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Citizen Action rails against Uber

Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014

* From a press release…

Today, the California based billionaire CEO of Uber blew into Illinois to call on Governor Quinn to veto the ridesharing consumer protection act, which was passed by the General Assembly with bi-partisan support last spring.

Travis Kalanick, the newly minted billionaire joins his allies in the Republican Party and fellow billionaire Bruce Rauner in standing against basic consumer safety. “In calling on the Governor to veto this landmark consumer protection legislation, the self-serving billionaires are throwing the safety and well-being of rideshare customers out the door,” said Lynda DeLaforgue, co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois.

If signed into law, the bill requires very simple consumer friendly protections such as requiring drivers who work more than 36 hours in a two week period to have a chauffeur’s license, and for all drivers to carry commercial liability insurance.

Yesterday, Citizen Action launched a new online petition for consumers who support basic rideshare safety in Illinois. The petition calls on Governor Quinn to sign HB4075 & HB5331 - the Rideshare Protection Act.

“Most Illinois consumers probably already think they have sufficient insurance and a safe driver who has had a proper background check when they get into a rideshare car. The truth is that unless the Governor signs these bills, Illinois will be the wild west of ridesharing. Other states such as New York have already implemented similar protections, why can’t Illinois?” DeLaforgue asked.

Citizen Action/Illinois also released a fact sheet outlining the “Top Five Uber-Bad Actions in 2014,” attached to this release.

* The fact sheet…

TOP FIVE UBER-BAD ACTIONS IN 2014

1) After an Uber driver hit and killed a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco, Uber denied responsibility and kept the little girl’s family from any insurance compensation.

San Francisco Gate, “Uber denies fault in S.F. crash that killed girl”

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Uber-denies-fault-in-S-F-crash-that-killed-girl-5458290.php

2) A NBC 5 Chicago investigative team report found numerous UberX drivers with criminal pasts, including an ex-con on probation with a list of felonies over twenty years long, even after company “background checks.”

NBC Chicago, “Ride Service May Pose Risk To Passengers”

http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/Ride-Service-May-Pose-Risk-to-Passengers-256639641.html

3) In March, a Chicago Uber driver sexually assaulted a young woman, driving her the wrong way from home and “repeatedly fondled her legs, groin area and breasts.”

Chicago Tribune, “In lawsuit, woman says Uber driver harassed, fondled her”

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-19/news/chi-uber-sexual-harassment-lawsuit-20140319_1_driver-wrong-way-lawsuit

4) Lyft claimed that Uber drivers and employees had hailed and then canceled more than 5,560 Lyft rides over a 10-month period, effectively keeping Lyft’s cars busy while Uber scooped up the fares.

New York Times, “Accusations Fly Between Uber and Lyft”

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/accusations-fly-between-uber-and-lyft/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

5) In April, Uber began forcing their passengers to pay a so-called “safety fee.” By doing this, Uber keeps its 20% off the top and makes a rider pay extra to have a supposedly modicum of safety.

Gawker, “Why is Uber Charging You Extra to Not Get Assaulted?”

http://valleywag.gawker.com/why-is-uber-charging-you-extra-to-not-get-assaulted-1567825107

We’ve seen most of this before, and I read somewhere this week that Lyft is being accused of the same highjacking scheme as Uber. Also, Citizen Action is very close to organized labor, which is backing the taxi companies in this fight.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


16 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 3:34 pm:

    Taxis give rides, Uber gives rides. What’s wrong with a level playing field?

    Why does Uber feel it deserves special treatment or needs it to compete? What’s free-market about that?


  2. - Levi - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 3:39 pm:

    My husband and I drive for Uber in Chicago right now, for supplemental income while he is between jobs. It’s a life-saver for us. I recognize big economic issues are at stake, but I think the safety concerns are mostly overblown. My anecdotal evidence tells me that people drive a lot more carefully in their own cars than the taxi drivers do with their cabs. I’ve been on a lot of Chicago cab rides that terrified me. Uber requires personal insurance, and Uber covers accidents that occur while you’re actively on the job. Granted, they probably *wouldn’t* do so unless they had been spooked into it by these bills and regulations, but I think it’s a good service that needs to continue without these strangling regulations. I will say that I think Uber should be plowing some of its capital into infrastructure. Lyft has a call center and a mentor program so there is more help available and more person-to-person accountability. With Uber, it feels like you’re pretty much on your own. I think that’s because they’re pouring all their money into expansions and into strangling their competition by offering bargain-basement rates. But over the long haul, you can’t build a multi-billion-dollar enterprise out of gossamer. Sorry for the rambling nature, but that’s my two cents’ worth.


  3. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    The new regs don’t seem so bad.

    Ultimately the consumer needs to be protected from a whole phalanx of problems.

    If there is a problem then the legislature can up or lower standards based on experience.


  4. - admin - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    Before Uber, if you drove a car and provided transportation services without a medallion - it was illegal, Chicago used to crack down on that stuff as illegal cab schemes. Of course, Uber doesn’t want to be regulated and sure the drivers like the money but, come on, this is really just one industry given “a free ride” while another one is regulated.


  5. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    Uber has a certain sliminess to it.

    They whine about their opponents political clout on Twitter.

    People with a little knowledge know Uber made sure to bring key people on to sell the company and regulatory changes.


  6. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    Does Uber want to exist in a completely unregulated market where any vehicle owner can operate as a jitney?

    Uber is asking for the same deal the taxi companies currently have. They want to be in the market protected from competition.


  7. - Bunson8r - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:07 pm:

    Why not make a fact sheet that actually shows how these proposed regulations would have changed anything in the supposed fact sheet?

    1). The driver wasn’t on an Uber ride at the time, nor was he going to pick one up. Also, the suggested bills would not have prevented this in any way.

    2). Cab drivers aren’t precluded from driving cabs if they have a criminal record, per se, so that headline is entirely misleading. Also, the investigation using the reformed criminal does not touch on any of the proposed legislation or what cab drivers face in terms of a check, or if she would have been excluded. So there are no conclusions to that point.

    3). Accused, but not arrested or convicted. Always interesting when civil lawsuits against big companies show up before a criminal complaint. Also, no mention of how the proposed legislation could have stopped this.

    4). Again, this situation wouldn’t have been affected by the mentioned bills, but of anything on the fact sheet, I find this to be the most egregious conduct by the ride-sharing companies. It should have mentioned how unregulated companies can exercise in abusive practices, but I would have been here to point out HB4075 & HB5331 don’t affect this.

    5). I am not sure the point of this fact. Uber might be charging too much? But charges a fraction of cab companies? HB4075 & HB5331 would make UberX rides more expensive, so the proposed regulations actually make this problem worse.

    I don’t even know why this bothers me so much, but of everything I have researched, I have looked into a lot of this in considering whether or not to be an Uber driver (decided it was not worth it). It’s just an entire “fact sheet” filled with scary, misleading headlines about the “danger” of ride-shares. It’s also titled “Uber bad actions” but only two things on the list are things Uber did.

    Oh well. Funny side note, as much as Rauner has been pushing Uber support, Quinn’s campaign actually uses Uber more http://politics.suntimes.com/article/springfield/rauner-pushes-uber-quinns-camp-uses-it-more-often/wed-08202014-925am


  8. - DuPage - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    Another thing- All Chicago cabs have to offer service into really bad areas, like Englewood at 3AM. No driver likes those because they can get robbed, and worse, they get shot and killed. The city says that providing service to these areas is part of the deal, they MUST go down there.
    How many Uber drivers would offer service in those areas? (They would have to be crazy.)
    Eventually, Uber would take most of the fares in the safer areas, and the regular cabs would get mostly fares Uber won’t take.


  9. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    Gee, I wonder if there’s been any problems with cab drivers, CTA bus drivers, Metra and CTA train engineers and limo drivers over that same period?

    Listing THEIR transgressions, threats and complaints would make for some VERY interesting reading….


  10. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:27 pm:

    @DuPage
    =The city says that providing service to these areas is part of the deal, they MUST go down there.=

    Right. THAT’s really enforced. I’ve never heard of a medallion being lost over somoething like that.

    Try going down to Altgeld Gardens and calling a cab. Less than 50-50 that they’ll actually come.

    My company was doing some work there, and a guy’s car got the wheels stolen. He tried to get a cab. No show. I had to come from Downtown to get ‘em.


  11. - Levi - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:31 pm:

    DuPage,

    UberX drivers don’t know where their fares are headed until they get into the car. If the fare says Englewood, they go to Englewood. If they turn down the fare at that point, they get dinged, and too many dings gets you banned from the system. Do some research before you speak.


  12. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 4:49 pm:

    “Eventually, Uber would take most of the fares in the safer areas, and the regular cabs would get mostly fares Uber won’t take.”

    Kind of like Chicago’s charter schools that can pick and choose their students unlike the neighborhood schools and play by a different set of rules.


  13. - OldSmoky2 - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 5:30 pm:

    ==Gee, I wonder if there’s been any problems with cab drivers, CTA bus drivers, Metra and CTA train engineers and limo drivers over that same period?==

    Ever heard of Google? And what in the world does the CTA have to do with this post?


  14. - DuPage Bard - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 6:14 pm:

    I asked a few days ago and no one responded, I’ve heard, I may have misheard, Rauner owns a share of Uber. I know that Emanuel’s brother is one of the initial investors but I thought I also heard Bruce was in on it?


  15. - Emily Booth - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 7:11 pm:

    I’ll stick with cabs. They are plentiful. Almost all of the cab drivers are immigrants and have NPR on. I enjoy talking with them. I can also view their ID from where I sit. They drive fast. More power to them.


  16. - Chicago driver - Tuesday, Aug 26, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    Now that the governor didn’t approve to regulate ride sharing it is not worth it. To renew my cars this coming year and just like me many drivers will do the same. Forget paying the taxes and renewal fees. When i can make the same amount of money with a regular car. Now lets see where else will the governor & mayor raise taxes for the city of Chicago. But remember this we don’t have enough money to fix pot hole but we will not regulate laws especially for us tax payers and now my vote goes for Bruce Rauner! Why not maybe he knows how to keep the money flowing in the state and can get things done.


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