An op-ed about the latest #DeleteUber trend. From Broke-Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website.
Ahhh… there’s nothing like waking up to a good Boycott Uber movement. The joy of seeing their louche brand dragged through the mud is always exhilarating. But it’s fleeting. Because the latest #DeleteUber trend, like every other wave of public outrage directed at the company in the past, will eventually fizzle away and be forgotten.
So what if Uber CEO Travis Kalanick agreed to join a Trump advisory group… So what if Kalanick defended this position by stating that they would “partner with anyone in the world,” even if – apparently – their policies threaten global stability… So what if Uber crossed picket lines during a protest of Trump’s Muslim ban at JFK airport… So what if they deactivated surge pricing and – sort of – said they were sorry…
That’s some fucked-up shit. But they’ve been doing fucked-up shit from day one.
Read the rest here.
This week’s column for the S.F. Examiner is about driving in the rain with the Keystone Kops on parade…
The rain brings out the madness normally only seen during natural disasters. After all, this is California, where even the faintest hint of precipitation threatens the already thin veil of civility. And once it really starts pouring … well, then all bets are off …
I’m driving westbound on North Point when an SUV pulls up alongside me, also going westbound. There’s an Uber symbol in the window. When the light turns green, I keep pace, curious when he’s going to realize he’s driving on the wrong side of the road. As we approach Larkin, another SUV is traveling eastbound. Also an Uber. The original SUV, oblivious that he’s doing anything out of the ordinary, even though there’s a vehicle heading straight toward him, maintains his trajectory until both SUVs stop, face to face, and try to determine who has the right of way…
Later, I’m heading north on Sixth Street when I encounter an accident in front of Monarch. A Prius nailed a Porsche. Based on the positions of the vehicles, it looks like one of the drivers made an illegal left onto Mission. The accident is bad enough the cops showed up. As I’m trying to get through the light, a Lyft driver is waiting in the intersection, left blinker flashing. Once the rain lets up for a moment, I pull into the taxi stand at The Palace for a smoke break. Before I get out, though, a woman comes out of the hotel and gets into the front seat of my cab.
“Do you know the bar Kells?”
Judging by her accent, she’s Australian, which explains why she’s in the front seat.
On the way to North Beach, she tells me an Uber driver had groped her earlier.
“What?” I’m aghast. “Did you call the police?”
“Yes. And I emailed Uber and my lawyer,” she says. “That bastard is gonna regret messing with me.”
“Were you in the front seat?” I inquire.
Of course she was. She’s Australian. I feel like an asshole pointing out that most Americans don’t sit up front in taxis or Ubers. Because, in an ideal world, women should be able to sit wherever the fuck they want to in a car. But this is America. Trump’s America…
Around 2:30 a.m., I’m heading down Van Ness. At Mission, two guys flag me.
The first one opens the front door.
“It’s better in the back,” I say.
“He rides shotgun,” the other guy snarls. “That’s his thing.”
“We’re going to Golden Boy,” Mr. Shotgun tells me. He seems less drunk than his friend.
“Must be nice, getting paid to drive recklessly through The City,” the guy in back says.
“That’s pretty much my job description.” I make a hard right onto Pearl and rumble over the brick pavement to Market Street.
“You know where you’re going?” he slaps the back of my seat. “We need ’za!”
“Is Golden Boy even still open?” I check my phone at the light. “Nope.” Closed one minute ago.
They seem dumbfounded by this turn of events. I suggest Escape from New York on Polk Street. But they’re closed, too.
“What about the pizza places on Geary?”
No, they don’t want Geary pizza.
“Where’s home?” I ask.
“So Pizza Orgasmica then?”
As we careen over the hills on Franklin, the guy in back applauds my driving and knowledge of pizza joints. I can almost sense what’s going to happen next.
When we reach Pizza Orgasmica, both guys start to exit the cab.
“Hey, you have to pay me for the ride,” I point out.
“What do you mean?” the guy in back asks. “This is Lyft.”
“Man, this is the furthest thing from Lyft.” I point at the meter, which reads $12.30.
“That’s some false representation,” he slurs. “You’re a real asshole, you know that?”
“So you don’t like me anymore?”
“I never liked you. Dan, fuck this guy. Don’t pay him.” He jeers at me. “Fuck you!”
“Fuck you too, dickhead.” I laugh some more. We’re just having fun. Locker room talk.
His eyes are enraged, like he’s about to get violent.
Dan gives me a ten and a five.
“Change back?” I ask.
“Yeah, change back, asshole,” the guy in back seethes.
Sure thing. Happy to serve. I hand Dan back three singles. Once they’re clear of my cab, I take off. In my rearview I see the guy flipping me off.
It’s stopped raining. For now, at least.
This column elicited some angry reader responses:
“You know it’s a good ride,” Juneaux texts me after letting me know he’d gotten a ride to Palo Alto, “when you’re using cruise control on the way back The City.
Just as I’m about to respond with “You lucky bastard,” I get flagged by two guys on the corner of Post and Powell.
“Do you know of any strip clubs open this late?” one asks.
Five minutes later and $50 richer, I drive away from New Century, thinking about the different services we offer as taxi drivers and how difficult it would be to replace the taxi experience with self-driving cars.
Take the four women I picked up earlier that day outside Magnolia on Haight for example. They’re going to the Marriott Maquis.
“But first we need to see the painted ladies. Is that alright?”
That’s more than alright. A $15 fare turned into a $25 fare, since I obviously had to show them other Victorians in the neighborhood.
How can you get service like that from a self-driving car?
Read the rest here.
Spotted on Harrison between 7th and 8th, one of Uber’s self-driving cars. Notice the Pennsylvania plates. There were two people up front and two in the back. When the light turned green, the other cars took off, while the self-driving car didn’t seem to move.
A fleet of Uber’s self-driving cars were released onto the streets of Pittsburgh last week with limited autonomous features. A driver is always in the front seat with his hands on the wheel as a technician sits shotgun. After watching multiple videos from tech sites and news sources, I can’t say I was impressed.
After all, there’s only so much a driverless car can do:
Here’s my segment on the Will and Willie Show talking with Will Durst and former SF mayor Willie Brown about politics, the future of taxis and self-driving cars. I watched it all the way through without cringing too much, so that’s a good sign I guess…
This week’s column is about the consequences taxi drivers face dealing with unregulated competition…
This following is a short excerpt with additional commentary that wasn’t included in the printed column due to space limitations…
Last week, a Yellow driver jumped the curb on Market Street and crashed into a shoeshine stand, critically injuring the two men who worked there. This was big news. All the local newsites and TV stations picked up the story. According to initial reports, the taxi was recklessly speeding down Market, but it was later revealed the driver was suffering from a medical issue at the time. Which is why he never braked before colliding with a newsstand, the shoeshine stand and finally a light pole.
Based on what I’ve heard from people who knew the Yellow driver, he was a medallion holder with a perfect driving record. But, like so many others, he’s been forced to drive longer hours to survive in this new climate, and at the time of the accident, he’d lost consciousness due to extreme dehydration, one cause of which is stress.
This accident doesn’t bode well for Yellow, which filed for bankruptcy protection several months ago after settling two very expensive insurance claims. How this new accident will impact their longevity remains to be seen (the rumors aren’t good), but regardless, the career of the driver involved is tarnished, to say the least.
If internet comments are any indication of the general population’s feelings towards taxis, most people are happy to dance on the grave of the San Francisco taxi industry.
I know, I know… Never read the comments. But I’m a glutton for punishment. The most common statement I see is, “the San Francisco taxi industry can’t die soon enough.”
Well, Uber and Lyft lovers of San Francisco, your wish seems to be coming true.
The comment sections that follow the articles about this latest accident are rife with gleeful Uber fans gloating over the misfortunate circumstances: “SEE! YOU SEE! Taxis are out of control!!”
What these cheerleaders of doom are not recognizing, however, is that we should be grateful it was a taxicab that caused this accident. Had it been an Uber or a Lyft, how would we know who was responsible? At least with a clearly marked taxi, there is no doubt who is liable. The reason taxis are easily identifiable is to ensure accountability. Look at the picture. There is a telephone number on the side, and a unique cab number that connects that cab to the driver.
The same can’t be said for Uber and Lyft vehicles, where the driver can simply remove the Uber and Lyft placards in the event of an accident and pretend to be a regular Joe Schmo whose personal policy, unlike commercial insurance, barely covers injuries and damages.
A few weeks back, a Lincoln Towncar racing north on Larkin Street, crashed into several parked cars before finally coming to a stop in front of the New Century strip club. At which point the driver ran away, leaving his mangled vehicle in the street with a passenger in the back. Although later reports, namely from a regular at the Ha-Ra, suggest the female passenger claimed she was driving, and that it all seemed rather… “druggy.”
Not that it matters. Word around town is, the police aren’t even required to notate whether a car involved in an accident was doing Uber or Lyft at the time when making a report.
That means there’s no telling how many accidents involving Ubers and Lyfts occur each night/day.
Ah, who are we kidding. Nobody gives a fuck.
Cheap rides and boiler plate San Francisco corruption…
Nothing to see here, folks.
Just move along…