Saturday, September 01, 2018
The city of San Francisco announced it's granting scooter permits to small start-ups Scoot and Skip, shutting out well-funded hometown businesses including Uber, Bird, Lime and Lyft.
The move follows San Francisco's decision earlier this year to ban the scooter companies from operating without a permit, after scooters from several providers, including Bird, Lime and Spin, flooded the streets and clogged up sidewalks. The city opened up a permit application process and said it would allow 1,250 scooters onto the streets.
A dozen operators submitted applications, and San Francisco ultimately shunned the companies that started the rush in favor of two newcomers. Skip and Scoot will be permitted up to 625 scooters each.
"At the tail end of March, three companies -- Bird, Lime and Spin -- unloaded hundreds of motorized scooters across San Francisco," the city's Municipal Transportation Authority said in a statement on Thursday. "While they were operating, several concerns were raised by the city and our communities."
Venture firms have poured capital into bike and scooter start-ups, pumping up valuations, after ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft trounced the entrenched taxi industry. Lime and Bird are each worth more than $1 billion on paper, to the disbelief of many Silicon Valley observers. Uber acquired Jump Bikes in April for about $250 million, notching an early exit for investors in bike-sharing. But the battle for "last-mile" transportation is still in its very early days.
Companies that offer electric scooters and bike-sharing services are now in a race to grow their operations across U.S. markets like San Francisco and southern California, where the weather is mild and residents can make use of their products all year round. Local officials in the Bay Area have tried to rein in companies that they viewed as sidestepping existing regulations to establish a footprint before proper rules could be put into place.
"Investing in the city -- including bike lane infrastructure and job training -- is a commitment we made in our San Francisco permit application," Sanjay Dastoor, Skip's CEO, said in a statement. "We're glad to see others in the industry following our lead and look forward to making the success of shared electric mobility something that we can all be a part of."
Venture investor Shawn Carolan, whose firm Menlo Ventures backed Skip as well as Uber and Jump said, "I'm so pleased to see San Francisco work closely with companies to solve 'the last mile' problem. There are huge benefits if the city gets it right: Innovation from new transportation startups can create jobs, reduce traffic, and benefit the environment while driving productivity."
For Bird and Lime, it wasn't all bad news on Thursday. The scooter-rental businesses won permits to operate in Santa Monica, California, Bird's hometown.
But San Francisco came down particularly hard on them. The city gave Bird a "poor" rating in 10 of the 12 categories it graded, the worst performance of any of the applicants. Those categories include safety, access for disabled and low-income users, sustainability, good labor practices and a positive relationship with the San Francisco community.
Disappointment from the big players
In a statement to CNBC, a Bird spokesperson said the company is continuing to work with San Francisco to eventually return to the city.
"While we are disappointed with today's decision, we hope to have the opportunity to meet the needs of SF residents and to help the city achieve its transportation goals following this initial test period," the company said.
Skip scored the best in the assessment, getting a "safe" rating in seven categories, a "fair" in four others and "poor" in just one -- sustainability. Scoot was second, with six "safe" ratings, five "fair" and a poor determination for its approach to helping low-income residents.
Spin and Lime each had six "poor" ratings.
Representatives from Lime and Spin told CNBC they were disappointed in San Francisco's decisions. Lime said the city "has selected inexperienced scooter operators that plan to learn on the job, at the expense of the public good," while Spin said in a statement that "SFMTA chose not to distinguish between companies that have always worked in good faith with the city and those that did not."
Uber also expressed disappointment and said that, "granting only two scooter permits unnecessarily limits mobility options in San Francisco, and we plan to follow up with the SFMTA to share our concerns.
Friday, August 31, 2018
So it would be fair to believe we are also exempt from Hackney and Islington council’s new schemes ???
In the borough of Hackney, if you are an existing parking permit holder, you are exempt from the scheme.
Below is an extract from Hackney’s website page
“Existing on-street parking permit holders are exempt.”
It goes into say:
“Your vehicle will automatically be added to our list of exempted vehicles and you won't need to apply for an exemption. If you change your vehicle, it's your responsibility to tell us and register a new number plate for the exemption.”
So as we are already exempt from the ULEZ scheme London wide, then we should be covered by our exemption in Hackney and Islington. Will our registration be automatically be added to their lists of exempt vehicles ??
Would someone at TfLTPH care to answer. ?? ....It Starts Monday !!!
TfLTPH was asked the question on Twitter and came back with this answer :
Taxis are not exempt from the scheme being administered by Hackney and other councils. More details are here: http://hackney.gov.uk/ulev-streets
But more worrying, Taxi Leaks has spotted that Hackney council are offering “Taxi rides” with Green Tomato Cars. This offer is being promoted by Hackney illegally using the words Taxi and Taxis !!
Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets are advertising a low emission “Taxi” discount card on this website. But in fact, the rides being offered are in a private hire company minicab. This is a misleading and illegal advertisement.
Will TfL be taking this up with the council, insisting that the company be removed from their website after braking the conditions of the Private Hire Vehicles Act 1998 ??
We believe we need a more comprehensive answer from both TfL and The Mayor Sadiq Khan.
London’s streets are being taken away from the trade by stealth .... will TfL (who have insisted that we bought the vehicles we now use), be paying compensation to drivers... who are seeing their working area eroded by being banned from certain parts of the Capital ??
The first of these schemes start on Monday with a promise of more to come !!
The question now has to be asked :
Will our trade orgs be fighting this policy on a united front (even though their general secretary of our largest org has a family conflict of interest in regards to selling the LECV to the trade) ???
If you belong to a trade org, ring them up on Monday and find out where their stand on this issue and what they intend to do.
Will the trade stand up and fight back?....Or will they assume the position and “wait and see” ??
The question also needs to be asked :
Are Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets banning Taxis from London Streets to give an unfair advantage to their partners Green Tomato Cars ???
Thursday, August 30, 2018
The Department for Infrastructure said any decision would be left to an incoming minister
A 12-month scheme allowing most taxis to use bus lanes in Belfast - including new Glider lanes - has been put on hold.
In March, the Infrastructure Department said it had planned to introduce the trial before the Belfast Rapid Transit System launches next week.
It would have allowed Class A, private hire, taxis to use the lanes.
One firm insisted the latest decision will increase "traffic chaos".
Impact of incinerator ruling
Carl Bennett of East Side Taxis warned passengers may see an increase in fares, adding, "the decision has not been thought through".
The Department for Infrastructure said a recent court ruling on Stormont decision-making led to the deferral.
In July, the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling dismissing planning permission for the controversial Arc21 waste incinerator, and determined that Stormont's civil servants did not have the power to act without ministerial approval.
The Department for Infrastructure told BBC News NI it had "considered all representations received" in relation to a consultation carried out earlier this year about the "experimental" scheme, but added it could no longer go ahead with it due to the Arc21 ruling.
New bus lanes have been introduced for Belfast's Glider bus network
"The recent Buick judicial review judgement clarified the position regarding the decisions civil servants can and cannot take in the absence of ministers," a spokesperson said.
"It is that judgement which has led the department to defer the decision on the introduction of this experimental scheme.
"The outcome of the recent consultation and the rationale for an experimental scheme will be put to an incoming minister for infrastructure."
It added that taxi access in the bus lanes will remain limited to Class B (wheelchair accessible) and Class D (taxibus) taxis, as well as all buses, bicycles, motorcycles and the emergency services.
Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said the decision not to proceed with the scheme was "disappointing and frustrating".
"Taxi drivers across Belfast will, no doubt, be very angry at this decision, they are ordinary working-class men and women trying to provide for their families," he added.
"Overturning this decision will cause unnecessary problems for them."
Council to debate Glider
Meanwhile, around 80 people attended a meeting in west Belfast on Wednesday evening to discuss the impact of the new Glider system on those living and working in the area.
The network, linking east Belfast, west Belfast and the Titanic Quarter with the city centre, comes into operation on Monday.
A number of issues were raised, including the removal of parking spaces along the Andersonstown Road and changes to the location of bus stops.
One woman, whose home fronts on to the Falls Road, said she recently received a fine for parking outside her house.
A new 12-hour bus lane lies directly outside her home - the woman said she cannot even unload shopping from her car.
People Before Profit, which organised the meeting, is planning to bring a motion before Belfast City Council next week to highlight some of the problems, including the bus lane directly outside St Kevin's Primary School on the Falls Road.
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : COMING SOON
The Nissan Dynamo is the new Zero Emission Licensed London Taxi. A welcome, more affordable option to electric Taxis in London. More details later 👀
Keep up to date, search for Nissan Dynamo Taxi Owners Group on FaceBook
Renault Group’s finance arm RCI has bought a 75% stake in iCabbi, in response to the rapid growth in the ride hailing sector.
iCabbi is an app and dispatch management service for taxi fleets. It enables customers to summon a cab from their smartphone and lets taxi firms identify the most approprate driver to send.
RCI aims to become a business-to-business mobility operator and says taxis are a key piece in the "mobility solution mosaic."
More than 70,000 taxis and private hire vehicles use iCabbi in Ireland, the UK and North America, and in the UK 19 of the 32 largest taxi companies already use iCabbi.
Taxi firms operate fleets of 500-plus vehicles and about 70% to 80% of the vehicles are driven by owner-drivers, allocated clients by a central dispatcher.
The opportunity to transform this process into an automated app-based process is what attracted RCI to iCabbi. Without this leap in technology, these firms will find themselves under threat from ride-hailing platforms such as Lyft and Uber.
Gavan Walsh, founder of iCabbi, believes RCI sees an opportunity to invest in the taxi industry and supply taxi companies with the new tools they need to compete against the start-up challengers and hopefully then sell them new cars.
"In three to five years I would like to see an electric vehicle by the supplier with our operating system built into it, so it doesn’t need a third party phone or software," said Walsh.
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : from Paul
Good Afternoon @TfLTPH
Man down and the usual mayhem on the @UberUKsupport feed!!
Any news on the the driving test that was promised ?
#UberCrash #CancellationScam #WeDeserveBetter #London #Uber
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
City has jumped to the forefront of a worldwide push to clamp down on companies such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb
City has jumped to the forefront of a worldwide push to clamp down on companies such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb
The gig economy is having a bad summer in New York City.
New York this month became the first major city to cap the number of cars that companies like Uber and Lyft are allowed to put on the road.
Just weeks earlier, the city council approved and New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, signed a law to crack down on Airbnb, requiring the company to hand over the names and addresses of all its hosts to an enforcement office.
With the one-two punch, New York has jumped to the forefront of a push in cities around the world to clamp down on the app-based companies that are now among the biggest players in the transportation and lodging markets.
“What we did should at least make it clear to other cities that commonsense regulation is possible,” said Corey Johnson, the city council speaker who made the tech company crackdowns among his first high-profile legislative pushes.
Each app presented its own set of challenges for city officials in New York – and each mounted a fierce but failed bid to stop the new rules.
Uber flexed its political muscle in 2015 and was able to beat back a similar effort to impose a cap, which collapsed after a public lobbying blitz by the company.
This time around, the company again argued that a cap would drive up prices and make it harder to get a ride in the city’s outer boroughs where transportation options are more sparse than in Manhattan – asking its customers to contact their representatives with the message: “URGENT: Your ride is at risk.”
And it enlisted civil rights leaders to make the case that ride hailing was essential for black New Yorkers, who have faced discrimination from the city’s yellow cabs.
The legislation, which puts a cap in place for one year, quickly passed anyway.
“They didn’t realize that times had changed,” said Mitchell Moss, director of New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation.
The number of cars plying the congested streets has exploded – to 113,000 licensed for hire vehicles as of 14 August, when the cap took effect, up from fewer than 47,000 at the beginning of 2014.
The turn to e-hailing clobbered the city’s well-known yellow cabs, with some drivers buried in debt from medallions which have plunged in value.
Six drivers have killed themselves in less than a year.
“You don’t understand how bad it is,” said yellow cab driver Abraham Lobe, a member of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. He said that once, a driver could make $200 in a single morning or evening rush hour. Now, it’s less than $50.
In addition to the cap on licenses for hire vehicles, another law will establish minimum earnings for app drivers – requiring the companies to make up the difference if drivers don’t make enough from fares.
The cap “will threaten one of the few reliable transportation options while doing nothing to fix the subways or ease congestion”, said an Uber spokeswoman, Alix Anfang.
But Uber driver Sohail Rana called the company’s argument a “complete lie” and said he hoped the law would ease the crunch on drivers.
“There are five drivers fighting for one ride,” said Rana, a member of the Independent Drivers Guild.
After New York’s vote to cap Uber, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, said he wanted a cap there too.
While officials fretted about Uber causing congestion on the streets, they took an even harder line against Airbnb, aided by the politically influential hotel workers union.
Foes blamed the company for driving up rents, with landlords taking apartments off the housing market and instead renting them out to tourists. Airbnb countered that most of its hosts were average New Yorkers renting space in their own homes to help make ends meet.
It was already illegal under New York state law to rent out an entire apartment for less than a month at a time.
But under the city’s new law, Airbnb will be required to hand over the names, addresses and other information about all of its hosts to a special enforcement office, which could expose them to fines and drive some off the platform altogether.
Lynn, an Airbnb host in the borough of Staten Island who wouldn’t give her last name because she fears retaliation, said she plans to take down her listing and sell her home rather than comply with the requirement.
Lynn and her husband own a two-family house, and joined Airbnb in 2014 after they both lost jobs in the same year. They offer up the unit they live in on the site, and stay with her parents when it is rented out.
“It’s helped out these past few years, just keep everything afloat,” she said. “We can’t keep it going without the extra income we get from renting it out.”
When a similar requirement took effect in San Francisco, the number of Airbnb listings there was cut in half. Airbnb sued on Friday in an effort to block the proposed New York law.
Other cities have taken steps to rein in AirBnb. Barcelona created a squad to root out unlicensed rentals. Iceland restricted the number of days residents can offer rentals in their properties to 90 days a year before they must pay business tax, and created a committee to find illegal units.
Japan passed a temporary housing law limiting rentals to 180 days a year and requiring hosts to register, and local governments went further, with one Tokyo ward banning all rentals on weekdays.
New York’s approach is one of the harshest, said NYU professor of business Arun Sundararajan.
“We have among the most restrictive Airbnb laws, and I think it will hurt the city in the long term,” he said.
But Veena Dubal, an associate professor of law a the University of California, Hastings College of Law, said New York had taken an important stand.
“This might send a signal to cities around the country that they can be regulators of these big companies, and it doesn’t mean you’re anti-business,” she said.
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : Meanwhile, in London !!!
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Certain drivers have been castigated somewhat for highlighting a number of concerns- concerns that can’t be addressed until drivers know the terms of the contract. I know of nowhere else where we would be so obliging. Although presented in a different way it seems not too dissimilar to NY drivers being offered a $100m ‘continuity fund’ for periods of hardship.
In the first instance, I’d like to know how an out of court settlement might legitimise Uber’s modus operandi and secondly, how a case might determine any future litigation filed against the company.
Surely, the underpinning of all FAQ’s is a company’s T&C?
It seems odd they made one so readily available, without the other as a point of reference. Written terms that refer to particular regulations is a must. The Provisions of Services Regulation that came into force in 2009 requires businesses to inform customers of certain information that are specific to this case,
Drivers should be concerned about what they are signing into. That’s not being a doom merchant, it’s defending ones own best interests, both as an individual and as a trade. After all, drivers have to register to be considered a potential claimant and in doing so, there are possible implications not just for ourselves, but for the way the industry moves forward, all things considered. Registering an interest at this point may not be binding, but how many drivers have been made aware of this?
Those that are set to benefit are naturally quite keen to get the process started, not least Mischon De Reya. Would it not have been good idea for the LTDA to have insisted the T&C be in place as a prerequisite of drivers signing up to the scheme.
That would serve in everyone’s best interests, no?
Sean Paul Day
Japanese carmaker Toyota is investing $500m in Uber, it confirmed late last night, valuing Uber at more than $70bn as part of a deal to work together on driverless cars.
So, the company is said to be worth $70bn? A company that has had to postpone its IPO because of crippling debt !!!
Apart from the plethora of expensive court settlements, Uber’s expensive driverless car programme has been plagued by delays after it caused a pedestrian death earlier this year.
The world’s largest automaker is flinging big bets around in the hope that something sticks. It might be better off doing what it knows best.
Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it’s deepening ties with Uber Technologies Inc., investing $500 million and making Sienna minivans equipped with the tech company’s self-driving software. A yet-to-be determined third party will operate that fleet. One day earlier, four Toyota-affiliated parts companies announced a joint venture to develop software that manages components for automated driving. A few months before that, Toyota put $1 billion into Southeast Asia’s largest ride-hailing provider, Grab, the largest such investment by an automaker.
From chunky stakes in mobility and autonomy to financing partnerships and doubling down in China, the Japanese leader is splashing out on the future of the car. Increasingly, though, it looks like two Toyotas: One that remains squarely focused on cost-cutting and operating within the confines of a struggling world market, the other trying to spend its way out of the gloom.
This new deal will see Toyota and Uber working together on car safety systems for autonomous vehicles.
Last month, Uber chief operating officer Barney Harford made the statement to the media that the company was "not focused in the short-term" on profits, but was instead piling investment into driverless cars and its other businesses.
Another company that had a go-private failure and is now in a position where it will have to add to its debt to keep business going is Tesla. Unless it is able to turn its auto business profitable fast, it is going to have to raise massive funds again.
Bankers have already cut Tesla’s share price estimates after the debacle, although some investors were buoyed, claiming Tesla could be worth far more (eventually). Tesla shares fell as much as 5pc on Monday.
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : by Lenny Etheridge.
Gerald Gouriet QC's summary of Judge Arbuthnot's decisions concerning Uber, during Uber's London License Appeal.
With our courts compromised by the dollar, we are left to question the safety of our nation as a whole.
This country was lost on the playing fields of Eton.
It’s not all bad news though....
Taken from the Uber people Blog mainly (Uber drivers).
Now Uber is stuck. If the IPO fails to meet the needed value mark, Uber will have a huge problem with cash flow. Soft Bank and the rest that have carried Uber are no long willing to pump good money after bad. If Uber sells off the self driving unit, investors will dry up. Investors will not fund a cheap taxi company with billions in debt. The only hope for Uber is to have self drivers on the road and quickly. Not going to happen it appears.
Drivers have a window right now. If even 2 or 3 big markets go the direction of NYC, Uber will loose control of the drivers to the states and the laws that protect employees. The momentum will move state to state until Uber is toast
Monday, August 27, 2018
If US District Judge William Alsup agrees, Uber will pay out $345,622. When divided amongst the group, that will result in approximately $75 per person, before attorneys' fees are calculated.
The suit, Dulberg v. Uber, was filed in February 2017 in federal court in San Francisco. The suit alleges that Martin Dulberg and other drivers like him are consistently underpaid based on the company's own formula.
Since nearly the beginning, Uber has paid its drivers 80 percent of a given fare. However, in the lawsuit, lead plaintiff Martin Dulberg claims that the company has now changed the way it calculates what that fare is. The result is that the company consistently pays between 70 and 80 percent—but not the full 80 percent—of what the fare should be.
This, plaintiffs claimed, is in violation of the December 2015 work agreement (known as the Technology Services Agreement, or "TSA") that they and many other drivers signed. As they opted out of arbitration, they can sue and band together as a class.
The case largely turned on a difference of interpretation in the work contract.
As the motion for settlement approval, which was submitted on Friday, states:
According to Dulberg, the TSA contemplates only one Fare: the Fare determined by the Fare Calculation. It ties both drivers' payments and Uber's Service Fee to that Fare. Dulberg contends that Uber performed one Fare Calculation based on actual inputs for time/distance at the end of each ride until it implemented upfront pricing. Passengers paid that Fare, Uber calculated its Service Fee based on that Fare, and class members received the remainder of that Fare. When Uber implemented upfront pricing, its practices changed. It began doing two separate Fare Calculations, one upfront to charge passengers (with estimated inputs for time/distance) and another after the ride (with actual inputs for time/distance) to determine class members' compensation. Dulberg claims that practice breached the TSA.
On the other hand, Uber asserts that it "introduced upfront pricing to create more certainty for riders to enable better informed choices that fit their needs—not to undermine driver payments or earnings." (Dkt. No. 71 at 6.) Uber maintains that, regardless of upfront pricing for riders, a driver's Fare Calculation remained constant under the TSA. (Id.) Moreover, as discussed above, most drivers benefited financially from Uber's practice.
Because of this realization, the final number in the affected class was cut from around 9,000 to around 4,500.
To be clear, the alleged violations of the TSA are the only issue at hand: the case does not turn on whether Dulberg and the other drivers were properly classified as contractors or employees, as numerous other cases have.
Uber did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment. The two sides are set to meet before Judge Alsup on October 29
Source : Arstechnica
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : by Jim Thomas
A few weeks ago Mike 'onside' Brown, apologised for the added congestion and the mess that's been made by rolling out the segregated cycle lanes too fast without proper research, or repairing faulty systems across the capital.
It's OK to apologise, but it only means something when an apology is followed by action.
There has been no further action on this subject from Mike Brown, most local councils or TfL. Only Westminster has stood up to the Mayor and TFL's crazy schemes. The pedestrianisation of Oxford Street has been vito'd by residents as has the Swiss Cottage madness.
But still the chaos and congestion continues. Many believe it's been engineered so that people will welcome the Mayor new measures with open arms, instead of open eyes.
One of the best resources we have in our trade, to help drivers maximise their working skills is the free UCGup account on Twitter. And yet, only around 10% of drivers are using it.
This facility is one of the most helpful guides you'll ever use. No politics, no little cliques, just work and traffic related updates. It doesn't matter which org/Union you subscribe to or even if you don't, everyone is welcome. A truly United Taxi Trade application....and it's completely free to any driver with a Twitter account.
There are a lot of older drivers like myself who sometimes need help with technology. So I've put together this guide to show how simple it is to get on the UCGup account.
UCGup, was born out of need to reverse the elitist attitudes that saw our trade divide and devastated for the best part of a decade.
In a politically motivated move against certain new boys on the block, a number of high profile drivers were expelled from the Tweet a London Cab "CABup" account.
The UCG then decided to set up and sponsor their own account.
It was decided from day one, to make the account non political and available free to every driver in the trade, regardless of which org, Union or group the driver supports.
So, what are the attributes of being on this service?
The whole service depends on the actions of all the subscribers. If Paddington/Kings Cross/Waterloo etc...need Taxis, the observing driver sends a direct message to the app. This is then sent out as an update to all the subscribers.
Same thing with ranks at Hotels, bars, restaurants, clubs, in fact anywhere people are seen looking for Taxis.
Then their are the traffic updates, jams, roadworks and RTAs.
After being on the service for just a few days, you'll find it will become an essential piece of kit to make your working day/night easier.
So how do you get on this service?
First, you need to have a Twitter account installed on your smart phone. But don't worry, you don't have to follow anyone except UCGup, it's your call.
Once on Twitter, you will need to search for the UCGup account and click on the follow button. You won't be accepted straight away.
Next, you need to send a photo of your Bill and Badge and Twitter ID to email@example.com.
Once accepted you will have to ability to start receiving regular up dates from UCGup.
Once you get the hang of things you can advance to rhe next level and start receiving notifications on your phone without actually having the app on screen.
Go to notifications on your phone and choose Twitter, click on allow notifications.
You can also choose to turn on the sound alert and notification centre, but that's optional.
Now go to the UCGup Twitter page click on the settings wheel and turn on notifications.
And basically, that's it.
You will now receive notifications from UCGup, regardless of whatever program is running on your phone or tablet. You will even get updates while the phone is in lock screen mode.
Finally listen to this short sound clip:
The Ucgup welcome Speech
And that's it, it's that simple!
But then to be honest, the best solutions normally are the simple ones.
Sunday, August 26, 2018
A Jersey taxi driver has been left shaken, unable to sleep and says he can no longer work late night shifts after being threatened with a knife on Friday.
The 58-year-old taxi driver, who wants to remain anonymous, told the ITV News he was chased with a knife in Gorey Village by a passenger who refused to pay his taxi fare.
He said: “I lost a whole night’s earnings, but I could have lost my life
"Taxi drivers are on the front line just as much as police."
He added that this is the worst incident he has witnessed in his 35-year career.
The incident happened at just before midnight on Friday.
A 21-year-old was arrested for grave and criminal assault and has since been release on bail.
The police investigation continues
Source : ITV News
China’s largest ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing is suspending its Hitch services nationwide, the company said in a statement on Sunday, a day after police said a ride-sharing passenger in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou was raped and killed by a driver.
Didi Chuxing said it was sorry that the carpool service would be suspended from Aug. 27 due to “disappointing mistakes” while the company reevaluates the product’s business model.
The suspected murder of a 20-year-old woman, who Wenzhou police identified only with the surname Zhao, is the latest in a series of violent crimes that have fueled safety concerns about the service.
Zhao got into a Hitch carpool vehicle at 1 p.m. (0500 GMT) on Friday, and sent a message to a friend at around 2 p.m. seeking help before losing contact, according to a local police statement.
A 27-year-old driver named Zhong was detained at about 4 a.m. on Saturday and confessed to raping and killing the passenger, the local police statement said, adding that the victim’s body had been recovered and an investigation was continuing.
Did said on Sunday that the suspect had no prior criminal record, had provided authentic documentation and passed a facial recognition test before starting work.
But the company said on Saturday there was a prior complaint made against the driver on Thursday by a passenger who alleged the driver took them to a remote place and then followed the passenger after she got out of the car.
“The incident shows the many deficiencies with our customer service processes, especially the failure to act swiftly on the previous passenger’s complaint and the cumbersome and rigid process of information sharing with the police,” the company said in the statement on Sunday.
The Hitch carpool service has run over 1 billion trips in the past three years, the company said. Didi is the biggest ride-sharing firm globally by number of trips.
STATE MEDIA CRITICISM
China’s state-backed media criticized Didi’s safety record on Sunday, while celebrities took to social media and pledged to delete the application.
“You’ve had so many incidents,” an unnamed family member of Zhao was quoted as saying in the Qianjiang Evening news, an official Zhejiang province publication.
“What are you going to do about your safety and service problems?”
Wang Chuanjun, a famous Chinese actor, on Sunday shared a screenshot of his phone as he prepared to delete the application. His post was shared over 58 thousand times on China’s Twitter-like Weibo and the hashtag “Wang Chuanjun uninstalls Didi” had been viewed nearly 9 million times by the evening.
China’s official Xinhua News agency criticized Didi for not doing more to prevent such incidents and said the company should face legal punishment if it failed to put customer’s safety first.
Didi has increased its safety measures for Hitch after the murder of a flight attendant during a Hitch ride in May sparked outrage. These included limiting Hitch drivers to only picking up passengers of the same sex during early morning and late evening hours.
Source : Reuters
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
In the last month Taxi leaks reached over 421,000 people on FaceBook alone, and was read over 180,000 times by Twitter subscribers.