If you can recall, Uber’s main goal is to make themselves cheaper than owning a personal car for the average person. However, one thing continues to hold them back and that is the drivers. The question is, how do you bring down the cost of transit without upsetting the drivers?
The truth of the matter is, there is a minimum dollar amount that drivers are willing to accept, beyond which, the issue of bringing down the cost of transport will not be tenable. So the best alternative is to look for better and more efficient ways of transit such as establishing more bus-like points in order to save space and time for each ride.
Normally, if it was the wish of drivers, they would never have empty seats whenever they are driving and that is exactly what they are likely to see in the future if the current innovations are anything to go by. In a space of few weeks, we have seen Uber add multiple to smart routes, UberPool rides and suggested pick-ups, and most probably, more will come in the futures.
The only hope for drivers is that Uber would pass on some of the savings that consumers have saved on to the drivers, but such a situation is highly unlikely. But this is a very dangerous road Uber is taking because some of the gains in terms of efficiencies will not be reflected in drivers’ compensation. In other words, it is going to be hard for Uber to realize its goals without most of its drivers getting convinced of the changes.
Let us look at why Uber is looking more and more like a mass transit and please feel free to share your comments on what you think about the new smart routes as well as what your views of the eventual impact could be for drivers.
Smart Routes in San Francisco: Why Uber (and Lyft) are looking like mass transit
Sum and Substance: According to TechCrunch, Uber recently started testing what it calls Smart Routes in San Francisco.
Instead of calling an Uber directly to where you are, you use what is known as UberPool’s maps, which display a green line overlaid on a major route in a nearby street. If you choose to set your pickup route anywhere along the smart routes, you will enjoy at least $1 discount from what you normally pay. So that means you will have to walk a few meters in order to set a pickup spot. Although it is a little less convenient, it is relatively cheaper.
Some weeks before, Uber began testing what it calls “Suggested Pickup Points”:
The idea is to enable consumers to save time at the Suggested Pickup points by showing them the nearby place where it could be easier and quicker for the driver to pick the passenger up. All they (users) need to do is to drag the pickup pin, drop on the green dots, see the address and then walk there. This reduces the waiting time it takes for drivers to pick passengers at their door.
For instance, residents of San Francisco living near AT&T ballpark can walk to one of the corners outside (not inside) because that is where there is hardly any traffic rush and there is a space to pull over. If you are situated in a one-way alleyway, it is recommended that you to the next main street to set up your pickup point.
According to Josh Constine, Smart Routes can be likened to another service called “ride sharing service Loup.” The service compensates people to drive their cars and pick people up through the city. There is also one that looks like a chariot which performs the same function except that it has larger capacity.
If take all these into consideration—the fact that Uber has introduced a fixed, premediated pickup points along a major street—you will see that there are striking similarities between the Smart Routes and the currently existing mass transit system.
My Take: Drivers are going to benefit from this arrangement because picking customers become a lot easier. Passengers also benefit because they pay a discounted price. All they need to do is to walk a short distance in order to be picked up. Due to the fact that most Uber consumers are young people, this isn’t going to be an issue at all. The question now is, will Uber eventually be able to replace the mass transit? And more crucially, the question that continue to linger in many driver’s minds is, will the prices continue to drop beyond where they currently are? One thing that is clear is that Uber is customer centric
New research project for self-driving cars Announced by Uber
Sum and Substance: Uber is nearing its goal of launching self-driving cars. Uber has announced a new research partnership with Arizona University that will focus on optics and mapping, both of which are critical components of driverless cars. Uber employees will be allowed to work with the University’s researchers who specialize in lens design. This is designed to improve the imagery of what we capture and use it to create safety features and build out mapping. As part of the project, Uber will donate $25,000 to the University of Arizona’s Collage of Optical Sciences. The company will also test its mapping vehicles in Tuscon. The partnership received a major boost when the governor of Arizona, Dou Ducey issued an executive order allowing the operation and testing of driverless vehicles in the county.
My Take: there is a good reason why this story is trending.it is simply due to the fact that it captures the farfetched elements that have always trickled investors in transport industry in Uber. Although we are a long way of before we realize the dream of self-driving cars, small breakthroughs such as this will go a long way in bringing the dream closer to reality.
Do you dislike Ubers surge Pricing model? Some drivers also detest it
Sum and Substance: That Uber has managed to set up a multi-billion dollar business, through a smartphone app, is not in dispute. However, the increase in pricing has courted some controversy, even among drivers. The surge in pricing usually happens during the rush hour, big events, and bad weather or during certain holidays. The company says this is completely normally and acceptable because it motivates more drivers to get on the road whenever there is rise in demand. However, many drivers don’t like the surge in pricing because it has resulted in rise in bills that total hundreds of dollars. The drivers are also not happy with the company’s decision to use surge pricing during critical emergencies like Sydney Hostage crisis and hurricane Sandy. Many people have been complaining because of the surge in prices, resulting in the company being awarded with an F by the San Francisco Better Business Bureau. New York lawyers are also putting their heads together to limit price surges.
My Take: surge pricing will always remain Uber’s innovative yet controversial business model. Critical questions need to be asked. For example, does price surge reflect the natural dynamics of supply and demand or it is just another way for the company to make huge profits at the expenses of customer’s critical needs? In order to answer this question, read on.
Drivers are often not happy when a customer has to pay something out of line. This has definitely resulted in the poor rating of the company. Most experienced drivers have leant to be relaxed about surge because in most cases, the surge is often over by the time you get there. It is amazing that there can be a surge in Marin where I often drive and no surge in San Francisco yet demand is more there. This clearly shows that the surge pricing model is defective and should be reconsidered. The other more plausible reason why surge pricing doesn’t work is because customers have become wiser. I have noticed that I receive fewer ride requests during the surge.
Company sued by a driver for unpaid wages
Sum and Substance: A Californian resident has moved to the federal court to sue Uber Company, claiming that the company is yet to pay his wages. The driver, Greg Fisher, wants the company to pay him unpaid minimum wages, overtime and other damages under the federal fair labor Standard Act. The man claims that he has worked for the company for more than 8 hours overtime on top of working more than 40 hours per week. Fisher seeks the court to allow class action which allows others to join him as complainants in the lawsuit. This obviously comes at the wrong time for Uber because it is fighting similar cases over how it treats its workers.
My Take: since Fisher is seeking class action, and if granted, this could open a can of worms for the company because they are obviously many drivers who would jump in the bandwagon. Over the years, the company has been firing claims that it maltreats its employees and such cases will only cement the view. If Uber loses in court, the company could lose a lot of money
The Weekend is here – Can’t Feel My Face
Sum and Substance: my hands have been on the wheels and have only been off the wheels when I stopped or when we were at the red light. Since I am an Uber driver who plays safe, I only put on the music when I am sure we are out of traffic and are on the clear. In fact, I don’t close my eyes unless we are at a stop sign or at the passenger’s driveway (at the end of the journey) or parked somewhere. I am always very careful. Although I get the occasional dislikes because of this, the most important thing for me is to be safe.
My Take: this is a slow week for the news that is why I posted this video. More than 690,000 people have already watched. I don’t have any idea why. All I know is that it is a must watch video for all.
Los Angeles has opened its doors for Lyft and Uber service at LAX
Sum and Substance: the taxi industry has invested huge sums of money to be ignored. Some people have had some misgivings about the safety of taxi drivers with critics even terming the taxi industry as the unregulated dark zone. However, in the end, the appeal to get to and from L.A international airports have been cooled by the news that L.A has opened its doors for Lyft and Uber services, bring an end to the traffic jams and poor rail systems. This is a major victory to the two companies
My Take: this is a big victory for the company. Uber is reaping big from the fact that it established much goodwill with the consumers. Thus, the opening up of the company was more political because it would be a political suicide to go against the wishes of the people.
It has been discovered that Uber use Results in Decreased DUI Deaths
Sum and Substance: did you know that using Uber is a lifesaving mission? Researchers at Temple University have come up with some analysis that show Uber results in decreased number of drunken driving. The data taken between 2009 and 2014 show that Uber’s entry into market has saved between 3.6 and 5.6 percent potential alcohol-related deaths. This is equivalent to 500 annual lives saved
My Take: I suspect that Uber might have paid for this study for obvious reasons. If it did, then it has surely invested in some worthwhile venture. But I think the research findings state something obvious, which is to say I am not disputing the research findings.
Guys, you have read the week’s top stories. What is your reaction? Please share your thoughts.
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Table of Contents
- Smart Routes in San Francisco: Why Uber (and Lyft) are looking like mass transit
- New research project for self-driving cars Announced by Uber
- Do you dislike Ubers surge Pricing model? Some drivers also detest it
- Company sued by a driver for unpaid wages
- The Weekend is here – Can’t Feel My Face
- Los Angeles has opened its doors for Lyft and Uber service at LAX
- It has been discovered that Uber use Results in Decreased DUI Deaths