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There is a growing multinational transportation trend that is quickly reaching critical mass. This trend has resulted in violence in France and has a potential for random violence to spread to other counties including the US. That trend involves the use of APPS for street hails for ground transportation services.
Black car services and Taxi companies have formed an ad hoc industry group that is monitoring evolving events on a 24-7 basis. This group is responding to those events at the speed of light via the inter net. What these companies are monitoring is how APPs like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are able to provide for hire car and driver services outside the rules and regulations that the existing for hire services have been operating under for decades.
Recently the California Public Utilities Commission has been the first in the nation to begin to define what it is exactly that this service is, i.e.; is it an e link to service or an actual Trip Charter Permit carrier under the law. On the face of it the APP itself would appear to be exempt from PUC regulations governing carriers. But there seems to be a good argument for what might be best described as cross over where companies like UBER are actually dispatching cars through their operations, processing fees, and performing other employee recruitment and retention functions, including actually setting up brick and mortar offices in certain key market cities where such operations are required by local law such as Houston Texas where a keenly organized group were instrumental in pushing back the Avis-WeDriveU model that eventually led to WedriveU that collapsed on a nationwide scale.
In several recently reported news items Uber drivers have been accused of violence against unwitting customers and in at least one incident an Uber driver has been discovered to have had a significant criminal history that would have potentially disqualified him from driving a Taxi or Black car, with the assumption that a correct background investigation had been done at all. In yet another nuance involving an Uber driver in San Francisco a young girl was struck and killed in a crosswalk and her mother and brother were seriously injured. In this incident Uber was quick to disavow any financial liability claiming that there was no Uber client in the vehicle at the time of the fatal incident. Which brings in to question why existing ground transportation companies are compelled to have an insurance policy for vehicles and drivers that do cover accidents even if there is no dispatched orders pending while the vehicle is in motion.
Complaints from customers are beginning to appear on the inter net about service related problems such as drivers not arriving at pick up locations and consumers being billed on their credit cards regardless. Often time’s consumers find that there is no live person on a phone to discuss issues. GPS location glitches have been reported in at least one example in a California beach community that left a party stranded.
The biggest concern to the security minded industry from my perspective is, who is it that is driving whose car with what liability insurance and licensed under which regulating authorities that arrived at your client’s location to pick them up.
Another concern is whether or not a violent reaction that is happening in France will spread to other countries. In France where a reported 5,00 taxi drivers are in revolt over what they see is unfair competition, as they are setting up road blocks, smashing windows and slashing tires of Uber cars?
And that begs the question, can it, will it, happen here?