The Taxi News for Saturday August 23, 2014

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Cab driver shot, killed while picking up fare at Norcross apartment complex

WSB-TV Channel 2 - (Atlanta, Georgia)

Posted: 8:19 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014

NORCROSS, Ga. —

Norcross police are investigating the killing of a taxicab driver.

According to police, 36-year-old Afolabi Odifa was found slumped over behind the wheel of his taxi in front of 800 Chase Common Drive in Norcross at 11 p.m. Friday.

Medical examiners said he had been shot in the head.

Kelly Spain told Channel 2’s Liz Artz she was sitting on an upstairs balcony at the Spring Lake Apartments as she watched Odifa's taxi cab come to a slow stop behind several cars. She told Artz the head lights remained on and the car sat running for hours with no activity.

At first she said she didn't think anything of it, but when no one came or went from the cab she and a friend crossed the parking lot to check it out.

“We think that he's dead,” said Spain. “We didn't get a response, compressions in his neck from breathing."

Spain said she heard gunfire not in the complex, but in the vicinity, but she did not see anyone approach the cab.

She said she believes Odifa was shot beforehand and drove up to the complex.

The 36-year-old had only been driving a taxi for three months. - more....


Cab driver shot in leg at corner of Camp Street and Copeland Street

Rome News-Tribune - (Rome, Georgia)

    Posted on Aug 18, 2014
    by Kristina Wilder

Police are searching for an assailant who shot a Rome cab driver in the leg after calling him to pick up a fare at the corner of Camp Street and Copeland Street.

According to Rome police reports:

Officers recovered a black mask from inside the cab where the suspected shooter was sitting and a bullet fragment that had passed through the driver’s leg.

They collected fingerprints from the front door and the sliding door of the van.

The cab driver called 911 at 3:05 a.m. Saturday, saying he was shot in the leg. - more....


Fourth man arrested in killing of NYC cab driver

New York Post - (New York City, New York)

By Natasha Velez, Shawn Cohen and Jamie Schram
August 16, 2014 | 11:20am

Cops busted the fourth suspect in the brutal slaying of a Bronx livery cab driver earlier last week, police sources said.

Tommy Smalls was picked up in Midtown last night and turned over to the feds, police sources said. Charges against him are pending, police said.

The group of ultra-violent thugs was arrested Friday for carjacking a livery cab in The Bronx and killing the driver — and the three are also suspects in a nearly identical crime a week earlier, police said.

Takiem “Mulla” Ewing, 21, Tyrone “Man Man” Felder, 25, and Kareem Martin, 26, were charged with carjacking and killing Aboucabal Bah, 62, and making off with his car on Tuesday, according to court papers.

Police believe Tommy Smalls, 26, was the fourth accomplice, the sources said.

One of the three — authorities didn’t say which one — directed the West African immigrant to drive to a street in Longwood, where he shot Bah in the head as the other two swarmed the car and threw the dying father of five onto the street, law-enforcement sources said.

“These guys are an organized crew. They know what they’re doing,” said the source, noting that they wore masks and rubber gloves and picked a spot with no surveillance cameras to shoot Bah.

Ewing, Felder, and Martin are also being investigated for the Aug. 5 murder and carjacking of livery driver Maoudo Kane, 49, and for two armed robberies in Yonkers.


Suspect Charged In Cab Driver’s Death Given Death Penalty Expert As Lawyer

CBS New York - (New York City, New York)

August 18, 2014 7:49 PM

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – One of the defendants suspected in the shooting deaths of two livery cab drivers in the Bronx has been assigned a defense lawyer that is experienced in death penalty cases.

Tommy Smalls, 26, appeared in federal court so an attorney from the “capital panel” of lawyers, specially trained in capital punishment law, could be officially named to represent him.

Smalls is charged with carjacking with intent to cause death. If convicted, he faces a maximum of life in prison or the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.

Three other men, 21-year-old Takiem Ewing, 25-year-old Tyrone Felder, and 26-year-old Kareem Martin, are facing the same charge in connection with the Aug. 12 carjacking and killing of Aboubacar Bah. - more....


Man charged with Shreveport cab driver's death indicted on first degree murder charge

KSLA-TV Channel 12 - (Shreveport, Louisiana)

Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2014 6:01 PM EDT
By Sarah Nemeth

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

A Caddo Parish Grand Jury Wednesday returned an indictment for a man accused in the July slaying of a Shreveport cab driver.
Reginald Williams is now facing a charge of first degree murder for the death of Carlos Jenkins. Police said Williams, a passenger in Jenkins' Yellow Checker Cab, shot the 38-year-old driver in the head on July 5 near the 700 block of Central Street.

This charge is an upgrade as Williams had been held in custody at CCC on a second degree murder charge. - more....


Man chokes cabbie with phone cord after trying to pay with fake $100 bill, Lacey police say

The Star-Ledger - (Newark, New Jersey)

By Jeff Goldman | The Star-Ledger
on August 15, 2014 at 12:42 PM

LACEY — A cab driver was robbed when a passenger wrapped a telephone cord around his neck this morning, Lacey police said.

The man first tried to pay for his 4 a.m. ride from Lakewood to Lacey with what the driver suspected was a fake $100 bill, Chief David Paprota said. When the driver refused to take the bill, the passenger choked the driver with the cord and ordered him to hand over his money.

The suspect then ran from the cab with $124 into a wooded area near where the cab stopped on Lakeside Drive East just east of Mariner Road in the Forked River section of town, the chief said. - more....


Cold Case: Spring Valley, 1970 – Where Were You When Cabbie Died?

Times of San Diego - (San Diego, California)

Posted by Jennifer Vigil on August 21, 2014 in Crime

Sheriff’s homicide investigators have called again for information that could lead to a suspect in the fatal shooting of a cab driver in Spring Valley more than 40 years ago.

Larry Hargis, a Yellow Cab Company driver, was found dead in a field in the 800 block of Galopago Street near St. George Street on June 25, 1970, according to a sheriff’s department statement. His taxi and wallet were missing.

The last contact Hargis had with the cab company was hours before his body was found. He radioed a dispatcher and said he was driving a customer from 11th and C streets in San Diego to Spring Valley, sheriff’s officials said.

Hargis’ cab was later found abandoned in San Diego, on 16th Street near B Street, sheriff’s officials said.

Sheriff’s investigators said robbery was a possible motive in the killing, but a suspect has not been identified.

Anyone with information regarding Hargis’ death was asked to call the sheriff’s department’s Homicide Detail at (858) 974-2321, or to contact Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477 or via email at sdcrimestoppers.com.


Bronx cab drivers divided about surveillance cameras

The Bronx Ink - (Bronx, New York)

Posted on 19 August 2014.
by Saheli Roy Choudhury and Jennifer Luna

The recent killings of two livery cab drivers in Hunts Point and Co-op city has once again raised questions around the need for surveillance cameras inside cabs and how effective they are in preventing violent crimes committed against their drivers.

The  cameras inside the livery cabs of Aboubacar Bah and Maodo Kane were not working on the mornings when they were robbed and killed. Authorities said they could have caught the suspects much sooner if the equipment in the cars were functional.

The president of the African Cab Driver’s Association, Mamadou Kane, appealed to police and his fellow drivers to work on solutions. “My message to the community and my fellow cab drivers is to stop the violence,” he said, speaking at the Futa Islamic Center Mosque on 3rd Avenue in the Bronx last Friday, where a short funeral service was held for Aboubacar Bah. “As for my cab drivers, keep your car in good shape.” Kane, not related to the slain Maodo Kane, urged drivers to ensure their cameras and radios are working at all times.

Bronx-based cabbie Mamadou Bah said he believes the camera deters foul play. “These dangerous people are going to see the camera and not get inside,” he said.

Another livery cab driver, however, was not convinced that a working camera in the cab would ensure his safety. “The camera is not the best thing when you’re dead,” said Abrahim Barrie, a friend of the slain Aboubacar Bah. - more....


Yellow Cab Medallion Owner Hit With $1.6 Million TLC Fine Has a Police Record Including Public Nudity

BetaBeat - (Internet)

The petty and perplexing crimes of a cab company owner

By Polly Mosendz 8/19 4:00pm

As Uber and Lyft battle to disrupt the next generation of moving New Yorkers around in cars, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has slapped a giant fine on a dubious practitioner of the current method — a fine that just might “scare the pants off” Symon Garber, the medallion impressario whose penchant for taking his trousers off has previously landed him in hot water with the authorities.

Working with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the AG’s office has hit Yellow Cab SLS Jet Management Corp with a whopping $1.6 million fine. Jet Management, one of the largest medallion owners in the city with 275 in total, charged almost 2,000 drivers using its yellow cabs “late fees.”

“Late” charges of any kind are not in line with TLC standards nor New York State regulations, but these were not really late fees in any normal sense of the word. Jet Management charged drivers for late payment if they did not pre-pay for their shift; however, prepayment is not allowed by the TLC. - more....


No fare: Vancouver taxi driver calls for end to queue-jumping bribe scheme

The Vancouver Sun - (Vancouver, British Columbia)
 
By Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun August 19, 2014
 
No fare: Vancouver taxi driver calls for end to queue-jumping bribe scheme
 
Taxi driver Harpreet Singh has filed a letter of complaint with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s office about the ‘$5 network.’

A small clique of drivers at Vancouver Taxi is being accused of bribing hotel staff to direct long-haul YVR airport trips their way, in return for small but regular payments.

Termed a “$5 airport trip,” the fee is paid to door men or front desk staff who are asked by hotel guests to call them a cab. Instead of using the established taxi dispatch system, the staff call numbers operated by a network of drivers, who then hand them a cash reward.

By doing so, the bribing drivers queue-jump colleagues who have to wait in line for regular trips, most of which involve lower-paying short-haul trips.

Both the Vancouver Taxi Association and Vancouver Taxi say they are aware of the problem and have tried to stop it. But now the issue has reached Mayor Gregor Robertson’s office. On Monday he received a detailed letter from a young cabbie who says the practice may actually be illegal.

For two summers Harpreet Singh, 27, has leased a cab in order to pay his way through dental college. He grew angry last week when he went to pick up a fare at a small downtown hotel, only to discover that the ride was diverted to a member of the so-called “$5 network.” It was the second time he’d seen this happen, and he said other drivers have complained without results. - more....

See also:  Taxi industry bribery of Vancouver hotel door men hits a nerve


Cuomo administration approves city sale of taxi medallions

Capital New York - (New York City, New York)

By Dana Rubinstein 5:35 a.m. | Aug. 21, 2014

The de Blasio administration can finally proceed with plans for a taxi medallion sale the mayor has projected will garner the city $1.3 billion over three years, now that the Cuomo administration has approved a related plan to enhance wheelchair accessibility in the taxi fleet.

Last week, state transportation commissioner Joan McDonald told city taxi commissioner Meera Joshi that the city’s plan to make its taxis more accessible to wheelchair users was “compliant” with a 2011 law that created the city’s green borough taxi fleet and allowed the city to sell 2,000 regular yellow taxi medallions, according to a letter provided to Capital.

Taxi medallions can sell for more than $1 million each.

That 2011 law came with a catch, however. If the city wanted to sell more than 400 of those 2,000 medallions, it had to submit for state approval a broad-gauge plan to provide “meaningful” accessibility across the entire taxi fleet.

That plan, which the city submitted in June, calls for making at least half the yellow taxi fleet wheelchair-accessible by 2020 and half of the green taxis accessible “over time.”

The original 2011 law allowed the city to issue 18,000 green taxis licenses in three stages. The first 6,000 were issued last year and the second round began on Monday.

It's not clear if, or when, de Blasio, who has been wishy-washy on the question of borough taxis, will issue the third tranche. - more....


De Blasio finance commissioner will also regulate taxis

Capital New York - (New York City, New York)

By Dana Rubinstein 3:25 p.m. | Aug. 21, 2014

Today, the City Council approved Mayor Bill de Blasio’s appointment of his own finance commissioner, Jacques Jiha, to serve on the board of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Aside from T.L.C. chair Meera Joshi, Jiha is the only other appointment that de Blasio has named to the board that regulates New York City’s roiling and litigation-prone taxi industry. (He can technically name four boardmembers, but two of those four are serving out existing terms.)

During his testimony before the Council committee considering his appointment earlier this month, Jiha expounded on the unsettled nature of the taxi and limousine industry in 21st century New York.

“Until recently, the public had few taxi options—even less for those in wheelchairs or in the outer boroughs,” he said. “The market has now responded to that lack of choice: non-traditional taxis, e-hail apps, accessible dispatch, and service enhancements such as wheelchair-accessible taxis are now available.”

“Consumers expect more choices in this quickly evolving industry, and the T.L.C. should continue to play a crucial role in ensuring that consumers have viable and attractive options at various price points to meet growing consumer demand,” he went on. “At the same time, all market participants must be held accountable.” - more....


Montreal tables policy for city’s taxi industry

The Montreal Gazette - (Montreal, Quebec)
 
By jesse feith, The Gazette August 14, 2014
 
MONTREAL — Every taxi in Montreal being equipped with a camera and accepting electronic payments are the most pressing issues, and a standardized appearance across the city's fleet of cabs will have to come eventually, said Mayor Denis Coderre.

The city announced its first ever taxi industry policy on Thursday, one the mayor called important and long overdue.

"Taxis reflect the city's personality and bear its signature, not only through their visual appearance, but their human dimension, as expressed by their drivers," Coderre said.

The policy, which will be presented to the Montreal city council on Aug. 18, aims to heighten security measures for taxi drivers and their clients as well as modernize the city's fleet of taxis.

Coderre said the mandatory presence of cameras could deter taxi users from committing crimes and the drivers holding less cash on them will hopefully reduce the amount of robberies.

He stressed that the security issues are what will be dealt with first, and everything else will come afterward.

"Cameras in taxis is something that should have been done long ago," he said. - more....


Program helps taxis take advantage of hydrant space

CFFR-AM 660

Cindy White Aug 13, 2014 03:45:35 PM

In Toronto, fire hydrants have brought in more than $24-million in parking fines since 2008.

Here in Calgary, the haul isn’t nearly as lucrative at about $1.2 million, and in recent years the numbers have dropped about 30 per cent in the downtown core because of a new program.

It sees many hydrants used as taxi zones, instead of taking up valuable space elsewhere on the street. - more....


Uber ride-sharing company prepares for showdown with South Carolina regulators

The Post and Courier - (Charleston, South Carolina)

Abigail Darlington
Aug 17 2014 12:01 am Aug 17 1:41 pm

If you go

What: S.C. Public Service Commission hearing to determine whether Uber is a passenger carrier service.

When: 10 a.m. Sept. 18

Where: Commission hearing room, Saluda building, Synergy Business Park, 11 Executive Center Drive, Columbia, S.C., 29210

Uber shows no signs of bending to South Carolina's rule book about the state's transportation industry.

The multibillion-dollar technology company launched its controversial ride-sharing app UberX in early July in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Greenville and Columbia, and it has since been met with a wave of resistance from state and local policymakers.

The state Office of Regulatory Staff has filed complaints in a petition sent to the S.C. Public Service Commission, the agency that regulates transportation businesses such as taxis. The commission has set a hearing with Uber offi-cials in Columbia next month on whether the ride-sharing app belongs under the state's jurisdiction. If so, Uber could be told it has to abide by the same rules as taxis, which Uber has refused to do.

In a response to the state petition, Uber acknowledged that it bypasses state rules that require vehicle inspections and driver background checks conducted by state officials, among other measures that taxi companies must follow to be certified in the state.

At the same time, the company "denies that it is providing a passenger carrier transportation service or that it is otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the commission," according to the document.  - more....


SF cabdrivers vote to unionize as industry continues to take beating from ride services

San Francisco Examiner - (San Francisco, California)

By Jessica Kwong

San Francisco cabdrivers have decided that it's time to form a union.

The local industry has been reeling for years as venture capital-backed ride services like Uber and Lyft have proliferated and taxi companies' calls to The City to level the playing field have done little to help.

On Wednesday, cab drivers voted to initiate the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance, an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) -- marking the first time cabdrivers will be unionized in The City in more than four decades.

"If we don't form a union, we're toast," said Beth Powder, 35, a union organizer and driver and dispatcher for DeSoto Cab Co.

Cabdrivers discussed unionizing for a couple of months, but in a "standing-room-only" meeting at the Verdi Club on Wednesday night, they voted unanimously to move forward with making it official, said Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association.

About 150 taxi drivers signed up for the union and pledged to bring more drivers with them, Powder said.

A number of meetings and conference calls have been held with the AFL-CIO and the National Taxi Workers Alliance, the umbrella affiliate that includes alliances in New York; Philadelphia; Austin, Texas; and Montgomery County, Md.

The San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance will be the fifth member -- and the first independent -- contractor union in California. Also coming onboard the national organization are drivers in Chicago, Houston and Prince George's County, Md.

Among the benefits of being unionized, Powder said, is reversing the public -- and, to a degree, real -- perception that the taxi industry is disjointed. - more....


Union affiliation could help SF taxi industry – but possibly only in Sacramento

San Francisco Examiner - (San Francisco, California)

By Chris Roberts

In labor-friendly San Francisco, taking an Uber ride home is now an anti-worker affront.

The City’s taxi industry still faces an uphill climb against mobile app-hailed ride services like Uber and Lyft, which are taking business and drivers away from the traditional taxi industry.

But by taking the first steps to affiliate themselves with organized labor, San Francisco taxi drivers should be able to enjoy increased political clout in City Hall and in Sacramento, where taxi-friendly legislation could emerge next year, according to labor analysts.

And if it ever came down to standing arm-in-arm at the picket line, taxi drivers should be able to count on a few thousand friends from other labor organizations, union officials told The San Francisco Examiner on Friday.

Traditional labor unions are groups of employees who band together in order to bargain collectively for a better contract or improved working conditions.

That will not work with cabdrivers – for one, they’re not employees but rather independent contractors who affiliate themselves with a particular cab company. What this means is that state and federal labor laws over sick days and work hours will not apply, said John Logan, a professor of labor relations at San Francisco State University. And the traditional woes of a cabdriver – long hours, no health benefits or sick days, and no pension – may not be alleviated anytime soon. - more....


Cab Commission May Begin Van Service In Neighborhoods Underserved By Drivers

DCist - (Washington D.C.)

The city's Cab Commission is considering the creation of a van service to serve neighborhoods primarily east of the Anacostia River that are underserved by taxis.

DCTC Chairman Ron Linton today announced two new measures that will take effect on October 1 designed at making licensing easier for potential drivers and improving the "efficiency of the fleet."

A five-day commercial driver licensing process will be instituted this fall, taking the total time down from 60 to 90 days. Linton said taxi companies have expressed a need for more drivers. Applicants will take an exam, that's immediately graded, and will then undergo an FBI background check.

"That should make it very easy," Linton said.

DCTC will also activate a program in November that allows businesses to request cabs for a large number of riders. Linton said venues that host event like concerts can register with DCTC for the ability to submit a request for cabs. The request will then be spent via text message to drivers.

"We do not have the authority to mandate a response," Linton noted. - more....


Council moving forward with changes to taxi ordinance

Iowa City Press-Citizen - (Iowa City, Iowa)

Mitchell Schmidt, Iowa City Press-Citizen 11 p.m. CDT August 19, 2014

Iowa City officials are hopeful proposed changes to the city’s taxicab ordinance will result in added safety among customers and drivers alike.

The majority of the Iowa City Council expressed during Tuesday’s work session a desire to further pursue recommendations made by Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine.

The recommendations follow a sexual assault investigation that became bogged down last year when officers spent hundreds of hours attempting to track down local cab driver information to build a case.

“We are asking for a few changes that we believe would assist us in future investigations and also assist cab owners maintain and run their companies with good, sound policies,” Hargadine said.

Hargadine recommends that all area companies hire drivers as employees, rather than as independent contractors who pay fees to the company owner in exchange for using the company name on privately owned vehicles, which is common in Iowa City, and that any company operating a taxicab business owns all the vehicles operating as taxicabs.

The changes would not only result in better records on area cab companies and their drivers, but would ensure all drivers are made eligible for company benefits, Hargadine wrote.

However, Councilor Susan Mims said she would like staff to explore alternatives to fully requiring cab companies to transition over to employees, which has the potential to cost people jobs.

“I think the additional cost of actually putting people on payroll can be prohibitive,” Mims said. - more....


PUC OKs Uber for temporary Pittsburgh-area service

The Washington Times - (Washington D.C.)

By - Associated Press - Thursday, August 21, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Uber has become the second ride-sharing company to satisfy insurance, safety and other requirements that give it temporary permission to operate in the Pittsburgh area.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission last month gave conditional approval for Uber and its competitor, Lyft, to obtain temporary licenses to operate in Allegheny County.

Lyft satisfied those conditions and was granted a 60-day permit to operate on Aug. 14. On Thursday, the PUC said Lyft had complied with the conditions, too. - more....


Seattle council votes to allow rideshares, increase taxis

KING-TV Channel 5 - (Seattle, Washington)

KING Staff, KING5.com 1:58 p.m. PDT July 14, 2014

SEATTLE - The Seattle City Council has passed new rules regulating rideshare companies, allowing them to operate in the city without a cap.

Monday's vote comes a week after council repealed rules it passed in March. The old rules would have limited the number of rideshare cars from each service to 150 at any given time.

Companies such as Lyft and Uber use smartphone apps to connect passengers with drivers who use their personal cars.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray had brokered a deal that lead to Monday's legislation. He had said the compromise encourages innovative transportation choices while also recognizing the taxi industry's role.

The new rules increases the number of taxis allowed in the city, details insurance requirements for rideshare companies, among other provisions.

Some cabbies tell KING 5 they will keep a camera in their cars despite the lifting of the requirement.

I want to keep it for the safety of myself and my customers, said Yellow Cab driver Salah Mohamed.

In 2006, Seattle required that surveillance cameras be installed in all cabs after a series of crimes and the murder of driver Hassan Farah, who was shot in his cab.


Tacoma's taxi regulations on hold for now

Insurance News Net - (Internet)

By Kate Martin, The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 21--New regulations for Tacoma's taxi industry will have to wait a little longer as city staff members and council members mull proposed changes.

Taxis have been regulated in Tacoma since around the 1940s, said Danielle Larson with the city's tax and licensing division.

In April, so-called "rideshare" companies Lyft and Uber started picking up riders in Tacoma. Instead of calling a taxi dispatch company, riders can download a smartphone app, create an account, add a credit card and summon a driver.

The regulations that taxi drivers have followed for decades do not apply to these new companies, which has led the City Council to examine the issue. The city has indicated it will lessen some of the more onerous requirements taxi drivers face, while bringing app-based ride services under the same city taxi code.

The new version of the code lowers fees, removes a requirement for an in-car camera and silent alarm, and does not require a driver to wear a uniform or fill out a daily trip sheets. - more....


Cities consider taxi cab authority

Lansing State Journal - (Lansing, Michigan)

Aug. 20, 2014
Written by Kurt Madden

EAST LANSING — Regulating and licensing taxi cab companies and drivers in Lansing and East Lansing may soon be controlled by a new authority that would cover both cities.

The East Lansing City Council got its first look at the concept of a Greater Lansing Taxi Authority on Tuesday.

Lansing officials are moving on a parallel track, with the proposal set to reach the Lansing City Council next week, an aide to Mayor Virg Bernero said.

The agreement would create a six-member authority to regulate that segment of the transportation network in the two cities, said Randy Hannan, Bernero’s chief of staff. Officials hope that surrounding communities also will join the authority, he said.

“There is a process built into the agreement for that to happen,” Hannan said. “Lansing and East Lansing now have their own sets of rules and the airport has its own set of rules. We think it makes sense to take a regional approach toward regulating this business sector.” - more....


Atlantic City cab drivers complain that limousines are poaching their business

Press of Atlantic City - (Atlantic City, New Jersey)

Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 8:50 pm
By DONNA WEAVER Staff Writer

Cab drivers are calling on Atlantic City officials to stop vehicles with limousine licenses from illegally operating as taxis, a practice they say has historically hurt taxi business in the resort.

Cab drivers said the three casinos poised to close over the next month, coupled with profit that taxis are losing to limousines and vans, means many of the city’s hundreds of cab drivers won’t be able to survive, said driver and city resident Saiful Alam.

Meanwhile, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said he is working with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to fund an extensive transportation study that will examine all aspects of the resort’s transportation issues and recommend any necessary changes. Officials also said this week that they will rewrite the city's code on exactly how limos and taxis should be operating. Taxicabs are permitted to pick up fares on the street, but limousines are not, officials said this week. But that doesn't stop it from happening in the resort. - more....


Elgin taxi service owner wants regulations for all cabs

The Courier-News - (Chicago, Illinois)

Janelle Walker
For Sun-Times Media
Aug. 20 10:20 a.m.

SOUTH ELGIN — It isn’t about competition that local taxi cab companies are not fond of Uber Cab or UberX — the app-based system which allows private vehicles to become a ride service — said Jaime Hjelm, one of the owners of locally-owned A-1 Cab Dispatch.

Hjelm said she’s concerned about an unfair playing field and the safety of customers using the service.

That concern came to the forefront recently for Hjelm following an early morning June 8 crash on Interstate 90. One of her drivers, Melba Farr, was killed when her taxi was rear-ended on the tollway and caught on fire. Hjelm’s GPS tracking system — which uses cell phone signals to update in real time — showed that Farr was moving at the posted speed when the crash occurred.

But since the crash, the other driver’s insurance company has refused to cover A-1’s losses, Hjelm said. Their investigation indicates the other driver was working for UberX and had just dropped off a passenger at O’Hare International Airport, Hjelm said.

Hjelm has been fighting Uber for more than a year and was informed of the other driver’s possible connection to the ride sharing app by the insurance company, she said.

While not yet prevalent in the suburbs as it is in Chicago, it does impact her company, Hjelm added. - more....


UberX driver sued in fatal Hoffman Estates crash

Daily Herald - (Chicago, Illinois)

Elena Ferrarin

A Hoffman Estates man who rear-ended a cab whose driver died more than two months ago on the Jane Addams Tollway was coming back from giving a UberX ride and is being sued by the cabdriver's son.

Jasbir S. Dhaliwal, 45, was at the wheel of his sport utility vehicle when he struck cabdriver Melba R. Farr, 56, of Elgin, on June 8 near Beverly Road in Hoffman Estates. The cab burst into flames and Farr died at the scene.

Dhaliwal was cited for improper lane usage and traveling too fast for conditions/failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, Illinois State Police Sgt. Paul Carlos said.

"It was terrible," Dhaliwal said Monday. "It happened so quickly. It happened in a second."

The lawsuit was filed in Cook County by Farr's estate through her son, Jimmie Roby, and seeks at least $50,000 in damages.

Roby directed all questions to his attorney, Timothy Richardson, who did not return a call for comment. Both parties are due in court Sept. 17.

A witness said he drove past Farr as she was stopped in the fourth, or far right lane, of traffic, then heard a loud "bang" and saw in his rear view mirror the cab engulfed in flames, Carlos said.

Dhaliwal, who was not injured, said he was returning home at about 5 a.m. after taking a passenger to O'Hare International Airport. UberX is a service that connects drivers with riders via smartphone app.

Dhaliwal said the police report states he was driving in the fourth lane, but he actually was driving in the third lane and couldn't avoid the cab when it moved over slightly into his lane, he said.

Dhaliwal said Monday his insurance company, Farmers Insurance Group, had denied coverage of the accident.

"Because I work for Uber, they said I should have commercial insurance," he said.

After being contacted by the Daily Herald, the insurance company said late Tuesday that Dhaliwal's insurance claim was approved and a check was issued. - more....


Open letter to Uber’s CEO from SF taxis

San Francisco Examiner - (San Francisco, California)

By Beth Powder

Editor's note: The following is an open letter from DeSoto Cab driver Beth Powder to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Powder is one of the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance organizers who pushed for the unanimous vote this week for taxi drivers to unionize.

Dear Uber CEO Travis Kalanick,

There has been a lot of talk about San Francisco taxi cartels and strong unions that want to stifle your company Uber's innovation.

I have a few things to say about that.

First of all, there is no taxi cartel to speak of. In business, there are going to be coalitions. You probably belong to several of them. When people in an industry get together to talk about strategizing to build a better business, it isn't a cartel. I'm sure that someone somewhere at some time would have loved to form a taxi cartel in the city of San Francisco. That never happened.

Managers meet as they should to discuss the current state of the industry. Cab drivers meet to discuss the same. And we all meet with advisers and government officials to discuss the future of our business when we decide how to move forward in what are now trying times for us.

As far as attempting to stifle your innovation is concerned, we have no interest in such a thing. You initially named your business Uber Taxi and you were asked to change it because you were not a taxi company. You dispatched black cars using a smartphone app.

You made attempts to get your app into cabs across the country and were essentially turned down because you wanted too high a cut from the fares, such that it was not financially in the interests of the drivers to use Uber as a means to reach more passengers. We are a highly regulated industry and have very strict policies across the country which prevent us from gouging our customers.

We also have been developing several apps of our own that do the same thing Uber does. We use Taxi Magic (now called Curb) and Flywheel.

We as an industry want to innovate to meet the demands of a changing market. Maybe we were a little shy at first, but we have been around for quite a while and we service a very diverse population with needs that are equally as diverse. We need to be sure that we operate legally, ethically, and that we remain affordable to our longstanding customer base. We want to do this the right way. - more....


Advice to Uber: Stop Hating Taxi Drivers

Bloomberg - (New York City, New York)

Aug 20, 2014 12:21 PM EDT
By Leonid Bershidsky

Uber Technologies Inc. has taken a crucial step into battle with taxi companies by hiring consummate political operator David Plouffe to do its lobbying. If it wants its charm offensive to succeed, it should also do a much better job of getting along with actual taxi drivers.

Taxi companies, with their power on the local and state levels in the U.S., are outspending and outmaneuvering Uber when it comes to lobbying -- a phenomenon the Sunlight Foundation detailed in a recent report. Taxi owners are getting anti-Uber legislation initiated throughout the U.S., while Uber is not even on the list of the tech industry's top lobbying spenders.

Plouffe, who ran President Barack Obama's 2008 election campaign and helped run the 2012 one, sounds as if he's going to war:

    I’ve watched as the taxi industry cartel has tried to stand in the way of technology and big change. Ultimately, that approach is unwinnable. But I look forward to doing what I can right now to ensure drivers and riders are not denied their opportunity for choice in transportation due to those who want to maintain a monopoly and play the inside game to deny opportunity to those on the outside.

It's easy to be righteous when your opposition includes characters like Symon Garber, the immigrant from Odessa whose Yellow Cab SLS Jet Management Corp. owns 275 New York taxi medallions, worth more than $1 million each. Jet has just been hit with a $1.6 million fine for illegally fining drivers who would not prepay for medallion leases. Ask yourself who you would be more comfortable enriching with your dollars: a courageous Silicon Valley startup or someone like Garber? Defending choice also comes naturally to a Democratic politician such as Plouffe. It's the kind of clear-cut issue that campaign managers love and know how to get across. - more....


Uber Infiltrates Chicago Airports Thanks To Partnership With United Airlines

Consumerist - (Internet)

By Ashlee Kieler August 20, 2014

Airports have long been the domain of taxi cabs, limos, and licensed car services. Ride-sharing services haven’t really been able to break that stronghold, though some have tried. But travelers to one of America’s busiest airports may soon have new options as a result of a new arrangement between United Airlines and Uber.

United launched the service Thursday that allows passengers to use the United Airlines mobile app to find UberTaxi information including the types of vehicles available, estimated wait times and prices.

The airline’s passengers can hook-up with the Uber service by using the airline’s mobile app to select a ride, at which point they are either directed to the Uber app to complete the transaction or to sign-up for an Uber account.

While ride-sharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are banned from picking up passengers at most airports, United found a loophole in the Windy City, Crain’s Chicago Business reports.

UberTaxi is permitted at O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport, because the service links to professional taxi drivers and Uber dispatches the licensed cabs themselves. Other Uber options, including UberX, UberLX and the company’s black cars, will continue to be prohibited from fetching passengers at the airport. - more....


Uber hires former Obama adviser Plouffe

WFAA-TV Channel 8 - (Dallas, Texas)

Associated Press
Posted on August 19, 2014 at 4:01 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Uber is stepping up its political game with a high-powered new hire.

The taxi-alternative service is hiring a former White House adviser to lead its campaign for acceptance in the 170 cities around the world where it operates.

David Plouffe is best known for running President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. He is joining Uber as senior vice president of policy and strategy in September, bringing a campaign mindset to a company that has faced resistance in some U.S. cities from the taxi industry and regulators. - more....


Las Vegas App Hails Taxis, Limos

Headlines & Global News - (Internet)

By Natalie Mieles N.Mieles | Aug 14, 2014 12:24 PM EDT

Las Vegas

Las Vegas visitors can now hail a taxi or limo with just a touch of a finger on their smartphone, The Associated Press reported.

Integrity Vehicle Solutions launched the Ride Genie application Wednesday, which gives users access to about 400 black cars, SUVs and limos from a variety of transportation companies. Taxis are also expected to pick up the app's assignments in the next six to eight weeks, according to AP.

"The riding public can take advantage of the convenience of technology without losing the assurances that the driver and car that they hail are properly inspected, regulated, licensed and insured," said Ride Genie's CEO Mark James, whose former limo company will be offering their services through the app.

James commends the individual companies for being "able to put their competitive differences aside to create a better consumer experience."

There is a $5 fee is added to each ride hailed through Ride Genie that goes to the company, along with a default 20 percent tip, though passengers have the option to adjust or remove the tip. Users can also track their vehicle's progress towards them on a map. - more....


Valley cabbies working Uber gigs prompt concern

The Desert Sun - (Palm Springs, California)

Barrett Newkirk, The Desert Sun 4:20 p.m. PDT August 13, 2014

Drivers getting tired behind the wheel is the primary worry of cab company managers.

Steve Williams, a driver with American Cab, said he knows at least three Coachella Valley cab drivers who have worked second gigs with Uber, the app-based rideshare service that allows people to hail rides from drivers using their own vehicles.

Local cab drivers like Williams are prohibited from working more than 15 hours each day. But the 45-year-old Indio resident said no one keeps track of how many hours the drivers are working with rideshares.

“The reality is this is a cash business,” Williams told The Desert Sun. “If you have the option to stay out and you’re not regulated, and you can stay out 20 hours a day or more, why wouldn’t you?”

Desert cab company managers are worried that such moonlighting could tire their drivers, potentially putting passengers’ safety at risk.

“It’s not so much an issue of a second job or a part-time job,” said Marc Triplett, a general manger with Desert City Cab. “It’s the two things of where do they obtain their customer base, and secondly, the safety issue of them driving in excess of the hours. ... We can’t allow that to happen.”

Triplett, who is looking into whether three of his drivers are also working for Uber, said he’s worried drivers will respond to pick-up calls for Desert City Cab and instead let passengers pay through a rideshare —ultimately costing the cab company money. - more....


Taxi Drivers Are Using Apps to Disrupt the Disruptors

Time - (New York City, New York)

Katy Steinmetz

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

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

Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

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


Taxi-Turned-Uber Drivers Get a New Lease on Life

Voice of San Diego - (San Diego, California)

By: Megan BurksConnect

San Diego cab companies insist they aren’t losing customers to the mobile rideshare app Uber. But they are losing money because of it.

The cash is following cab drivers, who are making the jump to Uber in droves.

“I don’t have a customer problem. I have enough customers to fill these cabs everyday,” said Anthony Palmeri, who owns taxi dispatcher Yellow Radio Service. “My owners don’t have enough drivers to drive the taxicabs, so the cab sits idle.”

The people who own cabs, and the city permits to operate them, often don’t make their living from actually picking up passengers. Their income comes from leasing the vehicles to drivers, who pay them an average of $400 a week and take home whatever profits are leftover.

Palmeri said between 30 and 50 of the 255 cabs on his roster currently aren’t in service because their owners can’t find people to drive them. An organizer with United Taxi Workers of San Diego, an association representing lease drivers, said about half of the organization’s 700 members are now driving for Uber, at least part time.

The trend hasn’t impacted taxi service levels, Palmeri said, but it does mean cab owners aren’t seeing their usual income from monthly lease payments. And if driver flight does slow cab response times, customers could start fleeing to Uber, too.

Christopher Ballard, Uber San Diego’s general manager, said there are now well over 1,000 Uber drivers in the region, including Tijuana as of last week. Indeed, the app’s GPS map is crawling with sometimes dozens of ant-like car icons representing drivers in your neighborhood, and they can typically get to you in about four minutes, Ballard said.

The convenience is winning over tech-savvy millennials. But it’s time that won over former taxi driver Abdulhamid Somo. He drove a cab for 20 years before making the switch to Uber.

“I have four little kids, which say when I go to work, ‘Dad, don’t go! Don’t leave us! Stay with us!’” Somo said. Under Uber, he’s been able to stay home with his children during their summer break. He’s been working Friday through Sunday. He clocks in by turning on his app, and he can drive as often or as little as he’d like.

“Nobody forces you to work with the Uber,” Somo said. “But if you drive a taxi, you have to drive 30 (days a month) or 365 days yearly. Even if you’re sick, you have to pay a lease with the taxi company.” - more....


How Uber Helps Women Break Into the Taxi Industry

The Atlantic - (Washington D.C.)

Safety has always been a huge barrier to entry for cabbies, but the ride-finding app's features seem to reduce the risk of a driver being victimized.

Conor Friedersdorf Aug 15 2014, 9:31 AM ET

How many times have you climbed into a taxicab to find a female driver at the wheel? Until recently, I'd virtually never had this happen. After scores of cab rides in New York City, Southern California, Seville, Paris, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, I hadn't been picked up by a single woman. In New York City, just one percent of taxi drivers are female, according to the Wall Street Journal. The only female cabbie I'd ever hired drove me across Portland, Oregon. The experience was so novel I still recall the ride.

The gender disparity exists despite the fact that women are, statistically speaking, safer drivers—and that some women would feel more comfortable with a female driver for some rides. Nevertheless, no matter the city, a taxi is almost always driven by a man. But now that I've shifted my patronage away from the taxi cartel and toward Uber, particularly UberX, which connects independent drivers with customers, I find myself stepping into cars driven by women all the time. Last week, for example, a mother of two transported me from my house in Venice Beach to Los Angeles International Airport. During the $15 ride she told me that she never would've considered moonlighting from her job in a surgeon's office by driving a cab, but she likes driving for Uber and has two female friends who do too.

In Los Angeles, where I take Uber most often, roughly 15 percent of my Uber trips have been inside women's cars. It's impossible for me to know if that's typical. Neither Southern California taxi companies nor Uber representatives would tell me the gender breakdown of their drivers. However, fellow patrons of the service, various Uber drivers, and traditional cab drivers I've approached on the street all agree that there are far more female Uber drivers than female taxi drivers.

There is no single factor that explains the gender disparity between cab companies and Uber. Taxi drivers are more likely to be immigrants than Uber drivers, and many come from countries where driving a cab is a job held by males, just as is the case in the United States. Perhaps women think less often of driving professionally for that reason. Perhaps they face discrimination when cab companies hire. Uber is new; perhaps the company is unusually unbiased in its hiring relative to established industry players. It's hard to imagine the image above, the main element on Uber's web site, being used in a hiring advertisement for a traditional taxi company in a big city. - more....


Midstate cab companies not Uber excited over possibility of ride-share apps

The Sentinel - (Carlisle, Pennsylvania)

August 16, 2014 9:00 pm  •  By Alexandria Hoff

HARRISBURG — Some midstate cab companies are not excited about ride-share apps driving in town.

On Wednesday the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission granted the ride-share company 'Lyft' an emergency permit to operate in Allegheny County. This is after a long battle between Pittsburgh Cab Companies and the app-based Lyft and 'Uber'

Both companies have now applied for state-wide 'experimental' permits to operate in Pennsylvania on the basis that there are no categories that the modern services fall under in PUC guidelines.

Uber and Lyft have been highly successful in larger cities like San Francisco and New York City, and have now expanded into numerous mid-sized cities.

"An experimental permit that each company is seeking would allow them to operate legally as a motor carrier statewide," said Robin Talley, Spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

She said Friday that safety is the bottom line, "Knowing that the drivers have background checks and that they don't have felonies on their record knowing the vehicles have been inspected." - more....


What Houston taxi companies may have to do to compete with Uber and Lyft

Houston Business Journal - (Houston, Texas)

Joe Martin
Reporter- Houston Business Journal

When the Houston City Council approved the regulations on vehicles for hire, or more importantly Uber and Lyft, it left city cab drivers frustrated. However, it has forced one Houston cab company to take another look at how it does business.

Lone Star Cab implemented a mobile app in 2012, now called Curb — a national application that operates in 65 different markets. Most of the day-to-day business still comes from call-in passengers, Lone Star Cab COO Ricky Kamins said, but the company is bolstering its app usage to entice a younger audience.

“Change for the sake of change is hard for a lot of people, but you can only fight it for so long until you have to get on the bandwagon and go with what’s popular,” Kamins told the HBJ. - more....


A Taxi Commission for the Internet?

The Wall Street Journal - (New York City, New York)

The regulatory travails of Uber and Lyft are a taste of what would happen in a net-neutrality regime.

By L. Gordon Crovitz
Aug. 17, 2014 7:23 p.m. ET

The only thing better for consumers than a disruptive innovator breaking up a monopoly is competition among multiple innovators. The race to upend the taxi industry by providing cheaper, more convenient rides ordered via smartphones is accelerating, leaving regulators in the dust.

The challenge led by upstarts Uber and Lyft goes beyond new choices for rides. It's also a reminder that regulators are the enemy of innovation. So it's bizarre that Silicon Valley cheers on the digital car services while at the same time lobbying for federal regulators to control the Internet the way city regulators control taxis.

The disruption of the taxi industry has been swift. Uber was launched in 2010 and now operates in 90 U.S. cities and more than 40 countries, while Lyft operates in some 70 U.S. cities. The two San Francisco-based companies were in the news last week accusing each other of hardball competition, including undercutting prices, poaching drivers, and quickly matching new services. Last week they both launched carpooling services enabling passengers to split the bill.

This is all good news, except for the regulators left searching for a role. As an Uber spokeswoman said, "We now have competitive clones on each of the five continents where we operate, and that competitive spirit is good for consumers and for the marketplace."

Unlike other disrupted industries such as music, Yellow Pages and newspapers, taxi and limo companies have a good excuse for their failure to innovate: Regulators wouldn't have let them change their business models even if they wanted to.

New York City's rules are a relic of the New Deal era. The city's website explains that until the mid-1930s the "taxi industry was comprised of unregulated companies fighting for dominance." They employed what the city calls "underhanded tactics," such as "drastically lowering fares to get more business." New York taxi regulators remain focused on limiting competition. They decide how many taxis are allowed on the streets, how much they can charge, and even in what shade of yellow they must be painted ("Dupont M6284 or its equivalent").

In contrast, the market regulates Uber and Lyft. The services provide ratings for drivers (and passengers), give riders the choice of professional or amateur drivers, and adjust prices based on demand. The innovators use technology to close the gap between what regulators allow car services to provide and what consumers want.

Which brings us to the irony of Silicon Valley's rolling its eyes at taxi commissions while many of its lobbyists demand that the Internet become subject to even more-antiquated regulations. "Net neutrality" groups want the Internet reclassified as a public utility, under regulations dating from the Interstate Commerce Commission, created under a law passed in 1887 to micromanage railroads via a rail cartel. - more....


Taxi hire app Uber branches out into grocery delivery

The Drum - (Internet)

Uber, the taxi hire business, has added another feather to its cap with the trial launch of a same day grocery delivery service in Washington DC, US.

A ‘Corner Store’ button within its main smartphone app now allows people to order from more than 100 everyday items whilst hiring a cab with prices said to be competitive with local convenience stores and with no delivery fee.

This gives consumers the choice of a range of non-perishable items from chewing gum to shaving gel and nappies between 09:00 and 21:00 with no minimum order requirements. - more....



Europe, Africa, and the Middle East

Man charged after taxi driver stabbed in the leg in Southampton

Southern Daily Echo - (Redbridge, Hampshire, England)

5:26pm Thursday 21st August 2014 in News Daily Echo

A MAN has appeared in court after a taxi driver was stabbed in the leg.

Nicholas Jeffry, of no fixed abode, appeared before magistrates yesterday facing charges of wounding with intent and possessing a knife in a public place.

He was remanded in custody due to appear before Southampton Crown Court in September.

The 27-year-old was arrested and taken into custody near Southampton Central Railway Station following an incident where British Transport Police (BTP) said a taxi driver was stabbed in the leg. - more....


Dorking cab firms warn change to taxi permits is damaging drivers' livelihoods

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser - (Redhill, Surrey, England)

By Dorking Advertiser  |  Posted: August 18, 2014
By Michael Davies

A CONTROVERSIAL policy that will restrict the number of parking passes for taxis at Dorking's main railway station will damage livelihoods, the town's taxi firms have said.

Bosses are angry about the changes, which mean parking permits for pick-ups at the Station Approach car park are being allocated to individual drivers instead of companies – who have been told they can only have one permit per fleet.

Owners claim the car park's managers, Watford-based Meteor Parking, have essentially told them they are not allowed to own a taxi business with more than one car operating out of the station.

John Baker, director at cab firm Westcott Cars, has worked at the station for 26 years.

He said: "They've said you can only have one because they're saying the Hackney carriage has to be in the driver's name.

"Those plates can cost £10,000 each so they're saying I have to transfer £10,000 to someone else and hope I get it back eventually, which obviously isn't going to happen. - more....


Taxi drivers' union: Commuters should be able to pay 15 per cent taxi fare increase

The Irish Independent - (Dublin, Ireland)

Eoghan McNeill
Published 15/08/2014 | 13:57

TAXI users should be able to afford a proposed ten to 15 per cent increase in taxi fares - according to a taxi drivers' union.

The fare hike, which is currently being considered by the The National Transport Authority (NTA), is believed to be worth an extra €50 per week to drivers.

The ongoing review will feature a  public consultation process next month and prices could be in place for winter.

“I presume [customers] can afford it if they’re using taxis. We’re providing a service – it’s only fair we get an increase,” spokesperson Christy Humphries of National Private Hire and Taxi Association (NPHTA), told independent.ie.

“I’m not happy about going through this consultation process. A consultancy firm is being paid a fortune just to see if we need a fare increase. Everybody’s getting money out of the taxi industry, bar the taxi drivers,” he said. 

A likely increase of ten per cent on a taxi fare would see the standard fare rate of €4.10 for the first kilometre jump to €4.51.

Each additional kilometre would then cost €1.13, as opposed to the current price of €1.03.

Fares were last increased by the NTA in 2008 when they were raised by 8.3 per cent. - more....


Uber Back Online In Berlin And Hamburg After Court Suspends Earlier Ban

Tech Crunch - (Internet)

Posted by Mike Butcher

Four days after being banned in Berlin by local taxi regulators on safety grounds, Uber is back on track in both that city and Hamburg. The company just released a statement confirming the news after the presiding judge of the Berlin Administrative Court today suspended the regulator’s ban on Uber “until further notice”. The ruling said Uber can continue its business in Berlin and follows a similar suspension granted recently in the city of Hamburg.

Fabien Nestmann, GM for Germany said in a statement:

    “This is good news for the great people of Berlin and the thousands of German citizens already benefitting from Uber’s great services. We’re delighted to continue to bring our fresh and new ride-sharing service UberPOP plus our licensed limo service, UberBlack to Berlin and other cities in Germany, as we challenge the old policies that were written before the smartphone was even invented. Uber’s number one priority is safety and we would like to underline that every driver on the Uber platform is insured. Today’s news supports freedom of choice and progress, as Uber seeks to bring better, safer and cheaper transport options to everyone.” - more....



Asia and the Pacific

Taxi glut fears as hundreds swoop on cheap new Melbourne licences

The Age - (Melbourne, Australia)

Date August 15, 2014
Adam Carey
Transport Reporter for The Age

Hundreds have rushed to lease one of the Napthine government’s new cut-price taxi licences since they were released on July 1, prompting a warning from industry that Melbourne’s streets could be swamped with empty cabs prowling for fares.

New figures published by the Taxi Services Commission reveal that 255 new taxi licences have been issued in Victoria since June 30, when the government made them available for $22,000 a year.

Previously, licences were issued in perpetuity and their numbers were tightly controlled by government. There is now no cap on the potential number of taxi licences.

All but 11 of the 255 new licences are for the Melbourne “metro” zone.

David Samuel, chief executive of industry group the Victorian Taxi Association, said it would take time for the rush of new licences to turn into an influx of cabs on Melbourne's street, but that this would happen in time.

“The likeliest outcome is that those 255 licences will become 255 new taxis on the road eventually,” Mr Samuel said.

He said the rush on licences in no way reflected an increase in demand for taxi services among the public.

“We hope to see this surge tail off very quickly because if it continues it will be unsustainable,” he said. - more....


Most Melbourne cabbies failing tough new knowledge tests

Herald Sun - (Melbourne, Australia)

    Samantha Landy, Aleks Devic — transport reporter
    Herald Sun
    August 19, 2014 9:17AM

THE sole Victorian cabbie to pass a tough new taxi knowledge test that stumped more than 200 drivers says it should be compulsory for wannabes to go to taxi school.

Karen Downie — an experienced taxi driver trainer at 13Cabs — is the only person to have successfully completed all three parts of the exam.

Data obtained by the Herald Sun shows 234 drivers have attempted the test since it was introduced on July 1.

Ms Downie said it was “a relief” to pass the tricky test, which contains three parts with 55 questions each — a general section on road laws and customer service, a driver behaviour section and geographic assessment.

She told 3AW this morning she feared the huge fail rate could lead to a shortage of taxi drivers on Victorian roads.

Applicants must get 85 per cent to pass the exam.

They have two chances to pass, with those who fail both times denied accreditation to drive a taxi until they are able to resit it in 12 months’ time.

Taxi drivers are mainly tripping up on questions about communicating with disabled passengers and how to correctly operate the safety camera and emergency alarm. - more....


Plans to slash taxi surcharges on hold indefinitely as WA Government considers legal advice

ABC News - (Australia)

Updated August 14, 2014 10:04:00

Plans announced by the WA Transport Minister to slash taxi credit and debit card surcharges have been put on hold indefinitely.

Two months ago Minister Dean Nalder announced the Government would legislate to reduce the surcharge from 10 per cent to 5 per cent.

At the time, Mr Nalder said that would be completed within weeks.

But the Government confirmed yesterday that it was considering legal advice from the State Solicitor's Office and there was now no timetable for the changes.

Mr Nalder said other states had also experienced difficulties in implementing the change.

"We didn't foresee the challenges they had in implementing this in other jurisdictions," he said.

"I've always said that we are keen to do this as quickly as possible but we've got to make sure that it is legal and that we can do it properly." - more....


Surcharge cut hurts Cabcharge profit

The West Australia - (Perth, Australia)

AAP
Paul Purcell August 21, 2014, 4:41 pm

Cabcharge s profits in reverse after slashing the surcharge for passengers paying by cards in VIC. AAP Cabcharge's profits in reverse after slashing the surcharge for passengers paying by cards in VIC.

Taxi payment operator Cabcharge's profits went into reverse after it was forced to slash the surcharge for passengers paying by cards in Victoria.

The company's full year net profit fell to $56.1 million in 2013/14, 7.4 per cent lower than the previous year.

Cabcharge blamed the fall in part on the Victorian government's new five per cent cap on card service fees.

The company estimates the government's reduction of the surcharge from 10 per cent cost Cabcharge about 4.5 per cent in revenue since the laws were introduced on February 1.

But Cabcharge may soon have to contend with similar service fee changes in other Australian states.

Politicians in NSW and Western Australia have flagged their intentions to follow Victoria's lead.

Cabcharge chief executive Andrew Skelton said the cap was hurting business in Victoria. - more....


ComfortDelGro experiments with ‘third eye’ for taxi drivers

Today - (Singapore)

Published: 2:23 PM, August 18, 2014

SINGAPORE — ComfortDelGro, Singapore’s largest taxi operator, announced today (Aug 18) that it is assessing a new in-vehicle smart camera that can alert cab drivers to potentially dangerous road situations.

The 38° wide-angle smart camera, known as Mobileye, will be trialled in 30 ComfortDelGro taxis for the next six months. It will be installed on the front windshield of the taxi, and will “read” different types of traffic signs while the vehicle is in motion. It then determines the risks associated with the surrounding traffic environment and provides real-time audio-visual warnings via a 49mm round-shaped display unit to drivers.

For example, if the unit detects that the taxi is travelling too close to another vehicle or a pedestrian, it will alert the cabby with a beep sound and flash an icon of a car or pedestrian. - more....


Indonesian government wants to ban Uber

Tech in Asia - (Internet)

    August 18, 2014
    at 8:05 pm
    by Enricko Lukman

Premium taxi service Uber recently held its grand launch party in Jakarta. But it seems the joyous mood didn’t last long as the Jakarta government has plans to ban Uber’s service in the city because it doesn’t have a taxi permit, Kompas reports today.

Jakarta Transportation Agency head Muhammad Akbar was quoted as saying that the ban, if it goes through, would include Uber’s website and its car rental app. Akbar categorizes Uber as a mass public transportation service which can directly affect the well-being of other licensed public transport operators.

Akbar says the agency has invited Uber to discuss the permit issue, but the latter did not heed the invite. If Uber does obey government regulations, then all its cars must go through the vehicle fit test and use yellow plates to signify that it is a taxi service, as opposed to its current civilian black plates. - more....


Easy Taxi muscles into corporations, makes Comfort more uncomfortable

Tech in Asia - (Internet)

    August 20, 2014
    at 6:22 pm
    by Terence Lee

Taxi booking apps have been nipping at the heels of cab companies in Singapore, pocketing booking revenues that would otherwise have gone to the traditional operators.

With app development and internet knowhow flowing in their veins, companies like Uber, GrabTaxi, and Easy Taxi – as well as dozens of other similar operations worldwide – have built first-class mobile booking experiences that leave others in the dust. Consumers have noticed, and they’re flocking to these apps.

That’s the story in Singapore. Comfort is still the largest taxi operator and essentially serves as a car rental company for cab drivers. But while Comfort is hardly threatened, it looks backward in the eyes of fed-up consumers who can’t get cabs when they need it most, despite persistent complaints and petitions.

Now, Rocket Internet-backed Easy Taxi is piling on the pressure. It’s venturing into the business-to-business (B2B) space, offering a taxi booking service through Singapore companies to their staff. This isn’t new, even though it’s the first time Easy Taxi is offering it in Asia. Easy Taxi Corporate has been running in Brazil and serves 100 companies worldwide.

How’s how it works: Companies register their employees with Easy Taxi, and staff can use the app to book cabs without fretting about payments. Meanwhile, employers can prevent abuse and track how people use the service. They can then adjust and optimize their transport perks to save costs and better meet their company’s needs. The total bill comes once a month, and the amount charged depends on usage. - more....


TaxiForSure raises $30 million, aims to reach 30 cities by 2015

Tech in Asia - (Internet)

    August 21, 2014
    at 2:11 pm
    by Malavika Velayanikal

The battle of the cabs gets hotter in India. Just two months after securing US$10 million in series B funding, cab aggregator TaxiForSure has just landed an additional US$30 million. This fresh infusion of captial came largely from Accel Partners US, The Times of India reported today. Existing investors Accel India, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Helion Venture Partners also participated in this series C round of funding, for which exact figures are not known.

Just a month ago, its chief competitor Olacabs had raised US$41.8 million from Steadview Capital and Sequoia Capital, in addition to existing investors Tiger Global and Matrix Partners India. Both Olacabs and TaxiForSure, which received US$10 million two months back, have an aggregator model. That is, they partner with cab drivers or taxi operators, instead of owning fleets. This enables them to scale up rapidly.

The taxi segment is one of the hottest in India right now. There are a bunch of players like Meru Cabs, Savaari Car Rentals, and EasyCabs jostling for more action. Yet, the demand-supply gap is so huge that during peak hours, attempts to hail a cab are almost always futile. Even after a booking is confirmed, there’s no guarantee that a cab will turn up. This is where Uber made a name for itself, and emerged as the rival to fear in just a year’s time. - more....


The war between Uber and India’s taxi operators is hotting up

Quartz - (Internet)

By Shruti Chakraborty August 19, 2014

Uber is stepping on the pedal in India and home-grown taxi rental companies, some backed by American private equity companies, are trying to push back.

Uber today rolled out in four more Indian cities—Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Kolkata—taking its presence to 10 cities. In terms of the number of operating cities, India is now Uber’s largest market outside the United States.

And in Bangalore, the first city it had launched in, Uber has slashed prices by 25%, potentially sparking off a price war. The company claims that its UberX service in the city is now almost as cheap as riding an auto rickshaw.

India’s taxi rental companies are not sitting back and watching Uber eat their lunch.

While homegrown cab companies such as Meru Cabs, Easy Cabs and Ola have built apps similar to Uber to make the booking process easier, they can’t do one thing that Uber can—store the customer’s credit card details on their databases and charge it at the end of the ride.

So while Uber riders can walk away at the end of the ride, while the app charges the credit card, customers of other services have to remember to carry cash. This is because India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), does not allow Indian companies to charge credit cards without a two-step authentication process. Uber, which uses an overseas payments gateway, is exempt from this problem. - more....



Ender Wiggin


Updated aug 22 @ 23:08 GMT

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