Saturday, March 22, 2014

Uber, TfL and a Child’s Death

Sofia Liu, 6, was was struck and killed by a car in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve. Christopher Dolan, a lawyer for the Liu family who provided the image, is expected to file suit against the driver of the vehicle and Uber.

Taxes and regulation are the two big issues. The question of how much Uber should be regulated and by whom is under discussion in all sorts of ways, as my article on Monday in The Times indicates. But the fate of its first wrongful-death lawsuit might be central.

The suit, set to be filed on Monday, seeks damages against Uber in the death of Sofia Liu, 6, on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco. Sofia was hit by an Uber driver who was waiting for a fare. Her mother and brother were injured.

Uber asserts that Uber drivers without fares are not Uber cars. The suit, filed by Chris Dolan, a San Francisco lawyer, directly challenges this effort by the company to detach itself from its own users. It says Uber needs the vehicles to be logged into the Uber app — that’s the only way potential riders know there is a car in the vicinity. So even when there is no fare in the car, the drivers are in essence on the clock, working for Uber.

When drivers accept a call, furthermore, they need to interface with the app. The suit goes on to note that under California law, it is illegal to use a “wireless telephone” while driving unless it is specifically configured to be hands-free — which the app is not. In essence, the suit argues that Uber was negligent in the “development, implementation and use of the app” so as to cause the driver to be distracted and inattentive.

Mr. Kalanick (Uber's founder), in an interview, refused to discuss the case or even to confirm that the driver, Syed Muzaffar, had been carrying passengers earlier that evening. Mr. Muzaffar, who cooperated with the police after the accident, had been driving for Uber about a month, his lawyer said. It was a full-time job, using his own car, to support four kids. In the new sharing economy, he takes the fall.

Mr. Dolan, according to his website, has a fistful of awards: Statewide Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California, Trial Lawyer of the Year by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association and California Lawyer Attorney of the Year award.

“Uber’s claims that they are not responsible for injuries caused by Uber drivers who are logged on to the system but not carrying a fare flies in the face of hundreds of years of law,” he said:
“New technology does not eliminate well-established legal principles.”

Source: New York Times.

Taxi leaks would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Sophie Liu.

It's alleged that Uber are providing private hire vehicles passengers, without the final destination being known to the company at the time of booking.
It is also claimed, Uber is charging fares based on time and distance, in the same way a London black cab taximeter calculates journeys and tariffs.
It is further alleged that Uber do not have a London operational centre where records of drivers and all journeys made are kept. A fundamentals requirement in obtaining a PH operators licence.

If these allegations are true, Uber would be in direct contravention of the Private Hire Act 1998.

When a fixed price hasn't been agreed in advance, Uber calculate by time and distance. Their website gives the base rate charged as £3 UberX, £4 Uber EXEC and £5 UberLUX. 
Depending on the service you want, you are billed from one end of the scale from:
£0.32 per minute below 11mph and £1.75 per mile above 11mph on UberX 
Up to £0.72 per minute, below 11 mph to £4 per mile about 11mph at the other end of their scale on UberLUX.

In 2012, TfL licensed Uber to operate in London despite the fact they are banned in many cities around the world. TfL admit, they are currently investigating the legality of Uber operation, but even so, have granted them a licence in advance of the outcome of their investigation.

Meanwhile hard working Taxi drivers, with many years previous exemplary service and spotless clean criminal records, are being denied the right to work. Sir Peter who personally earned over £650,000 last year, is refusing to issue temporary licences while drivers wait for renewals which are at present being held up by poor administration. Some drivers have been unable to work for months. 

So, that's one law for us, "guilty" until proved innocent 
and a different law for PH operators. 

Hendy's personal decision, makes TfL, the only licensing authority in the country not issuing temporary licenses while drivers await renewals.

And yet, Hendy was only too pleased to issue Uber with an operators licence, when it launched in London in 2012, 

Is TfL too afraid to take on Uber?


Pauline said...

So, Uber was licensed under Masons watch.
Even though they did not have an operating centre where drivers records are kept or details of all journeys are recorded.

John Mason did more damage to the Cab trade than anyone has ever done, this list is endless. In my opinion, his bias, arrogance and belligerence were monumental.

Anonymous said...

As director, Mason was responsible for the actions of his "Team". Under his "watch" enforcement was reduced to a trickle.
Under his watch, we saw TfL policy reduced to no more than guidelines which meant special treatment was metered out to PH but the taxi trade rules were enforced without favour.

We saw PH getting away with almost anything they wanted, from obtaining licence variation without being in business for the required one year, some even being allowed to put livery on their vehicles. When it was pointed out their rear wiper had been removed, Griffin was given nearly a year to fix it.

Lines of cars plying for hire outside venues escalated across the capital.

When the licence fee went down, he insisted that the old charge was still made meaning some drivers were overcharged by almost 50%.

Under his watch we saw a west London minicab firm given envelope full of PH roundels without presenting his cars for inspection.
One employee of his team convicted of corruption
A man wanted in connection with mass murder licensed to driver a minicab.

Nice to see him on twitter holding up a plate given to him when he left his job. Like the plate though he has past his expiry date.

Best thing under his watch was when he and his team were mugged off by the doorman at Nobu's. "If you ain't got an appointment you ain't coming in" he was told. Filmed by thud LCDC, it was a classic.

Long Ball Sam said...

We all know that John Mason still is fascinated by Cab Trade issues, would he like to respond about Uber?

While your at the response John,
How about the 'favour for a mate' Roundels?
How 'Satellite' offices get licenced without planning or a rank outside?
Maybe if your really feeling candid how Rides2 managed to get 'satellites' licensed when only being in business for days despite no director a having any previous PH connection?

Come on down!

Sincerely MT. said...

The uncut version at Nobu of Mason being f##ked off is even better. You can clearly hear him screaming in a high pitched voice to Martin Lowe and Joe Royle "know wot I mean, know wot I mean". Mason's buttons were pushed by the door staff
.Think I will put it up on youtube as a leaving gift.
I warned Grant Davis what Mason was all about but he Trigger and the boys down near Nelson Mandella Way wouldn't listen.

As Delboy would say... Plonkers !

Anonymous said...

Read more about the hushed up roundels case.

Anonymous said...

Steve Norris's time line on twitter makes interesting reading.

Anonymous said...

The conduct and behaviour of the trades collective trade representatives is reprehensible - they have clearly put themselves before acting on the best interests of their members. The fact that they ever trusted John Mason will forever tarnish their name.

Fully knowing how Mason was instrumental in TfL's agenda to damage the trade, these traitors still attended his leaving do.

Gerald Coba said...

Didn't LTPH under Mason try to cover up the counterfeit licence scandal.

Didn't a Mason meet secretly with RMT chairman in Geoegie Vyse's Porto Cabin.

What about the blank licenses that went missing in the move from Penton Street, which amazingly turned back up when the shout went out.

Anonymous said...

Grant Davis and John Mason are soul mates!

Anonymous said...

Read what uber is really like

Sounds real dangerous to me - cars circling airports using two phones at once - unmarked saloons cruising about at night pulling alongside folks saying "Uber" and people just getting in ........
We need to stop this!!!!!

Also anybody doing an article on scab deregulation as highlighted on RMT website - which isn't very clear or hard hitting ???????

Union Watcher said...

Both the RMT and Unite have campaigns but neither has a current publication or a clear way of reaching the trade.

The CTN blog is a one man outfit which few people visit.
The RMT have a website but don't update and prefer word of mouth to drivers ranking in Paddington while promoting a trade app.

They should work together and produce a proper professional publication

Anonymous said...

Old Uria working hand in hand with the Rmt... it'll never happen for three reasons:

Steve MacNamara would never allow it to happen.

Neither will Jim Kelly.

Uria hates the Rmt and has vowed to keep the Rmt out at all costs.

And another little factor is: He can't be trusted !