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Author Topic: Uber - What's That?
Gilbert B Norman
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This probably should have been originated at Open Discussion, so Laurie, if you see fit, move it.

Uber.

Well, I guess it's German for "Above".

But beyond that, I'll be darned if I know what Uber is - I've never used the for hire livery service doing business under that name.

What I've heard about it is largely negative - a "frat house" corporate culture, drivers "netting out" barely more than minimum wage, assaults by drivers on passengers and vice versa. Just sounds like something to this guy who hasn't used ANY for hire vehicle service since last August in Linz, AT (before that, in Vienna Aug '17) has no reason whatever to go near.

Well, it all came to a head this past Tuesday when I was returning home from O'Hare. When I got there, I texted a wonderful friend that I had landed and was taking the CTA and METRA home. That's my "poor man's way" that I've used since "the '80's". I'm on the CTA leg and my phone rings. It's this friend (a United Flight Attendant, Maureen, who last Sat I had a "hi and hug" meet up at ORD when she was off to NRT and I to MIA) and when I said "I'm on the CTA". "You're riding the CTA then METRA and walking home? you can't do that; you're 77yo and you could fall and no one will find you". Now in her Flight Attendant command voice she is saying "get off that train and UBER home!!!".

Well after a bit of trying to back out with her, I completed the intended route without incident (it was Cold, but not my "first rodeo"). I did send her a text with a photo of me inside my house (they are date/time stamped) and the quick response came "I love you but I'm scolding you".

So much for that, but am the only adult in the civilized world who hasn't used Uber?

What is so special about a for hire car service that its tradename has become a verb?

Enquiring mind wants to know.

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George Harris
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Never have "Ubered" and unlikely to do so. But then for what flying I do am usually met by someone. Where this is not happening and transit is available, I normally use it and fully intend to continue to do so. I am a few years, well 3, behind Mr. Norman, but see no reason in my current state of health to change my ways.
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Ocala Mike
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Don't feel bad - I've never used it either. I'm not even sure it exists down here (too rural), but maybe it thrives in Gainesville (college town up the road).

To my way of thinking, Uber is just a tad removed from the old "gypsy cab" business in NYC and the boroughs. You pays your money and you takes your chances (passengers and drivers alike).

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Ocala Mike

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Ocala Mike
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Interesting - just noticed the time stamps for these posts is way off. It is 1618 est here now as I hit "add reply."

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Ocala Mike

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palmland
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I'm also in the 4 score and 10 age bracket. But I don't see why you wouldn't use Uber when your other choice is a taxi. Our experience has been that the vehicles are far nicer, the drivers friendlier, and the fares cheaper.

I suspect transit will always be cheaper than Uber of Lyft, but for the two of us the difference in price is out weighed by the convenience of door to door. Exceptions would be in places like NYC where traffic is usually near a standstill; cities where the distance is very far, such as Denver airport to downtown (and maybe Chicago-ORD); or New Orleans because we love the streetcars (although even there we take Uber from the station/airport to downtown because of convenience and our carry on stuff).

To GBN's point Uber does get a lot of bad press in the media. But again, our experience has been that the drivers are delighted to have a job that they can work when and where they please. Let the market decide, not those with an overactive social conscience.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mike, reset your clock at the profile page. It does not recognize the DST change.

Mr. Palmland, 3 score and 10 vice 4 and 10.

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palmland
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Thanks, GBN, I really didn’t want to be that old. Watched a program last night on Gettysburg. Had Lincoln on the brain and we were talking about having to memorize the Gettysburg address in school (do they still do that.?). Guess I didn’t do too well.
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yukon11
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I've never taken Uber. As far as taxis go, I think it really comes down to luck and what taxi company you choose. I found, in general, independents are better than yellow but not always.

When I lived in San Jose, I used to take a taxi from the airport to my house. More than once, the body odor inside the cab was such that I had to stick my head out the window, the whole trip, just to breathe fresh air.

On the other side of the coin, a number of years ago when the "Canadian" went the CP route from Vancouver to Calgary, I took a cab from the Calgary train station to my hotel. The cab driver was dressed in a dark suit and tie and quite friendly and polite.

Richard

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Ocala Mike
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Fixed the timestamp (sort of). Now only 14 mins. off - must be at the server. Glad I don't have OCD or anything! (LOL)

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Ocala Mike

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HopefulRailUser
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I’ve used Uber from home to airport/cruise ship, King Street station to hotel. Very nice cars, friendly drivers, reasonable price. Prefer taxi from crowded starting point like airport since they are easy to find and organized.

Don’t plan on using as a single young woman drunk and incoherent. That seems to lead to problems. What a surprise!

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Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mike, my clock is also 14 minutes off.
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Ocala Mike
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Gil - Reminds me of that old canard, "Hell of a way to run a railroad." Probably no other industry (at least pre-21st century) had a greater impetus and need for accurate timekeeping than the railroad industry.
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Stephen John Young
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Gilbert, I am ethically opposed to Uber for the same reasons you mentioned. And yes, I'm proud to have 'an overractive social conscience'.

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Steve Young

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I was on the Southwest Chief last year sitting in the lounge car when I saw a "Lyft" poster (competitor to Uber) offering first ride free to Amtrak passengers. So I downloaded the app to use to get to my car rental at the Albuquerque airport. It was a learning experience for this old codger.

The app needed a street address for pickup and destination. "Amtrak station" and "ABQ airport" were not allowed. After I looked that up the driver had to call me to find where I was outside the front door of the station.

Hertz will reimburse customers for the cab from Amtrak to their ABQ airport location, if you bring a receipt. Lyft cannot provide a receipt and Hertz will not allow the picture of the transaction from my phone.

Then I tried again when I got off #5 at Glenwood Springs. This time I looked up street addresses before leaving home. The street in front of the depot was closed for construction. So I walked a block and re-requested a pickup from the address I was in front of. After a long wait, I got a message from Lyft that my transaction was canceled because I had moved (they obviously track my phone GPS). They quoted a price but did reverse the charge to my credit card when I did not use them.

So I called an old fashioned cab and the fare turned out to be cheaper than Lyft. Turns out Budget Car Rental would have picked me up for free if I had called them first, and they drive right onto the train platform so you don't have to climb the hill.

I highly recommend anyone getting off Amtrak at Glenwood Springs call Budget there directly for a rental. They have an arrangement where they are allowed to drive right up to the train to save you the steep climb to the street. They are really nice people and there direct price was cheaper than the one I got from the AGR website.

My only other Lyft experience was getting me home from a nearby coffee shop during a downpour. That was fine. My kids use Uber often for drinking nights out and they love it. Now that I know to use addresses and not move from my start location I can probably do better.

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yukon11
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Twinstar: I am perplexed as to why Lyft couldn't figure out the location of the Amtrak station without a street address. My niece works for Lyft and, in general, has good things to say about her impression of Lyft services.

I haven't been in Glenwood Springs for years. The last time I stayed at the Hotel Colorado. The rooms were really dumpy. Hopefully, thay have refurbished all the rooms since then. I think, next time, I would opt for the Hotel Denver in downtown Glenwood.

Ocala Mike: I couldn't agree more with the need for accurate timekeeping in the railroad industry, especially in the olden days. I was reading about a 1853 train crash, in New England, that cost the lives of 14 people. Both trains headed for each other on a single track. The crash was attributed to a lack of time coordination. 1883 was a great year when time zones were put into place.

Speaking of time keeping and railroads, does anyone, out there, collect railroad pocket watches? Here is a photo of an heirloom, of mine, made by the Waltham watch company:

 - ]

I was wondering if the watch is of some value. It still works, but I know a lot of old watches don't have at lot of intrinsic or collector value. My guess is that my watch dates from the late 1800's to the early 1900's,

Richard

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Ocala Mike
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Maybe this is useful: https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/pocket-watch-price-guide-4062353

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Ocala Mike

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Gilbert B Norman
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Richard, I was planting an auto trip to Salt Lake City during April, but it got pre-empted by my sixth consecutive junket to Salzburg this August.

United lowered their fare to Munich to an "acceptable" level a few days ago - and I grabbed - especially since a day later it was again "unacceptable".

I stayed at Hotel Denver during '14 and, had the SLC trip been on, would have done so again.

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yukon11
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I remember your former post, Mr. Norman. I think you said that the Hotel Denver is an easy walk from the Amtrak station. I love walking around small towns. Maybe a walk over to the Summit Canyon Mountaineering store, which is on the site of the former Hotel Glenwood where Doc Holliday died.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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I must wonder how many "Benjamins" were slipped under the table for this "infomercial":

https://www.today.com/video/ride-sharing-vs-car-rental-which-is-best-for-your-vacation-1456378435570

Contrary to what some might hold, I'm not "anti-Uber". I've just plain never used them, or any other rideshare service. The last time I have been in any kind of for-hire vehicle was last August in Linz, AT; and that was a taxicab.

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PullmanCo
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We’ve used Uber to get around downtown Chicago where CTA would be a PITA (downtown embassy suites to the 3400 block of broadway). More comfortable, and the price is locked in before you step in the door.

We’ve also used it, and will use it, to get around NYC this spring.

It’s simple and it works, for this three score guy.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Quite the "comparo" article between the two major ride hailing services appears today in The New York Times:

Fair Use:
  • The bottom line: In terms of features, reward programs and availability, Uber has an edge over Lyft.

    Even if you prefer Lyft in your hometown for ethical reasons, it may be practical to keep the Uber app on your phone in case you travel somewhere like London, Paris or Tokyo.

    Or you could try to hail an old-school taxicab wherever you travel, assuming you can find one.

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Gilbert B Norman
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The New York Times has reported on the UBER IPO "fizzle":

Fair Use:
  • .Last September, Uber’s top executives were pitched by some of Wall Street’s biggest banks, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

    The bankers’ presentations calculated Uber’s valuation almost identically, hovering around one particular number: $120 billion.

    That was the figure the bankers said they could convince investors Uber was worth when it listed its shares on the stock market, according to three people with knowledge of the talks. Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, and chief financial officer, Nelson Chai, listened and discussed the presentations, these people said. Then they hired Morgan Stanley as lead underwriter, along with Goldman Sachs and others, to take the company public — and to effectively make the $120 billion valuation a reality.

    Nine months later, Uber is worth about half that figure. The ride-hailing firm went public last week at $45 a share and has since dropped to around $41, pegging Uber’s market capitalization at $69 billion — and officially crowning it as the stock market debut that lost more in dollar terms than any other American initial public offering since 1975..
I'd like to think that the investor community has become all the wiser since the "dot.bust" two decades ago. Maybe "the hustlers" with names such as Goldman, Merrill, and Morgan, will learn as well.
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Vincent206
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Lyft's IPO (down 25%) has performed even worse than Uber's (down 7%). Ride sharing is going to be a difficult nut to profitably crack until autonomous vehicles can remove the need for "Drivers' Wages" from the profit and loss statements of Uber and Lyft.
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Gilbert B Norman
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One must wonder what would prompt one, in a "full employment" economy, to seek a sub minimum wage "gig" driving for a ride sharing outfit.

I guess the "lure" is the "cash up front" where I guess they settle up with a driver daily, and with the only expense payable on settlement is the service's commission.

All the other expenses borne by the driver can go "on the card" to be addressed "later".

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palmland
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Most of the drivers have told me it’s because they can set their own hours. Works well if you’re going to school, raising a family, or have another job.
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Gilbert B Norman
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These two lengthy investigative articles appearing in The New York Times suggest that to be any kind of for hire operator, you are wide open to be exploited.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Needless to say, since in my profession, I had many a client ask, as well as some that didn't - and just started doing, "why can't I just pay my people the agreed salary and let them worry about their taxes?", I have had considerable experience with the employee-contractor issue.

The US Department of Labor has now ruled that Uber drivers are Contractors and not Employees. This was a clear victory for the ride sharing companies.

The IRS, who also adjudicates these matters from a tax compliance perspective, always falls in line with a DOL ruling.

I think those Uber drivers that brought the matter to the DOL had a weak case at best and frivilous at worst.

The IRS' criteria actually twenty points of consideration, but the first of concern discretion of the worker to set one's own hours rather than having assigned hours and an asdigned workplace from which the workday will begin. If an Uber driver is truly able to set their hours, then this criteria is met.

The second is investment in equipment. While for some positions, such as a Salesman, an automobile is not an "investment", but in the case of where the auto IS the sole factor of production beyond one's labor, than it counts as a criteria, and Uber drivers meet that one.

A third is established tradition within a trade. While Barbers and Beauticians would appear to be employed by their shop, i.e. the boss says when to show up, tradition says they are not. Same applies to Real Estate Sales Associates - and for hire drivers.

A fixed rate of pay, as distinct from a comission, will make a worker an employee. Obviously, such is not the case with an Uber or Lyft driver.

Here is the IRS "20 Questions" that is their guideline.

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Ocala Mike
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Quite familiar with those guidelines, Gil, from my stint as an Income Tax Auditor for NY State on Long Island in the 90's. One of our programs was employee vs. contractor in the homebuilding industry at the time; it seems that drywall installers thought themselves to be universally contractors, but we made a lot of them employees much to the chagrin of the builders.
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yukon11
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Fly the friendly Uber skies:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8sef06FRhs

https://is.gd/4bD3YE

They are slated to become pilot-less.

Even more exciting, Uber will start delivering Big Macs and fast food via their drones. I wonder if Amtrak could put up a helipad on top of one of their cars.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Before this topic goes to Page 2, or otherwise "Neverland", I thought I'd share that next Saturday, I could well find myself inside an Uber.

I'm meeting up with my "Little Niece", 42; mother of two, in Dallas. Why Dallas, if things go to plan, after a two week visit with family in New York, she is staying with a cousin in McKinney and wants to meet me in Dallas (I offered to rent at DFW and drive up there).

Since she "Ubers all the time" (her husband has driven for them) in Sydney NSW, she no doubt will want to use one from the restaurant to my Downtown Marriott to drop me off before returning to McKinney (and an endurance contest with her two girls that Sunday nonstop on Qantas DFW-SYD; apparently they have a "code share" arrangement with American to feed them passengers). I'm going to "pop" her for the Uber - in AU$ that I got from the bank.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Well to follow up, it actually was a Lyft. Why? Ask my Niece. We walked to and from my hotel to the restaurant (came too close from tripping over and again being run over by one of those scooters), near Union Station and where I saw from the distance, a Trinity Rail departing.

Back at the hotel, I got to see the ordering process. It looks like you tell it where you want to go (it knows where you are) and what the fare ($48 to go 33 miles) will be. I guess it already has your credit card on file. Then the "app" confirms an estimated pick up (two minutes in Downtown at a Marriott). It also reports the color, make, and tag# of the vehicle, and name and photo of the driver. All a blur to me, but my city-wise Niece, who has never lived out of one since college, was only slowed down because she was showing me the process.

I got a text from her about 45 min later saying she was back with cousin in McKinney.

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TBlack
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Gilbert, Let's see if we can get this topic to page 2.
Once upon a time my daughter lived in near downtown DC. I was visiting and needed a ride back to the airport. Call up the local cab company and ask for a cab needed at 8:00 AM. No cab shows up at 8:00. Yes, the cab company took the request, but it's not a commitment. Only if the cab is available will you get service. As you discovered, when you ask for an Uber or Lyft you get a commitment and detail, including fare (so there's no chance of the driver running up the meter). Also, if you live in the suburbs, there is no cab service; you have to use Uber or Lyft.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Gray Lady reports on who is now becoming a mass transit "partner":

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/07/technology/uber-train-bus-public-transit.html

Fair Use:

  • DENVER — When Julia Ellis arrives at a train station in a Denver suburb to go to work, she opens her Uber app. Next to the ride-hailing options, she taps a train icon marked “Transit.”

    The click buys her a ticket for Denver’s public transit system, the Regional Transportation District. Ms. Ellis said she had used Uber to get her train tickets since the company rolled out the feature this spring. She also often takes an Uber ride to the station because a medical condition limits her driving.

    “You make two clicks and you’re there,” Ms. Ellis, 54, said of how Uber and Denver’s train system had changed her commute.
It's all new to me; never once used them. I guess when I go overseas next week, I'll use a "for hire" vehicle somewhere-once.
Posts: 9388 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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