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Uber in Waterloo Region
#16
Until the insurance and regulatory aspects are sorted out, I'm inclined to favour the local cartels over a massive U.S. corporate interest.
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#17
Moreover license holders are complicit in this monopoly, lobbying hard for limiting the number of licenses well below what is reasonable. I understand NY and Toronto could easily double the number of medallions/licenses and still be underserved.
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#18
(01-20-2015, 04:02 PM)panamaniac Wrote: Until the insurance and regulatory aspects are sorted out, I'm inclined to favour the local cartels over a massive U.S. corporate interest.

The issue isn't that Uber is a "massive U.S. corporate interest" (your term) but rather that Uber is a disruptive technology that threatens the local cartels and their status quo. By all means ensure that Uber's drivers and vehicles meet insurance and regulatory standards as a condition of operating in the region.

Incidentally I recently renewed my car insurance. The insurer explicitly asked if any of my driving is for remuneration. Not that I was contemplating becoming an Uber driver, but evidently they were anticipating the possibility and wanted to make sure I understood it wouldn't be covered by their policy. 


(01-20-2015, 04:31 PM)BuildingScout Wrote: Moreover license holders are complicit in this monopoly, lobbying hard for limiting the number of licenses well below what is reasonable. I understand NY and Toronto could easily double the number of medallions/licenses and still be underserved.

By all means let the number of taxi licenses increase to support demand. My point is that we shouldn't let the interests of current license holders and other vested interests impede the need for change, better service and lower costs. If the incumbents can meet that challenge with a superior business model to Uber's then let them do it.
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#19
Forgive me if this comes across as arrogant but people are generally pretty ignorant about government regulations as a whole (myself included). Yes, red tape is annoying but there are benefits to it. I can live in relative safety and not put much thought into my daily routine because of the numerous safety laws that are all but invisible to me on a daily basis. These range from traffic regulations, bylaws, construction codes, pharmaceutical laws, food laws, water regulations etc etc..

While the taxi licencing system certainly sounds expensive and perhaps is an onerous system, I can't see how it doesn't fit into an ongoing economic model + have safety standards built into it.

I have glossed over the UBER website and it basically says if I am over 21, have a licence, have a 4 door car and have my own personal insurance I am good to go.

Just off the hop, I can say when I renew my auto insurance I am asked if I use the car for business purposes eg do I make money with this car? If the answer is no, and I am an uber driver and get into a wreck, I am thinking I will be snookered there. If my passengers are hurt, I am thinking I will be responsible, etc etc... If I say yes, well then I am a taxi and I need a licence and I will pay more for auto insurance.

I am not seeing the upside of this other than the neat-o app.

I would rather see a better carshare/bike share and the LRT get running than get into it with this dodgy group. They have created an app, skim a percentage off of every ride and that's it.

I disagree with Strickland. Uber is not the future. They can be a driving force behind taxi reform, but other than that, I think they are opportunists that will bring nothing to our communities.

My 2c.
_____________________________________
I used to be the mayor of sim city. I know what I am talking about.
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#20
Let me expand on my previous comments.

The present system in many larger cities including here is for them to sell a limited number of taxi licenses or medallions. As a result of these limits the market value of these medallions is now in the $100s of thousands. Since new taxi drivers generally can't afford these prices they have to lease medallions from a relatively small number incumbent owners, some of whom own many medallions. Consequently the license owners generally no longer have direct contact with taxi customers. Like larger property owners they deal only indirectly with those who rent or lease apartments.

I suggest that the city or region change this model to lease licenses directly to taxi drivers. This will give them more control over licensees, for instance by not renewing licenses of those drivers who generate complaints, and give them more control over the cost of leasing a license so as to better attract more new drivers. It will also give them a constant stream of lease revenue rather than higher but irregular revenue from selling new licenses.

As I understand Uber's model, they keep a portion of the fares they collect from taxi customers and pass the rest on to their drivers. If Uber wants to operate here then let them now pay the city/region a percentage of their fare revenue that approximates the revenue they get from license leasing. This way the city/region will also have more control over the quality of service provided by Uber's drivers and their vehicles. This will allow for competition between the existing taxi industry and Uber on a fairly level playing field. The taxi industry will then be able to adapt to competition from Uber or die like any other industry that can't deal with change from new disruptive technology.
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#21
(01-20-2015, 05:48 PM)Drake Wrote: Just off the hop, I can say when I renew my auto insurance I am asked if I use the car for business purposes eg do I make money with this car? If the answer is no, and I am an uber driver and get into a wreck, I am thinking I will be snookered there. If my passengers are hurt, I am thinking I will be responsible, etc etc... If I say yes, well then I am a taxi and I need a licence and I will pay more for auto insurance.
Our posts crossed. 

The insurance issue can be addressed by requiring Uber to obtain an insurance certificate from each prospective driver's insurer that certifies the driver and their vehicle are insured to a specified mandated minimum when driving for Uber.

Quote:I am not seeing the upside of this other than the neat-o app.
The app also provides for rating the quality of service provided so that it's accessible to other prospective customers. Customers can then choose not to patronize drivers with bad ratings. This gives customers power to influence the quality of Uber's service that they don't have with the current taxi system.

There are other benefits such as pricing fares according to demand so as to encourage more off-peak usage.

Quote:I would rather see a better carshare/bike share and the LRT get running
Agreed. But this should be complementary, not mutually-exclusive, with improved "taxi" service.

Quote:Uber is not the future. They can be a driving force behind taxi reform, but other than that, I think they are opportunists that will bring nothing to our communities.
Uber like any other business should be exposed to competition from even better models. If like the current taxi industry they can't adapt and change, then let them be supplanted by those better models.
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#22
(01-20-2015, 02:45 PM)nms Wrote: Regional Councilor Sean Strickland has been in the news talking about Uber in Waterloo Region.  Local taxi drivers have complained that making more licences available will reduce the value of their licences, some of which cost $300,000 to purchase.  Since the Region regulates the licences, they could be on the hook if they dramatically reduce the value of the licences.  Would it be in the Region's best interest to buy out every licence and then re-issue cheaper licences based on a new fee model?

They $300,000 isn't the cost to purchase from the Region - it's the grey market value of the license due to supply restriction. The Region doesn't owe the taxi companies and license holders anything, and they could change the regulatory scheme tomorrow if they wanted.

(01-20-2015, 05:48 PM)Drake Wrote: While the taxi licencing system certainly sounds expensive and perhaps is  an onerous system, I can't see how it doesn't fit into an ongoing economic model + have safety standards built into it.

I have glossed over the UBER website and it basically says if I am over 21, have a licence, have a 4 door car and have my own personal insurance I am good to go.

The existing Waterloo Region taxi licensing system has no meaningful safety standards built into it. The Region doesn't verify much about the drivers, and it is hardly apparent what, if anything, the taxi companies verify. Until the media started reporting on it, it seems the taxi companies cared little about the sexual assaults committed by their own drivers (and didn't report anything to the Region).

Uber, Lyft, and others in the same model have some standard checks. But the most important part is the driver rating system. If your driver is careless or creeps you out, you give them a bad rating. Drivers with low ratings get kicked out, and (at least for Lyft), you won't get a driver again if you've rated them poorly.
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#23
(01-20-2015, 10:42 PM)mpd618 Wrote: The existing Waterloo Region taxi licensing system has no meaningful safety standards built into it. The Region doesn't verify much about the drivers, and it is hardly apparent what, if anything, the taxi companies verify. Until the media started reporting on it, it seems the taxi companies cared little about the sexual assaults committed by their own drivers (and didn't report anything to the Region).

Uber, Lyft, and others in the same model have some standard checks. But the most important part is the driver rating system. If your driver is careless or creeps you out, you give them a bad rating. Drivers with low ratings get kicked out, and (at least for Lyft), you won't get a driver again if you've rated them poorly.

According to this Region of Waterloo document, taxis are inspected three times a year while drivers are subjected to a police and driving record check.  According to the Uber website, drivers are subjected to police and driving background checks as well.  The Uber site does not provide any information about the condition of the car except to say that the oldest cars are no older than 2004 models.

I can see the insurance industry having a field day with this kind of service when it comes to establishing liability in the case of an accident.  Anyone who is contemplating becoming an Uber driver or user had better read their own insurance policies with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that they are covered.  Is anyone interested in raising a red flag with their car insurance company to see what kind of insurance they should carry if they are driving for commercial gain?
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#24
In addition according to the bylaw a cab over 1 year old requires a safety standards certificate be issued for the vehicle by a licensed mechanic. A vehicle over 10 years old requires a new safety standards certificate be issued for the vehicle every 6 months. I would suggest UBER has no requirement because they are essentially operating as PAYPAL & YELP.

I suspect the insurance costs and coverage will not work for an UBER business model. I also suspect that if you use your personal insurance to cover business activities you will not be considered to be insured under the meanings of the Compulsory Automobile and Insurance Act. 

Uber is a scam and the drivers and passengers are the ones being scammed into thinking that the big bad government is the enemy.
_____________________________________
I used to be the mayor of sim city. I know what I am talking about.
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#25
(01-21-2015, 08:23 PM)Drake Wrote: Uber is a scam and the drivers and passengers are the ones being scammed into thinking that the big bad government is the enemy.

Scam? Give me a break. Sure, Uber is a company with questionable corporate ethics, and there are problems with a contract worker model. But the actual passenger experience is worlds apart from the typical taxi experience.

You order a car from your smartphone, and can see where it is as it's getting to you. When you get in, the driver already knows where to take you since you've put your destination in while you were waiting, and they don't need to enter anything themselves while driving. Odds are, they drive without scaring you. You get where you're going, and don't need to worry about cards and cash. Then you rate the driver and the app automatically charges you.

When it's busy, services like Uber charge more. Versus taxis, which will just be a lot harder to get.

Oh, and: taxis are "big bad government" in the same way that the Beer Store is "big bad government".
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#26
(01-22-2015, 02:13 AM)mpd618 Wrote: Scam? Give me a break...

Very well put.

Uber isn't the only company with "questionable corporate ethics." Take Microsoft and even Apple. <ducks>

Sure there are issues with new technologies. Insurance coverage is one of them. But they can be dealt with with amended legislation and regulation. (Or so I'd like to think even despite any mention of roundabouts in the current Ontario Highway Traffic Act despite the obvious need.) Insurance could even be dealt with without legislation, e.g. if the insurance industry explicitly offered coverage for Uber-like driving through a special policy rider.
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#27
City Hall is taking the attitude that their regulations are stronger than Uber's. This is doubtful at present and will certainly not be the case in the future for the simple reason that Uber is a private company which can and will be sued (in American courts to boot) for whatever regulatory mistakes they may make. So Uber will end up with a rather thorough legal framework which will far outdo anything city hall has ever proposed.
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#28
Uber has gone up against much tougher opponents and I hope our local government doesn't underestimate them.
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#29
I use the local cab companies and have used Uber abroad. I prefer Uber. The rating feedback, service level, and auto emailed receipt (very handy for business travellers and expense claims) makes it a win for me.

I'm all for competition. I hope Uber makes the local companies up their game.
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#30
From The Record: Uber optimistic region will have service ‘soon’

Whatever 'soon' means.

This quote by the company's representative was of particular interest to me, of the drivers: "They've [sic] very vested in providing good service. ... The incentive for crime is far lower." What's he suggesting of taxi drivers? I didn't know this was of particular concern to anybody...my impression was always that crime against taxi drivers was more frequent than crimes perpetrated by them.
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