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Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver II: How we doing?

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    My guess at a summary would be:
    - what Uber do is clearly defined in the new law as a 'small transport service facilitator' S55 (7)
    - A facilitator must be licenced (30J)
    - The 'person in control' of a licensed facilitator must live in NZ 62 (30L 1A)
    - The facilitator must keep records of journeys and drivers 70 (30ZD)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Yes. in other words they have to be reachable. Currently, that is in doubt for Uber.

    It's fairly certain Uber would not fall under the category of "cost sharing". That does not allow for time metering.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The removal of the Braille identification information is a bit of a worry. Not sure what's replacing it. I don't know how well that kind of law protected the sight impaired before. Perhaps the thinking is that app based services do protect them better due to the vehicle route being recorded, and the automatic handling of payments. But that's not mandated in law, just a feature provided by various app services. And it's not going to help them with an ordinary taxi on the side of the road.

    But I'm not entirely sure if these law changes aren't actually completely getting rid of the concept of a taxi altogether. I guess the devil in that detail is on if/how the Operator Licensing rules change.

    Prior to April, all Ubers considered themselves to be Private Hire Services, but they broke one of the rules:

    6.1(6) A driver of a private hire vehicle may only charge a set fare or an hourly rate agreed with the prospective passenger at the time of booking.

    Because that's not how an Uber (or any of the other app based services) works. This rule would need to be amended for such services to be fully legitimate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to BenWilson,

    6.1(6) A driver of a private hire vehicle may only charge a set fare or an hourly rate agreed with the prospective passenger at the time of booking.

    This regulation was pointed out to the taxi industry by the NZTA when Uber first raised its ugly head with threats given to the industry of fines betwwen $400 to $2000 dollars but in reality it was never enforced. The removal of the braille sticker was requested by the taxi industry as very frew blind persons ever refered to it, in my case in nearly 50 years of taxi drivingI could could blind passengers in my car ion one hand.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    I must need new glasses looking at my spelling mistakes, LOL

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    The removal of the Braille identification information is a bit of a worry. Not sure what's replacing it. I don't know how well that kind of law protected the sight impaired before.

    It didn't. That's a great example of an advance being overturned for the minor convenience of businesses.

    I've asked most taxi drivers I've ridden with about those braille labels on the inside of their doors since they were introduced (after a battle), mostly Auckland ones but some Welli operators as well.

    Every single one had passengers who had used them to verify who was the registered driver of that cab. Until blind colleagues educated me, I had not thought how it would feel to get into a vehicle and have no way to identify the driver if anything went wrong. He sounded a bit tall, your honour.

    As you say, apps can also fulfil that function. But govt will need to specify that as a requirement in any regulations (and their track record is not inspiring). Or it gets treated as a cost with no understood benefit, much like ensuring universally accessible buildings, websites, etc.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to Sacha,

    Every single one had passengers who had used them to verify who was the registered driver of that cab. Until blind colleagues educated me,

    That statement along proves these lablels are not required, the information on the braille lable only identifies the cab number and the ATO that cab operates under.
    If a blind person requires the drivers name they only have to ask for it. Now ask yourself the question how did the blind person find themselves in the cab in the first place? answer; they or someone acting for them either phoned an order through to the ATO or they walked to a taxi rank, that in it self means the taxi is identified somehow.
    Since labels where required other features have been added to taxis, cameras and GPS monitoring systems, these more than replace the label, plus most blind persons would use the total mobility scheme and that electronicly records the same details as the label.
    I would think the likes of Uber should be the ones requiring all forms of vehicle and driver identification not just a cell phone, which can be deactivated at any time.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to goforit,

    they walked to a taxi rank, that in it self means the taxi is identified somehow

    Reflect on that with your eyes closed. Go on.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    yes I have, I purposely put that comment in my previous note. If a blind person can
    find their way to taxi rank and some some blind persons are very capable of doing so without help of another person that person is also capable of working out the taxi details. If they have help of another person that person can work out the details for the blind person.
    Summing up the issue of the braille signage in taxis advances in technology etc has reduced the importance of the signs as we move towards a level playing field. Now lets focus on the major issues of leveling out various forms of passenger transport service.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    It seems like in vehicle security cameras are here to stay, too. The cost of that will be a hard sell to Uber drivers, but I think in the long run it's a sound idea, and almost entirely for the benefit of the drivers. I get so many reports of drivers getting into disputes with passengers that are very one-sided because of the power of passengers to fuck with the driver's life, and very little power in the other direction.

    I think being even able to simply refer to the camera as evidence will cut down on quite a lot of the complaints of outright verbal abuse that drivers receive, not to mention the more serious altercations with passengers. There's not a lot of people in employment who have to put up with customers giving them prolonged racial abuse. I probably wouldn't have had one rider endlessly asking if he could see my dick.

    Then there would also be the power to pull out the recordings the day Uber arbitrarily disconnects you for a low rating, to go through some of the 1 star ratings and see whether or not they're just passengers who are basically arseholes.

    This is all predicated, of course, on Uber remaining in business in NZ. I don't think that is certain. It's got a Donald Trump doubling down feeling about it recently. All or nothing at whatever cost. Which usually means nothing in the long run. And the short run, but sometimes people get lucky for a while.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    Why are cameras expensive - isn't it just a Go Pro, or do you have to use some kind of approved security camera service?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Yup, the latter. It's got to be permanently mounted and the storage has to be hidden away where it can't easily be tampered with. Presumably in this day and age of wifi, that's not really as expensive as it used to be.

    I think some of the problem is the devices formed in a period where they were seen more as a protection for the rider. But in reality, it's been the other way around.

    But I guess ideally it should be both.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • goforit, in reply to BenWilson,

    Camers have proven to be the best thing ever for safety and more importantly protect against false compliants especially from those underage females whom like to drop everyone into it with false sexual type compliants.
    Price of the lastest NZTA approved camera is $450.00. Very cheap protection insurance I think.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to goforit,

    Yes, it's safer for both parties. Hard to get away with some kind of sexual abuse, and hard to falsely claim it either. At $450, it's kind of a no brainer. At least for anyone working at night, which is most Ubers. Uber's added safety of automatic route tracking should be an as-well thing, not an instead-of.

    That price include installation?

    ETA: When I say it's a no-brainer, I mean that anyone who has done more than a few hundred trips will realize the value of it. Most customers are great, but the ones who aren't can be real stinkers.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    The cameras now have GPS co ordinates recorded for each burst of recording (i think the recording bursts are 10 mintues durations). I have just read the proposed changes to the act and even the non licenced area of car pooling is going to be licenced, Looks the the NZTA going to be one step ahead of Uber's next tactic of calling there service Uber pool to get arounf the regs.
    Back to the cameras at the moment installation is included but the actual camera on the windscreen has been improved with a slight cost increase of maybe $30 so the full cost would be between the stated figure and slightly upwards. There is a 6 monthly recerticfication fee but its not to much.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    Just had a world with the supplier of the camera system, updated price is $450.00 plus installation average installation is $50.00.
    Ben has Uber come out with any plans in regartd to 1st of Augest when the GST requirement kicks in.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    Correction to above meant to say 1st October when the GST regs kick in.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Probably better to ask that one on our Facebook page - others are more over GST than I am. https://www.facebook.com/groups/nzuda/

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    I just had another look at changes in the bill, have to admit its a bit hard reading as its need to be read along side the existing act, but does look like the loop holes Uber operates under are certainly going to be closed. I do like the idea the whole of the small passenger transport industry going to operate under common rules, can only be a positive thing.

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm likely to be on the 6 o'clock bulletin on TV3 tonight if you want to put a face to a name.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • goforit,

    Just seen you on Prime news

    Auckland • Since May 2016 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    I didn’t realise uber are so nakedly aiming to eliminate their drivers from the equation.
    It seems a bit evil.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    It's hard to work for them for any length of time and not be struck by quite how unpleasant their business practices are. I turned a personal corner when one of the NZUDA members served a notice of a simple dispute on them, and the staff behaved in a way that our professional advocate said was entirely outside his experience. They backed away as if the document was poison, and cried out that they didn't work for Uber. When he pressed it upon one of them, that person ran to the big locked door that keeps drivers from ever coming into contact with Uber staff, and screamed for the guy it was addressed to. But he had fled out a back door.

    At that point I realized that this organization is not going to last. It's not designed to last. The people in it don't even believe that. They all see that the writing is on the wall and are just hoping they won't be there when the hammer falls. Since their internal staff churn even faster than their drivers, this is not unlikely. I would not be surprised if there is not even one single legitimate employee of Uber in this country at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • oga,

    Elsewhere, Uber is attempting to enter the Quintana Roo market by launching in Cancun. The taxi industry in this state of Mexico is vigorously opposed to Uber’s entry and has been protesting (link in Spanish).

    Unfortunately, the ‘Uber’ driver wasn’t even an Uber driver. He was picking up some friends (the account is in Spanish) from a hotel in the hotel zone in Cancun.

    Taxi drivers are frequently found dead in Cancun. I lived in Playa del Carmen, which is a hour south of Cancun on the Riviera Maya for two years, and the local newspapers were always reporting executions and burnt out taxis in Cancun that were presumably related to the Gulf Cartel driving the Zetas out of the area with the support of a local criminal group. These cartels are known to use taxi drivers in Cancun. The area police even issued a curfew last year with a warning not to drive in vehicles with tinted windows at night.

    The taxi industry in Playa del Carmen can be exploitative, with drivers making up their own fares for unsuspecting tourists or non-Spanish speakers. The strategy most locals use is to give exact fare without asking the price. Uber’s entry would most likely lead to less corruption in the industry. However, when the standard across-town fare in Playa is 35 pesos (NZ$2.50), it is hard to see how Uber could undercut this competitively without destabilizing the industry even more dramatically than elsewhere.

    I would not be surprised if drivers were actually killed over this.

    By comparison, Uber in Mexico City seems comfortably situated, and I frequently use its services along with a rival App based taxi service called EasyTaxi for shorter trips or when I prefer to pay cash.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to oga,

    I would not be surprised if drivers were actually killed over this.

    Scary stuff. I would also not be surprised if the mob latches onto Uber as the absolutely perfect criminal gateway, if they drop compliance to licensing laws. There are few devices more perfectly invented for kidnapping people than a taxi.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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