Uber announced a slew of new safety features Wednesday intended to give both riders and drivers peace of mind when using the app.
The biggest change is a system called “Ride Check.”
Uber says it’s an extension of the GPS system that tracks riders and drivers within the app — only now, it will be leveraged to detect possible crashes and anomalies such as unusually long waits. The system will send an alert to both the rider and driver asking whether there’s an issue, and give them the option to contact authorities or reach Uber’s safety line.
Uber says the feature is tuned to “flag trip irregularities beyond crashes that might, in some rare cases, indicate an increased safety risk.”
City leaders need to reckon with the reality that sometimes shared ride services are not part of the answer to urban congestion, argues transportation researcher Bruce Schaller.
Last week, the New York City Council took a big step toward stemming the traffic-clogging proliferation of Uber and Lyft vehicles, temporarily halting issuance of new vehicle licenses as well as authorizing a wage floor for ride-hailing service drivers. The historic bills, which Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law on Tuesday, signal that these companies can no longer run roughshod over legislative bodies in pursuit of growth and eventual profits.
But there has been pushback to the idea, contained in both the legislation and in my recent report, “The New Automobility,” that Uber and Lyft’s impact on big-city traffic needs to be contained. Some of this resistance comes, not unexpectedly, from the companies themselves, which strongly object to the moratorium while also accepting the wage-related provisions.
Perhaps more notable was criticism from other quarters. In a recent CityLab post, for example, Zipcar co-founder Robin Chase wrote that focusing on ride service growth “sets us up for failure” because Uber, Lyft, taxis and the like “account for just 1.7 percent of miles traveled by urban dwellers, while travel by personal cars accounts for 86 percent.” She calls for making “all shared modes of transit better and more attractive than driving alone.”
LYFT IS TESTINGsubscription models across the country, offering customers a package of rides for a flat, discounted fee. The packages promote Lyft loyalty and some bear a resemblance to transit passes.
One customer in the Boston area received an email on July 23 inviting the recipient to try Lyft’s All-Access Plan, which offers 30 standard rides worth up to $15 apiece for a flat fee of $299 a month. The user pays any ride cost greater than $15.
“Leave the car at home and save,” the Lyft email said. “We’re creating a new subscription plan to lock in 30 rides and you’ve been selected to test it first.”
WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Police Chief Peter Newsham and District Department of Transportation Director Jeff Marootian announced a host of preparation plans ahead of next week’s MLB All-Star Game — which include road closures, new parking restrictions, and transit changes.
“It’s a big summer for sports fans in Washington,” Bowser said. “As always, throughout the All-Star Week festivities, our goal is to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.”
Newsham said the city and its police department are ready with increased staffing of both uniformed and plain clothed officers to monitor activity around All-Star related events and closures.