Oh La La! Taxi Drivers Strip Down for a Good Cause

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ali_march-0Looking for a unique gift to give your NYC dwelling friend this holiday season? If you want to send a laugh, look no further than The 2017 NYC Taxi Drivers Calendar. Yep, that’s right, firemen move over, the taxi cab drivers are baring all and ready for their close up.

In all seriousness, this calendar was made for a good cause! A portion of all proceeds will be donated to University Settlement, a settlement house that serves over 30,000 immigrants, working individuals, and families every year with services like education, housing, wellness opportunities, and literacy programs.

The calendar is available now for purchase for $14.99.

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Help Us to Keep Rideshares Transparent!

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With the release of our new site, RideGuru, the TaxiFareFinder/RideGuru team has become passionate about bringing transparency to the ridesharing community. Rideshares, such as Uber and Lyft, have their benefits but they also can be hampered by a lack of transparency.

Take a look at the video below to see how RideGuru is helping to bring insight into the ridesharing industry and let us know your thoughts below!

Should Uber Be Doing More To Protect Its Drivers?

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A few weekends ago, an Orange County Uber driver named Edward Caban released a now viral video on Youtube that depicted a scary confrontation between himself and his passenger, Benjamin Golden.  In a little less than a week, the video has garnered over 2 million views and raised serious questions about driver safety.

The video itself depicts a drunk Golden, unable to sit up straight or give directions to the driver, turn violent when Caban demands that he exit the vehicle.  The video was recorded by the driver’s dash cam and it ends with the intoxicated Golden being pepper sprayed by Caban.

Golden was arrested at the scene and his charges were upgraded the day after to four misdemeanors according to the Orange County DA’s office.  He was also fired from his position as a Taco Bell executive and will likely have trouble finding work for the rest of his life.

For Uber drivers across the country, the first couple minutes of this video were nothing out of the ordinary.  We’ve all had passengers who were too drunk to enter their destination or unable to give accurate directions, but rarely have things turned violent.

In fact, with over 1 million trips per day, most of the newsworthy incidents regarding Uber usually have to do with passenger safety.  Recently, an Uber driver in India was sentenced to life in prison for raping a female passenger and there are countless other horror stories in which drivers are most often the perpetrators.  But this is one of the first well publicized cases we’ve seen where the driver was actually the victim instead of the passenger.

Was It Just A Matter Of Time?

Drivers have been dealing with drunk passengers since Uber’s early days and it’s common knowledge that the ‘Party Hours’, typically Friday and Saturday evenings, are when it’s busiest but also when you get the highest number of intoxicated passengers.

I like to tell drivers on my site, that a good beginner strategy is to just ‘Follow The Alcohol’ since even Uber promotes its platform as the safer alternative to drinking and driving.  And it’s no different on holiday weekends like Halloween when this incident occurred.

Here’s a chart that Uber sent to my driver account a few days before Halloween weekend.

Uber Peak Demand Halloween Night

You can see from the chart above that demand is at its highest when people have had a full night of drinking and partying and are just about ready to start heading home.  Now, dealing with drunks isn’t the sexiest part about being an Uber driver but it is usually when you’ll make the most amount of money.  Uber’s surge pricing encourages drivers to come out on the road during these times and that increased pay can make up for having to deal with these unruly passengers.

But drivers have always had a lot of concerns in regards to driving during this time.  There are some drivers who flat out refuse to drive nights and others do it begrudgingly.

Should Uber Do More?

Unfortunately for drivers, Uber has a history of providing the bare minimum when it comes to what’s required by the law.  So whether we’re talking rideshare insurance, background checks or safety issues, Uber has deferred a lot of the risk of driving and owning a business to its independent contractors.

And this case is no different.  I’ve spoken with hundreds of drivers about this particular incident over the past few days and this video has really struck a nerve with a lot of them because it’s brought to light the real risks of being an Uber driver.  Uber is starting to look more than ever like a glorified taxi service with a fancy app and that can be problematic for a couple reasons.

Driving A Taxi Is Dangerous

There’s a reason why driving a taxi consistently ranks on top ten list for the most dangerous jobs.  And if you couldn’t tell from the plexiglass screen that sits in-between you and your taxi driver, a report from OSHA released in the year 2000 found that taxi drivers are 60 times more likely than other workers to be murdered on the job.

Additionally, the report provided several recommendations in order to make things safer for taxi drivers:

  • automatic vehicle location or global positioning systems (GPS) to locate drivers in distress;
  • caller ID to help trace location of fares;
  • first-aid kits in every car for use in emergencies;
  • in-car surveillance cameras;
  • partitions or shields;
  • protocol with police — owners and police to track high-crime locations;
  • radios to communicate in emergencies (e.g., with an “open mike switch”);
  • safety training for drivers;
  • silent alarms;
  • use of credit/debit cards (“cashless” fare systems) to discourage robberies.

Out of the ten recommendations pulled straight from the OSHA report, Uber provides only three of these features on their platform.  Everything that you see in bold is currently not in place for Uber drivers and remember, this report was released in the year 2000, so it’s not exactly breaking news.

This driver in this incident was actually pretty well prepared though with a dash cam and pepper spray.  Unfortunately, most Uber drivers haven’t even considered this kind of stuff until now.

In the days following the incident, I’ve fielded hundreds of inquiries from drivers about dash cams and whether or not they should be carrying non-lethal weapons.  Nowhere in Uber’s lackluster training material does it mention the word dash cam and here’s the response I got from Uber’s customer support team when asking if I, as a driver, could carry non-lethal weapons while I’m driving.

Are Uber Drivers Even Allowed To Carry Non-lethal Weapons?

This e-mail is a microcosm of the training and support that Uber drivers get on the job.  Their questions are often met with frustrating responses and Uber rarely provides any sort of real guidance or help.  It’s one of the reasons that drivers turn to third party resources like my own blog to get help and real-life advice.

Safety Issues Are Real

When you think about Uber’s slogan, “Everybody’s Private Driver”, the image you conjure up in your head probably doesn’t involve plexiglass screens, dash cams and pepper spray.  But maybe it should.

Uber and competitors like Lyft were built on the idea that normal every day people could drive to make a little extra cash in their spare time.  Uber’s public policy strategist, David Plouffe, recently touted the fact that of the 400,000 Uber drivers nationwide, more than 50% of them drive less than 10 hours per week, which would seem to corroborate that narrative.

But as Uber has expanded beyond the tech savvy millennial demographic and eroded the taxi industry’s market share, it’s passenger base has started to encompass that very same group that makes driving a taxi so dangerous.  The fact that a majority of Uber drivers drive less than 10 hours per week is actually a really bad thing when it comes to safety since it means they are less adequately prepared to handle these types of situations.

In the days after this event, I heard from many taxi drivers who told me, this Uber driver handled this situation very poorly.  And while there’s obviously no excuse for the violence perpetrated by Golden, it’s possible that this situation could have easily been prevented with any single one of the numerous recommendations from that 15 year old OSHA report.

Even the most basic of real-time support systems like an emergency phone line that Uber drivers can call would make things safer for drivers.  As it stands today, there’s actually no way for Uber drivers to contact Uber in real-time while they’re out driving.  They’re asked to e-mail in about any problems they have with a specific passenger or ride, which seems almost ridiculous for a $50 billion company.

Uber has reacted to this incident the way you’d expect, releasing an official statement that said, “We’ve been in contact with Mr. Caban and are thankful he is doing ok. We will provide any information to the investigating authorities as needed. The rider involved in this incident has been permanently banned from the platform.”

But the real question is, is this enough?  According to Plouffe, Uber is ‘creating jobs’ at a breakneck pace but they still aren’t required to provide things like adequate safety training or worker protections to its drivers.  Passengers may have questioned Uber’s safety practices in the past, but now, a lot of Uber drivers are starting to wonder the same thing.

 

About Harry Campbell, The RideShare Guy

Hello TFF Readers, my name is Harry Campbell and I run a blog for rideshare drivers called The Rideshare Guy and I also write about the on demand economy for Forbes.  I’ll be sharing articles from time to time on what’s going on in the world of rideshare and what you need to know as a passenger whether you enjoy taxis, rideshare or all of the above!

The Parents Guide to Using Taxis and Rideshares

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As it is officially September first and the back to school season is upon us we thought it would be a good time to re-visit some of our favorite articles involving tips for taking taxis with young children. Whether you are traveling with your toddler, need a transportation service that can help you shuttle your kids to and from after school activities, or are simply uncertain on the laws regarding minors in taxis, we are here to help! See below for our top three articles on parenting and how best to use taxis to your benefit.

 

5 Tips for Choosing the Best Cab Company for School Transportation

In today’s fast-paced world of two-income households, parents often face the difficulty of school transportation. As funding for schools is cut back, less and less children are offered the luxury of riding on the school bus to their building for education. This leaves parents with the responsibility of making sure that their child arrives at school on time. Luckily, there are safe and child friendly taxi services for parents who do not have the time or the means to get their children to school in the morning. Read this article to learn our top simple tips for choosing the best possible taxi cab service to get your child to and from school.

http://www.taxifarefinder.com/newsroom/2015/04/07/5-tips-for-choosing-the-best-cab-company-for-school-transportation/

 

Taking Taxis with Infants, Toddlers & Young Children

One of the questions that we most frequently hear at TaxiFareFinder is whether or not car seats are required in taxi cabs and if so who is responsible for bringing the car seat, the parent or cab driver? Surprisingly the rules regarding children and car seats in taxis changes from region to region so we have compiled an easy guide full of information, tips, and tricks when it comes to taking taxis with young children.

http://www.taxifarefinder.com/newsroom/2012/03/20/taking-taxis-with-infants-toddlers-and-young-children/

 

Are Minors Allowed in a Taxi or Uber Without a Guardian?

Should minors be allowed to ride in a taxi or Uber without a parent or guardian present? This is another question we receive a lot and again the answer is more complicated than it may seem. Take a look at this article to learn the laws regarding unsupervised minors in taxi cabs or rideshare cars.

http://www.taxifarefinder.com/newsroom/2015/08/11/are-minors-allowed-in-a-taxi-or-uber-without-a-guardian/

Are Minors Allowed in a Taxi or Uber Without a Guardian?

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Should minors be allowed to ride in a taxi or Uber without a parent or guardian present? The answer is more complicated than it may seem.

There are limited restrictions and no general rule when it comes to children under 18 riding in a taxi without a parent or guardian present. For most taxis, as long as the person riding has enough money to pay for the trip, it does not matter what age they are. In many busy cities like New York, parents often say they let their children take taxis alone because it is hard to get around the city otherwise.

Certain rideshare companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have some restrictions about the age of their passengers. For Uber and Lyft, all account holders must be 18 years or older and anyone over 18 is not allowed to request a ride for a minor, unless they are accompanying them on the journey. Sidecar does not explicitly state whether parents can request rides for their children, but account holders must also be 18 years of age.

These are the policies that the companies set in place to ensure their drivers and passengers are safe. However, there is no rule that Uber drivers have to refuse to drive a minor, even if the person is clearly under 18. It is up to the driver’s personal discretion whether or not they should give the child a ride, and the driver cannot be held accountable for checking to see if the person is of age.

Drivers should be cautious of this because even though there is no rule which states they have to refuse a minor—there are still ways that the driver could end up in trouble. They should use precaution when deciding who to give a ride to or not, especially if the child appears to be under 10 years old, or if it seems like they are sneaking around without their parent’s consent.

So, in conclusion: it depends on the company, the driver, and the circumstance you are in, to determine whether or not you should drive a minor in your car and it is always best to get parents permission before you give a ride to a minor!

Felicia is an intern at Unleashed, LLC. She is from upstate NY, and is currently pursuing a Marketing degree at Bentley University. One day she hopes to travel the world and visit every continent.

 

 

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Taxi Hall of Fame & Shame

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An experience in a taxi is often one of the first defining moments when you reach a new city, whether for business or fun. This experience can set the tone for the entire trip, leaving the passenger excited to explore or with a sour taste and low expectations of the city.  We decided to dig deeper into the reputations that different cities around the world have for their taxi services. Based on research conducted from various travel websites, traveler forums, and the TaxiFareFinder community, we have compiled a list of the top five cities with the best and worst reputations. This information was collected, organized, and ranked by TaxiFareFinder staff based on the following criteria points:

  • Availability: the amount of taxis on the street, available to pickup passengers
  • Cleanliness: the state of the taxi when a passenger enters; the cleanliness of the seats, windows, handles, etc.
  • Friendliness: the demeanor and attitude of the driver; willingness to chat and answer questions of the passenger
  • Knowledgeable: the ability of the driver to navigate confidently around the city without getting lost
  • Quality of Driving: the ability of the driver to operate the vehicle in a safe and comfortable manner for the passenger
  • Quality of Vehicles: the condition of the automobile serving as the taxi; up-to-date, well-taken care of vehicles
  • Safety: the overall sense of safety for passengers
  • Value: the cost of the taxi ride in relation to time and distance travelled

The Hall of Fame highlights cities with the best reputations around their taxi services, showing the top 2-3 attributes that allow the city a high ranking. The Hall of Shame highlights cities with low reputations, but with attributes shown in red to signify low ranking in these categories.  Do you agree with the TaxiFareFinder Taxi Hall of Fame & Shame?

Ridiculous Taxi Stories

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Whether your cab driver drove through Manhattan like a speed demon or tried to humor you with knock knock jokes, we have all had at least one interesting taxi story for the books. Our team at TaxiFareFinder loves to hear funny, shocking, and just downright outrageous taxi stories! One of our favorite TaxiFareFinder pages is this one here where you can submit your own taxi stories and of course read about other crazy rides. Here are some of our favorites!

 

Cabbies know it best (Submitted by Kate)

Mine isn’t a complaint at all. I was pregnant and in labor. On the way to the hospital the cabbie kept telling me to breathe. He pretty much carried me into the hospital and offered to stay with me. The next day there were a dozen roses sent to my room. I never knew his name-he signed the card “Cabbie and family”

 

Estimated Fare: Turkey Sandwich (Submitted by Ari)

I was a 15 year old science nerd stranded in San Francisco with no street smarts, applying to an accelerated program at Stanford. I was all alone without money and I’d missed my bus to the airport, and was going to miss my flight home. I’d gotten a business card from this Arab cabbie who’d driven me from the airport a couple days before, and when I called him and explained my situation he remembered me, burned rubber out to the university, and blew through several red lights to get me to my plane. Stupid me, I hadn\’t even known to give him a tip the first time he’d driven me, but the second time I didn’t even have enough money for the whole fare. All I could do was offer to give him my lunch which was a turkey sandwich from Safeway, and he accepted. That guy really helped me. I still remember his name, thank you Haji.

 

Yes, you can (Submitted by Ange)

Can I tell a positive story? I took a cab to the commuter rail, and once I got on the train, I realized I had left my BlackBerry in the cab! After calling my phone a couple times, the driver heard it and answered, asking me where he could drop it off. Instead of stealing or ignoring it, he ended up returning it to the dorm for me! I wish I knew who he was and the cab company- a truly awesome cab driver right there.

 

What a coincidence?! (Submitted By: young and dumb)

I went to chicago with some friends for our senior spring break in high school, took the train from St. Louis to ChiTown. When we got there, we caught a cab to take us to our hotel. He took us to the wrong one, which we didn’t realize until we were inside. Came outside to catch another cab got the same driver again…oh to be 17 again.

Our Favorite Taxi Bloggers

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We love to hear the voices, opinions, and stories of the champions of the roads, our taxis drivers who see and hear it all. They have the best stories and years of wisdom from their diverse experiences on the job. Below are a few of our favorite, most recent taxi blogs. They focus on different aspects of the profession as well as industry happenings. Take a read to understand a day in the life of a taxi driver: from the ridiculous to heartwarming to straight up unbelievable.

Cabs Are For Kissing –  Eugene Salomon, a talented writer and New York City cab driver since 1977, recounts his experiences and realizations while driving around the city that never sleeps. His blog is a breath of fresh air complete with run-ins with celebrities like Derek Jeter and Robin Williams to tales of hostile passengers who make the job so difficult. Salomon also authored the book Confessions Of A New York City Taxi Driver, which includes even more stories about the wide array of incredible and unbelievable passengers who flow in and out of his taxi.


Taxi Gourmet – The combination of delicious food and taxis may not be obvious at first, but Taxi Gourmet blogger Layne Mosler creates seamless unity. Mosler is a food enthusiast turned cab driver who travels to cities around the globe, hails a taxi, and asks the driver for a ride to their favorite restaurant. The Taxi Gourmet project has resulted in the discovery of amazing meals and restaurants that may have otherwise been overlooked. Several cities are featured on the blog, including Berlin, New York, Buenos Aires, and Rome, and in between these travels, Mosler has become a yellow cab driver herself. Her blog is certainly convincing of the belief that “no one knows a city better than a cabbie.”


Super Cabby – London cab drivers are known for their extensive knowledge of the city and ability to wow passengers with historical facts and figures. Super Cabby of London lives up to this expectation, mixing personal experiences with classic the London hack experience.  This blog even includes a podcast section, where individuals from the taxi, rideshare, or other related industries are interviewed and able to provide additional insight.


Taxi Tales– Taxi Tales, described as the tales of the life and times of a Northern U.K. taxi driver, includes a mixture of amusing and witty narratives of one driver while on the job. Bob Mullen chronicles his cabbie experiences and opinions, where he says “advice is given free with the cab ride whether you want it or not.” Readers are able to feel as though they are in the taxi, experiencing each ride through stories and pictures.


Real Seattle Taxi – Written by a thoughtful and opinionated cabbie in Seattle Washington, Real Seattle Taxi displays the thoughts of one driver on topics including the taxi industry, generous passengers and events in his home city.  This well-written blog provides not only insight into the life of a taxi driver, but a peek into the workings and struggles of the taxi industry.


London Cabbie – All In A Days Work is written by a seasoned London hack with over twenty-five years of experience.  This blog provides a very personal narrative of the life of a cab driver; his stories recounting the daily struggles, worries, and experiences make the reader feel as though they are having a conversation with an old friend.




Cab Chronicles – Charlottesville Taxi Blog, previously Cab Chronicles, is another refreshing blog with day-to-day stories and musings from one cab driver. After just a few posts, the reader is able to feel connected with the driver, sharing the emotions he experiences with each passenger and ride.