WBEZ | uber http://www.wbez.org/tags/uber Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Uber surge price? Research says walk a few blocks, wait a few minutes http://www.wbez.org/news/uber-surge-price-research-says-walk-few-blocks-wait-few-minutes-113559 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/boston-edit-358435e17dd8fc4c2e585e740dd5a3e219b7a3bd-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res452606685" previewtitle="This map, created by Christo Wilson of Northeastern University, shows Uber surge price areas in Boston."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="This map, created by Christo Wilson of Northeastern University, shows Uber surge price areas in Boston." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/boston-edit-358435e17dd8fc4c2e585e740dd5a3e219b7a3bd-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="This map, created by Christo Wilson of Northeastern University, shows Uber surge price areas in Boston. (Courtesy of Christo Wilson)" /></div></div><div id="res452606429" previewtitle="Christo Wilson has created this map to show Uber surge areas in Manhattan, where he says prices surge 14 percent of the time."><div><div><p style="text-align: justify;">Uber has shaken up what it takes to get from point A to point B in cities across the country with a simple premise: If you need a ride, a driver nearby could pick you up within minutes.</p></div></div></div><p style="text-align: justify;">Behind that idea is an algorithm, which promises to keep supply and demand in constant balance, encouraging drivers toward busy areas and tempering customer requests by increasing the price of each ride. It&#39;s called&nbsp;<a href="https://help.uber.com/h/6c8065cf-5535-4a8b-9940-d292ffdce119" target="_blank">surge pricing</a>.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Those who have used Uber know that surge pricing is a temperamental beast. It changes quickly, varies and seems to be unpredictable, and has gotten heat from&nbsp;<a href="http://mashable.com/2014/12/14/uber-sydney-surge-pricing/#3OzlJCW0HSqf" target="_blank">consumers</a>,<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/nyregion/new-york-city-council-discusses-cap-on-prices-charged-by-car-service-apps-during-peak-times.html?referrer=&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">regulators</a>&nbsp;and even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnet.com/news/detest-ubers-surge-pricing-some-drivers-dont-like-it-either/" target="_blank">drivers themselves</a>. Uber says without surge pricing, the whole premise of a ride in minutes&nbsp;<a href="https://newsroom.uber.com/2015/09/the-effects-of-ubers-surge-pricing/" target="_blank">falls apart</a>&nbsp;when there&#39;s a crush of demand.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">But how exactly does Uber&#39;s algorithm work? The company doesn&#39;t say. A team of researchers at Northeastern University decided to find out by doing what they call &quot;algorithmic auditing.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="Christo Wilson has created this map to show Uber surge areas in Manhattan, where he says prices surge 14 percent of the time." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/manhattan-edit_custom-41a2647b8d43d8dc6fc0e63e52ff44e4d70c1d3a-s400-c85.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 201px; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Christo Wilson has created this map to show Uber surge areas in Manhattan, where he says prices surge 14 percent of the time. (Courtesy of Christo Wilson)" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">They found that for customers, it pays to be patient &mdash; or to walk a few blocks to a less crowded area.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;If you go on eBay or Amazon, you can see, these are all the people who are selling the product, these are all different prices,&quot; says Christo Wilson, one of those researchers. &quot;But Uber is different. They have this algorithm, and they say it changes prices based on supply and demand, but it&#39;s a black box. You have to trust that it&#39;s working correctly&nbsp;because you can&#39;t verify. You don&#39;t know how many customers there are, you don&#39;t know how many other drivers there are.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="Uber prices vary in these sections of the Bay Area, as shown on a map created by Christo Wilson. He found differences in surge frequencies by cities, with San Francisco Uber prices surging 57 percent of the time." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/bay_area-edit_custom-78dc8ad791af9812599abaedcb8bd5678e2a4a29-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 218px; width: 200px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Uber prices vary in these sections of the Bay Area, as shown on a map created by Christo Wilson. He found differences in surge frequencies by cities, with San Francisco Uber prices surging 57 percent of the time. (Courtesy of Christo Wilson)" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Here&#39;s what Wilson and his colleagues, Le Chen and Alan Mislove, did: In simplest terms, they created 43 Uber accounts and wrote a script that logged into those accounts, pinged Uber&#39;s servers every 5 seconds (as a regular account would) and recorded the information about Uber drivers in Manhattan and San Francisco.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The team tested their tracking methodology on a public database of New York taxis to make sure they could extrapolate information about the vast majority of cars in the fleet. Then they studied Uber cars&#39; comings and goings, and eventually combined that research with Uber&#39;s publicly available tools and information to analyze how they correlated with surge prices.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In their paper, presented Thursday at the&nbsp;<a href="http://conferences2.sigcomm.org/imc/2015/" target="_blank">Internet Measurement Conference</a>&nbsp;in Tokyo, they share what comes down to a few big takeaways:</p><blockquote><ul><li style="text-align: justify;">Surge prices do temper demand.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Sometimes they do entice more drivers to go to busy areas and sometimes they don&#39;t.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">They vary not only by city but also by sections of the city with what appear to be manually created boundaries of each surge area.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">They most commonly last less than 10 minutes and often less than 5 minutes (and prices are updated every 5 minutes).</li></ul></blockquote><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;[Surge pricing] is working in a sense that it is responding to supply and demand, but I would argue that it&#39;s not working as intended,&quot; says Wilson, who is an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/cbw/" target="_blank">assistant professor</a>&nbsp;in the College of Computer and Information Science.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;What we see is that demand drops precipitously, cars stop getting booked and drivers are just sitting there. And actually there&#39;s a lot of drivers who drive away from surges ... . If the incentive was working the way it should, you would expect there always to be an incentive for [drivers] to always move in. But in this case, the result is mixed.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">With that, comes advice to Uber users: When prices are surging, waiting a few minutes or walking a few blocks to a different area may result in a cheaper ride.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Uber doesn&#39;t dispute the existence of predefined surge areas and the super-fast turnaround of surges, and says both allow the app to quickly calibrate supply and demand.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Wilson suggests that it&#39;s the short lifespan of a surge price that may create the mixed response from drivers, not giving drivers enough time to respond to the price surges that effectively reflect the demand from 5 minutes earlier.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Uber spokeswoman Molly Spaeth tells All Tech that the company has heard its drivers&#39; calls for better ways to make use of the surge prices &mdash; to make them work as they are intended.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Uber earlier this month&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wired.com/2015/10/uberredesign/" target="_blank">revealed a redesigned app for its drivers</a>. One of the elements is meant to help drivers predict where the next wave of customers will be located on an even more granular level than the surge area maps that Wilson&#39;s team has figured out, which you can see on this page.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;People love Uber because they can push a button and get a ride quickly and reliably&mdash;wherever they are in a city. And dynamic or surge pricing helps make that possible,&quot; Spaeth says in a statement.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;It encourages drivers to go to the neighborhoods with the highest demand, ensuring there&#39;s always a ride available within minutes. Contrary to the findings in this report &mdash; which is based on extremely limited, public data &mdash; we&#39;ve seen this work in practice day in day out, in cities all around the world.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/10/29/452585089/uber-surge-price-research-says-walk-a-few-blocks-wait-a-few-minutes?ft=nprml&amp;f=452585089" target="_blank"> via NPR</a></em></p></p> Thu, 29 Oct 2015 14:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/uber-surge-price-research-says-walk-few-blocks-wait-few-minutes-113559 How many people work in the 'gig economy'? http://www.wbez.org/news/how-many-people-work-gig-economy-113504 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/uber_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>According to a new&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2015/10/2015-10-22_self-employed_final.pdf" target="_blank">Pew Research Center study</a>, the number of Americans who identify themselves as self-employed is on the decline. But isn&rsquo;t everybody saying goodbye to their day jobs and just putting their houses on Airbnb and driving for Lyft or Uber? Experts call it the &ldquo;gig economy.&rdquo; More people might be doing it, but it&rsquo;s hard to track down those numbers.&nbsp;</p><p>Pew used the latest U.S. Census numbers for the study, and it&rsquo;s not that the data is wrong, it&#39;s just incomplete. Or maybe the census isn&rsquo;t asking the right questions.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Since it&rsquo;s a self-identification, some may say they are self-employed, some may say not,&quot; said&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/staff/rakesh-kochhar/" target="_blank">Rakesh Kochhar, who</a>&nbsp;wrote the Pew study. &quot;So, how you identify yourself would probably require an additional set of questions.&rdquo;</p><p>Those are questions that the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bls.gov/" target="_blank">Bureau of Labor Statistics</a>&nbsp;doesn&rsquo;t ask yet, and maybe should, said&nbsp;<a href="http://www.upjohn.org/about-us/who-we-are/research-staff/susan-n-houseman" target="_blank">Susan Houseman with the W.E. Upjohn Institute</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;The current population survey is trying to pick up what is your main job and then it will also pick up a second job,&quot; she said. &quot;So, to the degree that people are picking up side jobs, they may well not report that.&rdquo;</p><p>One of the problems is this survey doesn&rsquo;t pick up people who are self-employed and have incorporated as a one-person business. What it asks is, &ldquo;are you an unincorporated self-employed person?&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.stern.nyu.edu/faculty/bio/arun-sundararajan" target="_blank">Arun Sundararajan</a>, a business professor at New York University, said there are also people who are working side jobs.</p><p>&ldquo;People who are working part time on things, in their minds, they might not consider it a job,&quot; he said.</p><p>To Houseman, it seems the number of people working gigs to piece together an income is probably growing, there just isn&rsquo;t enough current data to make that claim scientific.</p><p>&ldquo;A big part of the problem is just funding for statistical agencies to keep up with new trends in employment and business practices,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>If subsequent data shows the gig economy is, indeed, growing, the government may have to rethink the social safety net and benefits, like how to get health insurance and qualify for workers compensation.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/how-many-people-work-gig-economy" target="_blank"><em>via Marketplace</em></a></p></p> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 13:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-many-people-work-gig-economy-113504 Who will win in Chicago: Uber or taxis? And what does that mean for consumers? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-06/who-will-win-chicago-uber-or-taxis-and-what-does-mean-consumers <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/taxi flickr Chris Eason.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s budget makes it through City Council as is, it&rsquo;s going to be a bit more expensive to get around the city. Additional fees could be on the way for services like Uber and Lyft as well as for traditional taxi cabs.</p><p>These and other tweaks the mayor&rsquo;s proposing had us thinking about how we regulate transportation here in Chicago, whether we&rsquo;re doing it right, and what it means for all of us as we travel around the city...as well as those companies that provide the services.</p><p><a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/faculty/profiles/jamesspeta/">Jim Speta</a>, professor at <a href="http://www.law.northwestern.edu/">Northwestern University School of Law</a> who studies internet policy, has been looking into what the de-regulation of the telecom and airline industries can tell us about what&rsquo;s going on with Uber and taxis here in Chicago.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 12:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-06/who-will-win-chicago-uber-or-taxis-and-what-does-mean-consumers Chipotle vs Xoco lunch delivery: Who won? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chipotle-vs-xoco-lunch-delivery-who-won-111953 <p><p>Chicago cubicle dwellers who dig sustainable Mexican food got great news recently.</p><p>Both Chipotle and Xoco now have services that will deliver a fresh lunch to your downtown office faster than you can say barbacoa.</p><p>Chipotle is using a service called <a href="https://postmates.com/chicago/spotlight/favorites">Postmates</a> and Xoco is using Uber.</p><p>Postmates already delivered food from a bunch of other Chicago restaurants, but late last week Chipotle announced it was joining forces with them.</p><p>Meanwhile, Uber launched a new feature called Uber Eats in Chicago and New York (after piloting it in Los Angeles).</p><p>This week we tried out both and here&rsquo;s how it went.</p><div id="fb-root">&nbsp;</div><script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-video" data-allowfullscreen="true" data-href="/wbez915/videos/vb.13263980999/10153279389781000/?type=1"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="/wbez915/videos/10153279389781000/"><p>Uber launched a new food delivery service in Chicago, after piloting Uber Eats in Lost Angeles. WBEZ&#39;s Monica Eng wanted to compare Uber&#39;s new service, which is featuring XOCO today with Postmates, which delivers Chipotle Mexican Grill. - http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chipotle-vs-xoco-lunch-delivery-who-won-111953</p>Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/wbez915">WBEZ</a> on Tuesday, April 28, 2015</blockquote></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Delivery</span></p><p><strong>Monday</strong></p><p><em>1:19 p.m.</em> I&rsquo;m hungry for some Chipotle guacamole so I google Postmates.</p><p><em>1:26</em> I successfully figure out their menu system (they have multiple restaurants and pretty complete menus), register for Postmates, enter my credit card information and request two orders of guacamole.</p><p><em>1:27</em> I get a message that Postmates has found a driver who will be here in about 28 minutes. I contact him to say that we are located in the middle of Navy Pier near the entrance for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.</p><p><em>1:55</em> I see on my computer screen that the bike delivery will be here in 2 minutes.</p><p><em>1:58</em> I am met by a friendly guy on a bike who hands me my bag of guacamole and chips, lets me take picture of him and he rides off.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Food%20delivery%20postmates%20guy.jpg" title="Alex the delivery guy for Postmates, was prompt and cheerful and rode an eco-friendly bike to deliver the guac. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG)" /></div><p><strong>Tuesday</strong></p><p><em>10:58</em> a.m. I get my Uber app ready so I can be the first to order in the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily window.</p><p><em>11:00</em> I can&rsquo;t get Uber Eats to work on my phone from WBEZ in the middle of Navy Pier*. I can see the menu and order but can&rsquo;t find a driver.</p><p><em>*Tuesday afternoon Uber clarified with us that currently the app is not supposed to work East of Lake Shore Drive.</em></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ubderfoodapp.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 200px; float: right;" title="Monica orders food from her Uber app. (WBEZ/Tim Akimoff)" /><em>11:10</em> I walk west down Navy Pier and the Uber Eats icon has disappeared from my phone.</p><p><em>11:25</em> I get out to Lake Point Towers and the Uber Eats icon returns to my phone. I order but it won&rsquo;t find a driver.</p><p><em>11:30</em> I walk to Lake Shore Drive and Grand Avenue and the app starts to work. I click on the menu button, order both menu items of the day: a Pepito Torta ($12) and XOCO Salad ($9). I&rsquo;m told a driver will arrive in 5 minutes.</p><p><em>11:38</em> The driver arrives, hands me a hot sandwich and cold salad &mdash; no bag &mdash; and I trot back to the office, thaw out and eat.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Bill</span></p><p><strong>Chipotle through Postmates</strong></p><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>2 orders guacamole &amp; Chips</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$7</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Service fee (9%)</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>63 cents</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Delivery fee</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$8.25</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Tip</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$1.59</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Discount</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>.26</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Total</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$18.02</p></td></tr></tbody></table><p><strong>XOCO through Uber</strong></p><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Pepito Torta</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$12</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>XOCO Salad</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$9</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Delivery</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$3</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Total</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$25.00</p></td></tr></tbody></table><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Experience</span></p><p>While the Postmates delivery was wildly expensive, I did like that it was delivered by bike (although not always the case), that you can choose from several unique restaurants (think Cemitas Puebla, Le Colonial and Wow Bao) and that you can do it on a computer and keep track of your order history.</p><p>Uber Eats folks told me that the app should work at the end of Navy Pier, but I was not able to get it to work until another two blocks west. While Uber Eat&rsquo;s daily menu is limited to only two items a day, they have some great choices coming up from XOCO, DMK, Freshii and Cemitas. And while their geographic area is limited to River North and the Loop, Uber representatives say they hope to expand it in the future. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Verdict</span></p><p>For adventurous budget diners who work in the Loop or River North and can&rsquo;t get away from their desk sometimes, Uber Eats wins for speed and price.</p><p>For out-of-Loop workers who have more cash, time and need for variety, Postmates may be the best choice.</p></p> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 13:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chipotle-vs-xoco-lunch-delivery-who-won-111953 Changes in taxi industry leave cab owners underwater http://www.wbez.org/news/changes-taxi-industry-leave-cab-owners-underwater-111920 <p><p>If you were looking for a good return on investment in the last few years, it was hard to beat a Chicago taxi medallion. Medallions, which are city-issued licenses to operate cabs, increased in value at least fivefold between 2006 and 2013. But now after huge shifts in the industry, many owners are deep underwater on their medallion loans, and some say they&rsquo;re nearly worthless.</p><p>&ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t written a new taxi loan in well over nine months? Ten months?&rdquo; said Charlie Goodbar, an attorney and taxi fleet owner. &ldquo;The access to capital&rsquo;s disappeared.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago limits the number of medallions to roughly 7,000. Without those metal plates affixed to the hood, a taxi cannot operate in the city. Goodbar has facilitated hundreds of medallion sales over the years. But today, would-be buyers are finding it nearly impossible to find loans to purchase medallions.</p><p>&ldquo;I probably have put together at least 20-30 percent of all transfers, at some point probably more than half,&rdquo; said Goodbar. &ldquo;And as a market-maker, and as a license broker, and as an attorney, and someone who&rsquo;s in the lending business, how in good faith can I make a market when I can&rsquo;t value the asset or value cash flow?&rdquo;</p><p>Disruption in Chicago&rsquo;s taxi industry &mdash; both from the entry of competing rideshare services, and changes to city policies affecting medallion owners &mdash; have turned the business model on its head in just two years. At one time, investing or lending in a medallion purchase was a sound business decision, because cab owners could make a good living.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a way for an immigrant family to move up the social ladder and economic ladder through the use&nbsp; of leveraged financing in the taxi industry, and a lot of hard work,&rdquo; said Goodbar.</p><p>But today, Goodbar said it&rsquo;s nearly impossible to find a bank willing to lend money for a medallion purchase, and so the avenue that many immigrants once took is increasingly closed off.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="233" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Taxi%20medallions%202.0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" width="350" /></div><p>You can tell by looking at the numbers. Between 2011 and 2013, when the market was robust, an average of 30-40 medallions changed hands monthly. But starting in February of 2014, that number dropped sharply, and never recovered. In 2015, only seven medallions were transferred in the first three months.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no buyer in the market,&rdquo; said Shyam Arora, a medallion owner. &ldquo;So it&rsquo;s a piece of garbage.&rdquo;</p><div id="responsive-embed-taximedallions">&nbsp;</div><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/taximedallions/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script><script type="text/javascript"> jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var pymParent = new pym.Parent( 'responsive-embed-taximedallions', 'http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/taximedallions/child.html', {} ); }); </script><p>Arora is one of those immigrants who found success in the taxi industry. He came from India in 2002 and bought a medallion a few years later. Today, he has three. He and his son drive two of the cabs during the day, and he leases the third. At one time, he had as many as four drivers for his small fleet &mdash; but those days seem long ago.</p><p>On a recent early morning, he took one of his cabs to a city-owned site on the South Side for an annual taxi inspection.</p><p>&ldquo;This inspection process is stressful, very stressful,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>This day, he was especially nervous. The car is a 2010 Toyota Prius with a whopping 313,000 miles on it. Arora knew inspectors would be looking for even the smallest flaw to take it out of operation.</p><p>&ldquo;Yesterday I spent $200 to the mechanic and the day before yesterday I paid $100 for detailing,&rdquo; he recounted.</p><p>He also got the engine cleaned, and drove an hour out to the suburbs just to pick up a small paint marker that he could use to cover minor exterior nicks. Altogether, he estimated spending $500 to get the car in tip-top shape &mdash; about three days&rsquo; earnings.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m losing nowadays, every day, in my business,&rdquo; said Arora. Three months ago, he fell behind on his mortgage and medallion loan.</p><p>Arora explained that most of his income comes from leasing his taxis to other drivers, rather than driving his own cab. But amid a shortage of taxi drivers in Chicago, he&rsquo;s struggled to find people to use his taxis. That&rsquo;s meant his vehicles sit empty about one-third of the time, while he still foots the bill for their medallion loans, the car payments, taxi affiliation fees and other expenses.</p><p>Even when Arora does have drivers, he said it&rsquo;s gotten much more difficult for them to find passengers. He blamed rideshare companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar for stealing business.</p><p>&ldquo;When you don&rsquo;t get a customer for an hour, the [taxi] driver gets so frustrated, he goes to Starbucks or he goes home,&rdquo; explained Arora.</p><p>Arora would love to sell his medallions and be done with it. But he knows he won&rsquo;t find a buyer at a good price. Plus, he&rsquo;s facing the same dilemma that homeowners once did during the recent housing crisis. Many borrowed significant sums of money against their homes as housing values increased, only to find themselves underwater on those loans once the market settled.</p><p>Similarly, Arora and many other owners borrowed heavily against their medallions while they increased in value. Arora said that helped his family get through the recession.</p><p>&ldquo;Medallions were the source of feeding everybody &mdash; every expense we have,&rdquo; he explained.</p><p>But now, he owes $600,000 against his medallions, and he knows that nobody will buy them for anything close to that amount.</p><p>Arora believes his only way out may be a loan modification. Goodbar says medallion lenders have every reason to cooperate.</p><p>&ldquo;There will be shakeout in the market, the lenders will have to work with the borrowers,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;because I think the last thing a large medallion lender wants is a bunch of medallions sitting in a drawer.&rdquo;</p><p>Arora hopes that&rsquo;ll be true in his case, because he wants to stay in the taxi business.&nbsp; Otherwise, he&rsquo;s looking at filing for bankruptcy.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 19:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/changes-taxi-industry-leave-cab-owners-underwater-111920 Uber's troubles mount even as its value grows http://www.wbez.org/news/ubers-troubles-mount-even-its-value-grows-111221 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/reuters.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Uber, the ride-sharing service that is <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/04/368550291/uber-is-richer-than-ever-but-the-company-still-isnt-playing-nice" target="_blank">growing in value</a>, is also watching its troubles mount.</p><p>It&#39;s latest woes are in California where, as NPR&#39;s Laura Sydell tells our Newscast unit, the attorneys general of San Francisco and Los Angeles counties are suing Uber. Here&#39;s more from Sydell&#39;s report:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Prosecutors say that Uber misrepresents and exaggerates how extensively it does background checks on drivers. Uber searches publicly available data bases on individuals but prosecutors say it needs to take finger prints to check for criminal histories like traditional taxi companies.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Complaints against the company fall into two broad categories: One is the accusation that it doesn&#39;t screen its drivers properly; the other is the fact that it lacks permits to operate or is unregulated, and hence the charge that Uber has an unfair advantage over traditional taxis.</p><p><strong>Driver screening: </strong>The service was banned this week in the Indian capital, New Delhi, where an Uber driver is <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/12/10/369589675/alleged-rape-of-passenger-raises-concerns-about-how-uber-runs-abroad" target="_blank">accused of raping</a> a female passenger. Similarly, in Chicago, police said <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-investigating-uber-driver-20141209-story.html" target="_blank">today</a> they are investigating allegations that an Uber driver sexually assaulted a passenger.</p><p><strong>Permits: </strong><a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/index.ssf/2014/12/uber_to_portland_we_will_conti.html" target="_blank">Authorities in Portland, Ore.</a>, shutdown the service Dec. 10, saying its drivers don&#39;t have permits to operate in the city. A day earlier, a <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30395093" target="_blank">judge in Spain</a> ordered Uber to stop its service in the country after protests by taxi drivers. Also this month, <a href="http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&amp;sl=nl&amp;u=http://www.telegraaf.nl/binnenland/23423484/__Uber__beroep_over_uitspraak_app__.html&amp;prev=search" target="_blank">a Dutch court said</a> the company&#39;s low-cost UberPop service could not operate in the Netherlands, and <a href="http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/transport/448541/uber-privately-owned-vehicles-banned-in-thailand" target="_blank">Thailand</a> ordered the company to stop operations, too. In <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-08/rio-police-probing-illegal-uber-amid-car-seizure-threat.html" target="_blank">Rio de Janeiro</a>, Uber drivers were told to get off the road or risk having their cars seized. Uber says it will appeal those decisions, and continue to operate in some places where it has been <a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/index.ssf/2014/12/uber_to_portland_we_will_conti.html" target="_blank">ordered to stop</a>.</p><p>The developments comes amid a financial windfall for the San Francisco-based company. Uber <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/04/368550291/uber-is-richer-than-ever-but-the-company-still-isnt-playing-nice" target="_blank">announced last week</a> that it raised $1.2 billion in its latest round of financing. It&#39;s now valued at more than $40 billion. That valuation came, as NPR&#39;s Sam Sanders reported, amid bad press for the company. Sanders noted:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Uber drivers have been <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/johanabhuiyan/behind-the-scenes-of-ubers-biggest-driver-protest" target="_blank">striking for higher fares</a>. The company has come under fire for how it uses ride data, with some even accusing Uber of keeping track of <a href="https://gigaom.com/2012/03/26/uber-one-night-stands/" target="_blank">riders&#39; one-night stands</a>. Recently, an Uber executive alluded to the possibility of <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/11/18/365015988/uber-executive-lashes-out-at-journalists-after-negative-publicity" target="_blank">spying on journalists</a>.</p><p>&quot;Uber has also been accused of going to extreme lengths to bring down competitors. The company has hired <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/26/6067663/this-is-ubers-playbook-for-sabotaging-lyft" target="_blank">stealth riders</a>, giving them burner phones to cancel fares, and giving them cash payments to lure drivers from other services like Lyft.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/12/10/369922099/ubers-troubles-mount-even-as-its-value-grows" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 10:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ubers-troubles-mount-even-its-value-grows-111221 Chicago moves on taxi reforms to leave more money in cabbies' pockets http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-taxi-reforms-leave-more-money-cabbies-pockets-110877 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Cabs.png" alt="" /><p><p>The city of Chicago is moving on a set of reforms to help cabbies take home more money, a partial salve after a months-long fight over legalizing competing rideshare services left many taxi drivers feeling bruised. While many hail the step as a sign that city officials are finally working to redress cab drivers&rsquo; complaints, some say the changes don&rsquo;t go far enough.</p><p>&ldquo;What we wanted to do is improve overall their experience here in the city, and make it more lucrative for them as cab drivers,&rdquo; said Maria Guerra Lapacek, Commissioner of Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said her department crafted the proposals after working with representatives from Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 31 and other driver advocacy groups. Some of them will be included in an ordinance to be introduced at City Council&rsquo;s meeting next week. Others will be implemented through rule changes by the BACP.</p><p>The most significant change would reduce how much taxi owners may charge to lease their fuel-efficient cabs after the vehicles&rsquo; first year on the road.</p><p>&ldquo;The garages are able to recoup their investment after a year of having these vehicles in circulation,&rdquo; explained Guerra Lapacek, &ldquo;so the idea was to reduce the lease rate cap for the second year, and that way give relief back to the cab driver.&rdquo;</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said this idea resulted from the surprising finding in a recent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/study-chicago-cabbies-earn-average-12hour-110726">city-commissioned study</a>, which found that cab drivers spend about 40 percent of their gross income on their vehicle leases. Ultimately, the reform could affect leases for an estimated 3,700 of the city&rsquo;s nearly 7,000 cabs.</p><p>Leases would also be reduced for drivers whose vehicles generate a separate revenue stream from advertising displays. The reforms would require cab companies to credit leases in these cases.</p><p>&ldquo;There are over 2000 owner-operators in the City of Chicago. They don&rsquo;t pay a lease,&rdquo; said Peter Enger, a cab driver and Secretary of the United Taxidrivers Community Council. &ldquo;This will not help them in the slightest.&rdquo;</p><p>Enger said he&rsquo;s delighted that city officials appear to be considering the difficulties cab drivers have faced since a previous set of reforms took effect in 2012. Those reforms raised the lease rates for cabs, without a commensurate increase in taxi fare rates. Many cab drivers say that has resulted in longer working hours to earn the same income.</p><p>Cab drivers who own and drive their own taxis affirm Enger&rsquo;s fear that a new round of reform will still leave them in the dust.</p><p>&ldquo;The only way is to get a fare increase that we did not get for almost ten years, to offset the cost of living and all of that stuff,&rdquo; said Ahmed Ammar, who owns and drives his own taxi. &ldquo;Everything went up.&rdquo;</p><p>While some cab drivers, particularly those aligned with UTCC&rsquo;s union, push for a taxi fare increase, others worry it could adversely affect demand. Representatives from another union, Cab Drivers United, say raising fares is lower on their priority list.</p><p>&ldquo;Our focus first and foremost has been moving forward on these changes that will both put money in drivers&rsquo; pockets, and keep the cab companies competitive with the (rideshare) companies,&rdquo; said Tracy Abman, an organizer with AFSCME Local 31.</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said her department will not consider a fare increase at this juncture because she worries it could turn customers away from the taxi industry. Rideshare companies&rsquo; prices routinely undercut taxi fares.</p><p>The proposals also include city-backed smartphone applications to allow passengers to electronically hail taxis, as they do with popular services such as Uber and Hailo.</p><p>&ldquo;We think this is an excellent reform that&rsquo;s going to bring the cab industry into more innovation and really help them access those customers,&rdquo; said Guerra Lapacek. She said the city will put out a request for proposals, and will require all taxis to be on at least one of the city-backed apps.</p><p>Additionally, the reforms would reduce the fee that taxi drivers pay on credit card transactions, from 5 percent to 3 percent; lower the maximum penalties for taxi offenses from $1,000 to $400; and <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/publicvehicleinfo/publicchauffer/chauffeurtrainingtaskforcefinalrecommendations.pdf">streamline</a>&nbsp;the required driver training process.</p><p>The city will also create a task force to review <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-often-are-cabs-pulled-over-and-what-109734">the enforcement process of taxi rules</a> at the Administrative Hearings Court, which many taxi drivers disparagingly refer to as a &ldquo;kangaroo court.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s significant that the City is listening to drivers that are organized, listen to them, hearing their concerns, addressing some of their concerns and agreeing to continue to work together with drivers to make their lives better and make sure the industry remains viable,&rdquo; said Abman.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-taxi-reforms-leave-more-money-cabbies-pockets-110877 Germany bans Uber http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-12/germany-bans-uber-110792 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP247063531356 (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The popular ride sharing app, Uber, has been both embraced and banned in cities around the world, but for the first time the service has been rejected from an entire country. Germany has said it will not allow the company to operate there. We discuss on today&#39;s show.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-germany-bans-uber/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-germany-bans-uber.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-germany-bans-uber" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Germany bans Uber" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-12/germany-bans-uber-110792 Quinn vetoes 'Uber Bill,' some cry for override http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-vetoes-uber-bill-some-cry-override-110700 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Rideshare.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Supporters of limits to rideshare services in Illinois vowed Monday to push for an override of Governor Pat Quinn&rsquo;s veto of the so-called &ldquo;Uber Bill.&rdquo;</p><p>The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-senate-passes-ride-sharing-rules-110191" target="_blank">bill</a>, which would have affected popular technology platforms such as Uber and Lyft, would have forced rideshare companies to track more closely how many hours each of their drivers spent behind the wheel in the state, and to comply with safety standards similar to those required in the taxi industry. Supporters of the bill blasted Quinn&rsquo;s decision, saying it was motivated out of a concern for votes in the November gubernatorial election, rather than out of concern for public safety.</p><p>&ldquo;Governor Quinn is making the decision solely because of politics,&rdquo; said State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-11). &ldquo;Governor Quinn has decided (he&rsquo;s) not doing well in the polls, and based on his political advisors and lobbyists that he needs the &lsquo;lakefront liberals&rsquo; to come out in big numbers for him, and maybe that&rsquo;s what this is about.&rdquo;</p><p>Sandoval said he will push to have <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&amp;SessionId=85&amp;GA=98&amp;DocTypeId=HB&amp;DocNum=4075&amp;GAID=12&amp;LegID=77989&amp;SpecSess=&amp;Session=" target="_blank">HB 4075/5331</a> on the General Assembly&rsquo;s override calendar in November. The Illinois House passed the measure 80-26 in June, and would require only 71 votes for an override. The Senate passed the measure 46-8, and would require only 36 to override.</p><p>But in his veto statement, Quinn said he objected to the bill&rsquo;s pre-emption of &ldquo;home rule,&rdquo; meaning that it would prohibit local municipalities from creating or enacting their own regulations for rideshare services. &ldquo;A statewide regulatory framework should only be considered when it is clear that it is not possible to address the problem at the local level,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;At this point, there is not yet enough evidence to make a judgment about the effectiveness of local ordinances in dealing with the challenges of ridesharing technologies.&rdquo;</p><p>The bill would have required rideshare companies to closely track how many hours each of their drivers averaged on their platforms. Those who offered rides more than 36 hours every two weeks would have to comply with safety regulations similar to taxi drivers &mdash; namely, obtaining a public chauffeur&rsquo;s license, getting fingerprinted and submitting to a criminal background check. Additionally, the companies would have to provide commercial liability insurance identical to that which is required for taxis, for all its drivers -- regardless of how many hours they spend on the platform.</p><p>Several Chicago taxicab medallion owners joined Sandoval in protesting Quinn&rsquo;s veto, saying they believed Quinn&rsquo;s track record as a champion of consumer rights and safety would have led to a different outcome. But many believe that the issue has become politicized &mdash; even briefly becoming campaign trail grist by Quinn&rsquo;s Republican opponent Bruce Rauner &mdash; such that the governor had little choice but to veto it. They said they are confident that the General Assembly will override.</p><p>Ehsan Ghoreishi, a Chicago taxi driver of ten years and former medallion owner, said the state sanctioning of rideshare companies will ultimately be bad for labor. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a taxi driver, I lease from big companies,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure there&rsquo;s some exploitation, and it&rsquo;s not a clean industry. But the question is: Do I prefer to work with a guy who owns 600 medallions? But I can reach him &mdash; he&rsquo;s a tangible person, I can call his office, I can go make a complaint. Or, do I want to be exploited by a guy that I cannot reach in any tangible fashion?&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, changes that Uber and Lyft made to their fare and revenue structures this summer have alienated some of their most devoted drivers. Uber slashed its fares 15 percent, and started charging $10 each week for use of the data plan on iPhones that it issues to each driver. Chris Taylor, General Manager for Uber Chicago, said the price experiment has resulted in a greater number of people using their platform to get around. In other words, while drivers may earn less per ride, they&rsquo;re getting more rides.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re confident that drivers on average will still have the ability to earn, on average, double minimum wage in Illinois in fares per hour,&rdquo; he said. Additionally, to offset the smaller earnings per ride, Taylor said Uber has negotiated discounts on gas, maintenance services and car washes for its drivers.</p><p>But Dan Burgess, who has driven for both Uber, Lyft, as well as a third competitor, Sidecar, said he and other drivers are definitely not earning double Illinois&rsquo; $8.25 minimum wage. &ldquo;If you take into account our car expenses for fuel and wear and tear, we&rsquo;re probably netting about $10 an hour,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just not a worthwhile experience for us anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, relatively <a href="https://chicago.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1657453&amp;GUID=48EE4E9D-5D88-4001-8753-74FA1D4C47AF" target="_blank">light regulations</a> for the industry are set to take effect Tuesday in the City of Chicago. The rules would require the companies to apply for different classes of licenses, depending on how many hours their drivers, in aggregate, average. Companies whose drivers average fewer than 20 hours per week would be allowed to continue mostly as they already do. Both Uber and Lyft are working to gain this type of license.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 18:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-vetoes-uber-bill-some-cry-override-110700 Rideshare vs. Taxicabs: The inside story http://www.wbez.org/news/rideshare-vs-taxicabs-inside-story-110296 <p><p>The best taxi drivers get to know hotel doormen.</p><p>&ldquo;How you been, John? Everything good?!&rdquo; shouted Saied Sarvinehbaghi out his window as he pulled to the front of the Hilton cab line on a recent morning. &ldquo;You want me to stay here or back up? Stay here? OK. Airport would be nice, John,&rdquo; Sarvinehbaghi chuckled.</p><p>A ride from the Loop to O&rsquo;Hare could bring in more than $40 for a single fare. Chicago&rsquo;s airports are one of the few places left in the city where taxicabs still rule the road. But elsewhere, the competition for fares is growing fiercer by the day.</p><p>Chicago <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/rideshare-ordinance-passes-1?in=morningshiftwbez/sets/morning-shift-week-of-may-26">recently passed rules</a> to legalize ridesharing services, which let people use their personal cars to take paying passengers around. The debate over ridesharing has mostly centered on how the service differs from traditional taxis. So WBEZ spent a day with a cabbie, and a night with a rideshare driver to find out for ourselves.</p><p><span style="font-size: 21.81818199157715px;">The taxicab driver</span></p><p>Sarvinehbaghi started driving 35 years ago, soon after he came to the U.S. from Iran for college. At the time, he thought he&rsquo;d only be driving cabs for a couple of years. As a passenger climbs into the backseat and directs him to O&rsquo;Hare, Sarvinehbaghi reflects on why he&rsquo;s stayed so long in the industry.</p><p>&ldquo;This job is good to me because it&rsquo;s exciting, because it&rsquo;s not a boring job,&rdquo; Sarvinehbaghi said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very addictive job, actually. You get addicted to this job. If you get addicted, it&rsquo;s hard to let go.&rdquo;</p><p>Sarvinehbaghi is not your typical cabbie &ndash; he owns his medallion, which is a city license for a cab. He&rsquo;s had it for about 15 years.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t buy it,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We had a great mayor called Harold Washington, and he&rsquo;s the one who started giving medallions out instead of selling them, so I was one of guys who won it (in a lottery).&rdquo;</p><p>Most taxi drivers don&rsquo;t own medallions, and in recent years, they&rsquo;ve gotten harder to buy. At times, medallions have sold for as much as $360 thousand. The majority of cabbies lease their cars, with the medallions attached, for $400 to $700 a week.</p><p>Sarvinehbaghi is glad he doesn&rsquo;t pay a lease, but he said he still has expenses. According to city rules, he has to buy a new car every four years and pay for expensive taxi insurance. Despite all that he says he got by just fine until the road recently became more crowded with rideshare drivers.</p><p><span style="font-size: 21.81818199157715px;">The rideshare driver</span></p><p>At about the same time Saied usually ends his shift on a Saturday evening, Dan Burgess is driving into the city from his home in Downers Grove. Burgess, who introduces himself to passengers as &ldquo;Trivia Dan,&rdquo; has done this most weekends for the past year. He drives for ridesharing services UberX, Lyft and Sidecar.</p><p>&ldquo;I like meeting people,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;I love the city and the pulse of the metropolis, and I enjoy driving people around and getting paid for it and having a good time. And I thought it would be a fun way to expose people to me and my trivia company and ask them trivia questions on the rides.&rdquo;</p><p>Burgess receives ride requests through his smartphone. Almost as soon as his first carload of Lyft passengers &ndash; three young women going out for a dinner in Lakeview &ndash; squeeze into his back seat, he peppers them with trivia questions.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, if you guys want to play trivia, I&rsquo;ve got trivia questions ready&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>As Burgess ferries passengers around the city in his 2005 silver Hyundai hatchback, the same scene repeats itself all night.</p><p>When asked, passengers said they prefer ridesharing to cabs because of the convenience. They use their smartphones to summon cars without ever going outside, and there&rsquo;s no hassle with cash or credit cards &ndash; the apps take care of the payment. When the ladies arrive at their destination, they just hop out.</p><p>&ldquo;Alright, so, I just got a text already saying that was &lsquo;50% Prime Time,&rsquo;&rdquo; Burgess said as the passengers exited. &ldquo;Lyft has a promotion going on tonight, so I got time-and-a-half on that.&rdquo;</p><p>Lyft and Uber frequently raise their rates at times of peak demand, or simply to entice drivers to use their app rather than the competition&rsquo;s. Cabs, by contrast, can&rsquo;t change the meter rate.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ridealongs%202.jpg" style="height: 415px; width: 620px;" title="Dan Burgess, a.k.a. “Trivia Dan,” drives in from the suburbs nearly every weekend to do ridesharing. He uses it as an opportunity to promote his trivia business, and says he shouldn’t be subject to the same rules as cab drivers. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></p><p><span style="font-size: 21.81818199157715px;">Different rules of the road</span></p><p>After roughly six hours with both Burgess and Sarvinehbaghi, it was clear that the essence of what they do is the same: they drive people places for money. So should they follow the same rules? Dan said &lsquo;no.&rsquo;</p><p>&ldquo;This is a casual experience,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I might go a month without giving a ride. Nobody has a cab that sits for a month without being used. So why should I fall under the same strict rules as a real cab when I might only give five or ten hours a week, or sometimes even five or ten hours a month?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s rules and regulation,&rdquo; counters Sarvinehbaghi. &ldquo;It says if you want to transport people in the City of Chicago, you have to be registered, you have to have a medallion, you have to pay the fees and taxes, and have some kind of chauffeurs license, so they know who you are.&rdquo;</p><p>Sarvinehbaghi said to get his chauffeurs license, he had to take a class; pass an English exam, a physical, an eye test, and a background check; and have a clean driving record. Uber, Lyft and Sidecar say they perform background and driving record checks, too. But several <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-14/news/ct-rideshare-background-checks-met-20140214_1_background-checks-ride-sharing-drivers">news outlets</a> have <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/Ride-Service-May-Pose-Risk-to-Passengers-256639641.html">reported cases</a> of rideshare drivers with criminal histories.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s about protecting the consumer in Chicago. People&rsquo;s life is in our hand,&rdquo; Sarvinehbaghi said. &ldquo;I used to work night shift on the weekends, you won&rsquo;t believe how many drunk people I take home, they pass out in the back seat. Young girls, older guys with Rolex (watches), girls with short skirt and practically no clothes on, and I take them where they want to go and I call their parents down and take them.&rdquo;</p><p>But Burgess said ridesharing services weed out bad drivers faster than the city does, because the apps require passengers to rate their drivers after each ride.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s actually more safe because of the rating system,&rdquo; argued Burgess. &ldquo;If there&rsquo;s a problem, you can call support and report a driver, saying I was driving erratically or dangerously or I was under the influence or something. Lyft would turn off my account immediately.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size: 21.81818199157715px;">The cost of doing business</span></p><p>The other big difference between Sarvinehbaghi and Burgess involved their expenses. WIth frustration, Sarvinehbaghi pointed out that his 2014 Toyota RAV4 was only four months old. He bought it with a five-year payment plan, but the city will only allow it to be used as a cab for four years. He said that means in the fifth year, he&rsquo;ll have to continue paying for it, but he won&rsquo;t be able to use it as a taxi. In fact, he&rsquo;d have to buy another new car to use as a cab,saddling him with two monthly car payments.</p><p>&ldquo;This car, $33,000, I paid it. I&rsquo;m paying the car payment,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m paying almost $600 a month (for) insurance...stickers, fees, taxes, gas &ndash; you add all this up, it&rsquo;s costing me money to keep this medallion. You know, I work so hard, paying all these fees, and [rideshare drivers] come and do it without paying any fees or anything.&rdquo;</p><p>After expenses, Sarvinehbaghi made roughly $11 an hour during the shift I observed.</p><p>Burgess has it easier. He uses his nine-year old car, which he paid off long ago. Unlike Sarvinehbaghi he is not required to pay for commercial liability insurance. Burgess just needs to cover gas, and pay Uber 15 percent of his earnings.</p><p>During my night shift with Burgess he made about $14 an hour after expenses.</p><p>He acknowledged that rideshare vehicles have been hard on independent medallion owners.</p><p>&ldquo;I really feel bad for some independent cab owner who spent $300,000 on a medallion, yeah, I feel sorry for that guy,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s unfortunate, he made that investment. But it&rsquo;s a new day, and people like getting around this way more than that way.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, ride sharing&rsquo;s growing popularity is one reason Chicago&rsquo;s city council decided to legalize the service. Illinois may soon <a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/rideshare-legislation-passes">follow suit</a> statewide. Sarvinehbaghi said he had planned to pay his sons&rsquo; college tuitions by selling his medallion, but now it&rsquo;s likely to lose much of its value.</p><p>Still, he said if the state allows ridesharing, he may sell his cab and try it, too.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 05 Jun 2014 15:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rideshare-vs-taxicabs-inside-story-110296