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Australia Businesses Government Transportation Your Rights Online

Melbourne Uber Drivers Slapped With $1700 Fines; Service Shuts Down 255

Posted by timothy
from the permission-is-mandatory dept.
beaverdownunder (1822050) writes "Victoria Australia's Taxi Directorate has begun a crackdown on Melbourne Uber drivers, fining them $1700 each for operating a taxi service illegally, with total fines apparently equalling over $50000. In response, Uber has shut down its Melbourne service, and has refused to comment on whether its drivers will be compensated, since Uber told them they were providing a legal service. (Fined Uber drivers could take the company to the state's consumer tribunal: stay tuned!) Uber is set to meet with the Directorate next week but it is likely the demands the Directorate will place on Uber drivers, such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance, will make the service in Melbourne unviable. Meanwhile, the New South Wales government is awaiting a report to determine if Uber drivers operating in that state are doing so illegally, warning that drivers could face substantial fines if they are found to have been operating in breach of the law. In South Australia, it doesn't even appear Uber will get off the ground — the state has made it clear that those who operate as an Uber driver will be driving without being covered by the state's mandatory insurance coverage, essentially de-registering their vehicle and making them liable for fines and license suspension."
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Melbourne Uber Drivers Slapped With $1700 Fines; Service Shuts Down

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  • Death sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jrumney (197329) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:32AM (#46948433) Homepage

    but it is likely the demands the Directorate will place on Uber drivers, such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance, will make the service in Melbourne unviable.

    Those aren't unreasonable demands of someone wanting to carry passengers for hire. They are checks that pretty much the entire Western world has come up with after numerous problems with unsafe, uninsured and unsavoury taxi drivers. If this is enough to make Uber unviable, then I wouldn't want to be one of their investors.

    • Re:Death sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Threni (635302) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:38AM (#46948481)

      Exactly. I'm surprised this is legal anywhere (well, any developed country). And was it not obviously in breach?

      Users of `look-after-my-child-for-a-few-hours.com` better watch their backs!

      • Users of `look-after-my-child-for-a-few-hours.com` better watch their backs!

        I feed baby meat. Is good meat.

        Also, baby's name is Piotr now. After my mother.

    • Re:Death sentence (Score:5, Informative)

      by putaro (235078) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:50AM (#46948607) Journal

      Uber has different levels of service. This appears to be a crackdown on "UberX" which lets anyone drive for extra cash. There's also "Black Car" which uses limousine services (i.e. "Town Cars") which are licensed and insured. That probably remains legal unless there is some problem with them picking up fares anywhere.

      We used Uber Black Car and regular taxis in San Francisco recently. San Francisco taxis have really gone to the dogs - we had one driver who did nothing except talk on the phone and swerved in and out of traffic. The limo drivers were much nicer, the cars were nicer and the price was about the same.

      • Re: Death sentence (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @12:29PM (#46951045)

        Iâ(TM)ve lived in San Francisco since around a decade before Uber was even founded. And taxis were just as much crap then as they are now. The only difference is that Uber and Lyft are offering competitive options that provide a service that doesnâ(TM)t suck.

        Thatâ(TM)s the particularly appalling thing about the taxisâ(TM) crusade against Uber and the like. They made their own bed by: pretty much never coming when and where you summon them; screaming bloody murder (and sometimes refusing entirely) if you ever want to goto, or be picked up in, the avenues; running various BS âoethe credit card reader is brokenâ scams; and often having their vehicles, or themselves, stink of smoke, vomit, or pee (There was even a bedbug infestation not long ago!). Now they need to just STFU and lie in that bed. If theyâ(TM)d offered a good service in the first place, Uber would never have had a niche to enter into the market.

    • but it is likely the demands the Directorate will place on Uber drivers, such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance, will make the service in Melbourne unviable.

      Those aren't unreasonable demands of someone wanting to carry passengers for hire. They are checks that pretty much the entire Western world has come up with after numerous problems with unsafe, uninsured and unsavoury taxi drivers. If this is enough to make Uber unviable, then I wouldn't want to be one of their investors.

      I'd agree with you on that. It would be different if this app was being used for car pooling or just to find someone else going to the museum today. But instead Uber and other companies like them have just turned it into a quasi-legal taxi service with full-time drivers. I'm not sure if I agree with the out-right ban on them. I'd prefer to see them forced to disclose information when you apply for the ride about their insurance, criminal history, etc... in the application.

      • Re:Death sentence (Score:5, Informative)

        by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:08AM (#46948747)

        Taxis in Victoria are regulated where each vehicle is licensed by paying tens of thousands of dollars to the state government.

        In such an industry, freelancers won't be tolerated.

        • Uber could have easily made changes to their software that would have made local authorities all across the world a lot less likely to care but they didn't. Given an entrenched industry you're competing with an easy way to put you out of business and they will.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      What's really the difference between this and an online dating service though? You meet people online, some of them might turn out to be jerks or even dangerous. Use your own judgment. There already exist online systems where you can arrange carpools or split a ride with someone. Why does making the cars "for hire, at a profit" change the dynamic so much. In university we has a bulletin board (physical one) where you could post where you were going for the weekend or holidays, and people could check if a
      • Re:Death sentence (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Nidi62 (1525137) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:04AM (#46948713)

        What's really the difference between this and an online dating service though? You meet people online, some of them might turn out to be jerks or even dangerous. Use your own judgment. There already exist online systems where you can arrange carpools or split a ride with someone. Why does making the cars "for hire, at a profit" change the dynamic so much.

        If you go to an "online dating service" where you meet a person and then pay them for a service rendered, that's pretty much changing the dynamic as much as you can (and would also be highly illegal in most places). Similarly, with Uber you aren't just meeting up and sharing a ride (where the most you would pay is for some gas), you are getting a service from the driver and paying them accordingly. Big difference between the 2.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          So what if it's Craigslist and they sell me a TV/Stereo/Bike, and tell me to come to their house to pick up the item? I'm paying for a product in this case. If the goods end up stolen I may end up without anything. If there product isn't any good, I end up with little recourse. Sure, tha't's not a service, it's a physical item. What about dog grooming? That's a service. Your dog may end up with a bad haircut, or even injured/dead. What makes driving someone around such as special case or any other se
          • What makes driving someone around such as special case or any other service?

            Governments have people brainwashed into thinking that people can only drive with the bureaucrats' blessing and that they have deserve control over every aspect of motor vehicle operations.

            It's very lucrative for those governments to have the people believe such things.

          • This is a concept a lot of people struggle with, but scale matters.

            And perhaps moreover, every thing you described there is a function of it - in all those cases you're left with little recourse because the scale is too low to make most forms of it worthwhile. Hence eBay and PayPal really.

      • Another problem is that taxi drivers are among the most violent professionals out there, using lots of aggression to protect their livelihood if they have to. Now, it wouldn't take too long before taxi drivers start "ordering" rides with Uber, just to harass or attack those Uber-users.

      • What's really the difference between this and an online dating service though?

        The fact that you don't pay your dates to go out with you.

        Pretty sure Craigslist has been in some shit recently for that very reason.

    • Re:Death sentence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spire3661 (1038968) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:35AM (#46949005) Journal
      Criminal record check is completely unnecessary. How are convicted felons ever going to find work if we put background checks on everything?
      • Criminal record check is completely unnecessary.

        So.. you would have no problem with not knowing that the person who is "giving you a ride" was twice convicted of rape, and spent some time in the hokey for kidnapping?

        How are convicted felons ever going to find work if we put background checks on everything?

        While I concur that felony convictions are often used to continue to punish minor and non-violent offenders far beyond what would be considered reasonably, that doesn't mean that the concept of criminal background checks is "completely unnecessary," as evidenced by the question I posed above. Throwin' the baby out with the bathwater, that's w

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Criminal record check is completely unnecessary.

          So.. you would have no problem with not knowing that the person who is "giving you a ride" was twice convicted of rape, and spent some time in the hokey for kidnapping?

          Has he been deemed fit to re-enter society, and is there a record of our transaction? If you think this man is still a danger then your problem is really with the criminal justice system.

        • by Minwee (522556)

          So.. you would have no problem with not knowing that the person who is "giving you a ride" was twice convicted of rape, and spent some time in the hokey for kidnapping?

          And... are you okay with these people [wikipedia.org] protecting you from rapists, murderers and convicted drunk drivers?

          • So.. you would have no problem with not knowing that the person who is "giving you a ride" was twice convicted of rape, and spent some time in the hokey for kidnapping?

            And... are you okay with these people [wikipedia.org] protecting you from rapists, murderers and convicted drunk drivers?

            What do corrupt politicians have to do with criminal background checks of commercial drivers?

            Aside an attempt at false equivalence, that is.

      • by Carnildo (712617)

        Criminal record check is completely unnecessary. How are convicted felons ever going to find work if we put background checks on everything?

        You make the background check appropriate for the job. For example, I don't want a taxi driver who's been convicted of mugging or drunk driving, but I don't care if he's got a past as an embezzler. Conversely, I don't care if my accountant spent his teenage years knocking over convenience stores for drug money, but a history of embezzlement is unacceptable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's not about safety checks and insurance. It's about established factions limiting competition.

      Otherwise it's as easy as "Sure, I meet safety and insurance requirements! Gimme my license!"

      • Re:Death sentence (Score:4, Insightful)

        by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:54AM (#46949247)

        Exactly. In NYC a taxi licence costs one million dollars. Hardly about background check and vehicle inspection.

        • by locust (6639)

          Most drivers in NYC don't own their medallions. They rent them from the actual owners.

          That introduces a whole new dynamic into the taxi market, as now the artificial restriction of supply maintains a commensurately high value for the medallions. In that circumstance, the taxi commission ends up having the 'job' of maintaining the value of medallions.

          This is not intentional of course, rather the natural consequence of monied individuals leaning on elected and appointed officials to protect their interest.

          • by Roblimo (357)

            Yep. Those overpriced medallions are why NYC has a strong gypsy cab business, some licensed and some not. Don't believe me? Call a cab by phone, and you will NOT get a yellow car. You'll get a black one. Or maybe white. Depends on the company. And if a hotel doorman or concierge makes the call, you can bet he hit the driver up for 10% or 15%, just like he's a mini-Uber.

    • Re:Death sentence (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:47AM (#46949161) Journal

      In one of our most crime-riddled cities, we engage in the practice of slugging. This amounts to carpooling without speaking: a slug gets into your car and rides along the way, no conversation, no compensation, because you're going the way they want to go.

      Mostly, this has lower risks than taking a taxi. I don't understand why; more rapes, assaults, and robberies happen in bona-fide taxi service. This offends the rational senses.

    • It seems like more and more companies can't resist the temptation of going into illegal territory.
      First Google, with their effort of scanning and publishing copyrighted books, publishing copyrighted videos.
      Now also Airbnb and Uber.

    • "Unviable" here means "They won't make the same profit margin they expected, which were based on skirting the laws." So yeah, you wouldn't want to be an investor.

      The idea isn't totally dead if you start regulating it a bit. Smartphone apps to arrange rides opens up a middle ground between full-time professional taxi drivers and your friend taking you someplace that previously wouldn't work. You couldn't easily find someone who happened to be driving to the airport next week that had some extra space,
      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Free ridesharing is surely here to stay. However, considering that a lot of countries are slowly transitioning to a cashless economy, having more and more transactions proceed through electronic payments that can be easily tracked, I suspect it will be increasingly difficult for drivers to make any significant amount of money without at least declaring it in taxes. And if the tax office finds out about your work, so can other government regulatory agencies.

    • And the western world has gotten itself into a regulatory trap where now hiring a car for a short trip is relatively difficult and expensive, thank to all those 'reasonable' regulations. Meanwhile, look-after-my-kid-for-a-few-hours remains relatively cheap and effectively unregulated (usually a cash transaction involving underage workers, but nothing a politician would be worried about being caught doing).
    • by magarity (164372)

      Those aren't unreasonable demands of someone wanting to carry passengers for hire. They are checks that pretty much the entire Western world has come up with after numerous problems with unsafe, uninsured and unsavoury taxi drivers.

      The problem is not that these are unreasonable demands, but that the entrenched taxi companies protect their monopolies with extremely onerous or even impossible licensing processes with the help of the government. It should be quick, easy, and inexpensive for anyone with a vehicle who wants to make some extra money via this type of service to show that they have insurance, a valid driver's license and a safety inspection any service station can do in 30 minutes. The overal state of the economy and people

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        No, it should not be quck and easy to do that. Cities have too much congestion already. Limiting the number of cabs is a good thing, as it both limits the number of cars, and increases the cost of cars so that public transport is cheap in comparison. More people riding public transport lowers pollution, etc.

        The second point is that most people do NOT have insurance that covers driving for hire. That insurance is considerably more expensive, and thus will raise the cost of a ride, probably to the point wh

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:33AM (#46948443)

    Criminal checks, insurance, vehicle checks .. what is the world coming to when you can't just get in some random fscked up car with an uninsured criminal ?

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Actually you can. They're just not allowed to charge you for it.
      • Not even.

        Hitch-hiking is illegal here in Victoria.

        • by CRCulver (715279)
          While the status of hitchhiking in Victoria is disputed (the wording of the law is no different from many countries where hitchhiking is considered legal, and the police don't enforce it anyway as hordes of foreign travellers in Oz can tell you), the OP may have been referring to rideshare websites or bulletin boards where people exchange free lifts, not actually standing along the road.
    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:18AM (#46949531)

      You can, nobody is stopping you. But if he charges you for it he will be encroaching on the taxi drivers' turf and cutting the city out of its share of the loot and for that he will be fined and/or imprisoned.

      Occupational licencing in almost every case is nothing but a racket to artificially limit the number of practitioners and keep the prices high and to collect a tax by a different name. At least you can make a bogus safety argument when it comes to driving, but what about hairdressers, photographers, interior designers etc etc all of whom require a licence in many jurisdictions and who have to pay the city or the state an annual hefty fee in addition to taking useless courses and passing tests (more fees) in order to be able to work, despite the fact that many other jurisdictions don't have those requirements with provably zero ill effects. 1 in 3 Americans [buzzfeed.com] today are not allowed to work in their profession without a government license.

  • by hessian (467078) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:44AM (#46948539) Homepage Journal

    Step 1:

    Get rid of all regulation.

    Free market, yo.

    Step 2:

    A young girl is murdered and rape in a cab in a horrific fashion.

    The democracy demands solutions!

    Step 3:

    Regulate. When that doesn't work, regulate some more.

    Step 4:

    Prices are high and a de facto exclusive license exists. People notice this is bad and want deregulation.

    • by Khashishi (775369)

      I always thought that taxi regulation had nothing to do with safety or training and everything to do with limiting the supply of taxis.

  • Enough warning? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by axlash (960838) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:45AM (#46948547)

    I wonder if the directorate gave the drivers enough of a heads up before the crackdown; if not, that would seem a rather harsh move.

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:46AM (#46948563) Homepage

    We don't need no regulation
    We don't need no quality control
    No background checks in the taxis
    Melbourne leave those cars alone
    Hey, Melbourne, leave those cars alone!
    All in all it's just another car on the road
    All in all you're just another car on the road

  • >such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance

    Allow drivers to send those in via taking pictures of them with their phones. Have the drivers maybe pay a small fee to get some kind of background check on their driving records which the DMV should have anyway (instead of a criminal background check, which does't seem relevant). Problem solved.
    • Re:A Solution (Score:4, Informative)

      by GameMaster (148118) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:05AM (#46948715)

      What in the world makes you think a criminal background check isn't relevant? You want convicted sexual predators driving taxis around? How about people that have been convicted of fraud? You want them being responsible for operating the meter in an honest manner? There are enough issues with slimy/fraudulent practices in taxis services as it is, now you want to do away with the criminal background checks entirely? You're nuts.

      Also, you seem to have completely ignored the third issue at stake here: insurance. Personal auto insurance != commercial auto insurance. The moment your insurance company finds out you were driving people around for profit at the time of your accident they will, completely legitimately, refuse to pay out any claims. While it's completely fine that you don't get paid after committing insurance fraud (which IS what you're doing when you violate your CLEARLY WRITTEN insurance contract to drive for profit) the important thing here is that anyone you've hurt (such as your fares and/or whatever/whoever you hit) are now left with no way to be compensated unless they can squeeze the money out of you. Since it's unlikely that people like Warren Buffet or Donald Trump are going to be Ubering in their Bentley, this means that those people are almost certainly screwed.

      • by smartr (1035324)

        The ride-shares are additionally insured through Uber. Using Uber also causes the rides to be tracked, and removes the handling of cash out of the scenario. Your arguments are some of the exact reasons why you should use Uber over a Taxi company...
        https://blog.uber.com/rideshar... [uber.com]

    • by jrumney (197329) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:12AM (#46948775) Homepage

      (instead of a criminal background check, which does't seem relevant).

      They could just have an option in the app: I want my driver to be: 1: a rapist; 2: a murderer; 3: prone to violent outbursts but hasn't killed anyone yet that we know of

    • Individual towns of Long Island, NY, require cabbies to get a hack license, in order for the driver to pick up passengers from train & bus stations, and street hails. To get a hack license the driver needs to be fingerprinted, with the prints checked by the towns police dept. for any felonies. Also needed is a fitness note from a doctor. Only when all requirements are met and approved by the town is the hack license issued. p This process began to be adopted by all towns in L. I. approximately 20 yea
    • by Trepidity (597)

      I think the problem is that almost no Uber drivers actually have valid commercial insurance at all, not that they lack documentation of it. And Uber contends that making them pay for it would make the service unviable.

      Uber drivers presumably do have personal vehicle insurance, but a photo of that wouldn't be sufficient. Personal insurance policies typically explicitly exclude incidents that arose when operating the vehicle for pay, so they wouldn't cover a crash that happened during a trip booked via Uber.

    • >such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance

      Allow drivers to send those in via taking pictures of them with their phones.

      Um... how do you inspect a vehicle through pictures?

      "well, the picture of brake pads he sent in look good..."

  • Protectionism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:53AM (#46948623)

    Once again, big business and government combine to profit at the expense of individuals.

    Nobody asked me if I wanted to pay for all the red tape surrounding taxi services. If I want to take an informed risk, I should be allowed to have that opportunity.

    • 'big business' ? Oh, the irony.

      Uber are a $US3Billion American company, trying to increase their profitability by launching a stealth, rogue, taxi service in a foreign country.

    • If I want to take an informed risk, I should be allowed to have that opportunity.

      You don't know if the driver has a license to drive, insurance, a criminal record, or that his vehicle is being properly maintained.

      That isn't a calculated risk --- it's a roll of the dice that may be loaded against you.

  • The idea is quite simple that they produce something similar to a taxi service at lower cost. The lower cost must come from somewhere. It mostly comes from taxi drivers having to pay extra money for driving people around in taxis, and these guys don't want to pay that extra money. For example, my (British) car insurance says that I'm not insured if I drive people around for money. If I do without getting different (more expensive) insurance, then I'm driving without insurance, which could bankrupt me and th
  • by nimbius (983462) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:01AM (#46948687) Homepage
    Uber seems like a libertarian scam at best. You have an unlicensed, unregulated cab service with unverified and wildly variant service levels. Compounding the issue further, youre faced with an entity that assumes the 'fare' it pays you is commensurate enough to ensure your maintenance, upkeep, and fuel costs. While it might be true for a 13 year old crown victoria, Im willing to guess the fare earned for a jaunt across town in some strangers Benz doesnt begin to cover ceramic brakes and ferromagnetic suspension work.

    There is literally nothing in the contract agreements for Uber or even at the government regulatory level that would prevent what essentially amounts to 4chan on wheels from picking you up, driving you to the middle of nowhere, and kicking you out covered in mustard without saying a word. If you lost your phone or wallet in the car, no ones beholden to return it. The automobile provided might even be some dukes of hazard two seater with a supercharger, no seatbelts, and a dead hooker in the trunk and this is all perfectly acceptable based on the terms you agreed to with Uber. And the worst part is that protective measures like a commercial drives license simply dont exist. Your driver could be a meth-addled convict with a bottle of jagermeister between his legs, but since he never had to go through a background check or a drug test or even a physical, the hook he uses to steer the car between epileptic bouts of withdrawal is in Ubers understanding a sterling example of a world class taxi service without the hassle of icky cabs. When he wraps the front end of his 1971 plymouth duster with the missing front brake around a utility pole, nothing in his insurance (should he care to buy some) is required to cover any part of you the paramedics collect from the street as they hustle you to the ER.
    • I have ceramic brakes. I've always used them. Replace my brakes every several years. They cost $50 a pair, and stop a hell of a lot better than old style brakes--especially ceramic with 18% copper impregnation.
      • by GlennC (96879)

        Good for you.

        Can you verify that ALL Uber drivers have similar brakes (or even WORKING brakes) on their cars?

    • There is literally nothing in the contract agreements for Uber or even at the government regulatory level that would prevent what essentially amounts to 4chan on wheels from picking you up, driving you to the middle of nowhere, and kicking you out covered in mustard without saying a word.

      I thought Uber has a reputation system? Does it not have a reputation system? Customer regulation is always more effective than contractual or governmental regulation if the systems are in place to make it work. Did Ube

  • Horrible summary doesn't even bother to tell us what Uber is. Massive summary + complete lack of useful info = no clicky. Find better clickbait.
  • I don't get Uber. In Montreal, they offer their service, but they actually work with licensed taxis, at the official regulated price, just like any other taxi company. I don't understand why they can do it here, but make a big thing about it in other cities.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      I don't understand why they can do it here, but make a big thing about it in other cities.

      In other cities they arent allowed to do that because of regulator capture. Livery licenses are restricted to a fixed number which is already filled by the existing companies, which then lobby to prevent increases in the number of livery licenses.

      The only way to get in and own and operate a cab in New York City, for instance, requires buying a license from an existing license owner. These licenses (called medallions) go for over a million dollars today. This is the state of livery services in most cities

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:06AM (#46948729) Homepage

    The libertarian view of this: Uber customers know that they are calling a car driven by some random person. If they want to do that, really, it's their own business. If they want the assurance of a background-checked driver, they are also free to call a taxi company. What's wrong with keeping the government out of it and letting people choose?

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      Libertarian chooses unregulated cab. Said unregulated cab hits pedestrian. Insurance company of unregulated cab says 'your policy is for personal use only, we are not paying'. Who pays for pedestrian's injuries, the libertarian?

      • Libertarian chooses unregulated cab. Said unregulated cab hits pedestrian. Insurance company of unregulated cab says 'your policy is for personal use only, we are not paying'. Who pays for pedestrian's injuries, the libertarian?

        The Libertarian chooses not to give a flying frak about the pedestrian. That is the "beauty" of such an ideology and the power of making choices </sarcasm>

      • Libertarian chooses unregulated cab. Said unregulated cab hits pedestrian. Insurance company of unregulated cab says 'your policy is for personal use only, we are not paying'. Who pays for pedestrian's injuries, the libertarian?

        Why should he? Not like he was driving, nor is the car his property. In the case you describe, the driver is at fault, not the passenger.

        Or are you of the opinion that if you get a ride with a (soon-to-be ex-)friend, and he hits someone, and turns out to have no insurance, that YO

        • by jittles (1613415) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:44AM (#46949131)

          Libertarian chooses unregulated cab. Said unregulated cab hits pedestrian. Insurance company of unregulated cab says 'your policy is for personal use only, we are not paying'. Who pays for pedestrian's injuries, the libertarian?

          Why should he? Not like he was driving, nor is the car his property. In the case you describe, the driver is at fault, not the passenger.

          Or are you of the opinion that if you get a ride with a (soon-to-be ex-)friend, and he hits someone, and turns out to have no insurance, that YOU are liable for the injuries?

          That depends. I know someone who sued a passenger in a car for negligence. In this case, the passenger was stone cold sober and let his friend drive him around after having a few too many drinks (blood alcohol more than 3x the legal limit). The driver ran a red light and almost killed my acquaintance. The driver was uninsured and had no assets. The passenger, on the other hand, was insured and had plenty of real world assets. The passenger was at the bar with the driver when they got drunk. The passenger knew the driver was drunk and still let them drive them both around. I can understand someone wanting to hold the passenger accountable for his inaction. In fact, the passenger was held liable. So perhaps the Uber passenger could be liable for the actions of an uninsured driver.

        • by bws111 (1216812) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:21AM (#46949577)

          Answer the question: who pays to cover the pedestrian? One option is the driver. Of course, if the driver has little assets (and chances are he would not be driving a cab if he was rich), he can't pay. The only other person involved in this wonderful libertarian world would be the passenger. But, of course, HE couldn't be expected to pay. So that leaves only two choices: either the pedestrian himself is responsible for all his bills (including loss of income, etc), or all of society pays (either through the goverment, or through higher insurance rates for everyone). And if random people and/or all of society are going to have to cover the cost of damage inflicted by a cab driver, then all of society damn well has a right to insist, through (gasp) regulations, that the driver of a cab must demonstrate the financial wherewithall to pay for damage he potentially causes (usually by purchasing insurance).

          Your 'friend' example is stupid, because drivers ARE required to carry insurance. If they don't have insurance, society covers the cost, but the driver has violated a law.

      • Libertarian chooses unregulated cab. Said unregulated cab hits pedestrian. Insurance company of unregulated cab says 'your policy is for personal use only, we are not paying'. Who pays for pedestrian's injuries, the libertarian?

        German insurances would pay to the third party victim. And then they would go after the driver for the rest of his life to recover the cost.

    • Nothing is wrong with that. If you change the law and level the playing field first. You can't say one company is unregulated and everybody else has to be regulated. What kind of free enterprise is that? If you want to allow unregulated taxi services, change the law to allow that. I'm sure the other taxi services would love that idea, too. Going out and just doing it in direct violation of the law is plain stupid.

  • by wired_parrot (768394) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:12AM (#46948777)

    This is why I am critical of the sharing economy. It is is the pinnacle of outsourcing where the management (uber, airbnb) reaps the cream of the profits at little risk, while their "subcontractors", so to speak, take the burden of all the risks (legally and financially), while also having to shoulder maintenance and operating expenses. The responsible and ethical move for these companies would be to properly inform these subcontractors the insurance requirements, legal risks, local workplace standards required for operation, and try to assist them if possible to meet these requirements.

    Instead, they prefer to claim ignorance and shoulder all responsibility on their user base. When legal problems inevitably arise, they cast their users/subcontractors adrift, letting them fend for themselves. It's utterly disgraceful.

    • by CRCulver (715279)

      While the mainstream, monetary payment-driven sharing economy is indeed riddled with problems, for every exploitive service like this there are community-driven, freely usable services that work more according to a gift economy. You cite Airbnb, but well before that site arose people were offering each other hospitality through Couchsurfing* with no money exchanged, just a desire to help fellow travellers and pay the hospitality one received earlier forward. Analogous to Uber are free ride-sharing services,

      • by CaptBubba (696284)

        When money changes hands everything changes. Expectations both from the customer and in terms of legal liability are so much higher that you cannot compare gift or free exchanges to a fundamentally commercial one such as Uber or AirBnB. There is all sorts of really interesting research into this from the psychology side showing that things shift the instant people see something as a monetary transaction instead of a social one.

        The services like to act as though they are some hybrid between the two (Lyft i

    • while their "subcontractors", so to speak, take the burden of all the risks (legally and financially), while also having to shoulder maintenance and operating expenses.

      You make it sound like the "subcontractors" are forced to do this. They're not. They're big boys, and should be able to assess their own costs for this, and whether it's worth their while or not.

    • by swillden (191260)

      It is is the pinnacle of outsourcing where the management (uber, airbnb) reaps the cream of the profits at little risk, while their "subcontractors", so to speak, take the burden of all the risks (legally and financially), while also having to shoulder maintenance and operating expenses.

      Meh.

      If the "subcontractors" find this arrangement onerous they're free to opt out and find or create another that fits their needs better.

  • I'm reminded of the "Tzigane" in Alongside Night. It's really nothing but a black market, in this case for transportation. Most people will feel about black markets however they feel about the level of control with other political and social issues, so I won't dive into that...just interesting to see the parallels between real life and fiction.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce

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