By Don McCurdy

All I want for Christmas?

Image: waymo

A driverless taxi, Waymo, is reportedly scheduled to go on line as a pay service before Christmas. A name for the service has not been publicly announced. The new ride hailing service is reported to be valued at 80 billion dollars.

Still utilizing the "backup driver" at startup, the company has not had a reported start date for full automation. The service will be a ride hail service, no doubt to keep government regulations to a minimum.

While obviously missing the opportunity to be first, Uber is reported to be restarting testing on their autonomous fleet. Daimler and Bosch are reported to be signing up to test in San Jose California, but that won’t be using minivans. Their claim to fame will be the Mercedes Benz S Class sedans.

I guess without having to pay a driver you can afford a classier vehicle. There are other scheduled startups around the globe for next year, however, it appears Waymo scores as the first company to get someone to pay to ride in their autonomous vehicles.


Can’t get enough.

New York City is reported to have a host of new ordinances regarding taxi and shared ride services and an exciting new task force to study medallion prices. Okay, maybe exciting is a stretch, but I believe the ship has sailed on taxi medallion prices.

Since Uber is reported to have lost only a billion dollars last year, maybe you could help them out with a ride share medallion they could invest in? One of the "supplemental" bills is reported to be addressing "debt and mental health challenges" of drivers for both taxi and app drivers.

You have to wonder exactly how all of that will be accomplished but they broke it, so they feel compelled to try to fix it. Let me see if I understand this correctly, the city is going to launch a financial education for drivers to help them get out of debt? The people who cannot balance their own budget are going to educate others on how it’s done?

Another of the bills is reported to set up an office of inclusion to address "diversity, inclusion and cultural sensitivity in the taxi and for hire industries." Now, that sounds very governmental. Any time you have diversity and inclusion it sounds very governmental.

One of the interesting parts of the article was a comment from Moira Muntz, a spokeswoman for the Independent Driver Guild. She was reported to say, "Like generations of taxi riders, New York’s for–hire vehicle drivers face discrimination daily and are even fired from their jobs due to complaints or low ratings based on rider bias."

Well, it seems quite plain to me that these riders, complaining about drivers and giving bad driver ratings, should be referred to the office of inclusion. All in all it seems like a lot of really important blustering to give the appearance that something is going to get fixed, but don’t hold your breath.


Speaking of which...

Uber is reported to be partnering with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to properly identify sexual misconduct and acquire sexual misconduct transparency. Now, that is some high performance gibberish.

Uber drivers, not unlike their taxicab driving counterparts, have committed all sorts of sexual offences. At the risk of being called a bigot can I point out that Jerry Kozubal pointed up a cultural issue with foreign born drivers over a decade ago and was promptly demoted.

While it is politically incorrect to point up these issues I would expect that it would achieve more results if driver orientation included a few legal tips, like drunk women can’t give consent. The stupidity of expecting drivers from other countries to understand, without training, what is and isn’t acceptable in American society is setting them and the company up for failure. All that said, properly identifying sexual misconduct and creating a level of transparency really does sound like something is going to get fixed. Nothing will get fixed, but it’ll sound good in court.


Didn’t we talk about this?

Uber is reported to have been fined by the California Public Utilities Commission for not following the zero tolerance policies on customer complaints about drivers being drunk. Of the complaints reviewed by the Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, 133 of the 154 Uber complaints had not been investigated. They were reported to have deactivated 574 drivers during the tested period of 2000 complaints. Perhaps, if they partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to properly identify drinking problems and create a level of transparency something would get fixed. See, I speak gibberish.

If you have any comments regarding this or any of my articles please feel free to contact me at: – dmc