Another SF Woman Held Hostage By Ride-Hailing Driver


A 71-year-old woman was kidnapped by a ride-hailing driver around 5:20pm yesterday in the Outer Richmond.

According to police, the victim was the last passenger in a "ride sharing Pool." The driver stopped a few blocks from her set destination and threatened to drive further if she did not give him more money.  

When the victim refused to give him money, the suspect locked the doors and began driving "erratically," the SFPD reports. He "eventually" dropped the victim off at 40th Avenue and Balboa, blocks from her destination, and fled.

The suspect has not been identified.

If this incident sounds eerily familiar that's because this is the second report of a female ride-hailing user being kidnapped by her driver within the past week.

On Monday, police reported that a 21-year-old woman was held hostage and sexually harassed by a ride-hailing driver in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 10th. The woman was driven to a secluded location but later released, uninjured, by her assailant—who has not been arrested either.

In both cases, the SFPD withheld the names of the ride-hailing companies the suspects were working for at the time of the attacks.

SFPD public information officer Carlos Manfredi tells Hoodline that "typically" the SFPD does not release the name of the ride-hailing company a suspect was using "because the person driving is working as a contractor."

For clarification on whether it is lawful to release the names of the ride-hailing companies involved in such incidences, Officer Manfredi said he would have to contact the city attorney.

We're reaching out to the City Attorney's Office and will report back with our findings if and when we receive a response on this matter.

Update, 9:46am: John Coté, communications director with the City Attorney's office, confirmed to us that it is lawful for SFPD to withhold the name of the ride-hailing company in cases where a contractor commits a crime on the clock. 

"Under the California Public Records Act, law enforcement agencies have discretion about what information to release in an active investigation," he said. "The police department can withhold certain information, pending the completion of the investigation."

CPD: Man posing as ride-hailing driver sexually assaulted woman

This is the problem with weak regulations for Rideshares. These fake taxis can be easily mistaken and women are being raped and assaulted frequently. Improper temporary markings would never fly in the taxi industry.
— Jaime Hjelm (Fleet owner with A#1 Cab Dispatch Inc.)


CHICAGO NEWS 11/06/2016, 06:28pm

@danielbrown2011 | email

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A man posing as a ride-hailing driver sexually assaulted a female passenger early Sunday in the North Side Lake View neighborhood.

The 21-year-old woman ordered a ride about 2 a.m. in the near 3400 North Halsted and was picked up by a man posing as a driver, according to a community alert from Chicago Police.

After she was dropped off, the man lured her back into his car by telling her she forgot something, police said. The man then drove off and later sexually assaulted her in the backseat of the vehicle.

The suspect was described as a 40 to 45-year-old man, weighing 300 pounds, with a tan complexion, round face, white stubbly beard, bushy black eyebrows, and short black hair, police said. He wore a back windbreaker and spoke with a heavy accent.

He drove an older beige and tan or white four-door vehicle, possibly a Toyota Camry or Corolla, police said.

A North Texas Family Gets Outrageous Uber Charge

November 9, 2016 10:20 PM By Jeff Paul

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Taken for a ride, a DFW family is in shock after discovering a near $400 Uber charge after their first Dallas Cowboys game.

Laurie Smith said about an hour after the Eagles game on October 30th, she requested an Uber XL for her family to get home to Keller.

The trip to AT&T stadium cost them about $40 earlier in the day.

But the 20-mile, 30-minute trip home ended up costing them $362.81

“It’s literally highway robbery,” said Smith. “I just thought it was a rip off. I mean, how could you charge nine times the amount I paid to drive one place to hear just to go back.”

Smith said their Uber driver first drove them to the wrong side of Arlington, then rerouted back to their home in Keller.

The charge did not appear until after they got out of the vehicle.

“I could have taken a stretch limo if I wanted,” said Smith.

After sending several emails and reporting the ride, Uber offered to refund $79.

Uber told Smith there was “surge pricing” that night. Smith said there was no warning of it on her phone or app.

“I’m familiar with the surge charges, I’ve had one before,” said Smith.

What she does not understand, Smith’s Uber app shows after the refund, she was charged $283.81 cents. But further down on the trip details and receipt, it shows the total that night was $43.36 with no mention or explanation of surge charges.

“If they had told us that, we would have never gotten in the car. We could have gotten a taxi,” said Smith.

Smith said it is not about the money, but about warning others.

“There might be some young couple who spent all of their money to get tickets here and then they’re going to get ripped off by Uber,” said Smith. “It’s going to ruin their time.”

After several emails, a spokesperson responded and said it looks like there was surge pricing. Uber is now checking to see if the user was properly warned or if any other issues arose from the ride.


by Lindsey Ellefson | 5:54 pm, November 2nd, 2016

Pamela Anderson has become quite the activist over the last few years. From shocking PETA ads to op-eds about the dangers of pornography, she’s put her fame to use when it comes to backing causes she cares about. Now, she’s turned her attention to ride-sharing.

Ride-sharing startups like Uber, Gett, and Lyft have been under fire for years. Some cities have banned them while others have halted their operation indefinitely. The unease stems from the belief that anyone can download the app and start driving people around. Some states do mandate that drivers have the appropriate licenses, just like regular cab drivers, but that’s not enough for those who oppose the use of these apps.

The concerns aren’t without merit. Sexual assault and other forms of violence have been associated with ride-share drivers since the services began.

Anderson’s issues with ride-sharing, at least according to the game show-style PSA, seem to be a lack of drug testing and background checks for drivers. She asks “Driver Number 1” if he’s ever been drug tested and he responds, “No. What kind of drugs should I be testing?” The joke is funny, but the idea of riding with an inebriated driver isn’t.

She ends up picking the “screened, licensed, and insured” Driver Number Three to take her home.

As Us Weekly reports, Anderson has gone on the record about her own sexual assaults when she was younger, so her encouragement for fans to “think before [they] app” is obviously something she takes seriously.

Boy gets kidnapped by Uber driver, Uber asks cops to wait for ‘permission’ to give details

Rideshare Companies are NOT safe for children. As soon as the driver turns their phone off the vehicle tracking is gone!
— Jaime Hjelm (Fleet owner with A#1 Cab Dispatch Inc.)

The Uber officials kept on giving excuses without giving details of the cab’s whereabouts, the police said.

TNM Staff| Monday, October 31, 2016 - 10:30

An Uber driver abducted a fifteen-year-old boy, Gavin (name changed), for over six hours in Bengaluru on Saturday, according to a police complaint by the parents. 

According to The New Indian Express, Gavin had booked a cab at 6:30pm from his tuition center in HSR Layout and the accused driver, identified as Tabrez, reached the pick-up point in 15 minutes.

His parents started getting worried when Gavin had not reached by 7:30pm. Narrating his ordeal, Gavin said that he had been forced to crouch in the rear leg space for over three hours as the driver drove around.

According to the Deccan Herald, Gavin’s father got a call from the cab driver saying that Gavin had been abducted and would be released only if he gave money. 

Gavin’s parents could not contact Uber and sought help from a friend, who asked them book another cab and get the Uber office number. 

The Uber officer gave Gavin’s parents the number of the driver, however, he told them that he had dropped the boy near his house at 7:30pm. After repeated queries, when Tabrez’s replies were unconvincing and when he also switched off the mobile, the couple sought help from the police. 

The Varthur police contacted the driver. Fearing arrests, Tabrez left the boy in front of a hotel in Whitefield area at 12:30am but took boy’s school bag and phone. 

Police said that Uber did not respond properly to their request for information. “They kept on giving excuses without giving details of the cab’s whereabouts. Despite the gravity of the situation, they said that they were required to take permission from the seniors and gave no details,” the officer said

Update: DCP East Boralingaiah told TNM that the driver has been arrested. He also added that the details are sketchy and said the parents did not mention anything about a ransom.

A detailed list of Uber & Lyft incidents-fatalities, rapes, kidnappings, etc.


If you're a concerned parent or a female passenger wondering how safe this mode of transportation is, then read this stuff. It will surprise you.

How local politicians still think it's a great way to get around they are thinking of dollars, not the safety of riders. Our local politicians should be held accountable for not regulating these companies properly.

One thing people don't realize, if the rideshare driver turns their phone off, the vehicle is not tracking anymore for your safety. Anything can happen and no one will know about it.

Uber’s process for onboarding drivers is dangerously negligent. Neither Uber nor Lyft uses police background-checks on their drivers. And Uber doesn’t even bother to meet with drivers in person before allowing them to transport passengers.

The result is a series of incidents involving “ridesharing” passengers being harmed and criminal offenders behind the wheel:

Deaths | Assaults | Sexual Assaults | Kidnappings | Felons | Imposters | Driver DUIs & Other

Click the Link below:

Here's how good Uber's Insurance is- Read This!

Passenger Opens Fire: Uber driver fights to get his car fixed

Posted: Sep 17, 2016 1:22 AM CDT

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A passenger took aim at his Uber driver, but miraculously escaped the bullets that hit his car multiple times.

Brandon Williams said he is lucky to be alive after his Uber passenger opened fire on him while trying to do a good deed that did not go unpunished.

"He left his phone in my car charging in the back seat. It was an UberPOOL, another passenger picked it up, I answered it and assured him I was going to return it," said Williams.

Before Williams could return the phone, another passenger found the phone and posted disparaging remarks on the alleged shooters Twitter account.

Williams said he did not realize it until he arrived to the Valencia Park home.

The former Uber passenger began shooting at Williams.

"He shot about five times. A couple of bullets went through the glass. Three of the bullets went into my car. He was aiming at my head and fortunately I have very thick seats and the bullets got lodged in the second and third row seats."

Police arrested a 16-year-old, and his case is still making its way through the courts.

In the meantime, Williams tried to file a claim with Uber's insurance provider - James River Insurance Company- which covers drivers while logged into the app.

"They do not want to cover my medical expenses or my car at all. I am basically out defenseless with the wolves essentially," said Williams.

James River Insurance's coverage matches a driver's personal policy while driving for Uber. William's policy, however, denied his $17,000 claim.

William's insurance said he is not covered for commercial driving - so James River Insurance followed the same footsteps as his insurance.

Uber directed questions about the denial from CBS News 8 to James River Insurance - James River Insurance did not have an after-hours contact.

Uber said it has suspended Williams from driving after the incident until his car is repaired.

"I don't think I'll ever do any taxi or service or anything of that nature - it's too dangerous. My mother made me promise. She said jokingly - Uber is not going to send me flowers if you are killed driving for them - it's not worth it," he said.

While Williams continues to appeal the insurance decision he is also trying to receive restitution from the shooter's family. That process could take some time as the case makes its way through the courts - until then he and his car are off the road.

Uber's Criminal Habits

"This is a really good article we found its about a minute read, but worth it!"

by Mason Freeman 8/9/2016


Uber has always been illegal. Since it’s very beginning Uber has been declared illegal in every market it has ever run it’s gypsy jitney taxi scheme. Uber doesn’t pay taxes, maintain a local office, or even operate a phone line accessible to customers or it’s own drivers. Uber’s surge pricing is often a suprise to first-time app users, who can’t ever remove their credit card from the Uber ridesharing service.

Ridesharing is a term originally meaning when a commuter might share a ride with a neighbor in exchange for a little gas money. Now in the age of Apps, any company engaged in giving automobile rides in exchange for money are commonly referred to as ridesharing companies. Uber likes to describe it’s part-time driver partners as entrepreneurs, and cite work whenever you want as one of Uber’s best features. Uber says the flexible schedule and surge pricing encourage ride availability for it’s customers, the customers it claims it doesn’t have because Uber is not a taxi company.

Uber doesn’t pay any taxes anywhere. Uber, a fly-by-night company, has legal issues everywhere it operates. Criminals love Uber. Criminals drive for Uber, and many criminals use Uber as passengers, sometimes at the same time as credit card fraud within Uber is rampant. A criminal Uber driver will use stolen credit card information to hire themself, ironically a paid ride not aided by the ever present promo code is an indication of fraud and any Uber driver with too many paid fares without promo codes often find themselves deactivated. Uber is unable to patch some security flaws because the fixes would make the app unable to function. Uber is the largest source of hacked acccounts ever, and both Uber driver and passenger accounts are available for purchase, cheaply, on the darknet.

Uber claims that it’s drivers giving rides for money are not ‘Taxi drivers’ nor employees. Uber does require that it’s partners in their corporate criminal enterprise work according to it’s app demands, or the Ubered driver is fired. A form email and a Uber app that won’t allow login informs the non-employee that they are fired. Fired Uber drivers are often reacitivated once the smoke blows over regarding the incident or complaint that got them canned. Why? Because Uber is desperate for drivers and new victim customers.

A bus driver is not a taxi. A limousine driver is not engaged in taxi work. There is a reason taxicabs have reserved parking and regulated rates at city airports and bus and train stations. Taxicabs have been regulated and de-regulated in many cities and taxi markets across the country throughout history. It is an endless argument, one that politicians mostly love. Those who say ‘Why not’ to Uber’s do as it pleases business practices don’t seem to care about the consequences, and are clueless about taxicab regulations.

Because entry barriers to Uber employment basically amount to putting down the cheetos and working a smartphone from the couch it is not suprising that when it comes to recruiting 50,000 new drivers each month Uber is scraping the bottom of the barrel. Gangs, drug dealers, and career criminals flock to Uber as well as unsuspecting unemployed elderly who happen to own a car.

Get Out Of My Car! Uber driver’s video goes viral.

Uber has payday-style loan lease agreements available to wannabe Taxi drivers who don’t own a vehicle. $600 a month Toyotas are the norm. When the Uber driver quits paying, it’s just another profit generating repo to fluff the Uber company books.

Ubered investors are told Uber is worth $60-$80 Billion, and you always have to capitilize the word Billion for some reason, and are most famous for their Saudi Arabian and Chinese investors. Uber doesn’t own any taxicabs. Uber has lost money month after month since the day they started. Uber refuses to have an IPO, which would mean opening their financials to scrutiny by Wall Street regulators and government officials.

Mayors, city council members, state senators, governors and reporters have all been given unlimited Uber ride credits for themselves and any family members. Their contacts, SMS messages, emails and all other details of their smartphone usage has been sent upstream to Uber’s U.S. based servers. Their credit cards can never be removed from the system and deleting the app just means it runs in the background invisible to the unsuspecting Ubered.

Uber drivers can’t make any profits at their standard fares which is why they rely so much on surge pricing and canceling rides to generate an income. All Uber drivers find out that after the honeymoon is over, the longer a person is an Uber Partner, the more hours one has to work to make the same amount of money. Many Ubered drivers are trapped in their below minimum wage jobs, and Uber likes it that way.

Uber drivers are unsafe drivers, amateurs trying to do a professional’s job. Ubered drivers have more accidents, from which they often hit and run, because they are not used to being on the road for many hours every day. Uber drivers are notoriously ‘pervy’ and often speak english as a second language poorly. Uber drivers hide their activities, afraid of being seen by police or taxi drivers as they practice their street crimes, knowing that Uber often backs up their open criminality by paying tickets and court fines.

Uber employs a huge number of lawyers and law firms, something Ubered investors didn’t count on when they bought into the trendy dream that taxi drivers and companies were getting rich cruising around meeting new and interesting people. Despite high powered lawyers, ex-cia and ex-whitehouse arch criminals, Uber has been expelled from many city, states and countries.

Uber has been banned, declared illegal and sued, in most everyplace it operates today. Uber is commonly known for it’s wrecks, rapes, and credit card abuse. Reporters love Uber because it gives them something to report, and the story is easy to write. Uber is the most criminal corporate ponzi scheme since Enron’s and it’s collapse will likely be as quick. Uber’s failure in China is just further proof that Uber has jumped the shark.

Taxi companies generally care about their customers, have been in business long before Uber came along, and will be around long after Uber is shut down. Uber is being sued by it’s customers, it’s non-employee drivers, and soon it’s Ubered investors, many of whom have already agreed to payoffs in exchange to signing agreements not to talk about their Ubered nightmares.

Whether it’s price-fixing, unpaid fees and fines, liability for labor law violations, tax evasion, or privacy violations Uber faces the inescapable consequences of the way it has conducted itself. Uber has proven that any market can be disrupted with Race To The Bottom cheap pricing, the results of which are cheap and dirty.

The supply of unsuspecting is not infinite, and is destined to run out in a spectacular crash and burn. Nothing that Uber does is sustainable. Nor has it demonstrated any novel successes. It’s dismal performance at large crowd conventions and surge pricing during terrorist disasters indicate the morality and ability to deliver on-the-street results that Uber is capable of. Will greed win? Is a cheap, third world taxi ride what the public really wants?

Maybe the public will think differently when they find their auto insurance rates on the rise because of the increase in hit and runs. Maybe the public will like Uber less when they buy a used car that has been Ubered and had it’s mileage rolled back, it’s Uber wear and tear conveniently hidden.

Uber never returns money, ever. Uber will give you free ride credits when you have been overcharged, or been billed for a Uber trip you never took, but they don’t reverse charges. Send them a twitter, because you can’t call or email them. The Ubered don’t have a local office, anywhere. Where they do have offices, they are guarded so that Uber drivers don’t come in and protest.

Uber drivers are well known for their use of piss bottles and shitting in people’s front yards or the side of the street. Many are unemployable and only get out of their parent’s house to protest to make Uber legal so they can sign up and get their $500 bonus and start making YouTube videos. Uber driving can even make millionaires, haven’t seen that YouTube video yet, it’s hilarious. From "I'm making $1000 a week" to "I’m quitting Uber", YouTube Uber drivers usually complete the emotional journey in less than a year.

Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO, can’t go anywhere without being hassled except geeky startup conferences where he gets paid to lie. ‘Tricks and Hoes’ is his term for venture capital investors. All of his former companies were sued out of existence. Bandit taxi companies have always existed, and Travis is the Al Capone of our times. Sure, a crack dealing Uber driver selling dime bags of weed in a leased Toyota makes money the first week out, but is it sustainable?

When will anyone see an Uber IPO? Not anytime soon, likely never. A company with no assets and no product beyond this week doesn’t have much of a future and Uber executives are jumping off the sinking Uber ship. How many lawsuits does it take to put a modern unicorn silicon valley app company out of business, only time will tell.

Maybe Uber will be put out of business by an especially tragic incident, like when Uber Driver Dalton went on his spree killing in Kalamazoo. Uber is busy lying for the courts on that one. Fact is, Uber sent the Kalamazoo spree killer to pick up more taxi fare paying customers even as his victims lay dead and bleeding. Uber won’t even acknowledge any responsibility or even talk to the parents of the 6 year old girl an Uber driver ran over. Uber is doomed by it’s own incompetence and shoddy business practices.

Is it really cheaper to hire an Uber driver driving a Hertz rent-a-car than renting a car. Many Ubered passengers sign up for 90 cent a mile rides and then discover the real-world cost of three times what a taxi cost. It’s called getting Ubered, and if you let it happen to your Grandma you are a bad person, no two ways about it. If Grandma is driving the Uber, it’s even worse.

The profits of running an illegal criminal enterprise are the same as they have always been: prison. When will Travis Kalanick do his perp walk in handcuffs and have his computers shut down? Taxi drivers worldwide, from London to South Africa, from Brazil to New York, wait and wonder: How long? Police, supposedly the backbone of a civilized society, should be ashamed. People who use an illegal Uber, even those who think they should decide what laws to obey, should be ashamed. The only bigger losers beside Uber drivers are the braindeads who pay them for a classless ride.

It’s not widely known, but the fact of the matter is no good taxi drivers have ever lost the ability to make a good living as a respectable taxi driver. Uber is able to deflate and suck dry any taxi market they flood with drivers, they are a huge embarrassment to all who make their living as a on-demand for-hire driver, but at the end of the day all Uber brings for competition is a pervy cheap unreliable ride, often in a Toyota or Honda, often costing more.

In any city Uber operates, the amount of the driver sign-on bonuses and amount of the ever-present promo codes(‘free rides’) is a good indication of when Uber is done scraping the profits off the backs of hard-working taxi drivers, often working to support families. The inevitable Uber news stories and Uber lawsuits are a painful reminder to politicians and companies that have screwed the pooch. When Uber quits a city, only the cheapskates squeek.

‘Need a ride?’

This article dedicated to the many dead, run over, raped, robbed, left standing on the side of the road, credit card fraud victims and the many other Ubered victims whom Travis has gotten rich off of with his Uber fly-by-night bandit taxi jitney operation. Uber is still illegal and on a 90 MPH race off a cliff. The TAXI trade has always, and will always survive.


Man posing as Lyft Driver Wanted for Murder


August 10, 2016 5:31 PM By Robbie Owens

CARROLLTON (CBS11) – Arnold Pinilla called for a ride sharing service to get home safely from a Carrollton restaurant in the early morning hours of July 31.

But, the 34-year-old who loved soccer and family gatherings was laterstabbed to death in the street after getting into a car that was driven by an imposter.

“He was a really sweet guy, really happy,” said his mother, Esperanza Balzguera, while wiping away tears as she faced reporters in the family’s Garland home. “He loved to get together.”

As detectives released surveillance video Wednesday of the suspect’s vehicle and a sketch, the family is pleading for someone who recognizes him to come forward.

murder suspect vehicle (surveillance)

“He [the suspect] needs to pay for what he did,” said his sister Claudia Reyes, interpreting for her mother. “She knows that nothing will bring her son back; but, he needs to pay for what he did.”

Relatives insist that the man could not have been anyone that Pinilla knew– as he was a fun-loving, likable person who never got into fights– and was more likely to be seen exchanging hugs and good times instead of disagreements.

“He was the soul of everything,” said Reyes, “always very uplifting.”

According to Carrollton Police, when Pinilla and his girlfriend climbed into the car they quickly realized something was wrong.

“Inside the vehicle, it didn’t look like a ride share car should look. The driver’s behavior wasn’t what it should have been for a professional ride share service. It wasn’t long before they realized they needed to get out of that vehicle,” said Jolene DeVito, Carrollton Police Spokesperson, “unfortunately, it still ended in Arnold’s death.”

Carrollton Police are urging ride share customers to confirm the identities of drivers when using the services but, want to clarify that the driver called to the scene was not involved.

“This was not a LYFT driver, this was not an UBER driver,” said DeVito, “this was someone taking advantage of someone trying to do the right and using a ride service. The real LYFT driver came along shortly thereafter.”

Police say the couple was not robbed- but, the man asked for payment before arguing with Pinilla and fatally stabbing him. Pinilla later died in the street near Myers and Belt Line.

Surveillance cameras positioned nearby captured images of the white four door sedan. The car has a sunroof and tan interior. The suspect is described as a Hispanic man in his mid-30s with a “skinny” build, standing between 5’3″-5″6″. He spoke Spanish; but, with what has been described as a “coastal accent”, perhaps suggesting that he’s a native of Puerto Rico or Cuba.

Meanwhile, the community is being warned.

“He’s willing to kill, so I’d say that he’s pretty dangerous,” said DeVito, “and I’d say we need to find him.”

“We don’t know if he’s done this before… we don’t know if he will do it again,” said Reyes. “If you see him call authorities, because he’s a threat: to all your sons and daughters.”

Why Uber is a scam

Do you know an Uber driver? Show them this video. 

Federal Tax and write-offs were not in the math, but you will get the general idea. By riding Uber, you are supporting huge corporate investors, not your local businesses. 

When we think of E-Hail companies, we fraud, Insurance fraud, false advertisement, destroying jobs, bullying its way in, not listening or respecting our leaders, hacking peoples accounts, over charging people on surge charges, fake background checks, invasion of privacy, american disability act violations, and unsafe for women riders.

Uber an Lyft leave Austin. Why do they oppose fingerprinting?

Uber and Lyft invested $8.6 million to overturn a city ordinance in Austin that requires fingerprint-based background checks for drivers, but they still lost. 

By Story Hinckley, Staff MAY 8, 2016

Uber and Lyft drivers will require fingerprinting, the city of Austin confirmed in a vote Saturday. 

As of February 1, 2017, all drivers employed by ride-hailing companies in the Texas capital must pass fingerprint-based background checks. Proposition 1, the ballot measure backed with millions from the companies to repeal this city ordinance, was rejected by a popular vote Saturday. 

“Uber, I think, decided they were going to make Austin an example to the nation,” David Butts, who led the anti-Prop. 1 campaign called "Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice," tells the Austin American-Statesman. “And Austin made Uber an example to the nation.”

Recommended: Top 10 cities for 'gig economy' workers

A 12 percent majority voted down Proposition 1, with 17 percent of all eligible voters turning out for the vote. Both companies threatened to leave the city of Austin if Prop. 1 failed, and so far they are both following through with their promises and ceasing operations in the city, beginning Monday.

Nobody wants them to leave and we’re not asking them to leave,” Councilmember Ann Kitchen told KUT News. “The voters have spoken and they want these requirements and I know that we can do that… I don’t know why they would leave. We held the election that they said they wanted.”

Saturday’s election marks the first time that a major US city has held a popular vote on stricter regulations for ride-hailing companies. And judging by the millions of dollars spent on the Prop 1 campaign, Uber and Lyft fear Austin’s regulation may send a message to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta – cities that have contemplated similar laws. 

“Unfortunately, the rules passed by city council don’t allow true ride sharing to operate,” Lyft said in a statement. Lyft, now worth $5.5 billion, says they already require comprehensive safety measures, and that a fingerprinting requirement would make it more difficult for the company to employ part-time drivers. 

Requiring stricter background checks is actually a public safety concern, argued Uber, which is valued about $62.5 billion. Fingerprinting can slow down the influx of new drivers, and a robust ride-sharing fleet is necessary to cut down on road dangers such as drunk driving.

“We hope the city council will reconsider their ordinance so we can work together to make the streets of Austin a safer place for everyone,” Uber tells KXAN.

Ridesharing Works for Austin, the companies’ organization promoting Prop 1, spent $8.6 million, an amount previously unseen in Austin politics (the previous record of $1.2 million was set during Mayor Steven Adler’s 2014 mayoral campaign.) By comparison, "Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice," spent roughly $125,000.

It is clear that Uber and Lyft saw national implications with Austin’s local ordinance. 

Fingerprint-based background checks typically cost $40, so those $8.6 million campaign funds could have checked 215,000 drivers. Last year, Uber contracted with about 162,000 active drivers in the United States, while Lyft has more than 100,000. With just $2 million more, Uber and Lyft could have already funded fingerprint-based background checks for all of their drivers.    

“As I talked to voters at the polls and on the phones, many of them like Uber’s service and Lyft’s, they use it, but they drew the line at allowing them to write their own rules,” Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo tells KXAN. “And that’s really significant.”

Cab Drivers Stop Traffic at Chicago Airports, Protesting Rahm Emanuel's Uber-Friendly Proposal

Chicago O'Hare Taxi Strike 700 taxis strike City of Chicago 

Uber is the new Napster



Remember Napster? That revolutionary file sharing service that changed the way people listened, bought and stored music. It changed everything in a multibillion-dollar industry reserved for elites who thought they ran the show.

Its business model mirrored Robin Hood. Take something someone else created, make it available for less, and make a killing along the way. It was a sharing model driven by exploiting copyright laws. Metallica and other bands eventually shut them down. Napster simply took what it wanted until lawmakers said enough.

Sound familiar? Uber is the new Napster, exploiting loopholes in current laws to overtake the market. It’s described by some as a game changer. But Uber hasn’t reinvented the wheel. It is simply stealing the tires and putting them on shiny unlicensed, uninsured cars for hire.

At a recent committee hearing in Toronto, dozens of UberX drivers sang the praises of their multibillion-dollar foreign employer. But most had no clue they were breaking the law by admitting they didn’t have commercial insurance. Many admitted they aren’t even collecting HST.

You could literally see their expression change from pride to fear after realizing they may face a huge tax bill at year’s end. Or worse, may not be covered if anything were to happen to their car or passenger.

These Uber champions revealed a lot. Laws are being broken. And Toronto is doing nothing to stop it.

In an attempt to level the playing field, the city came up with a framework. But the solution ties the hands of the taxi industry and gives Uber a free ride, creating separate rules for ridesharing companies.

The taxi industry rejects the creation of a new category for rideshares. It would mean different rules, different insurance guidelines, licensing and no set pricing. How is that fair?

Uber must not receive special treatment while existing companies continue to play by the rules.

The cab industry isn’t perfect. When our drivers err, we are held to account. We work with police. We suffer the wrath of our errors under the watchful eye of the media.

What we don’t accept is a company operating in secrecy — not divulging how drivers are insured or what background checks reveal.

When dealing with mass transportation, the city has an obligation to ensure public safety. Just recently police reported a female passenger was sexually assaulted by someone alleged to be an UberX driver. While the courts will ultimately decide with that case, one wonders if regulations requiring the installation of cameras in Uber vehicles — something cabs are mandated to have — would deter assaults and other crimes.

Last month, an UberX driver was dropped from his insurance company and Uber after an accident left his car totalled and him with serious injuries. He has lost everything and is now launching legal action against Uber.

Uber is making a killing — a $40-billion foreign company that has been allowed to exploit rules. It doesn’t invest in our communities and its money is kept out of our country. Does that benefit the local economy?

We also shoulder a huge responsibility of making sure people are safe. That there is a system in place to move passengers that has checks and balances. That has a guarantee of protection if and when things go wrong.

Like Napster, Uber has shocked the world into a new reality. The sharing economy will continue to evolve. Today it’s the cab industry. Tomorrow TTC busses could find themselves Ubered. You paying attention, unions? City officials can’t put this paste back into the tube, but they can and must move quickly to create rules that allow us to compete fairly.

— Zahakos is CEO of Co-op Cabs


"This article is from Canada. The same problems have happened in the U.S. and around the world. If an UberX driver won't call their insurance company to see if they're covered-that should be the first red flag!" -A#1 Cab Dispatch

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