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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Uber fact sheet hints at approach ride company plans in Little Rock

Posted By on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:21 AM

click to enlarge LOOKING FOR WORK: This image is how Uber pitches itself at its website to prospective drivers.
  • LOOKING FOR WORK: This image is how Uber pitches itself at its website to prospective drivers.

Indications are that a debate is nearing before the Little Rock City Board over efforts by Uber to enter the city transportation market with its so-called ride-sharing service, facilitated by a cell phone app.

The subject came up briefly at Tuesday's City Board meeting. Director Lance Hines is a whole-hearted proponent and critical of the city's current taxi monopoly. Director Joan Adcock has been an ardent foe to date. Several directors, including Brad Cazort, have raised concerns expressed in other cities about driver qualifications, insurance and such issues as the existing cab ordinance's limit on permits.

A discussion at which Uber representatives will appear could occur as soon as next week's City Board agenda meeting. It would be discussion only. To date, there's no concrete proposal under consideration though Uber materials give some idea of how they'd like to see the current city code changed to make room for their business.

I've obtained a copy of a document that city directors received from Uber, which explains the service and addresses, at least obliquely, some of the concerns. Uber has taken a range of approaches in expanding its service nationwide. It's begun operating unilaterally in some cities. In others, it has worked within the regulatory structure. Some lawsuits have developed.

The "Little Rock FAQ" Uber gave to city directorsaddresses driver screening (background checks are performed), insurance (the company has $1 million liability coverage for every trip); costs (no tipping, fares are split 80-20 between driver and Uber), and pricing (it can fluctuate with demand and supply of rides). As to Uber's hopes to avoid permitting for drivers who it describes as part-timers with other jobs:

Uber feels that these drivers shouldn’t be required to go through the same regulatory hoops and hurdles that are required of professional drivers. What will Uber agree to are ensuring that the drivers are properly vetted, adequately insured and operating the safest vehicles on the road.

And there's this answer on whether Uber will serve the whole city.

First, Uber was created because consumers craved more choice in the provision of transportation. To this day, the use of Uber remains a reliable and affordable service for customers seeking a more efficient transportation experience. Uber is not a public utility, it’s a technological innovation that has brought efficiency to a market that was sorely lacking.

The beauty of the technological innovation that Uber created is that these kinds of requirements are unnecessary—where demand exists, Uber can help find it and link nearby transportation providers to service that demand. Drivers are no longer blindly seeking out customers. The dated model is one in which the guaranteed fares only exist at establishments like hotels and airports, incentivizing drivers to queue up and wait for a known fare. This has diminished existing providers’ ability to actually cover the entire City, and has created market imbalances for those who need to get around, no matter where they live.


And here's a more detail fact sheet, which also deals with quality of vehicles used.
Read on for the entire FAQ city directors received earlier:


Q: What is Uber and how is it not a taxi?

Uber is a technology company founded in San Francisco in June, 2010 and is now in over 180 markets worldwide. Uber's software connects people who want rides with the most reliable transportation providers in the local area. Uber does not own any cars or employ any drivers. Rather, Uber's lead generation platform enhances financial and professional freedom for local small businesses, and access to reliable, affordable rides for local residents and visitors.

With the tap of a button, riders create a pre-arranged reservation through the Uber app. This e-requests the nearest driver, who is given the customer’s pickup location. Riders are given your driver’s name, photo, car type, and license plate number, so that they can make sure they’re getting in the right car with the right driver. The driver’s Uber app uses GPS to collect data about the trip, which is forwarded to Uber’s servers for accurate billing and receipt generation. Payments are made electronically, so no cash is exchanged. After every trip, riders and drivers are asked to rate their experience. Uber regularly reviews all customer ratings and driver feedback to ensure that we allow high quality, highly rated transportation providers and drivers to use our app and receive requests from users. Every Uber receipt includes the driver’s name and photo, exact route and timeline, and fare breakdown. The receipt is a rider's detailed guide to an Uber trip.

Q: Can anyone be an Uber driver?

Before any potential partner driver is allowed to utilize the Uber platform, Uber requires him or her to undergo an independent screening by Hirease, a national provider of background checks, using the Multi-State Criminal Database, in addition to cross checking county and federal background checks. Drivers must come back with a clean background check in order to use our software. For additional details on what Uber partners are screened against and the criteria for passing our background checks, please refer here.

Q: How does Uber ensure that both the driver and rider are safe and properly insured?

Uber ensures that all its partners are covered up to $1mm of commercial liability coverage which is considered primary during the time that a trip is taking place. Whether our partners are in the process of transporting a passenger or waiting for a request, Uber partners are covered at all times.

Q: How do the drivers get paid?

There is no tipping with Uber; there is an all-in fare in which 80 percent of the payment goes to the driver, and 20 percent is kept by Uber—for our services.

Q: What is surge pricing and how is it not price gouging?

It’s happening in almost every area of commerce. Why is real estate in Manhattan more expensive than Tulsa? Because demand outstrips supply. Why do flight prices and hotel room rates go up as they near capacity? Because demand outstrips supply. The same dynamic pricing precepts apply for Uber surge pricing, it is just considerably more visible because it’s happening in real-time, thanks to technology, and because we are so committed to transparency that we go above and beyond to make consumers aware of the higher pricing. Now, we most-prefer complete market equilibrium, but so long as there are giant spikes in demand for transportation on holidays and weekend nights, our best solution for meeting this demand is to incentivize increased supply by giving transpo providers the opportunity to make more money for their trouble.

Q: Why shouldn’t drivers that partner with Uber not have to apply for a city permit?

The drivers that will partner with Uber in Little Rock are not only going to be residents of Little Rock, they are going to be teachers, retired police officers and veterans. Most of our drivers look at Uber’s platform simply as a way to supplement their income. The beauty of the system is that they are allowed to do as many or few trips on the platform as desired. Uber feels that these drivers shouldn’t be required to go through the same regulatory hoops and hurdles that are required of professional drivers. What will Uber agree to are ensuring that the drivers are properly vetted, adequately insured and operating the safest vehicles on the road.

Q. How does Uber ensure against rider or driver discrimination?

Uber’s technology creates a 1-1 connection between the rider and driver. Before they accept the trip, the driver is not able to see any picture of description of the rider other than the person’s star rating. While the rider can see a picture of the driver, if there is a pattern repeat cancellations and unfulfilled requests, they will be reviewed by staff and that partnership may be reviewed to determine if the partner or rider may remain on the system.

Driver discrimination towards riders is an unfortunate reality in many cities across the United States. Uber has made big strides to help eliminate this problem with our technology, and members of the minority communities have welcomed Uber with open arms. City Councilors in larger metropolitan cities have described the service as a saving grace because it now allows all people, regardless of race, to get around cities where previous taxi service would have continuously passed them by.

Q. Will Uber service all of Little Rock?

First, Uber was created because consumers craved more choice in the provision of transportation. To this day, the use of Uber remains a reliable and affordable service for customers seeking a more efficient transportation experience. Uber is not a public utility, it’s a technological innovation that has brought efficiency to a market that was sorely lacking.

The beauty of the technological innovation that Uber created is that these kinds of requirements are unnecessary—where demand exists, Uber can help find it and link nearby transportation providers to service that demand. Drivers are no longer blindly seeking out customers. The dated model is one in which the guaranteed fares only exist at establishments like hotels and airports, incentivizing drivers to queue up and wait for a known fare. This has diminished existing providers’ ability to actually cover the entire City, and has created market imbalances for those who need to get around, no matter where they live.


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