Posts by BenWilson

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to goforit,

    I could only presume that the author was basing that on a considerably higher driver income than what has become normal. Which would be nice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to Sacha,

    That seems highly plausible to me. It's already about half the price of the cheapest alternative except Zoomy, which is running the same model. Which will crack first is the only question. Zoomy have deep pockets behind them too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to goforit,

    I wonder if the Uber model would have expanded rapidly and been accepted by the public as a cheap option as it has.

    I'll go out on a limb and say absolutely no way. Its business model is buying market share using speculative capital and then pretending to be a sound business by using 19th century labour practices, and an innovative business by inventing their own laws.

    There's desperation in their latest moves here. The huge commissions for new drivers ($750 if you sign up under my code!), the offer of guaranteed $45/hour for people who have not been driving much (not offered to all drivers, probably because it's completely unaffordable), and the repeated attempts and entreaties to get even people who have been prohibited from driving and have faced charges in court over this back on the road for their exploitative job, and the fact that drive times to rides is pushing as high as 30 mins now.

    They can't find drivers. Of course they can get riders, the elasticity of demand makes that a no-brainer. Keep buying riders and you'll get them. But they don't seem to have realized that to get the other side of the business really cranking you actually have to pay the workers well too. And if the payments coming in are less than those going out, you're actually losing money. Some kind of basic math fail....

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to goforit,

    No what I meant was that you could split hairs over what charge would stick to the parent corporation. The charges that can and have stuck to many drivers are ones defined in the act. Metering like a taxi probably could stick too, if any officer was prepared to slot a driver for it. But they don't seem to be doing that. It was dropped before reaching court, IIRC, when that was tried in the past. I don't know why.

    But sure, I've never denied that this aspect of the service is not following the law, although I'm not sure if its in an Act. That's the Operator Licensing Rule, right?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to goforit,

    In NZ Uber is an unlicenced and non approved taxi service.

    That's probably the closest charge that could stick to them. But whether we split hairs over it being a taxi service or a private hire service, neither option makes it some mystical new form of economic model for the driver, in which the "sharing" of their car somehow magically compensates them for the poor pay. It's driving for hire or reward, that much is clearly obvious to absolutely anyone who knows more than nothing about it. Which is unfortunately about as much as it would seem a lot of quite high up people do know about it. Nothing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…,

    But this is not to detract from your point of the higher moral ground that those apps sit on, the unlevel playing field that they are operating in. It reeks of partiality that NZ transport operations, illegal or otherwise can and have suffered harsh penalties for violations of the exact same transport laws that Uber is breaking on a grand scale, openly, brazenly, in the full sight and knowledge of the public and regulators and enforcement. It's pretty unsettling when the Minister starts using the language of Uber, referring to "ridesharing", as if that is an actual thing, and as if Uber actually does that here, whatever he thinks it is. I have to think that his reason for giving a free pass to the incompetence of all those MPs in the transport committee is because he also doesn't actually know what is really going on either. The cognitive dissonance that comes from maintaining fictions is perhaps starting to take its toll. One tolerates the incompetence of others under those circumstances, in the hope that one won't get caught out for not knowing one's shit too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to goforit,

    Yeah, if you include complying with the Operator Licensing Rules. I think they could have significantly pushed back if their apps were not actually quite shit, though. Dispatching is based on who got to the general area first rather than who is actually closest and wants the job. Then there's no tracking of the vehicle for the passenger so the whole thing of the driver dicking them around and taking ages to come gets traction in the mindset of the app savvy public.

    These are the parts that I agree with in saying Uber was "innovating".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Do e-bikes ease traffic…, in reply to Stephen R,

    That was pretty much why I got the electric bike buzz back, oh, 10 years ago or so. I have a debt of gratitude to that bargain basement $300 jobby I got on TradeMe that got me back on a bike. I did about 2000km on that one then sold it, for $300. So it literally cost me the electricity required, and one tyre change, and I did get a different cog set that had a much lower first gear, which was well worth doing, IMHO. Because when the battery does die the bike becomes very bloody heavy, and pulling it up a steep hill is something you really want a good gearing ratio for in NZ.

    The other one I describe above only really got used about 10 times. I got it for $300, and sold it for $300 as well.

    In the end, I found that I had got pedal fit enough and road savvy enough, that the simplicity of the good old fashioned pushbike was all I needed, so long as I spent a bit more on it. My $700 hybrid bike has done about 5000km since then, and is still in good shape.

    To that end electrics are a good gateway bike, and I think if I was much older, I’d probably be sticking to the electric. I might revisit it again.

    Russell’s going in the reverse direction, but then he does have 5 or 6 years on me. Also, he hasn’t said he’s giving the other bike away yet. I think bike owners tend to get a stable going after a while, and use them as they see fit. I’ve got another el-cheapo bike stashed at my parents place in Herne Bay, a hipster style commuter with all the stuff you want on it so that you can ride in work clothes. I use it to get to University during the semester. So I drive and ride. Not solving the congestion problem, but doing a good job on the parking problem.

    Obviously my style of electric purchasing was not really typical of what I’d expect for a vibrant EB future. Being a tightarse with time on his hands was driving me, where people with regular paying jobs would be much better advised to just fork out a couple of grand for one from a shop that will support the bike. Their economic proposition is very different to mine, they can probably justify it easily and outright in savings on parking, taxis/ubers, and gym fees. Not to mention its just cooler to have nice gear and not look like your bike was purchased in K-Mart (which I think my one actually may originally have been), and having the support of the importer/builder of the bike is worth loads of saved headaches.

    There’s one category of EB I haven’t decently explored and may yet do so. The folding sort. That might take park-and-ride to a whole new level. Then I wouldn’t need my van to do that in. Currently my bike fits into my van, so I can drive into, say, Kingsland, park for free and then just ride the 10 mins to town. I was doing that for 2014-5.

    But a really good EB might take away any need for the car part at all. Again, my own situation leads to the hybrid solution – I’m dropping kids off at school or picking them up, hence the need for the mighty auto. But I regularly see EB commuters going past my house in New Lynn these days. Maybe 3-4 a day.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Do e-bikes ease traffic…, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    There are claims that many bikes are effectively “underclocked” power-wise, and can be significantly boosted simply by swapping the inexpensive controller. Naturally it would help to know what you’re doing.

    Yup, and there's a whole enthusiasts industry in rewinding your engine. You can make an electric engine more powerful just by rewinding the armatures to have more coils. This is, however, a very tedious and tricky business.

    There is significant danger in this, of course. A push bike is not designed to be powered like a scooter. Every aspect of it's design specification is being pushed. The closer it gets to a motorbike, the more it should be regulated as if it actually is a motorbike. A 500W motor is capable of pushing you along at a steady 50km/h. You really should be wearing a better helmet, and getting your bike very regularly checked for basic safety. Probably a vehicle like that should have indicators.

    I had an electric bike like that once. I got it road certified by VTNZ as a Moped, which is pretty much what it was. I was meant to wear a real motorbike helmet, but actually I just wore a skiing helmet (which was very similar anyway, but without certification). That was a mere 300W and it pushed me along at 30km/h easily on the flat.

    It was not my favourite electric bike. Because essentially it was not a bike. It was a very crappy moped. If I'm going to wear a motorbike helmet, and ride something that's a bitch to pedal if it loses power, it might as well be something that can actually do the speed limit and has unlimited range (and yet still a tiny, tiny gas bill).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…, in reply to David Hood,

    This is highly likely to play out in Auckland soon, with Zoomy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10210 posts Report Reply

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