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Ridesourcing

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We are long overdue for a thread addressing this topic.  I've been driving for Uber since July 2014 and Lyft since August, and have completed about 200 rides so far, so I can offer some insight from that perspective. 

 

Discuss.

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I only use Uber on weeknights since it's cheaper than taxis. On weekends during peak bar travel times, taxis in San Francisco are about 25% cheaper. The gap seems to have been growing recently too. Even with all the competition we have (Lyft, Sidecar, Flywheel, Summon, Hitch, etc.), prices are too high. Within the last year or two, you saw this change as taxi companies axed a lot of their routes (only a handful of San Francisco streets have regular cab service these days). A couple of years ago, ride share apps used to be cheaper. Now that they have decimated the cab industry in San Francisco, prices are going up and up.

 

Surge pricing here is out of control...I take transit whenever I can, but all of BART and most bus and light rail lines shut down at 12:30am.

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In Cincinnati Uber's surge pricing pretty much only kicks in on Friday and Saturday nights and during special events.  I saw it get to 3.5X after Riverfest.  Meanwhile Lyft's bonus pricing (or whatever it's called) kicks in all the time but often for just a minute or two whereas Uber appears to be programmed to keep surge pricing going for about 15 minutes at minimum.  The two networks are completely separate, of course, so if you see one charging more try the other one.  Generally Lyft is significantly cheaper than Uber in Cincinnati, however there are usually fewer Lyft cars on the road and frequently zero Lyft cars in the suburbs. 

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$50+ rides across the city or bridge are common here now from about 10pm-3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Regular cabs are usually $30-$40 on similar routes during this peak travel period.

 

We really need more late-night transit service...BART should run until 2:30am on Fridays and Saturdays. Ditto with Muni light rail.

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How does Uber / Lyft handle tolls?  I assume that they are charged to the rider and that the app "knows".  We do not have any tolls in Cincinnati, however I am salivating at the chance to take the Anderson Ferry. 

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No I have a newer car, a 5-seat hatchback.  Uber has recently added "Uber XL" in Cincinnati, which is a vehicle with seating for 6 or more passengers.  This is a great idea since many groups of people are abusing people like me with smaller cars.  I've had as many as six passengers in that car, which aside from being illegal, I think actually did damage to my suspension.  Adding 1,000 pounds to your car is also really hard on the brakes. 

 

The most annoying thing is that a lot of people want to go get food, so you end up sitting in a drive-thru for like 15 minutes.  Uber doesn't factor time into its fare unless you average less than 11mph for the whole trip (and I think Lyft does something very similar) so you end up getting ripped off by these kinds of rides.  A lot of time people offer to buy you food but I don't want the food, usually.

 

Also Uber does not permit tipping through the app but Lyft does.  This is in my opinion a big problem with how things are working right now since the fares are so low in the Midwest.  I have had cash tips a number of times, but it's less than 1 in 15 riders in my experience. 

 

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No I have a newer car, a 5-seat hatchback.  Uber has recently added "Uber XL" in Cincinnati, which is a vehicle with seating for 6 or more passengers.  This is a great idea since many groups of people are abusing people like me with smaller cars.  I've had as many as six passengers in that car, which aside from being illegal, I think actually did damage to my suspension.  Adding 1,000 pounds to your car is also really hard on the brakes. 

 

The most annoying thing is that a lot of people want to go get food, so you end up sitting in a drive-thru for like 15 minutes.  Uber doesn't factor time into its fare unless you average less than 11mph for the whole trip (and I think Lyft does something very similar) so you end up getting ripped off by these kinds of rides.  A lot of time people offer to buy you food but I don't want the food, usually.

 

Also Uber does not permit tipping through the app but Lyft does.  This is in my opinion a big problem with how things are working right now since the fares are so low in the Midwest.  I have had cash tips a number of times, but it's less than 1 in 15 riders in my experience. 

 

 

I'm all for tipping people, don't get me wrong, but I thought a big part of their business model was that tipping was built into the fare??

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No, Uber and Lyft seem to not want people carrying cash.  However I would suggest tipping your driver with even just $2-3 for short trips and something more significant for a trip to or from the airport.  The money really isn't that good unless it's surge pricing or you get a cash tip. 

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I heard that Uber would use burners and pre-paid visa cards and book a lot of uber cars (particularly the XL ones) and then cancel at the last minute to tie them up and have a bigger share of the business in cities that have both competing. Any insight/knowledge into this?

 

Jake--since you work with both--which is better to drive for? And from the passenger perspective, which company is better, assuming the same fare at a particular moment in time?

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I heard that Uber would use burners and pre-paid visa cards and book a lot of uber cars (particularly the XL ones) and then cancel at the last minute to tie them up and have a bigger share of the business in cities that have both competing. Any insight/knowledge into this?

 

Jake--since you work with both--which is better to drive for? And from the passenger perspective, which company is better, assuming the same fare at a particular moment in time?

 

Yeah I have heard that there is a lot of nonsense going on where Uber is having its office employees start driving for Lyft and intentionally give horrible service until they are canned.  Also I have heard that they request and cancel Lyft trips simply to tie up and frustrate Lyft drivers.  But I haven't encountered any of that. 

 

I can't say if one is better to driver for across the board because there appears to be different culture in each city.  In Cincinnati Uber definitely dominates 2-1 if not more but I can't tell what's going on in other cities.  Lyft had posters in each of the UC dorms at the beginning of this year and there has definitely been a lot of Lyft activity centered around UC, maybe more than half of the total business.  Also there is a lot of shuttling students from XU to UC and back on Lyft.  I hesitate to make any broad statements about one or the other because I haven't kept any records. 

 

I did not drive tonight (Friday) but watched from my phone in amazement as 25 idle Uber and Lyft cars loitered around DT and UC in the early evening, but by 10pm there were often only 1-3 cars available in those same areas.  That illustrates just how popular this is getting...that at any given time 50-100 people are being transported just around those in-town areas on a Friday or Saturday night.  So on a weekend night in a metro of 2 million it appears that at least 2,000-3,000 people are using these services to go to social events and they've only been here for six months. 

 

 

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Just got an email saying Lyft is changing in Cincinnati from suggested donations to a mandatory fare like Uber.  There was some issue with people only paying $1 or even $0 and it was motivating a lot of drivers to quit Lyft.  That said Lyft's fares are still always lower than Uber's.  Lower during regular time and lower during surge pricing since Lyft's fare's max out at 2X. 

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Is there a system for rating customers? A friend in Boston seems to think he has been pegged with a low customer rating by Uber drivers because he doesn't tip (which you aren't supposed to do, right?). He says now he has trouble getting picked up.

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Uber explicitly says that you're not supposed to ask for or expect a tip.  There is no way to tip through the app, so any tip is with cash.  I get tipped at most one out of every ten rides. 

 

Yes there is a rating system for customers, but if a driver is doing that then that's against the company's policy.  In my opinion a rating under 5 starts happens when somebody is truly ridiculous -- like they want to drink in your car or get upset because you won't let them smoke or they damage the vehicle in some fashion. 

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In Cincinnati Uber's surge pricing pretty much only kicks in on Friday and Saturday nights and during special events.  I saw it get to 3.5X after Riverfest.  Meanwhile Lyft's bonus pricing (or whatever it's called) kicks in all the time but often for just a minute or two whereas Uber appears to be programmed to keep surge pricing going for about 15 minutes at minimum.  The two networks are completely separate, of course, so if you see one charging more try the other one.  Generally Lyft is significantly cheaper than Uber in Cincinnati, however there are usually fewer Lyft cars on the road and frequently zero Lyft cars in the suburbs.

 

During Oktoberfest and the UC Homecoming Game (only around 2 PM, mind you) we took an Uber downtown from Clifton and it was 5.5x surge. We waited for the 17 bus for almost 45 minutes and bit the bullet.

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In Cincinnati Uber's surge pricing pretty much only kicks in on Friday and Saturday nights and during special events.  I saw it get to 3.5X after Riverfest.  Meanwhile Lyft's bonus pricing (or whatever it's called) kicks in all the time but often for just a minute or two whereas Uber appears to be programmed to keep surge pricing going for about 15 minutes at minimum.  The two networks are completely separate, of course, so if you see one charging more try the other one.  Generally Lyft is significantly cheaper than Uber in Cincinnati, however there are usually fewer Lyft cars on the road and frequently zero Lyft cars in the suburbs.

 

During Oktoberfest and the UC Homecoming Game (only around 2 PM, mind you) we took an Uber downtown from Clifton and it was 5.5x surge. We waited for the 17 bus for almost 45 minutes and bit the bullet.

 

It was truly insane.  I didn't even realize it was happening until about 4pm on Saturday.  I had somewhere to be at 6pm but turned on the phone anyway and took a first carload of people from Ohio Ave. to the stadium for...$66.  I took two more carloads on the exact same trip but the surge pricing had gone down to 2X or so by then since it was merely $20 for each of the next two rides. 

 

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I am interested in how the insurance works when using a personal car for a livery service.  Especially concerning personal liability insurance.

 

The same as for pizza deliverymen, if you know what I'm getting at. 

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Uber explicitly says that you're not supposed to ask for or expect a tip.  There is no way to tip through the app, so any tip is with cash.  I get tipped at most one out of every ten rides. 

 

Yes there is a rating system for customers, but if a driver is doing that then that's against the company's policy.  In my opinion a rating under 5 starts happens when somebody is truly ridiculous -- like they want to drink in your car or get upset because you won't let them smoke or they damage the vehicle in some fashion. 

 

Well I don't know if the not-tipping thing is the reason, but my friend is convinced it is. (Can customers view their own rating? I think he said someone gave him a 1 star.) Maybe the customs are different in different cities, and in Boston drivers expect tips. Or maybe my friend did something else the driver thought was douchey.  Or maybe the review was a mistake. Anyway, he is upset about having the service be basically unusable for him now.

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I am interested in how the insurance works when using a personal car for a livery service.  Especially concerning personal liability insurance.

 

The same as for pizza deliverymen, if you know what I'm getting at.

 

Just be careful, there's a difference to someone sueing you for their pepperoni being stuck to the top of the box, or being in your car and getting T-boned by a truck!

 

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/04/critics_of_uber_and_lyft_raise_questions_about_insurance_and_safety.html#incart_river

 

Critics of Uber and Lyft raise questions about insurance and safety

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Thinking about summoning a ride home via a mobile app service such as Uber or Lyft? Not so fast, cautions the Ohio Department of Insurance.

 

The popular apps made a huge splash when they expanded into Cleveland late last week, but a growing number of people are asking questions about their business model, their insurance coverage, and their track record in other markets.

 

On Wednesday, Ohio Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor issued a consumer alert urging people who become drivers or passengers of transportation networking companies like Uber and Lyft to consider the potential insurance implications of that ride.

 

 

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The business model is intriguing but ultimately the people that run these companies are making money bypassing regulations and in doing so placing much of the burden and risk on drivers. It may be decent money until that first big incident or accident...or hint or allegation. ;)

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They're bypassing regulations that exist for the benefit of scumbag owners of traditional cab companies, not cab drivers or their riders. 

 

Seems to me that the owners of both Lyft and Uber are engaging in scummy activities which hurt their drivers and riders, too, even if they're not rent-seeking or putting up barriers like traditional cab companies do.

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One of the differences is that most Uber / Lyft drivers are part-time and can just walk away from the job if it isn't paying well enough.  Traditional cab drivers are full-time and can't simply leave for another profession so easily.  The price war has been beneficial to the passengers but not the drivers.  Inexplicably people continue to favor Uber where I am even though Lyft is *always* cheaper, sometimes half as expensive during surge pricing periods.  I think it's partly caused by Lyft's cheesy image. 

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One of the differences is that most Uber / Lyft drivers are part-time and can just walk away from the job if it isn't paying well enough.  Traditional cab drivers are full-time and can't simply leave for another profession so easily.  The price war has been beneficial to the passengers but not the drivers.  Inexplicably people continue to favor Uber where I am even though Lyft is *always* cheaper, sometimes half as expensive during surge pricing periods.  I think it's partly caused by Lyft's cheesy image. 

 

Uber is better at marketing, they give themselves this mildly obnoxious yuppieish image that is appealing to their base.  They also did a lot to reach out to "cool" people in Cincy's blogosphere to hype them up.  Lyft is cheesy but friendly, I always prefer them, and always like the prices better too :)

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One of the differences is that most Uber / Lyft drivers are part-time and can just walk away from the job if it isn't paying well enough.  Traditional cab drivers are full-time and can't simply leave for another profession so easily.  The price war has been beneficial to the passengers but not the drivers.  Inexplicably people continue to favor Uber where I am even though Lyft is *always* cheaper, sometimes half as expensive during surge pricing periods.  I think it's partly caused by Lyft's cheesy image. 

 

In Cleveland most cab drivers are ripoff artists as well.  Especially on weekend nights they never want to run the meter and are always trying to gouge.  I am very thankful for both Uber and Lyft in Cleveland.

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One of the differences is that most Uber / Lyft drivers are part-time and can just walk away from the job if it isn't paying well enough.  Traditional cab drivers are full-time and can't simply leave for another profession so easily.  The price war has been beneficial to the passengers but not the drivers.  Inexplicably people continue to favor Uber where I am even though Lyft is *always* cheaper, sometimes half as expensive during surge pricing periods.  I think it's partly caused by Lyft's cheesy image. 

 

Uber is better at marketing, they give themselves this mildly obnoxious yuppieish image that is appealing to their base.  They also did a lot to reach out to "cool" people in Cincy's blogosphere to hype them up.  Lyft is cheesy but friendly, I always prefer them, and always like the prices better too :)

 

Yeah think about it...to repeat, you are often getting THE EXACT SAME DUDE driving the EXACT SAME CAR but people are willing to pay more for the image of Uber.  I remember reading about this phenomenon several years ago, and there is a name for it but I can't remember it -- that sales volume often increases for certain products when prices increase.  I know a lady I know who runs a youth sports photography business said that her sales for a CD went way up when she raised prices from $25 to $40.  Similarly I have read that colleges often get higher quality applicants simply by raising their tuition. 

 

 

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^ I've heard it called the Chivas Regal Effect. Supposedly sales of Chivas Regal took off when the price was lifted to give the perception of a premium brand.

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I think a lot of it has to do with the simple fact that Uber was first in Cincy by a few weeks if not longer. They launched with a lot of press, which at the time was all about competing with taxis, insurance, etc. but nevertheless they were in the papers and TV news for a few days in a row. I’d bet that a lot of people either don’t know what Lyft is or don’t realize it’s a completely different company.

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Actually I think Lyft might have gotten here a few weeks earlier.  But they didn't accompany their entrance with any kind of press.  I have heard that the dynamic between the two varies wildly from city to city.  The big money for these companies is in the bigger metros so I don't doubt that Lyft is concentrating its PR resources in other places. 

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Yeah think about it...to repeat, you are often getting THE EXACT SAME DUDE driving the EXACT SAME CAR but people are willing to pay more for the image of Uber.  I remember reading about this phenomenon several years ago, and there is a name for it but I can't remember it -- that sales volume often increases for certain products when prices increase.  I know a lady I know who runs a youth sports photography business said that her sales for a CD went way up when she raised prices from $25 to $40.  Similarly I have read that colleges often get higher quality applicants simply by raising their tuition. 

 

The term you're looking for is Elasticity :)  - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elasticity_(economics)

 

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People are that worried about what they'll look like being driven around town? I'm going to let you in on a secret, nobody cares or can even see you in the car. Hell, every Lyft vehicle is nicer than a traditional cab in this city which is beaten up, has broken lights, smells of sweat, and is painted some bright color that makes it stand out and still nobody cares.

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look from my point of view i don't want to drive or be driven in a car with a big pink mustache.

That's just me, i'll pay the premium.

 

I was about to make a joke about those balls you see hanging off the tailhook of hillbilly pickup trucks, but apparently there are no photographs of said balls on the internet. 

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I was about to make a joke about those balls you see hanging off the tailhook of hillbilly pickup trucks, but apparently there are no photographs of said balls on the internet. 

 

The appropriate search term is "Truck Nuts"

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=Truck+nuts&safe=off&espv=2&biw=1920&bih=955&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=Tz81VJPtL4WsogTtyYC4Ag&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ

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"When you agree to Uber's terms and conditions, you basically sign your life away, consumer advocates say. So then, what happens when a driver hits you on the head with a hammer, as one passenger claims?" ... http://www.cnet.com/news/how-risky-is-your-uber-ride-maybe-more-than-you-think/

 

Thankfully in the consumer realm just because a company writes something into an agreement doesn't mean it's enforceable.

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"When you agree to Uber's terms and conditions, you basically sign your life away, consumer advocates say. So then, what happens when a driver hits you on the head with a hammer, as one passenger claims?" ... http://www.cnet.com/news/how-risky-is-your-uber-ride-maybe-more-than-you-think/

 

Thankfully in the consumer realm just because a company writes something into an agreement doesn't mean it's enforceable.

 

This.  And courts are very attuned to "form over substance"-type arguments, and in most fields (particularly in the consumer arena, like you said), labels that contradict substance can be thin shields.

 

The article is actually pretty solid on the law, at least as I understand it.  Uber's argument that its drivers are "independent contractors" likely won't go all that far if the injured parties can show that the drivers have most of the practical incidents of being employees.  (Sight unseen, I'll wager that existing cab companies also try to classify their drivers as independent contractors, and I'll also wager that courts don't always end their analysis there and let the cab companies off the hook for tortious acts by their drivers.)

 

But the insurance coverage angle is the more interesting one from my point of view.  And that one could get surprisingly complex and interesting here.  At the end of the day, it is very likely that someone's insurance coverage should cover this event, but it's not immediately obvious who should be "primarily" liable (and thus, in practice, the one that's going to pay the claim).

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