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Milwaukee City Council Proposal Would Pave Way For Uber, Lyft 76

Posted by timothy
from the anti-coordinative-forces dept.
New submitter rjune (123157) writes with some rare positive news from the online ride-sharing world, specifically from Milwaukee. "Ald. Robert Bauman is drafting a proposed ordinance that, if approved by the Common Council, would change the way public passenger vehicles are regulated and licensed. The proposal, expected to be outlined on Friday before the Common Council's Public Transportation Review Board, not only lifts the cap on taxicab vehicle perimits but accommodates new smartphone app services such as Uber and Lyft. Both Uber and Lyft are already in the marketplace." I wish that the cities I spend the most time in would do the same, but they've been busily protecting the local cartels, instead.
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Milwaukee City Council Proposal Would Pave Way For Uber, Lyft

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  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Friday May 09, 2014 @08:04PM (#46963737)
    it would be a shame.......
  • Dear Timothy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029)

    You're job is not to inject your opinion into slashdot posts.

    You are well known to be an utter moron, no one wants your opinion. Seriously, NO ONE wants your opinion.

    Second, if you had half a clue, you'd know why the current implementation of Uber and Lyft is a disaster waiting to happen. I would actually appreciate it if you used them more and got into a car with someone who did you much harm, resolving two issues at once. A) Getting rid of your ignorance and lack of ability to think more than 2 seconds

    • if you had half a clue, you'd know why the current implementation of Uber and Lyft is a disaster waiting to happen.

      Uber and Lyft can't do what they do and offer ridiculously lower rates while at the same time providing the same level of safety.

      I'm very interested in your thoughts here. Personally I've been using Uber and Lyft for about 6 months and I absolutely love the convenience and pleasantness. My understanding is that both services provide insurance to cover the passenger. Uber just started to charge a $1/ride fee.

      what is it you think is the problem? what do you think will surface? please no snark, I'm genuinely curious.

      • by penix1 (722987)

        I am not the original poster but I think I can answer that...

        Those services are no better than hitchhiking since there is no vetting of the driver. Insurance won't stop you from being taken to the woods, beaten, raped, robbed and murdered (not necessarily in that order)... The same goes for the driver. They are not trained what to do in a situation where the passenger may be violent looking to rob them. True cabs are designed to protect the driver as much as possible usually with barriers between the driver

        • by rel4x (783238)
          The drivers are vetted by positive reviews and insanely difficult minimums...and it works fantastically. I'm aware there's theoretically an introductory period where bad people can slip through(not sure what Uber does on their own) but I've never met a bad one...while I've rarely met a traditional cab driver I'd put against an average Uber.
          • THIS.

            I can't tell you how many cab drivers have screwed me over. Taken me for a ride that involves going an incredibly wrong direction for an incredibly juicy fare.

            Additionally, how do you know your cab is real? Sometimes taxis are "fake" -- not actually registered but painted to look so. You run a risk any time you hop in a cab.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Those services are no better than hitchhiking since there is no vetting of the driver. Insurance won't stop you from being taken to the woods, beaten, raped, robbed and murdered (not necessarily in that order)

          Sorry but that's a load of crap. Regulated cab drivers have done all of these things.

          These services offer the advantage of making that less likely to happen than with a regulated driver for a few reasons:

          1) There's a pretty clear cut record of the fact that your last known activity was getting in a taxi via Lyft or Uber, regardless of payment method.
          2) There's a well established identity of the person who is driving you (if they are a veteran to the service, they will have numerous ratings.)
          3) Both you AND

        • Insurance won't stop you from being taken to the woods, beaten, raped, robbed and murdered (not necessarily in that order)...

          How is that different from a taxi? Is the taxi medallion going to protect you? When I use Lyft, at least I can read the driver's reviews, and see what others experienced. When I get in a taxi, I know nothing.

        • Check your axioms, namely:

          "Hitchhiking is bad"

          Tell me some stories of people you know who had a bad experience hitch hiking.

          I know MANY people who hitchhike all the time. Students, young women, people who you would expect would be the victims of these types of "bad things" that the people who accept hitch hikers would do.

          None of them have bad stories (I've asked out of curiosity), but many have stories of the time in the porsche/jaguar/mercedes decided to pull over and let them ride along in luxury.

          A lot o

          • by nbauman (624611)

            Check your axioms, namely:

            "Hitchhiking is bad"

            Tell me some stories of people you know who had a bad experience hitch hiking.

            I know MANY people who hitchhike all the time. Students, young women, people who you would expect would be the victims of these types of "bad things" that the people who accept hitch hikers would do.

            When I was in college, my housemate's girlfriend was raped, shot in the head, and left for dead, although she did survive. It does happen.

            • On a traveling mailing list I was on, some one posted a horror story urging women traveling alone to find travel partners and be careful about getting in cabs. Apparently the cabby took her to the middle of no where, robbed her, raped her, and left her tied up until a local farmer found her the next morning.

      • by Carnildo (712617)

        what is it you think is the problem? what do you think will surface? please no snark, I'm genuinely curious.

        1) Drivers deliberately taking sub-optimal routes to run up the meter.
        2) Drivers putting in too many hours a day, leading to an increased accident rate.
        3) Drivers using the cheapest cars they can buy/skimping on maintenance to keep their costs down.
        4) Drivers extorting passengers to pad their income ("An extra $20 off the books, and I won't take the scenic route").
        5) Drivers refusing to take people to

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Due to work travel I've been to numerous major cities in the United States. Most of what you describe fits the officially sanctioned narrative of taxi cabs.

        • you're referring to uber drivers or taxi drivers? because uber and lyft take care of these.

          1) there's a background check process when you sign up.
          2) the user rates the driver 1-5 after every interaction, and you can provide feedback with every rating like dirty car, bad routing etc.

          the other thing is that uber and lyft have 100% control over whether a driver works or is cut off. I'm sure if people complain about low-profit routes or extortion they would be "fired". I've never heard concern about working t
        • Drivers deliberately taking sub-optimal routes to run up the meter.

          Apparently you've never ridden in a taxi before.

          That aside, both the passenger and the driver are aware of the optimal route. The client did schedule the route on their smartphone you know, the same kind of smartphone that already has the optimal route calculated, and the source and destination are already known before the driver even picks them up, so your number 4 and 5 are completely moot, and essentially just pulled out of your ass.

          Guess who does those things though? The already existing taxi drivers.

          Ly

          • by Carnildo (712617)

            That aside, both the passenger and the driver are aware of the optimal route

            The passenger is aware of what his smartphone thinks is the optimal route.

            Consider going from the Spokane airport to the Lakeside area: Google Maps routes you via I-90 and the Maple Street Bridge, but during rush hour, this is a wonderful place to run up the meter, with delays of 10-30 minutes on a 30-minute trip. Going via the Sunset Highway instead avoids much of the traffic (and cuts a quarter-mile off the meter), but to someone

            • you're saying this is unique to uber/lyft but not to taxicabs?
            • In my experience, Google Maps is VERY good at avoiding this kind of thing. It maintains a realtime traffic density map for this exact purpose. A taxi is going to be inherently less reliable here, namely because they have to guess what the traffic is going to look like based on the time of day, day of week, holiday, time of year, and least of all practical, construction detours. Google on the other hand tracks these in real-time.

        • Are you talking about Uber/Lyft or completely unregistered/unorganized ones? I have been using uber in SF bay area. You missing one key point, there is an abundant number of drivers for Uber to choose from, and if the drivers/cars are even slightly unsatisfactory, Uber will drop them in a heartbeat and recruit someone else.
          1) Their rating gets affected. Uber lays off anyone with less than a 4.5/5 rating. Uber also has a complaint service, you can use to report drivers. The local Yellow cab on the other hand

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      So getting into a car with a Uber driver with lots of good feedback is more risky than getting in an average cab? I don't think you've been many places or taken many cabs.
    • "You're job is not to inject your opinion into slashdot posts."

      Actually, part of the job of editors is to editorialize.

    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      "I would actually appreciate it if you used them more and got into a car with someone who did you much harm, resolving two issues at once."

      I'm not one to waste time on trollish assholes like you but seriously, you need to take some medication or at least get some therapy. Here you are telling this person to die in a car accident. Seriously? You think its healthy and normal to rant like this? Go get some help for your anger issues. I have never encountered someone this site that spews so much anger and hate

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Friday May 09, 2014 @08:31PM (#46963827)

    Busy protecting the cartels

    I see this argument all the time but for the most part there is little substance behind it. Most cities are only trying to ensure that some basic rules are being followed. Like background checks on the drivers, that the cars are maintained and insured with commercial drivers insurance and that the drivers aren't driving 18 hours a day.

    I'd be willing to bet that most of the drivers for Lyft and Uber are doing so with their regular non-commercial insurance (which won't cover a damn thing once they find out they were) and are driving significantly more hours than allowed and that at least some of those drivers are able to drive so long because they are taking amphetamines (just like truckers do that drive those kind of hours).

    Outside placed like New York these taxi commissions are charged with protecting the public from taxi drivers that have a dozen rape convictions, taxi's that haven't seen a mechanic in 20 years and drivers running around hopped up on speed driving 36 hours straight. The vast majority of these commissions are only interested in these public safety objectives and Uber and Lyft don't give a damn about. The few places they've been threatened with the same rules and expenses they drop the market because they can't make money, which is frankly understandable because in competitive taxi markets (ie almost anywhere outside NY and DC) the margins are razor thin and Uber/Lyft can only make money because they don't do the checks everyone else has to.

    • by rjune (123157)

      There is some substance behind the charge that the current system favors the cartels. The Institute for Justice, https://ij.org/milwaukee-taxis... [ij.org] has some interesting background on this. The current system freezes all newcomers out of the market and gives the current (limited by law) permit holders a monopoly. The present system has been ruled unconstitutional: http://www.jsonline.com/news/m... [jsonline.com] The ordinance as drafted: "The proposal requires permits for all public passenger vehicles, and all vehicl

      • by rahvin112 (446269)

        There is substance to it in some locations. NY and DC are prime examples of a protected marketplace where the regulators and taxi companies are in collusion to limit competition. In these market the regulator isn't a regulator anymore, they are part and parcel of enforcing monopolies for the benefit of the existing taxi services. This is the reason NY medallions are so expensive.

        But have you considered that in some markets those limits have a place in some markets. Limited markets had problems in the past w

      • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @04:50AM (#46965387) Homepage Journal

        There is some substance behind the charge that the current system favors the cartels. The Institute for Justice, https://ij.org/milwaukee-taxis... [ij.org] has some interesting background on this.

        In New York City, there were good reasons to limit the number of taxis. If we had twice the number of taxis, we would have bumper-to-bumper traffic jams during the rush hours, and nobody could use the streets. Taxi drivers are using a government resource -- the streets. The owner of those streets has a right to regulate the use of those streets in a way that maximizes their use. The owner of a private gated village has a regulate the use of cars on its streets.

        Free markets don't always work, particularly when they use a common resource. It's called the tragedy of the commons.

        • by Cyberax (705495)
          Ok, that makes sense. IN MANHATTAN. But nowhere else.

          It's impossible to get a yellow cab in Brooklyn or Queens. You have to call a car service (typically a company named something like "Supreme Leader Taxi and Limousine Service"), listen to 5-10 minutes of music then try to explain where you need a car to someone who barely speaks English. Then wait for 20-30 minutes to get a car. Maybe.
          • by nbauman (624611)

            I dunno. I used to live in Brooklyn, and it was easy for me to get a cab on main streets, like Kings Highway or Ocean Avenue, any subway stop, or any cluster of stores and restaurants.

            OTOH, when I called a car service to get to the airport from Manhattan, they wouldn't show up on time, and sometimes I'd have to drop them for a yellow cab. The car services book their cars solid when they can, and if you cancel because they didn't show up on time, oh well, that's a ride they wouldn't have gotten anyway.

            I ofte

            • by Cyberax (705495)
              I lived for a couple of years right on Kings Highway and I never managed to get a yellow cab. Though a lot of limousine service cars violate their rules and pick up passengers on streets.
              • by nbauman (624611)

                I thought I could go to Google satellite and find yellow cabs along Kings Highway, but I tried it and I couldn't find any. Maybe the neighborhood just went to pot when Dubrow's closed.

                Uber has been approved in several cities and we'll see how it goes. The cabs of the future may well be smartphone-guided. But the NYT wrote a story about Uber in NYC, and were twice as expensive and took twice as long to show up in Queens. They also have demand pricing, where they raised their prices tenfold during a storm.

                I w

    • by AK Marc (707885)

      I see this argument all the time but for the most part there is little substance behind it.

      Depends on how you define "cartel". I've lived places where the number of medallions was not set by the city, but by those who own medallions. The only way to make new medallions is for the current owners to vote in new ones. And they *never* do. That meets every definition of "cartel" I know, and isn't a silly conspiracy theory as you postulate.

    • I'd be willing to bet that most of the drivers for Lyft and Uber are doing so with their regular non-commercial insurance

      Why do you think that?

      The mainstay of at least Uber is the black town car, which has commercial insurance. Why would it not, when it does the rest of the time? You could already hire town cars before, Uber just made it really easy.

      UberX is what uses non-commercial drivers - but there Uber provides extra insurance to cover the driver and passengers. I don't know how much but I know they

  • Insurance? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Friday May 09, 2014 @08:46PM (#46963865)
    How will they regulate insurance? Professional drivers carry different (and more) insurance.

    Also, has anyone given a thought to supply and demand? There was just a story that said people weren't doing this out of love or entrepreneurial, but out of desperation (thanks! 30 years of declining wages). One of the other reasons to limit the supply of cabbies is so somebody can make a living off it. I suppose it's OK that we're all working 4 jobs 16 hours a day too though...
    • Also, has anyone given a thought to supply and demand?

      The average Slashdotter doesn't think about anything except how to justify himself getting what he wants, when he wants it, at the lowest possible price (or preferably free), and utterly without a care for long term consequences or the effect on others.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday May 09, 2014 @10:49PM (#46964423)

    So I don't know if any of you live near Milwaukee... But I do... In Wisconsin an "Alderman" is the absolutely lowest elected public office there is. 3 of my neighbors have been Alderman. People just vote for whomever they know. They don't even know what their policies are... not that it matters, they have no power. An Alderman riding to work on his recumbent bike and introducing some hair brained scheme that will never even remotely be considered is about as common here as cows. How is this news?

    • by haaz (3346)

      Milwaukee alders are very powerful in their community and on the city council. What's different here is that Milwaukee is the largest city in the state. It's the state's economic driver. So what happens here has resonance.

      What may not be so different is that here, the taxi scene is dominated by one company with a de facto monopoly made possible by previous city action. Ald. Bauman is interested in expanding the choices available to consumers. Hence this action.

      I serve on the Milwaukee County Board of Superv

  • The main reason for limited numbers of licenses is so that driver can make a living wage. I drove cab for 8 years and I could tell when too many cars were on the road. Our company rarely had all our cars on the road at the same time. There are a few problems that Uber causes to this model.
    1. Gravy drivers. There will be drivers who only work the good times and do their regular jobs the rest of the time. This causes too many drivers to be available in good times and too few drivers available during off time.

    • Wait till some drivers have to deal with obnoxious drinks puking in their car a few times.

      It won't be a few times because after about two they would be booted from the service for bad reviews from drivers.

      People are more likely to puke before, or outside of an Uber car because there are long-term consequences unlike with cabs.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        I am not talking about the same person doing it over and over. I am talking about different people doing the same thing.

        • I am not talking about the same person doing it over and over.

          Nor am I. I am saying:

          A) Anyone would be less likely to puke because it affects future use of Uber.

          B) The population of people who vomit in cars will be culled early from Uber use, so the drivers percentage-wise have to worry about that much less.

          Also of course, just as cabs sometimes do the Uber driver can refuse service if they are at all concerned about someone being so drunk they cannot be transported.

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            Also of course, just as cabs sometimes do the Uber driver can refuse service if they are at all concerned about someone being so drunk they cannot be transported.

            That is interesting because taxi drivers are not allowed to discriminate that way. the idea of "I don't like you I won't pick you up" does not fly in the taxi industry.

            The main point is still valid. It is a fad right now as it is fun and interesting. The turn over rate in Uber is going to run through most of the available driver pretty quickly. This will happen after the professional taxis are driven out of business and we will be left with very few rides left and it will take a while for the professional

    • 3. Fad. Sure there are quite a few Uber drivers right now. It is new and interesting. Wait till some drivers have to deal with obnoxious drinks puking in their car a few times. The fad will wear off and many Uber drivers will quit.

      Take it a step further and how about the first crime committed against a fare from a driver? Going to see some "Oh yea, we needed to regulate that, didn't we?" popping up really fast when a drunk pretty girl gets more than a ride to her destination.

    • by Alien7 (310889)

      Here in Milwaukee it already takes a couple of hours to get a cab at 2am, that is, unless you call uber

      • that's ultimately the main truth. people love the service and experience in riding uber. nobody likes yellow cabs. the only thing protecting them are govt patronage. have they thought about being more pleasant?
      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Wait till the uber drivers get tired of being up late and the wait time goes to 4 hours.

    • by Cyberax (705495)
      Hey, I'm about as socialist as it's possible in a capitalist country. I totally support the right of cabbies to make a good wage. And in theory, taxi regulations are the text-book case of protecting consumers.

      However, taxi companies need to get their shit together. Right now all the taxi services in the US that I've seen are an embarrassment. A general computerized dispatch with easy-to-use phone apps is a must, with an ability to get a fare estimate beforehand. As it is, getting a cab at 2am right now is
  • I wish that the cities I spend the most time in would do the same, but they've been busily protecting the local cartels, instead,

    And if you were in the taxi business, you'd be trying to protect your interests too. Why is this a surprise, or unexpected?

    • i understand people wanting to protect their own business. but when they use illegal business practices to do so it's monopoly. and when the govt does it for them, it's some combination of graft, bribery, or worse

      if yellow cabs think they're better than uber then let everybody compete on a level playing ground. if taxi people are right, uber is a fad that will burn itself out in a couple years.
  • by ddtstudio (61065) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @10:07AM (#46966289)

    Yes, and cities also ask private and Uber cars to stop at red lights and stop signs. And obey the speed limit signs. And small and large companies to follow published pollution, hiring, and health & safety regulations.

    If you can't make your smartphone-enabled car service make a profit while following the same public, published, long-established safety and other regulations that taxi companies have to and found a way to follow, to all our benefits, then maybe you should rethink things. At least don't whine about it.

    "What do you mean, _I_ can't own a slave? You're stifling innovation! And my business model didn't account for paying salaries!"

  • by Alien7 (310889) on Saturday May 10, 2014 @11:08AM (#46966625)

    I've lived here in Milwaukee on and off for the last decade or so, and I can tell you right now this is the right decision for our town. Milwaukee is a city whose economy is entirely based on alcohol, that being said we have had awful cab service for as long as I've lived here. All summer long drunks flood the street for this festival and that festival, and every weekend the wait for a cab is frequently over an hour, sometimes it takes 20 or 30 minutes just to get on the phone with a dispatcher. Seeing as how the underfunded and overpriced bus system stops running an hour before bar close what we end up with is a plague of drunk drivers. Our cab companies have failed to provide us with the proper service we need (presumably because of the cost of keeping up an unused fleet in the winter months) , Uber gave the city an alternative and we made sure nothing would impede the solution to our problems.

  • Uber and Lyft have a "select" clientele, that is, people who have smart phones and credit cards. In most cities regulators require licensed operators to transport all riders. Uber and Lyft will not be serving the people who most need transportation services. Many cities, Madison WI for example, do not limit the number of permits available, nor is there any reason for one provider to sell permits to another. Any licensed provider can buy as many permits as they like for virtually nothing compared to the pric

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