Thursday, February 23, 2017

Bring back Safe Two-Way Radio Taxicab Dispatch Technology.

In short: Using computers to dispatch taxis is IDIOTIC.

I'm old school taxi. I spent most of my "career" in this business using two-way voice radio.

You could operate your taxi without ever taking your eyes off the road.

There was a time when being a taxi driver, contrary to popular perception, actually involved a lot of skill.

I have been in the business for long enough to remember those days. The relationship between a good dispatcher, and a good driver, could be made to harmonize like good music. Then someone came up with the idea that it would be better to use computers to allocate ride-sharing requests. That was when it all started to turn into shit.

Far from being an enhancement of communication for the purposes of taxicab dispatch, the introduction of mindless computer algorithms to the task of dealing with the innately rough and tumble process of "matching riders with drivers," has been a disaster on many fronts, for both the front-line providers of ride-sharing services, and the customers.

There was a time when the two-way radio could have been regarded as a "disruptive technology" just like Uber's app.

From Wikipedia:

"The first major innovation after the invention of the taximeter occurred in the late 1940s, when two-way radios first appeared in taxicabs. Radios enabled taxicabs and dispatch offices to communicate and serve customers more efficiently than previous methods, such as using callboxes."

I saw through the scam when the the taxi brokerage I was signed with in 2007 decided to migrate to a computerized dispatch system.

It was completely obvious.

1 - the brokerage would no longer have to hire skilled, experienced, knowledgeable dispatchers to verbally allocate ride-sharing requests. Instead, they could recruit lower paid call-takers to simply type addresses into a computer.

It saved money for the brokers.

It did squat for the operators. (Who were forced to pay for the useless hardware and software upgrades.)

2 - whereas, previously, the broker had to rent out parking spaces for its cabs to queue up during slow periods when trip rationing was necessitated, the computer allowed the cabs to sit anywhere. And they did. This resulted in greater aggravation to the public as the cabs started to queue up in no-stopping zones, beside parking meters, hospital ramps, and areas known to be frequented by taxi-using foreign students in my city.

It also increased the probability that any individual cab that was dispatched to a high-frequency pick-up zone would end up being "scooped" by another hungry cab that was already loitering there.

This phenomena lead to the increased probability that an individual driver who was dispatched to a high-frequency zone would simply ignore the call, knowing that the probability he had already been scooped by a loiterer was about 95%. And this led to lower service reliability.

Of course, there was that remaining 5% of the time when the caller had not been scooped up by a loiterer, and ended up having to call a second or third time before they could actually get a driver to respond. Which led to complaints about the "unreliability" of taxi service. (Which was itself exacerbated by the City's insane policy of issuing unnecessary taxi licenses, which led to an increase in the number of vacant taxis, which were thus, increasingly available to scoop other cabs rather than running their own trips. In the "old days" when most cabs were actually engaged, there was a much lower probability that a corner call, or a Tim Horton's, or a gas station customer would be scooped by a vacant taxi. This failure of government taxicab regulation fueled the popularity of app-based dispatch systems where the customer could track the progress of their cab, even if HE ended up not arriving either.)

In other words, computerization of taxicab dispatch did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to increase the efficiency of matching of riders with drivers. In fact, it led to increased confusion and a significant waste of money, time, and gasoline, along with public and customer frustration.

But it did save money for the brokers, who pay neither for the glitchy hardware and software, the wasted time, nor the gasoline wasted by their hapless operators.

Again, it did squat for the operators.

AND EVEN WORSE!

It involved the installation of distractive devices in every taxicab, which led to a higher risk of death and injury on the roads. This is indisputable. ("Three seconds. That's all it takes.")

If the phony politicians and other interest groups, like Uber-partner MADD Canada, REALLY gave a shit about SAFETY they would be calling for a total ban on ALL distractive taxi dispatch technologies and a call for the return to the minimally distractive two-way radio system of taxicab dispatch.

I've been harping on this distractive technology angle for ten years now, even before Uber existed.

I am still waiting for someone to say, "He's right, you know!"

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Uber, Update - 19, February, 2017

"You don't push people around without some people pushing back."

Distracted Driving

An exploration of dangerous "distractive" technology, its use in Uber (and any other) taxis, and why, oh why, is MADD Canada shilling for Uber?


Labor Strife

The explosion in the number of cabs on the streets is hurting amateur Uber cabbies as much as it is hurting their professional counterparts.

  • Uber and Ola drivers in India are now aggressively demanding better pay and working conditions. see here.

  • Toronto Uber drivers are starting to turn on each other because of the squeeze market saturation is putting on them.

    See Reporting welfare drivers.

  • Listen to the CBC program from Feb 15, 2017, "Still in love with Uber?"

  • Licensed cab drivers are not the only victims of Uber's "business model."

    Hyderabad Uber Driver Suicide Adds Fuel To Protests For Better Pay.

    See also, Uber driver ends life in Hyderabad, family says he was under pressure to pay car EMI.

“They are increasing the number of cabs in the city but the number of customers have not changed."


From the Stranger Danger File:

Victim sexually assaulted by Kingston man pretending to be car-sharing driver.

“On February 11, 2017 in the late evening hours the victim was in the downtown district with friends at a bar. The victim had a friend call for a car-sharing service to take her home. The victim later approached vehicles outside of the bar looking for her driver. (italics - mine)

The accused claimed he was her driver and the victim got into his car." (italics - mine)

Meanwhile, clueless politicians continue to make critical decisions based upon purely fictional imaginings of how the world really works.

According to an article in the London Free Press, (see here) a London Councilor said, "But the ride-sharing app that Uber uses means drivers and passengers already know each other even before they meet, and they rate each other as well — and that’s enough of a safety measure."

Yeah, right!

Update: February 19, 2017. The Councilor quoted in the LFP article sent me an email denying that he ever said what the LFP reported. "Btw, with respect to the quote you have attributed to me in your blog... I never said that," in which case I apologize to the Councilor. I consider it entirely possible that this could be just another example of the epidemic of fake news we have been hearing so much about lately. Still, if it wasn't that councilor's quote, it adequately represents the kind of nonsense we keep hearing from too many pro-Uber politicians.

And another Toronto Uber driver is charged with sex assault.


By the way, having a sticker in the window provides scant protection to vulnerable riders. Anyone can buy Uber stickers from Amazon.com.


Uber Question

What will happen to used car buyers when Uber drivers sell their vehicles?

"Thing is back in september i had a midsize american sedan and it use to burn normalish gas. I pay $4.2k for it used for 3 months, sold it for the same amount. What I lost was like 3 oil changes and the Tax ($800) and gas ofc but thats it. It had 200k klicks when i had it. It never had any problems. I made profit, enough to buy a full size executive. But with a full size executive, the gas increases, i still make a little profit."

I wonder if this guy informed the buyer that his car had been used as a taxi?


Finally, a message from Uberman:

Please comment below and share widely.

Let Travis, and the world, know who the real asshole is.

Okay, enough of that.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Is a Cheap Cab Ride really worth the Risks

MADD Canada is now promoting Distracted Driving.

"Saying she would never drink and drive, Sarah Milburn climbed into a Honda Odyssey after a birthday celebration, which soon ran a red light and crashed into a Ford F-150 pickup. She and her parents are now suing Uber, Honda, the Uber driver, and the owner of the van he drove (who allegedly was uninsured!) <italics - mine>. [source]

“Millions of people trust Uber with their lives, and they obviously aren’t doing it the right way,” she alleged in the Dallas News.


Links:

Distracted driving deadlier than impaired driving, police say ahead of holiday crackdown

Who's Driving You? Uber Incidents.

More Uber News

More proof that my predictive capabilities rival those of Gerald Celente.

Today, Uber drivers are again complaining about their poor earnings due to market saturation. Duh! Go figger.

See "No ping...90 mintues," then compare it to what I said on 1 January, 2016.

And then there's this from the Toronto Taxi News...

"Also in early January, a 24-year-old Austin woman who has been rendered a quadriplegic, is suing her Uber driver, and Uber after the car she was traveling in was T-boned in an intersection."

Hmmm..... T-boned? Didn't I just see something about that?


My, all time, favorite statement from the UberPeople.net forum...

In response to,

"But in the case of this woman, she inherited it. She didn't pay a dime for it. (the taxi plate.)

And besides, these medallions are supposed to be a license for a car to be used as a taxi. They were never intended to be investment instruments."

jfr1 wrote,

"No, but her parents did, with the intention of being able to sell at any point, or pass down that value to their kids.

These medallions are not pure "investment instruments", they're not GICs, TDs, mortages, etc. They're licenses to operate a business in a restricted market... not substantially different than a Tim Hortons franchise. That business includes purchasing a car, outfitting it for taxi-use, and either driving it, or employing specially licensed drivers to operate it on your behalf. That's what they get used for.

Obviously, any time you invest in a business, it carries risk; however, no amount of due diligence could've predicted that the city and law enforcement would all of a sudden one day simply fail to enforce the laws of society; without us having gone to a zombie apocalypse. "

https://uberpeople.net/threads/back-in-the-news-again-uber-insurance.32590/page-22#post-511661


The reason libertarianism appealed to me in the first place is because I don't like seeing people being bullied or defrauded.

I have spent a great big chunk of my life studying, and promoting, the libertarian philosophy without a single penny's worth of compensation.

My old man used to be so frustrated with my lack of material ambition. I would be sitting back on the couch, reading Ayn Rand, or Reason Magazine, and he would look at me with disgust. "You know, if you spent half as much time thinking about your future income prospects, you would be highly successful."

Yeah, "but if you're not doing one thing, you're doing something else," as my late friend Jay Speiger said. In economics, they call it, "opportunity cost."

So sure. My dad was right. If I had followed his advice I might, today, have a much newer car, and own a house rather than renting one. I still wrestle with whether I made the right choice.

People ask me, "why are you pissing in the wind with your obsession with Uber?"

For the same reasons given above.

And to add insult to injury, this political xxxxx-ball actually has the nerve to brag about his participation in this criminal political scam....

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What a couple of haughty clowns these two fools are. I've never heard of Professor Giroux, (should I have?) but as a cab driver, I have met thousands of McMaster students over the last several decades. When it comes to politics, economics, history, social policy, racial and ethnic politics, they are the dumbest bunch of brainwashed idiots of all of my passengers. People who have real jobs tend to be much more connected to the REAL WORLD. They have real problems to solve in their own lives. They are getting a REAL EDUCATION. The knowledge they accumulate has actual APPLICATIONS.

Which is not to say that I have not actually met one or two Mac students who surprised the hell out of me by their comprehension of the real issues. They were obviously not Prof. Geroux's students, or, if they were, they were probably getting real shitty grades. One young person told me he feels the need to keep his opinions to himself, for fear of the overwhelming backlash. I guess he was one of the "Owellians" Professor Geroux disrespects.

And yes, *I* would have voted for Donald Trump enthusiastically, but NOT for any of the reasons this bozo "Professor" lists. He's talking out of his asshole. (Reminds me of a "so-called" judge.)

I was so impressed by Prof. Geroux's ability to be completely wrong, about everything, that I almost launched into one of my famous rants (famous to my one fan) but, nobody reads them. And judging from the number of hits this youtube conversation has received (25 so far,) even less would read them here. (Although, I intend to cross-post this video along with my comments to facebook and twitter to see if it gives them more traffic.)

In the sidebar, I see a 10 minute talk by Prof. Geroux, entitled, "Neoliberalism, Youth, and Social Justice," but, if he is as clueless as this interview clearly demonstrates, then it would be a complete waste of time. Still, it beckons. What other nonsense does he spout? It reminds me of another alleged "fascist's" admonition,

"Don't bother to examine a folly? Just ask yourself what it accomplishes."

It's a shame, really. Professor Geroux might have found a calling in life that was actually useful. Instead, he gets paid for spewing nothing but formulaic, crypto-commie horseshit. But, my guess would be that his "higher education" was subsidized by taxpayers. Go figger.

"Orwell would be rolling over in his grave." My ass.

Orwell predicted this shite.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Uber in Hamilton: The "Level Playing Field" that Wasn't

Remember when Bush Sr. promised, "Read my lips. No new taxes," and how that turned out? It's typical of the political classes. As a general rule, whenever a politician makes a solemn promise, reverse the meaning of that promise to obtain the real meaning.

Consider the claim by Hamilton's politicians, in response to Uber's massive campaign of non-compliance with Hamilton's taxi bylaws, that they would "level the playing field." As it turns out, they did the exact opposite. Instead of levelling the playing field, they created a whole new section of the bylaw, with the specific intention of exempting the Uber taxi brokerage from the laws other brokerages are required to comply with.

The devious wordplay they have employed to hand Hamilton's taxi market over to Uber is not even funny. Here is the definition of Uber's taxi brokerage according to the newly approved taxi bylaw,

“personal transportation provider” means any person facilitating prearranged transportation services for compensation using any platform to connect passengers with PTP driver and may also be referred to as a “PTP”;

Hmmm. That is a perfect description of a taxi brokerage.

and,

"“personal transportation provider driver” means any person affiliated with a PTP who transports passengers for compensation using a PTP platform and may also be referred to as a “PTP driver”"

I.E. - a taxi driver.

and,

"any platform to connect passengers with PTP (taxi) driver," could mean using a telephone to summon a cab, or an app, or a web-page, or a guy standing on a lifeguard stand employing smoke signals.

At this point it ought to become clear to the reader that the new "licensing category" is nothing but the formalized exemption of the Uber taxi operation from most of the bylaws that the other taxi companies must comply with.

Now that the fraud of the city's kow-towing to the Uber cab company has been exposed, let's turn our attention to the question of what a truly "level playing field" would look like.

Level Playing Field

There two, and only two, possible scenarios for the achievement of a level playing field for taxis in Hamilton.

The first would be the one proclaimed by Hamilton's Director of Licensing according to a CHCH report from 23, July, 2015:

"They are welcome to come to the city of Hamilton but they have to fall within the current bylaws that are written. That means they must become a broker, they must use licensed taxis and licensed drivers. The reason the bylaws are in place is to ensure customer safety, and consumer protection. Those are the two issues we’re worried about, and if they follow those rules, Uber, they’re welcome to come to Hamilton.” explains Ken Leendertse, Director of Licensing."

It was not long however, before the City of Hamilton found itself to be not in compliance with Uber's business model and hence came the scramble by city officials to rectify their taxi bylaw in order to guarantee profits for Uber, its investors, and its banking partners in the Netherlands.

Mr. Leendertse was quoted elsewhere as stating, "The city's director of licensing says it's up to politicians to decide whether Uber can overcome regulatory hurdles to operate in Hamilton."

When I read that I knew the fix was in. It was obvious that Uber would not be able to compete on a level playing field with other taxi operators. The only way Uber could become a successful taxi operation in Hamilton would be if it were given a pass on the "regulatory hurdles" applicable to its competitors. And that is exactly what the City of Hamilton ended up giving them.

The second "level playing field" scenario would have been total deregulation of the Hamilton taxi industry. Anyone with a driver's license and a car would be elligible to enter the taxi trade. Prices would be set by the market and the supply of taxis would only be limited by the number of third world immigrants willing to work for less than the minimum wage.

This second scenario is the one preferred by the libertarians, who naively supported the Uber corporation, believing it to be the harbinger of the free market revolution they have been praying for, for so long.

The problem with the second scenario is that it would not comply with Uber's business model either. Uber can only prevail so long as its competition continues to be hamstrung by "regulatory hurdles."

I have come to know many of the immigrants who make a living in the Hamilton taxi business over the years. They never cease to amaze me with their ability, not only to survive under Hamilton's insane and, often spiteful, taxi regulations, but to prosper.

If they were given the opportunity to compete with Uber, head to head, on a truly "level playing field" they would eat Uber for lunch.



Future SchLock - The Movie