Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Uber's 2019-20 Sexual Assault And Traffic Deaths: Alarming & How Yellow's 4-4 Shifts Served Local Ridership & Traffic Jams In London & GM Driverless Cruise Cars Block San Francisco Streets & First Long Fare Of The Year: Ephrata, Washington & Avoid Seattle's Municipal Court's Online And Telephone Hearings

Is it Wise or Safe for any Woman to Ride Solo in an Uber App-Assigned Vehicle? 

Last week, Uber released 2019-20 statistics stating that, for that two year period, sexual assaults were down 38 %, 3,824 compared to the 5,981 incidents reported in the 2017-18 time period.  This is an improvement?  Uber said they had 141 penetration rapes and 998 sexual assaults in 2020.  Why is this happening?  Maybe due to the type of applicant drawn to Uber.

During the 2019-20 time period, 500,000 prospective drivers failed criminal background checks, with an additional 80,000 drivers removed after deeper scrutiny of who they were.  And this is the company that was welcomed by every city in America?  Pretty crazy, and disappointing.  

And when Uber drivers aren't doing something awful to their passengers, they are crashing their cars.  I haven't found Uber's accident statistics but 101 people were killed in car accidents. 

Only using my over three decade long experience in Seattle/King County's taxi industry as a record of events, we have had almost no fatal car accidents or rapes during all these years of millions of taxi rides.  Uber and Lyft have been operational now for about 10 years in Seattle/KC.  It would be interesting to know the parallel statistics taxi vs TNC.  

What is the primary difference between taxi and Uber/Lyft?  Taxi drivers are strictly regulated and the TNC drivers are not.  Another factor is that our local Seattle taxi industry is operated by mostly people raising families, individuals very much interested in the success of their children in this great land of opportunity called the United States of America.  Many TNC drivers are instead single, young men who are still forging and creating personal identity, this fact unfortunately perhaps making them vulnerable to worst instincts.  Local cabbies I know are then more purposeful, that trait translating into a better kind of professionalism not always connected to the average TNC driver.  While taxi certainly has its issues, many of which I shout about, it is a better choice for a safer and saner ride to where ever the passenger might be going, hopefully a version of Heaven, not Hell. 

The Good, Old Days of Defined Shifts

Before Uber nearly destroyed the taxi business model, at least in Seattle you were reliably assured to be getting a cab 24 hours a day anytime you needed one.  Why was that true?   Because the Yellow fleet had over 550 cabs operating 24/7 in two very defined 12 hour day and night shifts.  And the shifts, 4 AM to 4 PM, and 4 PM to 4 AM, recognized business reality, day shifts getting the early morning airport runs, while nightshift serving the crazily busy bar rushes.  All the cabbies made money and all the passengers got their cabs.  But now, since those kinds of shifts have disappeared, so has the reliability, leaving customers stranded all over the city and county.   Logically, we need some kind of limited return to the shift model.  Otherwise, 1-2 hours wait times will remain commonplace.  And that's not good, no, not at all. 

Traffic Reality in London, UK

Traffic in one of the world's biggest city is always bad but a nationwide transit strike on Tuesday June 21st, 2022, created untenable jams.  In a June 22nd NY Times article reported by Mark Landler and Eshe Nelson, they quote a London cabbie who knows all about London's traffic:

"Abraham Aris Ryan, 56, who has driven a London taxi for more than 20 years, said, "It's an absolute headache.  A fare you'd normally do in just 20 minutes is more than double that now.  I'm having to tell people I just can't get them there."

Ah, yes, the joys of driving cab, London, Seattle, everywhere. 

General Motors Cruise Cars Block San Francisco Streets

Thanks to my buddy Jake in San Francisco/Berkeley, he alerted me to new problems associated with the upcoming rollout of GM's driverless taxis in San Francisco.  Yes, that's correct, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last month approved GM's application to have cabs minus human drivers operate in the "Golden Gate City."  But given what happened on June 28th and 29th, official protests are being voiced after twenty GM Cruise driverless cars stood motionless for two hours at the intersection of Gough & Fulton Streets.  A little bit later, on June 29th at 12:30 AM, four Cruise cars sat idling at Fell & Masonic through multiple light cycles.  The twenty Cruise cars had to be removed by real human drivers.  So what happens if you get into one of these autonomous taxis late for an appointment and suddenly, it stops, what do you do?  Cry?  Scream?  Start walking?  

$477.20 Account Ride to Ephrata

My first long taxi fare of the year happened on Saturday, originating at University Hospital and up and over the Cascades on I-90 I went, then crossing the mighty Columbia River to the Grant County seat of Ephrata, WA.  What made this somewhat unusual is that it was an account meter run, and not a flat-rate generated fare, taking the passenger home after his two-week stay in the hospital.  After dropping him off at about 10:00 PM, in the darkened town I found Time Out Pizza, 1095 Basin Street SW, to still be open, and ordering a vegetarian pie to go.  Friendly place, and great food for the road.  Total drive time was 7 hours.  Cheapest gasoline I saw was $4.78.9 at George, Washington.  

I Just Paid the $75.00

Damn was it frustrating this morning, trying to do my 10 AM Seattle Municipal Court hearing over the telephone.  The recorded message was confusing, and once I got through, it was apparent I could be on the telephone for hours listening to all these cases heard before mine came up.  No thank you to that nightmare.  Whether guilty or not of being in a bus lane, I said "screw it" and paid over the telephone.  What a pain!

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