If Uber has decreased the volume of Taxi work by 80% then why did the heads of Corporate Cabs and the Taxi Federation tell me they could barely detect the effect of Uber, and Blue Bubble say they are down maybe 10%? If you give me a link to some credible figures…. but the way they were telling it, it seems that Uber has either created a market out of people who would usually just not use it, or it’s coming entirely out of the small chains and individuals. From whom the evidence is only ever anecdotal.
Which doesn't make it right, what they are doing.
The heads of corporate and I guess you mean Co Op as the Taxi Federation is not an ATO but a body of representation of some of the ATOs that maybe only represent approx' 20% of all taxi operators. They all need membership to maintain there organisations management structure so talk of lost of work would have a negative effect of there so call power over the masses so to speck, but go talk to the actual drivers and you get the true picture. The management of those organisations have had their heads in the sand ever since Uber began. Next time you are at the airport go and look at what is called the gravel area that is the holding area for taxis waiting to enter the stand feeders and you see large numbers of Corpoarte and Co Op and Alert taxis just waiting, a waiting taxi does not earn any thing, the turnover though the area has drasicly slowed downed as the effect of Uber has increased. The same applies to most of the taxi stands else where in Auckland.
The last couple of days I have done a drive throughthe CBD of Auckland for several hours in business hours and have noted the increase of Uber cars in the area. Uber cars appear to carrying now more passengers than taxis. Taxis generally speaking appear to be stationary and sitting on stands and other places. This is my observation this week.
Enforcement of the Transport Act is only making a dent in the situation.
The last couple of days I have done a drive throughthe CBD of Auckland for several hours in business hours and have noted the increase of Uber cars in the area.
Yes, it's very likely. It's a pity that the journo in the article you link to didn't pick up on my suggestion to estimate the number of totally non-compliant drivers as the number of letters of warning that NZTA issued, and instead based his number on my guess which was in turn based on the number of letters at the last time I'd heard about it, many months ago. Since they've now issued over 4,000 letters, this is the best guess at the number of non-compliant ones, and the compliant ones are probably a further 1,000-2,000.
So my best guess now is that there's 5-6,000 Uber drivers in NZ, and the ratio of completely illegal to as-compliant-as-an-uber-driver-can-be is somewhere between 3:1 and 5:1.
6,000 drivers making $500/week means Uber is collecting $300,000 in fares every week. So you're right, I don't think enforcement is making an impression at all. Clearly not, because since all this enforcement began the number of Uber drivers has roughly tripled, and most of the new adds are zero compliance.
Uber cars appear to carrying now more passengers than taxis.
Very hard to be sure about that. It looks that way to me, but they might not be taking that much away from taxis, it may be that demand massively increased due to the lower prices. I find it hard to believe there is no impact, but when it comes to actual revenues from the taxi people I've spoken to that have access to statistics rather than anecdotes, they seem to feel the impact is surprisingly small.
Gah, math fail. 6,000 * $500/week = $3,000,000/week in fares for Uber. They take 20-28% so it's only $600,000 - $840,000 per week. So $93,000 doesn't even represent a single day of their operation.
I can't know if $500/week is accurate. I just base that on the idea of doing part time for around 10-20 hours/week. The pattern of work Uber encourages is pretty much to work on Friday and Saturday night, right through. Any other time the demand is not high enough to make it worth while, so they argue that you can't expect to make a full time job out of it. Of course that just encourages people for whom it is their only job, or who have another job as well, to do dangerously long hours.
Not sure if this was posted already (haven't read all comments!) but this is a good read on the overall picture for Uber viz some reported heavy losses during 2016:
The difference between Uber and Amazon is that Amazon were not relying on the biggest breakthrough in the history of robotics to make their business model vaguely viable (it's still not clear how much those cars are going to cost or who will pay for them all). That is one hell of a risk. Add on to that the necessity that legislators in every territory they want to operate in will need to cooperate, something Uber has an entirely negative history of. Add on to that, that all Uber itself actually controls is an app and servers, something that competitors can easily smash open. I don't think they can rely on self-driving cars to maintain their customer base - that's not what the current customers signed up for. How are you going to downrate a self-driving car? How are you going to interact with it generally? As a driver, I know that 95% of rides do involve actually speaking to the passenger and understanding their responses. When you get in an Uber, you're expecting a thing that you don't have to drive yourself, but instead direct with verbal commands and gestures. Your first contact will probably be a phone call. It's simply not the same thing at all, so there's little reason to think that the customer base will seamlessly switch to it.
Well, in fairness to the Vox piece – and I am not an Uber expert – it did frame the strategy as being somewhat 2 part: First win the market on price and convenience factors, second margins via uptake of self driving cars … I agree that there are lots of question marks over self driving cars but am less sure that consumer willingness to use these would be the deal breaker so to say. Behaviours and attitudes change over time, and I myself could forgo driver conversations.
I think the main parallel with Amazon is the incurrence of losses upfront to herbalist a dominant position which is then commercialised over the longer term … as noted int the article, there is a reason $11B in capital has been provided thus far …
I agree that there are lots of question marks over self driving cars but am less sure that consumer willingness to use these would be the deal breaker so to say.
Yes, and also the question of whether they're technically viable at all, and if so, at what cost, none of which is conclusively answered. It's more than a Moon shot. It's a Mars shot. There are highly risky points of failure all the way along it.
I'm still very much not sold on how "visionary" it is, too. It really would seem to be a play to eliminate an extremely cheap and efficient and high quality workforce, for no other reason than just to do that. Which is typical of AI projects, and also the typical reason that they fail horribly. Instead of reengineering some aspect of our lives, they simply try to outright replicate the most complicated part of it (the human being) to preserve the existing engineering solution. Self driving cars will still be taxis clogging up the road system, hugely inefficient in energy use compared to alternatives that have existed for over a hundred years. They're they kind of technological advance science fiction writers would think of, rather than the people who have to actually make it, or the people fucked up by it.
I don't think the point is replacing human driven taxis by manual ones for taxi journeys.
It's more that:
- a huge number of people currently own a car
- self-driving cars will eventually happen
- if I take my self-driving car into town, I probably won't leave it in a park while I'm there, I'll want to send it home, or to somewhere I don't have to pay for parking
- or I could have it earn money transporting somebody else
- or I don't own a car at all, and just send for one when I need it
The latter is what Uber want to own - not all the people riding in taxis, but all the people riding in their own cars.
So there's a modern version of the same thing, which is to let your car out to a taxi driver. Consider how appealing this sounds now, and multiply it by a factor of illegality, low prices, and no human to look after your car while they're in it.
Oh, hang on, soz. You specifically only meant:
- or I don't own a car at all, and just send for one when I need it
Which is pretty much what I said before. This exists, and is thus not innovative but for the one amazingly unvisionary part of taking out the human driver who might make a living from it. In all other ways, you are describing a taxi service, something that's been around since there have been chariots.
That is so bad! I've actually driven with Sreeman a few times and from what I remember he was friendly and a good driver. :(
Well, no. My current car costs maybe 40c a km to operate. A real taxi is $3-4. Plus, I can taxi into the city easily enough, but suppose I want to go out to the Rimutakas and go hiking - it'll cost a fortune and getting a ride back is going to be an issue. For most people, anything with a human driver is not going to be an economic alternative to owning a car.
Fast forward a few years and I get a shiny new autonomous car. It costs me more, maybe $2 a km. If I'm using it in town, I'll need to pay either parking or a few extra kms for it to drive out on its own to someplace with free parks.
Or I can send it off to earn a living - or use somebody else's car. Reducing the cost, maybe by half.
The problem is the puke factor. What percentage of passengers will mess up cars? If they do, the car goes off to be cleaned and enforcement robots pop around to the miscreants residence for a cup of tea and their kneecaps.
Back to the taxi issue, today I purposely worked the Eden Tce and CBD areas of Auckland, I give it 7 hours and not one single phone order or in the case of the CBD not even a hail. I spoke to drivers from various companies to get there views on work levels and they stated much the same. Uber has not invented passengers but has taken them from the existing taxi services. Last year Jan was my busiest month of the year, but do admit over the years it has not always been. Over the past 9 months there has been a steady decline in work available to the taxi industry and I don't have my head in the sand like many taxi operators appear to do.
If I’m using it in town, I’ll need to pay either parking or a few extra kms for it to drive out on its own to someplace with free parks.
The first solution will work now. It uses less petrol and puts the same amount of cars on the road, but for less time. But you do have to drive it so you can't get drunk. If your economic assessment is accurate, it's pretty marginal whether this wonder of the world will save money, and it certainly will make the traffic problem slightly worse than it is now, along with externalizing your parking onto the inner suburbs, thus making things significantly worse for people who live there.
Similarly, you can send your current car off to earn a living right now, if you're prepared to rent it to an Uber driver during the day. Are you? I wouldn't be. It's not practical for the pittance it would save and all the damage and inconvenience you'd be putting up with.
The problem is the puke factor. What percentage of passengers will mess up cars?
One of the many problems. As someone who actually picks up Uber passengers, I can tell you that there's no way the app is robust enough to find most passengers at all, nor is Google navigation good enough to travel NZ streets unmanned. I'm getting sent into no-entry streets all the time, and being taken down routes that require making illegal turns. The pickups are frequently at places that are not addresses, and road works continually mess with what roads are open or closed, with detours that require the ability to follow street signs and the hand directions of human beings. Uber's pinpointing of pickup locations is particularly bad, frequently snapping locations to entirely different streets than the passenger is actually on. Many passengers will verbally direct me to drive along things that are not official roads, like country driveways, and long right of ways. Uber constantly directs me to use things that are not roads at all, I have no idea where they get their road map from, it uses carparks as shortcuts, even when there is no connection through.
Its closest driver algorithm is also clearly not using the road network in its predictions, as a frequent driver complaint is being assigned as the closest car to someone in Downtown when the driver is in Devonport.
Yes, every aspect of this is fixable. But it's going to be the work of a great many years. And always I come back to what the point of it all is, considering just what an enormous undertaking it is. Is the current solution really that broken? Could the same investment not be better spent in so many ways to improve transportation? It really is so much easier to just use solutions that have already targeted what the actual problem is, the way trains, buses, and yes, taxis, already do. Not to mention better town planning, including higher density living in the first place.
The pickups are frequently at places that are not addresses
Just by way of example, two times I've been directed by both Uber and Google Navigation (which Uber launches if you choose it) to pick people up from the side of the motorway on the approach to the Harbour Bridge going north. There isn't even a road shoulder to stop at. In one case the rider was going to 1 Shelley Beach Rd. In the other they were to be picked up in the Sales bar in Westhaven.
Obviously my local knowledge and common sense picked up a problem when directed from Ponsonby to the Wellington St on-ramp, and I just ignored Google. Similarly when directed to the same on-ramp for a motorway-side pickup, I just called first and simply understood their drunken verbal description of the bar they were in.
Had an automaton been doing these trips, in the first place they would hopefully not have stopped on a corner on the motorway and requested the passengers to get out, but rather driven on to the next available exit (Stafford Rd, or Onewa Rd) and then either got the passengers to get out, or driven them back under direction (not sure how these directions are given to a self-driving car) to Shelley Beach Rd, after which they would need to get a fare review to deal with being driven about 10 times further than necessary.
In the second place, again, I would hope again that the car would know not to stop on the motorway, but exactly how it would find out where the passenger really is, I do not know. It's clearly not practical to just expect the passenger to find their way across 8 lanes of motorway to a vehicle. Presumably they have to cancel the trip and order again, taking more care with their pin location. But care with things like that is exactly the opposite of what you get with Uber customers. It's one of the great selling features of the app that you can be totally lazy about that, don't even need to have the first clue where you are, because an actual human will work it out for you when they get there. And I'm pretty sure the app snaps to what it thinks is the closest road to the physical address anyway, since the passenger to 1 Shelley Beach Rd had literally entered that in the app by typing it. The Uber app simply thinks that address happens to be on the side of the motorway.
Now every issue can be fixed eventually. But I'm not seeing any kind of streaking changes in quality in this app over the year to fill me with optimism. Quite the opposite, both Uber and Google navigation have got flakier. There is certainly no big drive to get drivers to help them out by reporting these issues - in fact every interaction with support is so punishingly cretinous that drivers soon learn to do it only in their own interests, typically to claim money.
So even if self driving cars are coming, I'm really not seeing anything to indicate that self driving Ubers will dominate the world. If anything they look set to break something that is currently reasonably high quality, replacing it with something really crap.
being assigned as the closest car to someone in Downtown when the driver is in Devonport
Classic - same error as Coop's Aussie-built system had years ago.
It's a well known problem. I've written algorithms that attempt to solve it without doing a full Dijkstra walk through the road network for each location pair.
For those who haven't read it yet, the venerable Russell Brown has penned an excellent piece for the Herald comparing Zoomy to Uber.
I was interested to read the comment from Ben that the Uber driver who crashed into parked cars is up for $27k in damages. Surely that information must raise alarm bells with the thousands of other illegal Uber drivers operating in NZ?
I found this article interesting as well, the point that struck me is why both Uber and Zoomy employ drivers that pick and choose especially after acceptance cancel the job for a better one. I am of the opinion once one has accepted a job that person has made a contract with the hirer, the only reason for cancellation is a break down and then the hirer should be contacted to be informed why they have been cancelled.
Meanwhile in the US Uber has paid $20m to settle claims it misled drivers over how much they would earn.
The FTC alleged that most Uber drivers were earning far less in 18 major US cities than Uber published online. Regulators also asserted that drivers wound up paying substantially more to lease cars than the company had claimed.
after acceptance cancel the job for a better one
If I was running any of those companies I'd ban that behaviour right away - erodes customer trust really fast. But then I guess it is harder to pretend a driver is an independent contractor?
In the taxi industry we have rules around this issue, the rules apply to contractors, employed drivers and shareholders etc. Failure to carry out an accepted order unless there is a justified reason fines apply. The fine is usually in excess of the fare value.
Accepted orders if unable to be carried out are handed back for redispatch. This independent contractor bull is just that.