San Francisco Taxis and Uber Team Up

It seems Instacart is throwing caution to the wind and is gearing up for an IPO be the end of this year. Also, a judge ruled that Uber is not required to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles in each market… RSG readers had something to say on this topic! All this and more in this week’s roundup with senior RSG contributor Paula Lemar.

San Francisco taxi drivers prepare for first-in-the-nation Uber partnership (SF Examiner)

Summary: Uber and taxis have long been mortal enemies. But now, disruptor and disrupted are joining forces in the hopes that each can provide what the other lacks: more drivers for Uber and more business for taxis.

San Francisco’s first-in-the-nation program will allow riders to book taxi rides directly on the Uber app with the same user experience as booking an UberX. Though details are still being ironed out, the program is expected to begin in the coming weeks. Taxi drivers are waiting with excitement … or trepidation.

“The ability for taxi drivers to access all those customers they lost, that is a huge change. It’s almost like it’s come full circle,” said Hansu Kim, president of Flywheel Technologies, a San Francisco-based taxi booking platform that’s partnering with Uber. “This is the future. It’s going to be a collaborative effort between ride shares and taxis.”…

My Take: RSG’s Facebook followers had something to say about this.

Sarcastically, Michael said, “Yaaaay…More drivers. And I imagine they won’t have to maintain the same acceptance ratings to keep upfront details. Whoopee. Overall, this sounds like a losing proposition for Uber drivers.”

Joe has the stance that Uber needs a new CEO: “Condition of Taxi vehicles are worse than conditions of Uber X vehicles. In the beginning UBER wanted to disrupt taxi 🚕 and put them out of business NOW THEY WANT TO PARTNER WITH TAXI!”

Several others pointed out that it’s not really the “first in the nation” like the headline indicates because NYC and Chicago have had taxis on the app for a while already.

While I understand the move, I too don’t necessarily agree with it. If taxis want to stay relevant, they just need to move with the times, make updates to their navigation systems, ways to order taxis and more. I don’t think it’ll be a great move for either Uber or taxis to join forces, but only time will really tell.

Uber doesn’t have to provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles in every city, judge rules (The Verge)

Summary: Uber’s decision to not offer wheelchair-accessible service in every US market does not violate the federal law prohibiting discrimination against disabled individuals, a federal judge ruled this week.

The ruling represents a win for the ride-hailing service, which has been criticized by disability advocates for providing only limited wheelchair-accessible service in a handful of cities.

Two motorized wheelchair users, one in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the other in Jackson, Mississippi, sued Uber over the lack of accessible service in either city. Both plaintiffs use wheelchairs that can’t be folded and placed in a trunk. They claimed that Uber was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits businesses from discriminating against people based on their disabilities.

Uber argued it would be prohibitively expensive to offer wheelchair service in every city. The company estimated “bare minimum” annual costs of $800,000 in New Orleans, or about $400 per ride, and $550,000 in Jackson, or about $1,000 per ride, by partnering with commercial providers of wheelchair-accessible vehicles….

My Take: Somewhat surprisingly–just because this doesn’t happen terribly often–our Facebook followers side with Uber! Here’s what some had to say:

Paul made a good point when he said, “Uber doesn’t provide any vehicles in any city. They are privately owned personal cars.”

That’s very true. Uber doesn’t actually provide the vehicles in any of their markets. And they can’t force drivers in that market to be willing to provide these services, which brings us to Bill, who said:

“Even if it was offered in every market, there is no guarantee of a driver signing up or even being available.”

Basically, it’s not the responsibility of the drivers nor of Uber to provide services to everyone. If a driver doesn’t have the right kind of vehicle, no one can force them to get a vehicle that would allow wheelchair accessibility (or, that’s the drivers’ argument at least!).

Also, I know of many drivers who feel uncomfortable folding someone’s wheelchair for them to store. What if the driver breaks the chair? It’s super expensive and just not worth the risk.

This story is not over, however, so keep an eye out for more rulings.

Instacart Aims to Go Public Before Year’s End, Defying a Frozen IPO Market (WSJ)

Summary: Instacart Inc. expects to go public before year’s end, according to people familiar with the matter, earlier than many on Wall Street had expected amid a frozen market for new listings.

An initial public offering this year would be a bold move in one of the slowest years for IPOs in more than a decade. Many bankers advising companies on going public have said they don’t expect large, unprofitable firms to launch IPOs until volatility subsides and other recent IPO stocks recover.

Instacart confidentially filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year during a broad stock-market selloff, and markets have remained volatile since. Instacart is in the process of responding to comments from the SEC on its IPO documents, some of the people said.

Instacart was profitable for the second quarter of this year under generally accepted accounting principles, according to a person familiar with the matter….

My Take: Will it be a good idea for them to go public this year with the market basically frozen for new IPOs? Or will it fall flat? They won’t have much to compete with in terms of new IPOs, so maybe it’ll work out in their favor. I don’t really know much about the market myself, so if you have thoughts, feel free to throw them in the comments and let me know if you think this is a smart move that Instacart is making. Do you think they’ll go through with it or back out and regroup next year instead?

Also in the news…

‘I don’t know how I fell for this’: How scammers target vulnerable gig workers, and why it may never end (Market Watch)

Thoughts: It is a tough world out there, and drivers must be vigilant. If something seems fishy or off or too good to be true, it probably is! Think before giving out information about your account. Or if you do fall for it, report it immediately to help others avoid the same terrible mistake.

Lyft Driver Ends Up Getting Charged Over $1,000 After Picking Up A Passenger In Extreme Rain Which Damaged The HEV System And Left Him Stranded On The Road For 60 Hours (Bored Panda)

Thoughts: Wow, that is a really awful situation this driver was stuck in. You’d think being a Lyft rented vehicle that there would be roadside assistance built in or at least better support overall. It doesn’t make me want to put my faith in Lyft.

What do you think of the news this week? Anything we missed that you wished we’d covered? 

-Paula @ RSG