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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Uber and Lyft Withdraw Opposition to State Insurance Bill (Update)

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 2:19 PM

  • Photo illustration by Audrey Fukuman
Update, 2:54 p.m.: Uber and Lyft have withdrawn their opposition to AB2293, according to a spokesman from Assemblymember Susan Bonilla's office.  Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend released this statement:

“Californians loves Uber and lawmakers have heard them loud and clear. Common sense has prevailed and the winners are Californians."

Lyft, in turn, released its own statement: "We have agreed to a compromise that provides clarity for the ridesharing community in California. However, a truly permanent solution must include the creation of modern insurance products tailored for drivers who participate in peer-to-peer transportation."

Original story:

A hotly disputed assembly bill that would make Uber, Lyft, and their drivers pony up for commercial insurance might soon be headed to the governor's desk, even though both companies have fought tooth and nail to kill it. 

Assembly Bill 2293 — written by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Contra Costa and Solano Counties) — was amended late last night to stipulate that all transportation network companies (or TNCs, meaning companies that provide pre-arranged rides via an app) carry hefty insurance policies that don't leave any coverage gap for their contracted drivers.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Uber Using Burner Phones to Sabotage Lyft

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 5:18 PM

It's no secret that the war between transit startup rivals Uber and Lyft has escalated to the point of bloodsport.

First, the two companies targeted each other via billboards plastered on Muni buses and throughout Silicon Valley, which gave the impression of a passive-aggressive death match.

Then, they tried a more direct campaign over social media, offering $500 rewards, and other perks, to drivers willing to defect from one company to the other. 

Now, Uber has launched a full-on assault, providing teams of "brand ambassadors" with burner phones and credit cards which they can use to anonymously request rides from Lyft or other competitors, and then try to recruit the drivers, according to a new report from The Verge

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Marilyn Hartman: Serial Stowaway Busted at Phoenix Airport

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Likes to travel
  • Likes to travel
Less than a month after being arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, Marilyn Hartman, the tenacious traveler, was busted again for allegedly lingering at the Phoenix Airport today, against court orders.

According to Phoenix police, airport staff spotted the 62-year-old San Francisco resident lingering around terminal 4 at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. They recognized Hartman, who has become infamous for her nonstop attempts to board planes without a ticket, standing near the baggage claim. When authorities contacted her, they discovered, once again, she did not have a ticket and had no reason to be at the airport, says Phoenix Sgt. Trent Crump.

"We don't know how she got here," Crump told SF Weekly. 

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Uber Promises New Drivers $5,000 a Month

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 7:23 AM

  • Jim Herd
New drivers who sign with UberX could earn up to $5,000 their first month, guaranteed. 

That's according to the latest string of Uber billboards, which have been placed somewhat incongruously on Muni buses throughout the city.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Marilyn Hartman: Woman Who Can't Stop Sneaking Onto Planes Headed to Jail

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 8:52 AM

All packed up for jail
  • All packed up for jail
Marilyn Hartman, the 62-year-old former legal secretary and wanderlust, got a roundtrip ticket to jail Wednesday after she snuck onto a flight to Los Angeles last week. 

CBS News is reporting that a judge sentenced Hartman to 177 days in jail after she fessed up to violating a court order to stay away from Los Angeles International Airport. On Aug, 4, Hartman arrived at San Jose Mineta Airport without a plane ticket, and managed to get through security and slip onto a plane headed for Los Angeles. When the plane arrived, she was immediately arrested and her travel plans were ruined. She was released that day and placed on 24 months probation and ordered to stay away from LAX. 

But the very next day, she was seen again wandering the airport, without a plane ticket, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office spokesman Frank Mateljan told the news station.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Uber Battling Lyft and State Legislature

Posted By on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 3:05 PM

Uber PSA opposing AB 612 and AB 2293 - UBER AD
  • Uber ad
  • Uber PSA opposing AB 612 and AB 2293
The second richest startup in history is suddenly waging battles on multiple fronts, with nearest competitor Lyft accusing it of a massive ride cancellation scam, and the state Senate considering new regulations for transportation network companies.

On Tuesday, Lyft told CNN Money that Uber employees had booked and canceled 5,560 rides with Lyft drivers, in a coordinated plot that recalls the company's alleged ride-ditch hoax against Israeli company Gett in February. Uber swung back with ride-ditch accusations of its own, telling the New York Times that Lyft drivers and employees had cancelled 12,900 Uber trips, and that further, Lyft was just sore because investors were vying for an Uber acquisition.

The accusation of the 12,900 requested and cancelled trips has thus far been unsubstantiated; Lyft has publicly denied the acquisition rumor. Meanwhile, Uber has launched an aggressive "California Needs Uber" campaign against state Assembly bills 2293 and 612, which would both impose tighter restrictions on app-based chauffeur services.

AB 612 would require new permits for charter-party carriers that contract with startups like Uber and Lyft. AB 2293 would require the Ubers and Lyfts of the world to disclose the limitations of their commercial liability insurance to all drivers in writing. Both are scheduled to go before the Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Uber Charges Up to $470 Per Ride at Outside Lands (Update)

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Travis Kalanick didn't dispense his usual pro tips.
  • Travis Kalanick didn't dispense his usual pro tips.
Update, Monday, 1:01 p.m.: Valleywag's Kevin Montgomery has published a few more stratospheric Uber rates, including a $470 ride and a $391 ride — both well over the $275 price of a 3-day pass for the festival.

Sadly, Uber czar Travis Kalanick didn't offer his typical primer on how not to get gouged by Uber during the Outside Lands Festival this past weekend.

We could have really used one.

Absent any warning, Uber riders took to social media to grouse about the company's exorbitant prices as its drivers ferried people to-and-from Golden Gate Park.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Muni J-Church Blocked by Stranded Tech Bus

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 10:12 AM

The anti-gentrification bloc got yet another perfect allegory today, in the form of a charter bus marooned at the intersection of 21st and Church Streets, right in the path of the J-Church Muni line.

A good samaritan from Twitter alerted SFMTA to the scene. The agency then had to dispatch its own shuttles to supplement service from 16th and Church to Balboa Park. Some deemed that a Pyrrhic victory for regular public transit riders, who've long felt jilted when private luxury coaches commandeered their stops.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Golden Gate Bridge Lane Closures Start Tonight

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Note to those traveling to Marin this week: The Golden Gate Bridge will close several lanes of traffic starting tonight as crews prepare to install a movable median barrier designed to prevent head-on collisions

Bridge workers will reduce the number of southbound lanes open at the toll plaza every night this week while they work to build the $30.3 million median.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

SF Cab Drivers Flout Law By Taking Square Payments

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 3:04 PM

An SF Weekly writer was surprised last night when a cab driver punched her fare into his cell phone, claiming his credit card machine was down. 

Shortly thereafter, she received an email receipt via the Square app, indicating that $17.50 had been transferred directly to the driver's personal account. 

Evidently, Square is changing the nature of cab payments, just as it's enabled farm stands and other small businesses to run transactions without using a normal credit card system. But in the cabs' case, its legality is questionable.

Technically, any cab fare paid via a credit card has to be processed through a meter in San Francisco, and the SFMTA fines drivers $150 for saying  their credit card systems are down.

But many try that trick anyway, DeSoto Cab owner Hansu Kim told the Weekly. Often it's an excuse to collect cash payments off the books and not pay taxes on them, Kim explained. Until the advent of Square and other mobile payment apps, many drivers tried to sustain an all-cash economy.

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