab hailing app Easy Taxi raises $40M so you catch a ride in more places around the world

Venture Beat - (Internet)

July 28, 2014 7:58 AM
Ruth Reader

Insta-cab mobile app Easy Taxi just raised $40 million in its fourth round of funding to make its service more widely available.

The Berlin-based company launched in 2011 out of tech incubator Rocket Internet, known for creating clones of successful tech products. Easy Taxi is one of the main go-to apps for people in search of a quick ride in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

The company has roughly 185,000 drivers in its network and operates in more than 160 cities worldwide.

The company has raised $77 million to date, according to CrunchBase. Russian Phenomen Ventures led this round, with participation from Tengelmann Ventures, the investment arm of German retailer Tengelmann Group. The money will be used to help Easy Taxi capture an even larger share of the market in Latin America and Asia. - more....

Asia and the Pacific

Fare rejection tops gripe list against taxis

Bangkok Post - (Bangkok, Thailand)

    Published: 26 Jul 2014 at 06.04

Authorities are being flooded with complaints about taxi drivers, with refusing to take passengers topping the list of grievances.

About 15,000 complaints were made over the 1584 hotline during the past six months, and are divided into five categories.

The most common complaint — with 5,315 people phoning the hotline — was taxi drivers refusing to take them to their destinations, Land Transport Department chief Asdsathai Rattanadilok Na Phuket said yesterday.

Other categories included being rude to passengers, which registered 2,261 complaints; driving carelessly (1,823); not driving them to the correct destinations (1,543); and not using their meters (1,100).

The department has called in the offending drivers for questioning and officials have already fined 13,247, or nearly 85%, of them, Mr Asdsathai said. The rest are still under investigation, he added.

Those found guilty can be fined up to 1,000 baht. - more....

Ender Wiggin

Updated jul 28 @ 22:21 GMT


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