Thursday, December 11, 2014

Reed on ridesharing and DWI

Commenting on local anti-DWI efforts, outgoing Bexar County DA Susan Reed cited ridesharing services Lyft and Uber as a means to reduce drunk driving in a city without a robust public transportation system (which pretty much describes every Texas city).

Grits found this interesting because local debates over these services have largely revolved around whether they're fair to taxicab companies, whom one would suppose from the rhetoric enjoy a God-given natural cartel that trumps the forces of capitalism and technology.

The city of San Antonio is considering regulations to limit ridesharing services, but the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Jess Fields rightly suggested yesterday that "San Antonio’s council members would do well to remember that the threat of new competition threatens taxicab companies, not consumers while the threat of drunk drivers is very real indeed."

I'm not a fan of Reed's other suggested DWI solution - "sobriety checkpoints" where every car is stopped at a roadblock regardless of whether there's reasonable suspicion.  But IMO she's right to frame the debate around ridesharing services in terms of providing an alternative to drunk driving.


Anonymous said...

Uber is a fantastic entrepreneurial company. I much prefer it over taxi companies where the cab driver gets a small percent of each fare. Uber only takes a 7% cut and the driver keeps the rest of the fare. This makes the driver much more interested in keeping the customer happy.

Anonymous said...


"only takes a 7% cut"

Hmm, while I have not worked for either company, I have done delivery work in which I worked as a 1099 contractor just as Uber and Lyft drivers do. To imply that the drivers get 93% of the fare is contrary to several articles I've read recently. Most articles suggest it is a much lower percentage.

However, what I really want to point out is that this is no living wage if you drive on a part time basis. Hell, if you drive on a full time basis, your life becomes non-existent. Here are a few perks:

Driving 12-10 hours per day
Mileage over 100k/year on your car
Wear & tear (new tires every 8-12 months)

Meanwhile, when do you have time to cook a meal? Never.
Clean your house? Never.
Do laundry? Never.
Go to the doctor? Never.
See your family? Never.

(My dog rode with me just because I NEVER knew when I'd be home to feed him or potty or walk him.)

Oh, true that they can drive as much as they like. However, it is a very common issue in this industry that dispatchers favor "dedicated" drivers with the number of jobs and the quality of those runs. ("Dedicated" = willing to work any run, any time, any where.)

Doing that work damn near killed me, figuratively and literally. (Oh the stupidity I've seen on Texas roads in 130k miles in 14 months.)

I strongly suggest Uber and Lyft customers think twice about the "perks" those drivers are receiving. When was the last time you saw a cab driver who was wearing Gucci? It's not as easy as you think.

Anonymous said...

Commenter from 02:19 here....

A few things I forgot to mention.

You are a contract driver when you do this sort of work. This means:

You must keep track of all your income.
You must keep track of all your expenses.
You must keep track of anything deductible and be able to provide receipts.
You must file quarterly estimated tax returns.
You must PAY estimated quarterly taxes.

Does one have time to do this while driving? Absolutely not. Again, to be a "dedicated" driver, you are being pushed to make upwards of 20 stops a day if you do small packages as I did. The box truck drivers do fewer deliveries per day. But it's all the same. You are either driving, or delivering, or stuffing your latest fast food "meal" WHILE driving.

Again, why does everyone think this is a easy and great way to make money?

Because Uber and Lyft WANT you to think so! Those of you who are under the impression that it's anything other than a way for someone above the End Provider are fooling yourselves.

Anonymous said...

..... above the End Provider to make money.... are only fooling themselves.

Anonymous said...

Framing the discussion as an effort to get drunks drivers off the roads is a smart one for the companies involved but realistically, even the large cab companies offering FREE holiday rides shows no shortage of drivers willing to take their chances with the law. Neither Uber or Lyft pay drivers enough for what they do and the primary arguments for the existing cab companies is that 1) they have a tremendous amount of capital invested and 2) are required to follow far stricter requirements are not without merit.

As such, they tend to self regulate better than the independent contractor model ever could (and frankly, it will only be a matter of time before such are called "employees" by the courts, just like strippers and many other professions so let's not kid ourselves). If we're going to allow some to skate on exceptionally burdensome regulations, let's open the same up for all and see just how big a mess we can make.

Anonymous said...

So Uber drivers get screwed - if the drunk gets home safe, why should I care? It's all voluntary.

Same goes with cab companies having a "tremendous amount of capital invested." You could say the same about newspapers and printing presses, for that we should have outlawed the Internet?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12/11/2014 06:03:00 PM:
If you're going to regulate cab companies so heavily, than yes, you are opening the city or state up to litigation. Either the rules should apply to both types of companies or neither, as a matter of public policy, otherwise you are creating unfair competition (though I suspect the deep pockets of the can industry will dig in to even things up via buying off politicians as needed).

And as pointed out, even when rides are free, scores of people drive drunk so the false argument that you are more likely to use a paid service on a holiday is curious.