A pickup point for Uber at LaGuardia airport in New York. Uber has faced criticism before over its treatment of drivers. Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP
Uber to pay New York City drivers tens of millions of dollars after admitting to underpaying them for two-and-a-half years by taking a larger cut of drivers’ fares than it was entitled.
Under the terms of service the ride-hailing company put in place in November 2014, Uber was supposed to take its percentage of the commission – ranging between 20% and 25% – after deducting sales tax and a local fee to fund benefits for injured drivers. Instead, the company calculated its commission on the gross fare, resulting in more money for Uber and less for drivers.The average payout-per-driver will be about $900. With tens of thousands of drivers eligible for a refund, the company will be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars. An Uber spokesperson said that the company discovered the mistake in recent weeks, as it was preparing to roll out a new pricing scheme.
However, questions about Uber’s calculation of New York City commissions were raised nearly a year ago in a class-action lawsuit filed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA). The suit, which was filed in federal court in New York in June 2016, alleged that Uber’s deduction of sales tax and the injured driver fee after the commission was calculated violated the terms of service and amounted to wage “theft”.
Uber also has admitted to underpaying US drivers. In March, the company paid refunds to UberBlack drivers in Philadelphia after charging them an extra 5% in commission for about 18 months. In January, Uber agreed to pay $20m to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission that it had tricked drivers with false promises of higher earnings.
Helicopters, quad copters, or space-age airplanes, all the craft will have to be capable of vertical takeoff and landing, called VTOL, in order to fit into mini-airports, known as vertiports, spread around cities. And they will have to be quiet enough to take off and land near homes and offices without driving people crazy. Local, state, and federal agencies all have to get on board and convince the public that the technology is safe and not too intrusive. Dubai has already green-lit a program by Chinese drone maker EHang (unconnected to Uber) that will start sky taxi flights in July.
The likely plan in all cities is to locate vertiports on top of buildings.
Uber’s taxis will start service with fully certified commercial pilots, who may be the company’s first full-time drivers.
Uber has announced updates to its app intended to curb bad behavior by passengers.Key among the changes is allowing passengers to see the ratings they receive from drivers — knowledge the company hopes will make customers more cognizant of the fact their behavior is being graded during every trip.
Female-friendly alternative to Uber, Safr, launched last month in Boston. With all the disturbing news concerning Uber and Lyft drivers the timing is just about right for Safr. A new report revealed that thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in Massachusetts have failed the state’s new background checks,
Safr riders can choose which gender they feel most comfortable riding with via the app—drivers have the same gender preference option—and can also take advantage of a number of built-in safety features, including a feature that can call 911, send a text to a pre-assigned contact, or dial Safr’s 24-hour command center. A color-matching system, which sends riders and drivers a color-coded message during pickups, also helps ensure passengers get into the correct vehicle.
Safr , which are currently all women, go through a more extensive recruitment, vetting, and training process than competitors.
Safr isn’t the first such startup to gear their service toward women. In 2014, New York-based SheTaxis, also known as SheRiders, tried to launch, but faced gender discrimination issues and has since folded. See Jane Go, based in Orange County, California, and conceived of by a father-daughter team worried about rider safety, began operating last September.
Waymo a part of Alphabet, which owns Google — filed a lawsuit Thursday against Uber, alleging that the ride-sharing service stole some of its autonomous-car secrets. Waymo claims a former employee may have stolen proprietary files — 14,000 of them, to be exact — and used them to start a new company, called Otto, the autonomous-driving tech startup acquired by Uber in August for $680 million. Otto demonstrated a self-driving semi truck late last year. . The lawsuit alleges unfair competition, patent infringement, and trade secret misappropriation. It also claims the allegedly stolen technology earned Otto employees more than $500 million.
The lawsuit says Waymo noiced the issue when it was inadvertently copied in an email from a supplier that showed an Uber lidar circuit board, which bore a “striking resemblance” to one of Waymo’s designs. The complaint accuses former Waymo manager Anthony Levandowski of downloading the 14,000 files in question in December 2015. That allegedly included the lidar circuit board, part of a sensor that helps autonomous cars “see” their environment. Levandowski left Waymo in January 2016 and formed Otto in May. The lawsuit alleges that, prior to his departure, he created a domain name for his new company, and told other Waymo employees that he planned to “replicate” the company’s technology for a competitor.
After a successful run in San Francisco, Google Waze is heading to other cities.The rollout will have Waze competing against the likes of ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft, both of whom already offer carpooling options — UberPool and Lyft Line.
Waze’s system allows drivers to make up to two rides a day — for example, to and from work — and riders pay to cover the cost of gas, plus a little extra.
The downside? A Carpool user has to request a shared ride several hours ahead of time, and then hope someone responds. If no one does, you can always jump in an Uber or Lyft.
With both Uber and Google continuing to make progress with their respective autonomous cars, it may not be too long before empty cars are driving up to collect passengers, giving both companies additional options over the kind of transportation services they offer.