Category Archives: Lyft Driver Realities

When I Was a Newbie

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My last two columns for the S.F. Examiner were interconnected, published in two parts.

The first installment, published last week, describes a ride with two ladies who, when I tell them I’ve only been driving for three years, start calling me a “newb” and offering ridiculous advice on how to become a good horrible cab driver.

“You shouldn’t be so nice, newb,” one of the women says.

“You’re never going to make it as a cab driver with that attitude,” says the other.

Their joint laughter is cut short when I turn left onto Hyde.

“This is us over here on the right.”

I hit the hazards and the overhead light.

“I only have a credit card,” the second woman tells me.

“That’s perfectly fine,” I say, inserting the Square reader into my phone.

“Come on newb!” snaps the first woman. “You’re supposed to say your card reader is broken.”

Yeah, they were drunk and having a laugh, but, in part two, published this week, I write about how the old “cabbie ways,” as glorified by these ladies in jest, are what led to rise of Uber and Lyft. And how, when I actually was a “newb” – that is, a hapless Lyft driver – most of my passengers told me they’d started using these new ride-hail options because of all their bad experiences with taxis in the past…

… most of my passengers had these nightmare experiences dealing with The City’s taxi service that mirrored the ladies’ acerbic suggestions: not accepting credit cards, refusing non-airport rides, talking on the phone incessantly and freaking out if you questioned their route.

It seemed like you weren’t a real San Franciscan unless you had a handful of horror stories about taking taxis. People talked about missing flights, losing jobs, getting stuck in the rain and practically left for dead.

My Lyft passengers were so thrilled to have a ride they didn’t care that I barely knew how to get around. (Or refused to attach that hideous pink mustache to the grill of my Jetta.)

Of course, while Lyft and Uber may have solved some of these problems by busting up the taxi industry’s monopoly and in the process forcing out the bad apples who were only able to thrive in a field without competition that capitalized on the public’s desperate need for transportation, a new breed of sleazy operators was unleashed: Uber/Lyft drivers.

But more on that disreputable lot next week…

[photo by Christian Lewis]

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On the Uber Driver Super Bowl Protest

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Market Street has been renamed Dick Drive for Super Bowl 50

On KPFA 94.1 this morning, I discussed the upcoming Uber protest scheduled during the Super Bowl. There’s a lot of speculation on how this organized action will play out–since the scab mentality is a major part of Uber’s rise–but one this is for certain: it will get people’s attention.

Listen to the archived show here. The Uber protest segment begins 8 minutes into the show.

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White Privilege and the Rise of Uber and Lyft

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From my latest jeremiad:

The Children are Running the Nursery

Only a person with boundless privilege would expect their own personal driver to come to their exact location (however erratically), and wait there for an indeterminate time, regardless of how much it may inconvenience the driver or other drivers on the road, since they’re most likely double-parked, until the whim strikes him or her to mosey on down and get into the vehicle they requested.

Only a spoiled brat who’s had mommy and daddy wiping their asses their entire lives would lord a draconian rating system, that’s completely arbitrary, over another human being, like a manacle around their neck, to make sure their needs are properly serviced in a timely fashion, and in a way that fully pleases them… otherwise, it’s one less star.

Only someone with absolutely no sense of personal responsibility would pay someone to resolve their problems at highest standards, but at the lowest cost possible, and not even once consider the possibility the deal they’re getting is negatively impacting the one performing said task.

And yet, these are the new city-dwellers who’ve taken over San Francisco…

Read the entire article…

What It’s Like Driving for Uber & Lyft

The Drivers Panel at Next:Economy 2015

The full video of the driver panel at the Next:Economy conference on November 12, 2015. Courtesy of O’Reilly Media.

Read my coverage of the event here.

From Uber and Lyft to Taxi: A Video Interview

After John Han gets the the camera situated for this interview with me behind the wheel of a cab, a man hails us for a ride. John keeps the camera rolling as I drive the passenger to the Civic Center BART. Turns out, the guy is an insurance broker and offers some insight into the “insurance question” that continues to plague Uber and Lyft drivers.

From there, the interview covers my transition from Uber/Lyft driver to taxi driver.

This interview is an outtake from John Han’s documentary “Driving for Hire,” which can be found here.

Lyft vs. Taxi Thunderdome – The Medium Online Debate

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Since Driver 8 and I had so much fun discussing the pros and cons of driving Lyft and taxis at the Next:Economy conference last month, we went to Medium’s offices and did a live debate on their Backchannel site.

Things got ugly fast:

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And even uglier: