Saturday, July 30, 2016

Death of Surge?

Something odd happened to me last week during bar closing time.

Despite the deluge of Ubergulls in one of the bar districts, there seemed to be a sudden "surge" in street hails for rule-abiding taxicabs.

Sure enough, I managed to hook a fare going to the east end. They asked me if they could make multiple stops, which means that they intend to continue the shared ride after reaching the first destination.

But something odd was going on during the shared ride. The guys in the second and third rows of the van were huddled around a smartphone. I kept hearing Uber this, and Uber that. It was kind of irritating.

When we arrived at the first destination they told me they were all getting out there. They were now going to hook up with an Uber taxi.

He arrived almost as quickly as any cab. Couldn't have been too busy. Dark car with dark tinted windows, like something out of a stalker thriller, and some or all of them piled in.

So, of course, I was left wondering, "why would they choose to switch cabs in the middle of the trip?"

Then I remembered my prediction about Uber's surge pricing policy. Once the public got wise, they would begin to compare prices. They would take Uber when the rates were half of regulated taxi rates, but they would start taking standard cabs when the surge exceeded taxi rates.

My theory is that this is exactly what happened in this case.

Uber was probably surging in the bar district at 2:30 A.M., hence the bump in demand for the cheaper alternative at that time, standard taxis. So they engaged me. But they monitored the Uber rates during the ride until we entered a zone that was not surging, where the sucker Uber drivers were depreciating their capital for half the mandatory taxi rates. At that point, they decided to switch to Uber taxis.

Makes sense to me.

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Ayn Rand was Not a Whore.

This is rich.

Get what the Data Engineer at Uber says.

"Basically this scenario involves both rider and driver partaking in fraud."

Where is the fraud?

Uber has repeatedly said that all it does is connect riders with drivers. It's "just a technology company."

Having done that, where do they get off in claiming the driver owes them anything more? That, having full-filled their stated function, that of connecting willing riders with drivers they expect also to get a cut of what the passenger pays the driver for the actual ride?

In other words, how does the "service" of matching riders with drivers translate into a continuing obligation for the driver to pay Uber one red cent?

Uber drivers pay Uber 25% of their gross just for dispatching them. Traditional taxi dispatchers in my city only charge about 6% for the same service.

Uber is a colossal scam.

And talk about scams. How about Hillary Clinton and the DNC in Philadelphia?

Uber partnered with the DNC.

Yeah right. Uber is part of the new libertarian revolution.

Travis Kalanick is NOT the new Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand was NOT a whore.

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Updates: August 4, 2016

Kenyan Uber drivers want Uber to lower its brokerage fee to 15%!!!

Are they nuts? Uber's commission should be no higher than standard taxi brokerage fees of about 6%. Paying the Uber brokerage more than 6% is being royally scammed. Clearly, part of Uber's "amazing" success is it's ability to recruit witless trendies who have no idea how to calculate true costs. Once Uber has performed its "matchmaking service" the driver ought to have no further obligation to pay them anything.

If I were driving an Uber cab I would flag the meter as soon as the passenger was in my cab. Uber would get their "booking fee" ($2.50) and 25% of the drop ($.63), for a grand total of $3.13 and not one penny more. The actual trip could be negotiated in cash, credit or debit and there are lots of smartphone meter apps that can be used for the actual ride. Giving Uber 25% of the total cost of the ride is incredibly stupid.

Don't fall for it.

Here's another story. Uber has been funnelling money to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving.) According to this report, Uber has "donated" between $100,000 and up to almost $500,000 to MADD in order for MADD to endorse Uber's "Distractive technology" based method of taxi dispatch. Critics say the MADD study was cooked. ("Last week, I (and everyone else) reported research by the American Journal of Epidemiology that showed Uber has had no measurable impact in reducing drunk driving.")

We need a new group called, Mothers Against Distracted Driving to warn trendy youngsters about using distractive technology based taxicabs which continue to claim innocent lives.

Taxi Driver's Lives Matter!

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Hmmm...

and hmmmm....

Saturday, July 23, 2016

More on Government/Uber Corruption

I am just browsing through the Toronto's new Vehicle for Hire bylaw information. Some of it is quite entertaining from the point of view of someone who has actually driven a cab (A.K.A. "ridesharing.")

First of all, I note how the term "ridesharing" is already starting to drift into oblivion, just like the term "global warming," as slick new terminologies are invented to make corrupt government actions seem more legitimate.

I have to admit, I am awed by the cleverness of it all.

I quote:

"Vehicle-for-Hire

The new Vehicle-for-Hire bylaw, in effect on July 15, 2016 will substantially change the city's approach to regulation within the ground transportation industry.

By creating the new Private Transportation Company (PTC) licensing category, companies such as Uber will be permitted to operate in Toronto, with regulation.

The new Vehicle-for-Hire bylaw:

  • regulates taxicabs, limousines and private transportation companies (PTCs)

  • focuses on public safety and consumer protection

  • ensures accessible vehicle-for-hire services

  • allows for increased competition and innovation

"

Let me go over these one-by-one.

- regulates taxicabs, limousines and private transportation companies (PTCs)

As I have said before, the terms "taxicab" and "personal transportation provider" represent the same thing. In collusion with Uber, the government has come up with two different names for the same service in order to disguise the massive crime that is being committed. I.E. allowing corporate political influence to create special laws for itself, thus guaranteeing huge profits. At the same time it completely obliterates the lifetime investments of the thousands of smaller owner/operators who lack the backing of companies like Goldman Sachs and Google, etc.

This brings to mind that quote attributed to Adolf Hitler,

"What good fortune for governments that the people do not think."

- focuses on public safety and consumer protection

Well, that is obviously a bald-faced lie. If the bylaw actually focused on public safety and consumer protection, they would have already banned the use of distractive devices for the purposes of taxicab dispatch, including Uber taxis.

If safety were something the politicians truly cared about, rather than paying hypocritical lip-service to, both Uber and the less politically connected taxi brokerages would have to switch back to the infinitely safer two-way radio dispatch system. What would Uber do then? Hand out free two-way radio handsets so their trendy customers could find matching drivers? Use smoke signals?

Far from being a "disruptive technology" the Uber dispatch interface is actually a very dangerous "distractive technology."

People have already died.

"According to the complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court, Muzaffar was logged into the Uber app and monitoring his smartphone at or near the time he made the fatal turn. Christopher Dolan, the attorney representing the family, says the last thing the mother saw before being hit “was the driver looking down at his cell phone.

- ensures accessible vehicle-for-hire services

I don't know enough at this time about Uber's plans to provide accessible transportation to say much right now.

But I have not seen a single accessible Uber taxi on the streets of Hamilton so far. In fact, I have even noticed that the great proponent of 100% accessible taxi service in Hamilton, former religious leader, union leader, and mayoral candidate, the locally famous Ejaz Butt, is not driving an accessible Uber cab himself. For a man who boldly stated that "accessible transportation is a right, not a privilege!" this seems a bit disingenuous.

Then again, everything about Uber and the political classes that support it is disingenuous.

Finally this:

- allows for increased competition and innovation

Really?

What good fortune for governments, and the corporations that manipulate them, that the people do not think.

Superficially, it looks like a means to increased competition.

But this monstrosity is actually a revision of the taxicab bylaws (A.K.A. tilting the playing field that directly destroys the lifetime investments of the local taxi operators in order to guarantee the success of the predatory American company.

A blind man could see through this. Too bad he would still have trouble hailing an Uber cab. Especially if he has a service animal.

In the section of the bylaw revisions that Uber generously pre-wrote for the city of Toronto,

"A TNC shall provide passengers an opportunity (An opportunity!) to indicate whether they require a wheelchair accessible vehicle. If a TNC cannot(?) arrange wheelchair accessible service in any instance, it shall direct the passenger to an alternate provider of wheelchair-accessible service, if applicable."

In other words, if the provision of the guaranteed money-loser, accessible transportation, does not fit into Uber's business model, there is no reason it should be subjected to the same accessibility laws as every other business.

In other words, again, to put in terms the man in the street would understand, "If you want Uber to provide you with an accessible vehicle, FUCK OFF and call a taxi."

What got me off on this rant? It was something else, entirely. While gassing up last night, I overheard a guy who was sitting in his car at the station, talking on his phone. The part of the conversation I heard went llike this, "I am about five minutes away. Ok."

Then he left.

It was a conversation I have heard thousands of times. It's a cab driver promising to pick up one of his lock-ups. Usually for cash.

But it's getting late, so I will have to leave that avenue of thought for another time.

Thank you for reading. Please comment or share.

P.S.

What are the Uber drivers saying today?

Waaaay too many drivers!! I haven't driven all week. Figured i would try tonight, start with beaches jazz festival that ends at 11pm. Sat in the middle of a good but brief surge, not a single ping. Watched it completely dissipate, then i get a close poo ping. Sorry i only take close and surged poo. Then got a select ping that was quickly cancelled by pax, so then started driving home, and didn't get another single ping. If uber has already cut off older vehicles, there are still too many drivers out there.

(emphasis mine)

Uhm, duh! Didn't anyone see this coming?

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A Public Service Announcement from UBSDS

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How much do you want to bet that I get a reply from a Hamilton councilor that says,

"Thank you for providing me feedback regarding Uber. I also believe we need to find practical ways to adapt to the technological advances in a changing taxi industry and have filed your message as background info to the Uber file. I look forward to seeing this evolve to the best possible outcome for residents and drivers."

I already have a small collection of these replies. They all say the same thing. This guy is plagiarizing himself.

Update: as of this morning, 24, July, 2016 I have not received another copy of this "reply." That means he must have read one of my emails and decided not to reply at all. At least that's more honest.


"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under." -- H.L. Mencken.

Finally, when it comes to corruption, the Uber/Hamilton scam doesn't hold a candle to the stuff Hillary is involved in.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I've seen a lot of pain in the faces of Hamilton cab drivers since the city government basically gave Uber carte-blanche to operate here. It's particularly painful for the older drivers who have devoted decades of their lives to this business, only to have the politicians up-end the apple cart, reducing many of those dislocated cab drivers to wondering whether pushing shopping carts full of junk, for storage in the cardboard boxes they now call home,  will be their next career move.

And don't give me any bullshit about how Hamilton laid a few charges against Uber drivers that would put them on the hook for laughable $305 fines, when A:) those fines are less than one-third of the cost of obtaining a taxi driver's license in Hamilton and B:) their $62 billion ($68) political parent corporation promises to pay their fines.



Who profits when the number of taxis on Hamilton's streets balloons from 447 to 1000 as a result of the dishonestly named "new licensing category" Hamilton politicians are going to create in order to legitimize Uber? (and screw everyone else in the Hamilton cab business.)

The drivers?

I don't think so. It's simple pie-chart arithmetic. The more drivers there are the less pie for each driver.

The City Government?

Well, it doesn't really matter to the City Government how many taxis are deployed. In fact, they may even benefit from some marginal extra fees they might be able to extract from all of the Ubered Piper's sweet seductions.

Uber?

Hmmm.... It really doesn't matter to Uber whether it has 100 cabs or 1000 cabs deployed in Hamilton.

If the average Uber trip is $10, then in a 100 cab scenario, each Uber taxi would have to run 20 trips to gross $200. I have been hearing that Uber drivers are having $200 nights.

100 Uber cabs times $200 each adds up to $20,000.

At 25%, Uber gets $5,000 of that.

Now let's switch over to every cab driver's nightmare. There are now 1,000 Uber cabs on the streets of Hamilton, moving forward to the full implementation of the "sharing economy."

That $20,000 that was previously divided amongst 100 cab drivers now has to be divided amongst 1,000 cab drivers.

The nightly take of each Uber cabbie is now reduced to a third-world sounding number..... $20.

But here is the fucking magic. Uber still gets its $5,000.

I mean, talk about "sharing."

It's the next best thing to running a numbers racket, except that the government has already expropriated that industry.

Uber is not a technology company. Uber is a political company. It's expertise lies not in some silly app. It lies in knowing how to exploit the fault lines and fissures in a corrupt political structure. It would not exist in a free economy.

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A Public Service Announcement brought to you by Uncle Block's Bullshit Detection Service.


Going over old stuff that I wrote.

I can't remember how long ago I wrote this letter to the editor, but I just re-read it and, man, it was pretty good. At least to me.

I mean, if someone else had written it, I would have known exactly what they were talking about. Plus. there were truths embedded therein that I had not even discovered yet.

Like the enormous expenditure of resources employed in mental hospitals to persuade their involuntary guests to quit the vile and disgusting habit.

Perhaps it has not yet quite reached the point where the general population are seen as patients in need of treatment,  but the goings-on in Ontario's mental hospitals, which I have quite sadly had reason to observe over the last six years, have given me a preview of the type of world progressives, of the Kathleen Wynne/McGuinty "liberal" orientation, would love to see universalized.

Top down conformity. Above all other considerations. Or  Über Alles as the old song goes.

Why do you think they included vaping in the anti-tobacco laws? Because they wanted to protect innocent bystanders from second-hand vapor? Or because they were finally showing their full hand and admitting that this whole issue was never about "protecting" the public in the first place, but about imposing social conformity?

These tolerant, inclusive liberals. I am sick to fucking death of them. The bottom line is, it's their way or the highway.

Sure. They can come up with scary scenarios where crazy mental patients can't be allowed to smoke (even outdoors) while incarcerated because they might light the trash cans on fire, but what is their excuse for prohibiting vaping? That it might provide a negative influence on children?

They provide their guests with inhalers and, I suppose, other smoke cessation aids, provided by the same pharmaceutical corporations that provide their expensive psychotropic medications.

But no vaping.

Hmmm.

Oh yeah. It's all about the children with these liberals. Except that they don't really give a flying fuck about children, nor anybody else. It ought to be as obvious as the Ontario government's debt of about $300 billion - the repayment of which will fall upon the children's shoulders. (Then again, Hillary Clinton is pretty obvious too, but she is going to be the next president of the United States. She also loves children.)

Anyway, that's enough ranting for now.

Here is the thing I wrote about the anti-smoking Jihad way back when....

Anti-Smoking Hate Campaign - Our Own Jihad!

Hamilton's medical community thinks private property has been abolished. It doesn't matter whether we assume they are socialists who believe that all property is communally owned, or merely fascists, who accept nominal private possession while disposition resides with the people with the guns (government).
Hey, why is Canada sending it's armed forces overseas to fight the Taliban when the foes of freedom are right here in our own back yard? Someone perhaps ought to remind the members of Hamilton's medical community that not all 'public places' are 'publicly owned' places and any political system that treats them as such should be resisted by all who value liberty.
And what's this nonsense about the bylaw being a 'treatment' for our community? Since when have patients lost the right to decide whether they wish to receive a given 'treatment'? If this really is a 'treatment' then the proper medical consent forms ought to be sent to everyone who lives in Hamilton before any ban is considered.
This jihad against smokers and those who accomodate them, I.E. privately owned establishments, is aided and ebetted by proponents of the bylaw who spread exagerated statistics about the body count. It's not proven that smoking kills two people a day in Hamilton. The truth is more likely that two of the people who die each day in Hamilon are smokers - whether their demise was caused by smoking or not. And if it can be categoricaly stated that one person a week dies from the effects of second hand smoke then I think the proponents of this bylaw should supply some real proof starting with the names of these victims. I am confident that the anti-smoking faithful cannot produce this information.This proof should be something more substantial than that dishonest TV commercial where the kid talks about how much fun he had with his father who died of some unspecified, likely multi-factorial, disease attributed to smoking.


Funny thing about the internet.

My letter to the editor found it's way into an American court case.

That really cracked me up.


A Public Service Announcement brought to you by Uncle Block's Bullshit Detection Service.








Friday, July 15, 2016

Blockrants Political Corruption Report - Uber in Hamilton

When was the last time you heard a politician say,

"There is nothing we can do about poverty. Poverty is here to stay."

When was the last time you heard a politician say,

"There is nothing we can do about homelessness. Homelessness is here to stay."

When was the last time you heard a politician say,

"There is nothing we can do about climate change. Climate change  is here to stay."

When was the last time you heard a politician say,

"There is nothing we can do about Uber. Uber is here to stay."

Yep.

Do you see what I see?

There is no problem a politician will shy away from pretending to be able to solve. How long have we been hearing it? They can get rid of poverty. They can get rid of homelessness.

Fer Christ's sake, they are even so audacious as to pretend that they can control the climate.

There is no problem in the book that politicians won't pretend they can solve.

But when confronted with a problem, like a rogue corporation that gives them the middle finger and brazenly announces that it will flout all of their laws unless they change them, they humbly confess to utter impotence. They scurry like scared mice to bring their laws into compliance with the corporation's business model.

"There is nothing we can do. Uber is here to stay."

They lie about what they can do, and they lie about what they can't do.

Politicians are liars on every count.

If they say they will solve a problem, they won't.

If they say they can't solve a problem, it is because they have no intention of doing so.

And if they say that they are going to "level the playing field," well, I think you know what that means by now.

Does that come as a surprise?

Blockrants Political Corruption Report - Uber in Hamilton




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Look at this bullshit canned response I got from one of Hamilton's politicians after I sent my political corruption report to him...
"Thank you for providing me feedback regarding Uber. I also believe we need to find practical ways to adapt to the technological advances in a changing taxi industry and have filed your message as background info to the Uber file. I look forward to seeing this evolve to the best possible outcome for residents and drivers."
Yeah, I'll bet he has "filed [my] message as background." I'm sure that is how the rest see it too.
He's still banging this phony drum about "technological advances?" It's obviously a canned response. Or he is completely clueless about the issue.
Which raises another question in my mind. His response came in very quickly. Did he actually read my post? Or is he using some kind of robot that responds to keywords in the text?
Either way, clueless about the issue, or using robots for canned responses as a fake way to pretend that he is "truly concerned" about the issue, he's either not smart enough, or not honest enough to pretend he is qualified to make decisions about the Uber issue.

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For a wider view of the epidemic of political corruption watch this....

Greg Hunter-Weekly News Wrap-Up 7.15.16





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