you’d have to say that any traditional taxi business will be rooted.
Obviously they're very worried. But they do still dominate the market. Uber hoovering up the little rides, and possibly competing strongly on the suburbs-to-city rides doesn't stop taxi drivers having significant advantages. Only they can sit on a taxi stand, or cruise for hire. They can haggle with the customer. They can take cash, EFTPOS, etc. They never have to worry about their rating. They've got inertia on their side, anyone who can't be bothered to even investigate Uber, or who just feels like jumping in a cab because it's there.
And BTW, I commend you for going public with this.
Thanks. It's obviously a risk for me, one that I felt I was in a better position to take than the many people who rely on Uber as their primary income source.
license owners haven’t even needed to drive, just sit back and be rent-takers
Indeed. That's not the feeling I've had from my own license holder. He worked extremely hard to get a great many drivers on the road for his cut, talking all of them into compliance, training them on the app, setting up the very well patronized Facebook page on which we share tips and tricks (and moans). The other ones sound similarly diligent. One of them set up a training course to induct the drivers. They're mostly drivers themselves. All of them are dismayed by these changes, which literally destroyed their business model. It's very ungrateful of Uber to people who were very strong and loyal partners, helping them build compliant driver numbers, literally facilitating Uber's expansion into the NZ market. They earned their rent, IMHO.
It left me pondering when is regulation a good thing and when should convenience trump all?
Very tough question. Obviously, I wouldn't be an Uber driver at all if I thought that disrupting existing businesses is a terrible thing. But yes, there's still got to be a boundary at which the externalization of costs ends. I put that at the boundary of road safety, personally. Cars can and do kill a lot of people in NZ.
Good info in there as to what letting a private third party do your police vetting leaves out.
Stuff have just 'broken' this story!
No mention of the fact that they probably are just piggybacking on Radio NZ's picking up your story this morning - damn cheeky if you ask me trying to pass this off as their own work...
TLDR: We're not stopping.
Longer version. We've rebranded from being a passenger service to "Ride Sharing".
Man, I wish we did actually have ride sharing in NZ. I'd use it. But unfortunately, when someone books an Uber ride with me, I have to wait until they get in the car, and I accept the ride, before I even know where we're going. So, um, yeah. I'm "sharing" the cost of that 3am ride out to Beachlands from the Sky Tower? Because it's on my way to my home in West Auckland?
I get that the passengers are sharing the cost with each other. That's different to what has happened in taxis since they were drawn by horses?
OK, gentlepeople, I'm going to hit the road again, to literally get the word from the street. I think from today's events that further posts would be interesting? I feel that the next blog on what Uber drivers get paid would be of interest, although this is a hell of an undertaking, because it's a very complex question. I could probably treat it cursorily, at least explaining how it works. Getting decent data together is quite a job.
I concur with your views Ben but not your maths. In order to recover a 20% rate cut you need to do 25% more work (and that doesn't really cover it as you have 25% more costs as well). You will not know that this is the second 20% rate cut in less than a year so my earnings have been slashed by more than 36% (including added costs) in about 6 months!
You are right about that. I should really have said “however much more to get it back to the same”. It’s a bit of a magic unknown formula to me at the moment, because the question of empty returns comes up. If you are getting a lot more jobs, then that may also mean that you’re doing a lot less driving all the way back to a starting point. Also we have the unknown effect of surge pricing on average hourly rates.
As far as I’m concerned the argument can only really be approached by going back through the payments, time online, counting up the kms traveled whilst Ubering, etc. For a reasonable number of people.
I’m definitely aware of the multiple cuts. I’m also aware of the level of driver outrage about the current rates.
You have misquoted Geoff Cummings - he said company employees do not need a Passenger Service Licence (if the company holds one) not that they didn't need a P Endorsement on their driving licence.
Aha, good pickup. That makes a lot more sense now. Oh, and welcome to Public Address!
Amelia Wade has picked this story up in the Herald. Good article.
You have misquoted Geoff Cummings – he said company employees do not need a Passenger Service Licence (if the company holds one) not that they didn’t need a P Endorsement on their driving licence.
Oops. Thanks for pointing that out.
I had a discussion about all this with my driver home last night. He was concerned.
Got your eye in spotting P endorsements yet?
Shame on Stuff for their plagiarism.
However I think Uber is wrong. You're still carrying passengers "for reward" which requires a P license, rightly in my opinion.
Uber's tactic is pretty straightforward... saturate the roads with Uber vehicles and outnumber the existing providers. The Guardian story pretty much shows that's what they did in London and in September last year, Uber vehicles finally outnumbered black cabs in London.
The Transport Agency has a minor problem because Uber cars are unbranded. So you can't easily pull them over and check licenses without prior knowledge of the vehicles involved... a list of Uber affiliates if you will. I'm guessing that Uber is hoping our free market at all cost politicians will side with them, and the government's obvious willingness to alter existing taxi laws (such as the requirement for onboard cameras) will give them a boost in that direction.
However at this stage it's not the company which is taking the risk, it's the individual drivers. I'd hope to hear the Taxi Federation making a lot of noise on this issue in the near future.
It's an easy mistake to make because they confusing use the word "License" to refer to the business license. Don't confused "Passenger Service License" (PSL), with P Endorsement.
A compliant driver needs evidence of both. The P endorsement is what lets you drive for hire, and it is also printed on my actual driver license, on the back. The PSL (which is a subset of Transport Service License (TSL)) is the license showing who it is you essentially work for. This is displayed in the window facing outwards. The P endorsement is displayed within the vehicle, facing backwards for the passengers to see, and has the photo ID, and the "memorable" identifier. Mine is bwilson1. That identifier is unique to the driver, and links back to the NZTA databases.
The PSL need not belong to the driver. You can work under another person's PSL, with their permission, and you must carry papers showing your arrangement with them. I work this way. Many drivers get their own one - in the long run it would pay off, since I pay my guy a cut of 5%. This is my ongoing compliance cost, set against the $449 cost of applying for my own one, and other costs related to the test that they have to pass, which show more detailed knowledge of the law, and much more in-depth knowledge of how a transport operation should work.
The Transport Agency has a minor problem because Uber cars are unbranded.
It's not a minor problem. It's a major problem. It's what makes it so hard for enforcement to do anything about Uberers. They are nearly invisible against the general population of cars. Of course anyone trained to know what to look for can pick them rapidly. The badges and certificates are important. To say the drivers are OK without them makes the drivers that much more stealthy.
Also, the fact that the passenger will typically find you, rather than the other way around, means that Ubers don't have to place themselves anywhere obvious.
taken for a ride…?
I don’t get Uber’s ‘Ridesharing’ defence/stance – surely that would involve the driver intending to head in the direction the non-driving ‘sharer’ wishes to go?
I think Ben alludes to that earlier on. If the driver is going solely where the passenger wants to go that ain’t the kind of sharing I understand – that’s work for hire.
This site looks useful for definitions:
While ACT is not anti-Uber or anti-Lyft, we are pro-clarity. So, the resources below help clarify the differences between transportation network companies and traditional carpool/vanpools, and help policy makers promote innovation, protect the public, and support true ridesharing.
…and relax ACT stands for the Association for Commuter Transportation – not the Epsom-based one man band Red Dwarf refugee David Seymour.
Yes, in case it wasn’t clear, I think Uber’s defence that they are now “Ridesharing” is total bullshit. The law in NZ is clear. If you drive for hire or reward, you must have a P Endorsement. It really is that simple. Uber thinks that some weasel words about my endless stream of payments being in some way a sharing of costs with riders, rather than an income, will fool people. They will get literally no support from anyone, any where, any time on that. No rider is going to accept getting into an Uber and having me telling them that since we’re now ride sharing, I’ll pick the destination.
And yeah right the drivers agree to it. It's like we're driving to all corners of the city for hours on end purely for the fun of it. It can be fun, but it's still work. And when it's not fun, which occasionally happens, it's definitely work.
Hell, Uber puts huge pressure on drivers to accept as many jobs as possible. We don't even know the destination until the passenger gets in and we start the trip. At that point, refusing the trip is very difficult, involves a lot of mucking around. If you do it frequently, Uber will cancel your account. Also, they put big pressure on you to accept trips where the origin is a long way from you. Refuse (by which I mean "fail to accept" because it works by offering the ride to you, with 15 seconds to decide if you want it) too many of those, and you will deactivated as well.
I don't have a problem with these rules, they're part of what makes Uber so reliable and fast to come. But I refuse to accept that what I'm doing is therefore "ridesharing", as if I have some say in the matter of destinations. Often, I want to go home and a ride out West would be a good thing to get. Instead, I get a ride way out in the opposite direction. If I refuse that, I get downrated by the customer, and if it happens frequently, Uber would deactivate my account.
There is no mechanism for me to even register my desire to go West to end my shift. Nor any way to even signal that I am nearing the time I must take a mandated break, so that I am only really available for short trips. If I'm at 5 hours and a trip comes in that somewhere 45 minutes away in South Auckland, I'm in violation of the law for 15 minutes of that trip. Then I have to take my break in the back blocks of South Auckland, potentially just sitting on the side of the road waiting half an hour in the middle of the night. Yeah, right, I "shared" the cost of that.
They’re playing fast and loose with the term. Yes, riders in the Uber can share. But they do that with taxis now, always have. That does NOT stop the taxi driver being in the situation of earning an income from the work. There’s no way that what is happening with the tens of thousands of Uber trips every night is ridesharing, except in the irrelevant sense that is already completely covered by our laws. It’s even covered in a lot of detail for taxis, there’s a lot of rules about how strangers in their cabs can have their fares split and what the driver can or can’t do as a result.
Enforcement officers can download the passenger apps which will show where unhired cars are waiting. More of a problem though to spot cars with passengers.
Yes, the rider app can be used to find Ubers. I'm not even sure that we do disappear when we have passengers. At least, several times I've watched the rider app whilst on a fare, and a ghost car has shadowed me miles out into the burbs - I presume it's my time lagged location.
Got your eye in spotting P endorsements yet?
It was very prominently displayed :-)
I might be (a little) to blame for this one. Way back I did some work for the Ministry of Transport because someone noticed that sharing a ride with a couple of mates and giving them a few dollars for petrol was illegal. The law was changed so that 'passengers' could make a contribution towards actual costs, but we were careful to make sure this couldn't be used as a profit making enterprise (passengers can make a contribution to fuel costs and reasonable wear and tear but NOT driver time).
In relation to Uber, their claim that it's ridesharing is bullshit because it's profit making, even putting aside all the other points you make. The only way it would fall under the exemption is if you don't get any money in relation to your time.