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Uber Demonstrations Snarl Traffic In London, Madrid, Berlin 507

Graculus (3653645) writes with news that, as threatened, cab drivers in several European cities mounted a protest against Uber today. From the article: "Uber Technologies Inc., the car-sharing service that's rankling cabbies across the U.S., is fighting its biggest protest yet from European drivers who say the smartphone application threatens their livelihoods. Traffic snarled in parts of Madrid and Paris today, with a total of more than 30,000 taxi and limo drivers from London to Berlin blocking tourist centers and shopping districts. They are asking regulators to apply tougher rules on San Francisco-based Uber, whose software allows customers to order a ride from drivers who don't need licenses that can cost 200,000 euros ($270,000) apiece." The Guardian covered the London protest, which ended peacefully 3 p.m..
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Uber Demonstrations Snarl Traffic In London, Madrid, Berlin

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  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @12:15PM (#47213131) Homepage Journal

    Pro or Con, Uber is pushing the boundaries and bringing some clarity to the old system. Some terms for discussion:

    Rent seeking []

    People are said to seek rents when they try to obtain benefits for themselves through the political arena. They typically do so by getting a subsidy for a good they produce or for being in a particular class of people, by getting a tariff on a good they produce, or by getting a special regulation that hampers their competitors. Elderly people, for example, often seek higher Social Security payments; steel producers often seek restrictions on imports of steel; and licensed electricians and doctors often lobby to keep regulations in place that restrict competition from unlicensed electricians or doctors.

    Fascism []

    Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society's economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the "national interest" - that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions.

    I find it particularly interesting that not only does Uber do background checks on its drivers and allows the rider to rate the cabbie and cab, it also allows the cabbie to rate the rider, potentially increasing safety for the cabbie in ways that the government model does not and can not. Cabbie murder is a real thing [] and government does not offer a solution. But it's still not surprising that the cartel members are upset that their cartel membership is losing value.

  • Re:Competition Sucks (Score:4, Informative)

    by grumpy_technologist ( 2610431 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @12:17PM (#47213161)

    all ridesharing transportation partners carry best-in-class commercial insurance coverage in the event of an accident.

    Also, their coverage is considerably higher (in dollar amount) than commercial taxis in major cities. Uber provides this for their drivers. The drivers do not need to purchase this.

    source: []

  • Re:200,000 Euros? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @12:27PM (#47213313) Homepage Journal

    Maybe the problem is not with Uber, but with the cost of being licensed. Is ~200,000 Euros really justified?

    200k EU is cheap compared to NYC's $1M medallians [].

    It's blatently anti-competitive.

  • taxi? or limo? (Score:4, Informative)

    by cellocgw ( 617879 ) < minus language> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @12:32PM (#47213365) Journal

    A couple examples: the slang for rides in NYC is "yellow" for a taxi and "black" for a limo. The limos can pick anyone up but AFAIK can only charge a fixed fee for a given destination. Taxis are metered for time and distance (w/ airport exceptions).

    Here in the Boston area, limos are fixed-fee either per hour or per location (airports again), and are barred from being flagged down--they're reservation-only. Taxis can be flagged, but I think they are not allowed to pick *anyone* up if they are outside their designated geographic zone. E.g. pick up in Boston, deliver to Worcester, but not allowed to pick up any ride in Worcester.

    So part of the big question is: is Uber a taxi service or a limo service?

  • Re:Competition Sucks (Score:4, Informative)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @01:01PM (#47213737) Homepage Journal

    If people start losing their driver's licenses when they're caught doing commercial driving without being properly insured, I would guess fewer of them will take the risk.

    Uber provides a $1M liability policy, so they are properly insured.

  • Re:Not SHARING (Score:4, Informative)

    by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @01:26PM (#47214013) Homepage

    Cost to operate a vehicle: in the range of $.12 to $.25 per mile

    I don't know where you're getting those numbers from, but the US Government currently reimburses for mileage put on privately owned vehicles to the tune of $0.56 per mile.

    Are you even including anything more than fuel, or are you assuming that cars don't have any other consumables and don't lose value from miles driven?

  • Re:Competition Sucks (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @01:54PM (#47214461)

    There is no insurance. You agreed to release Uber from all liability as a condition of using the service. They have insurance in case that waiver is invalidated in court, which will take many months of time and many thousands of dollars in lawyers fees, but until them you have NO COVERAGE!

  • Re:Competition Sucks (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @02:04PM (#47214623)

    Update: As others have pointed out, Uber already addresses the question of liability coverage by providing the coverage itself... so the potential problem arising from drivers not having coverage is already handled via another mechanism, making the law irrelevant (not inapplicable in a legal sense, just irrelevant in the sense that it's not actually accomplishing anything).

    Taxi forums show that the necessary full "legit" insurance can cost $50 US a day for a commercial taxi driver, those these will vary (and drop with an experienced cabbie)

    Uber does not provide that level of insurance. It provides only insurance to the passenger, not the driver or third parties likely to be injured/killed/damaged in an accident and not at values that would reasonably cover one "WASP" fatality much less a couple of barrister's kids. The typical uber driver will be disowned by their non-commerical driver's insurance and on the hook for the entire amount. of damages. Since uber drivers tend not to be wealthy, that means that a severe injury and medical treatment will be paid for by the taxpayers since the uber driver will have to default on those huge debts. That's why licensed taxis actually have to carry high dollar/pound/euro insurance in the first place and why a cab costs much more than the price of gas.

  • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @03:56PM (#47216087) Homepage

    Those pages are about pickets, but refer to laws that cover any demonstration.

    Article 11 of the Convention of Human Rights (1998):

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

    (2) No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, or the police, or of the administration of the State.

    The important part of this is "for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others." In UK law, use of the highway is considered a legal right. A partial blockage of a road is OK, but a total blockage infringes on the rights of others.

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