By Don McCurdy
Reports out of Sin City are that Frias Transportation Management is either selling or closing. Frias is a big player in southern Nevada, operating five taxicab companies. Frias is reported to have started operations in 1961 and currently has 1100 employees, including drivers who are employees. Frias had already curtailed operation of its airport shuttle and limousine services in November of 2017.
Taxicab ridership was reported to be down 14% November 2017 to November 2018. The end date for operations is March 13, 2019 if a buyer for the company cannot be found. Any new buyer will have to be approved by the Nevada Department of Business and Industry following public hearings.
There are reported to be several parties interested, but none were specified. Time will tell what effect this change will mean to the Las Vegas taxicab industry, but it has long been a profit making enterprise. Time will tell if the business can once again be profitable or if it will be the next victim of the shared ride industry.
East to west the tide is turning, and the formerly lucrative taxicab business is being beaten up in most major markets. I say most because there may be one I haven’t heard about that is doing just fine.
As of this column the"partial government shutdown" is in full swing with federal employees actually missing a paycheck for the first time ever. Well, not only are the employees of federal government missing their checks but the DC taxicab and shared ride drivers aren’t making their money either.
Drivers report working longer hours for a third or less of what they make when the government is open. While federal employees are guaranteed their checks drivers are not. So what’s it all about? It’s about Trump. Trump, unlike presidents of the past, didn’t just make empty promises to get elected. He stated what he intended and followed through as much as the entrenched DC elites couldn’t stop.
While the parrots in the media parade sob story after sob story for us, the fact remains that illegal immigration is a problem that the American people want corrected. The entrenched politicians, who created the morass in the first place, aren’t inclined to clean up their mess. It’s very simply a political power struggle with democrats, and even some republicans, defying solution of a decades old issue.
Keep in mind that this issue predates Trump by several decades with the last"agreement" coming during the Reagan administration. The lie was amnesty first, border security second. To say there isn’t a crisis is to simply deny reality. We cannot even have an honest debate since the media will not report when criminals are here illegally, nor will state governments report on the immigration status of their prison inmates.
As in the dark as our establishments have tried to keep us, we the people recognize there is a problem. Since they continually lie by omission, the corporate media simply cannot be trusted to bring us the truth. I don’t believe that the American people have any clue as to how long their news has been filtered by the agenda driven corporate media. It’s not just what you see, it is also what you don’t see. The plight of the common American couldn’t be less important to the power brokers in the congress.
Reports are that Meera Joshi, chair of New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, will be departing her post. Joshi is credited with defying city hall on driver minimum wage and opposition to the state’s"congestion surcharge." Congestion surcharge? Yes, congestion surcharge.
The state expects to generate 400 million dollars a year from the new tax on every taxicab and e-hail trip that touches the"congestion zone." The fee is supposed to support the financially struggling Metropolitan Transit Authority. Let’s see, tax the private sector to support the failing public sector enterprise? That makes sense. Rather than run the MTA more efficiently let the private sector finance its inefficiency.
The MTA costs what it costs to operate. Rather than charge what the MTA needs in fares to use the service, get someone who doesn’t use the service to pay for it. There is no doubt that raising the fares on the MTA would decrease ridership, just as increasing the fares on taxicabs will decrease ridership. However, the taxicab industry is already on the verge of collapse. Add to that the ability of e-hail vehicles to reduce the surcharge by manipulating the fare and you have added even more tilt to the not so level playing field.
There is little doubt that raising the fares on the MTA would be politically negative, but who cares about a few thousand taxicab drivers? Obviously, not the governor nor the state legislature. It would only be politicians who would believe that a tax would relieve traffic congestion.
I don’t live in New York, but it appears to me that Ms. Joshi has a lot more character than the mayor or the governor. Fortunately for taxicab drivers, a judge has ordered a stay on the surcharge, for now.
Recent stories from Chicago tell the story of a taxicab driver who was killed after being kicked in the head by an Uber driver who was described as a"Chinese national." In none of the news broadcasts was the suspect identified, the excuse being that he had not been formally charged.
Excuse me? It’s a secret who is on a video recording killing a taxicab driver in broad daylight? The Uber driver is reported to have fled the country. The real question I have is whether this is simply poor reporting or covering up a situation that would make the city’s sanctuary policy look as bad as it is? A simple case of media lying by omission.
Uber has restarted testing of the driverless vehicles on the street of Pittsburgh, according to reports. Only two of their Volvo SUVs are reported to be driving circles around downtown. They aren’t picking up passengers, yet, but they plan to at some undisclosed future date.
You might remember that it was Uber’s driverless vehicle that killed a bicyclist pushing her bicycle across the street. The"safety driver" was reported to be streaming a television on her phone prior to the crash and didn’t apply the brakes until after the collision. So much for the back up driver theory.
I don’t normally read the"entertainment" section of the news, because frankly it’s unimportant to me. I did, however, find information in an actor turned Uber driver informative.
It seems a host from a popular"reality" television show had quit the business and started driving for Uber. The part I saw as informative was the term"job shaming" that was applied to the reports that the host had fallen from grace and actually had to take an ordinary job. Sniff. To avoid further embarrassment, I won’t name the host in question but I did find it illustrative as to how we serfs are viewed by the privileged class.
Uber appears to be having a little problem with their IPO (Initial Public Offering). While they’re reportedly not stressing the 2019 date on the offering, there have been other setbacks that might just affect the value of said offering.
First, that pesky government shutdown thing has delayed approval of their foreign investors who won’t be allowed to be on the board of directors until they’re approved by a government department that was slow to begin with.
Second, the volatility of the market is somewhat frightening to leap into just now. Add that to the recent court ruling in the UK that drivers should be treated as"workers,". This means"employees" in American English. As drivers might not be considered employees everywhere and self employed subcontractors instead, this could create a less than exciting entry into the publicly traded company world.
Uber intends to appeal the UK ruling, but it has already failed one appeal. All in all, it appears rough sledding for the transportation giant’s initial public offering.
Since Alphabet’s Waymo is touted as the future of driverless cars and is reported to be testing in twenty-five US cities, Uber had better hurry while their stock has some value left. A driverless e-hail fleet just a year or two ahead of Uber could put Uber in the same category as the taxicab industry, endangered. The clash of the titans should be interesting to watch.
If you have any comments regarding this or any of my articles please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. – dmc