ridesharing

It’s time for Version 2.0

No Comments
November 5  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . In Silicon Valley, when a product or service doesn’t succeed, it’s time for “Version 2.0.”

Such is the case before our San José City Council on Tuesday, November 10, at 1:30pm, when the Council considers a new pilot project that to allow ridesharing companies like Lyft and Uber to pick-up passengers at Mineta San José International Airport. The Council passed a “pilot program” in June, but its onerous provisions precluded any rideshare company from participating. To its credit, the Council has sought a modified pilot program, much more in-line with the stringent but consistent requirements mandated at 25 other airports and nearly 300 cities across the country.

As you can imagine, the incumbent taxicab industry is fighting such market-competition tooth and nail. Their latest gambit is public safety. Let’s dissect that argument. Rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber provide well over 2 million rides in the U.S. each week. If even one percent of those rides were unsafe, that would be 20,000 incidents or accidents every single week. But perhaps the taxi industry thinks it’s only one-tenth of 1 percent that are unsafe. Then we would be reading news reports of 2,000 incidents or accidents each week. But maybe the taxi lobbyists only mean one-hundredth of 1 percent are unsafe – but then we would be reading news reports about 200 incidents or accidents each week, 52 weeks per year.

So let’s really talk safety, accountability and transparency: A rideshare passenger clicks an app and knows instantly the license plate, car make, driver, and consumer rating of the driver. GPS tracking follows every ride. At the end of every ride, the passengers and the driver rate each other. These safety and accountability precautions are unheard-of in taxis. It also underscores why rideshare companies like Lyft enjoy a passenger base that is 60 percent women. They know they are safer.

Let’s support our City Council in providing real choices for San José residents and employees flying into San José International. Join me at the council meeting or email your San José Councilmember and Mayor today. When it comes to customer choice at San José’s airport, let’s not let the taxi lobby leave the rest of us stuck at the curb.

Tagged , , ,

Leveling the Playing Field for Ridesharing at SJC

No Comments
November 3  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Taxis have a monopoly over rideshare companies.

“Unlevel Playing Field.” It has been the incessant – yet completely inaccurate – rallying cry of incumbent taxi companies over rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber, that cannot currently pick up passengers at Mineta San José International Airport.

In June, I predicted before the City Council that its “pilot program” to allow rideshare companies to pick up passengers, launched on September 1, would have zero participants. Seven weeks after the “pilot program’s” launch, there isn’t a single participant. City residents, workers and visitors have been left standing, literally, at the curb.

It is why 93 Silicon Valley CEOs – with tens of thousands of employees based in San José – have written to the City Council to urge the adoption of a policy that allows ridesharing companies to serve our airport. Read their letter here.

Yet the cries of “unlevel playing field” are actually the opposite.

* Seeking accountability and transparency? A ridesharing passenger clicks an app and knows instantly the license plate, car make, driver, and consumer rating of the driver. GPS tracking follows every ride. And at the end, the passengers and the driver rate each other. These safety precautions are unheard of in taxis. It also explains why ridesharing companies like Lyft enjoy a passenger base that is 60 percent women.

* Concerned about the City budget for essential services? The City’s own 2013 audit reveals the incumbent taxi industry costs taxpayers $272,000 in lost revenue. The airport acknowledges rideshare companies will earn revenue for the City. At SFO, allowing rideshare companies at the airport has already earned it $4 million in just 10 months.

* Concerned about safety? The exhaustive screening process of ridesharing companies turns away 4 of every 5 potential drivers. When a recent official in another jurisdiction found a few Uber drivers had criminal records that should have kept them from driving, most media accounts ignored that Uber’s process screened out more than 600 would-be drivers, self-identified as current taxi drivers, who had criminal records.

Yes, let’s have a “level playing field.” But as so often happens, it is the entrenched incumbent industry that cries “foul,” while enjoying all the power of incumbency; including a playing field greatly slanted in its favor.

San José, it’s time for “version 2.0.” Let’s not leave our residents, workers and visitors standing at the curb.

The San José City Council wants to assist the taxi industry to help it continue to survive and thrive. That’s fine. Let’s keep in mind that when rideshare companies were allowed to serve customers at SFO and in Denver the amount of taxi rides actually increased. Rather than fighting over the crumbs, the pie grew for both taxis and rideshare companies.

The cries of an “unlevel playing field” are simply not accurate. Let’s let those who wish to ride decide.

If you wish to join me in respectfully weighing in with the City Council, please join me at the Council hearing on November 10 at 1:30 pm, and call or email your San Jose Councilmember and the mayor today.

Tagged , , , , ,

Ridesharing: Facts Over Fear

No Comments
June 24  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Facts over fear.

The innovation economy took a tumble before the San Jose City Council on June 23, because an unworkable “pilot program” was set up for rideshare companies that want to be able to pick up passengers at the Mineta San Jose International Airport. The problem? Innovative economy companies such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar made it clear that the rules are unworkable and respectfully signaled in advance that if adopted, they wouldn’t be able to participate. Those pleas were ignored.

Nine months of negotiations between the airport and Transportation Network Companies (TNC) produced an agreement to ensure ridesharing drivers picking up passengers at the airport would be in full compliance with California law and that TNC would pay their fair share in fees to the airport. California law requires that all TNC drivers receive professionally administered background checks. The agreement was a win for consumers and our cash strapped airport.

That agreement was undone and renegotiated by the City Council less than 48 hours before the vote was held. Simply put, the City Council changed the rules at the last minute.

A “pilot program” in which no one participates is not a pilot program.

Who loses? You and I. People who want ride choices will not have them because San Jose demanded more regulations than any other airport in the country, all in the guise of public safety. A key demand that background checks be conducted in a narrowly specific way – by fingerprints, valued bureaucracy over innovation. Everyone agrees that background checks are a necessity and that is settled law. But many experts and policy makers disagree that a background check can only be conducted in one specific way, as now required by the city.

Let’s consider facts over fear:

  • Fingerprinting has been evaluated and rejected by the Greenlining Institute and other respected civil rights organizations.
  • It has been evaluated and rejected as the only appropriate method for background checks after numerous public hearings at the state Public Utilities Commission.
  • It has been evaluated and rejected after numerous public hearings in the state Legislature as the only appropriate method for background checks.
  • Across the country, dozens of states and cities have evaluated and rejected fingerprint background checks as the only appropriate method for background checks.

There are other ways to ensure background checks that are accurate, efficient and effective. Yet even the consideration of such options was ignored in San Jose.

Hundreds of thousands of rides have been lawfully and safely provided by San Jose neighbors who drive for Lyft, Sidecar and Uber for other San Jose neighbors. Tens of millions of safe rides have been provided around the country.

But when you fly into San Jose International Airport, don’t expect a ride home by a rideshare company. The City Council just left you at the curb.

Tagged , , ,