“…every time you ride with Uber”

I downloaded Lyft, which worked just fine. I knew so because my credit card company wanted to confirm that the $1.00 “purchase” I made was legit.

uberOne more thing I did on my birthday (March 7): I took an Uber for the very first time. Technically, it was the 8th. And as is my wont, it was more complicated than I thought it would be.

I would be returning from my trip from New York City to attend my friend Karen’s retirement party. Since the event was on 26th Street from 7-10 p.m., I had two practical choices. Taking the train, I needed to get to Penn Station at 34th Street, but the bus was at Grand Central at 42nd Street.

I’m not subway-averse – I even had my Metrocard swiper with me – but I opted to walk the shorter distance. The Amtrak is more expensive, especially the later you book it, but it would get back to Albany at 1:15 a.m. as opposed to the 2:30 a.m. Greyhound.

Well, not exactly Albany in the former case, but Rennselaer, which is across the Hudson River. While there were taxis at both venues, because of greatly disappointing results, I haven’t taken a cab in the Capital Region this century. (I’ve taken a couple in NYC, but not in my town.)

Hey, maybe the taxis are better now? Not according to the rider reviews I discovered for the one company assigned to the Rensselaer train station. This left Uber and Lyft.

I attempted to download the Uber app, but it didn’t seem to “take”; it never showed up as an icon on the phone. So I downloaded Lyft, which worked just fine. I knew so because my credit card company wanted to confirm that the $1.00 “purchase” I made was legit.

But I discovered in trying to book a ride on the train back that, at least where I wanted to go, nothing was available from Lyft between midnight and 7 a.m.

So I played with the previously downloaded functions on my phone, and I DID have Uber after all, just not on the main screen. I booked the ride. When I got to the train station, I looked for the correct license plates – there were a half dozen Uber drivers at that hour, and several cabs to boot.

Normal Fare-$8.69 Surge x1.3-$2.61 (I know vaguely what surge fees are) + Booking Fee $2.40 (that surprised me) + Long Pickup Fee $0.60 (somehow my address was NOT in the system, though I THOUGHT I’d put it in) + NY State Black Car Fund (2.5%) $0.34 + TNC Assessment Fee (4%) $0.42 (whatever THEY are) = $14.30 plus tip. Not terrible.

So now I’m all 21st century, enough to get an email about a month later from the company. “Check your ride, every time.” Specifically:
1.Match the license plate number.
2.Match the car make and model.
3.Check the driver’s photo. (I did that too)
“When you’ve confirmed this information, get in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride. At Uber, your safety is important to us.”

This was undoubtedly the reaction to a young woman in South Carolina getting into a car, thinking it was her Uber – the guy wasn’t one of their drivers – and was killed.

Another tip, not on the list, but mentioned by law enforcement after the murder, is to ask the driver to tell you YOUR name before getting into the vehicle.

For ABC Wednesday

January rambling #1: Tower of Terror

50 Years Ago, the Wah-Wah Pedal Was Born

2016: The Movie

First BLOTUS Press Conference, Annotated

‘Gaslighting’ all of us

FLATUS Dossier Spotlights Russian History of ‘Kompromat’ – Diplomats, politicians and bureaucrats have been embarrassed by leaks of compromising material

The body language of FLATUS, and the 20 best nicknames; are you sorry yet?

FLATUS plan to keep his business is national embarrassment

How Populism Goes Bad

Gun silencers are hard to buy. Donald Trump Jr. and silencer makers want to change that

Regarding Simon & Schuster, Milo Y., and Booksmith

Nazis Celebrate As Ann Coulter Cites White Supremacist Code

The US has been hacking elections for more than a century

Transcript of Face the Nation book panel with Isabel Wilkerson (“The Warmth of Other Suns”; JD Vance (“Hillbilly Elegy”); actor Diane Guerrero (“In the Country We Love”); Amani Al- Khatahthbeh (“Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age”

Full Text Of Obama’s Farewell Address, or you can watch it

President Obama Awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Biden

ObamaWhiteHouse.gov is the future home of President Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov. This site will be maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration and will serve as an historical archive of Obama Administration content.

Decency Is Not a Dirty Word

This way to the egress

Our brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer

We don’t need Uber

The Prank of the Face: Unmasking the “Droeshout” Portrait of William Shakespeare

Actors seek posthumous protections after big-screen resurrections

RIP William Christopher; I watched him as Father Mulcahy for 11 seasons on MASH

Lord Snowdon dies aged 86; Anthony Armstrong-Jones was the first “famous” person who I knew shared my birthday of March 7

The Mysterious Virus That Could Cause Obesity


Shelterforce takes an in-depth look at the summer 2016 Sheridan Hollow mosaic project in which 3,000 City School District of Albany art students contributed their talents to help transform a city neighborhood.

Announcing a New Folger Fellowship in Honor of Margaret Hannay

The Waxhaws, on the border between the Carolinas

Arthur answers my questions about pop culture and Arthur, plus writes about his mom, who would have been 100

How Not To Write Like An Archdruid

Disney’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror has taken its final plunge before it gets a Marvel Studio makeover

They surveyed Americans to see how familiar they were with the ten shows that were nominated for Best Comedy and Drama for the Golden Globes

Richard Thompson and the comic strip CUL DE SAC

Jim Cummings provides the voices for many cartoon characters

Now I Know: Selling a Better Way to Shop and Top Billing and The People That Have No Rights and McRefugees and The Lobster War

Obit: Mr. Oliver Larry Rickard, better known as “Paw Paw” the Clown, age 81, of Rome “Survivors include… a brother-in-law, the late Roger Green.”

Music

2016 Coverville Countdown of the best cover versions, Part I and Part II

Kubo and the Two Strings – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Highlights from “Bring It On: The Musical”

To Russia with Love – Matt Monro

If Moby Accepted Trump Inauguration Invitation, This Would Be His Playlist, plus Trump Is on Your Side – Moby and the Homeland Choir

Station to Station – David Bowie

Nat Hentoff, renowned columnist, jazz critic, free speech advocate, died at 91. I used to read him in the Village Voice for about 20 of his 50 years with the paper

Patti Smith Never Wanted to Be Famous (interview)

David Byrne on not being afraid to fail

The Kinks’ Ray Davies receives knighthood in New Year Honours List

50 Years Ago, the Wah-Wah Pedal Was Born in a Hollywood Hills Garage

Vinyl sales in UK reach highest level in last 25 years – with more than 3.2 MILLION LPs sold last year

A Fancy Guitar to Sell, but Hard to Play in Handcuffs

Why did CNN air a documentary about the band Chicago produced by band members?

U is for Uber-less Albany

Uber, and Lyft, can operate in New York City, but in upstate New York cities such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, insurance laws make it difficult to get coverage for drivers.

An article in March 2016 appeared in the local business journal: Schenectady sauce maker, frustrated with ‘apologizing’ for Albany’s cabs, calls for Uber upstate.

“Adine Viscusi [co-owner of Casa Visco] easily takes planes, trains and Ubers to get from the airport to hotels and bodegas when she attends national trade shows. In Albany, she can barely catch a cab… Viscusi said she doesn’t normally take cabs in Albany, but a recent trip from the Amtrak station in Rensselaer has made her a vocal critic.

“‘The cab was a 25-year-old minivan with ripped seats. There was a pack of Newports and Axe in the console. The door on one side didn’t open,’ Viscusi said. ‘It was so embarrassing. To travel so seamlessly from planes, trains, Uber, and rental car. You get to Albany and it’s grinding to a halt. It’s like welcome to the 80s.'”

Another article in the same periodical: “‘It’s so embarrassing to have important people come here and have them get into a beaten-up taxi cab,'” CommerceHub CEO Frank Poore said.

“‘Not all taxi cabs are bad, but many times I have had people show up with drivers who are smoking, or who have to wait for a cab for 30 minutes, or are picking up other people along the ride.'”

Reportedly, Uber, and Lyft, can operate in New York City, but in upstate New York cities such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, insurance laws make it difficult to get coverage for drivers.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last year that ride-sharing companies should be regulated with a ‘statewide license.’ Legislation has yet to make it to his desk and… there’s been little to no visible progress on the issue this year.” Still, it’s believed that Legalizing Uber would save upstate lives by getting drunk drivers off the road.

There is such a pent-up demand for these services that, when blogger Chuck Miller wrote an April 1 story about Uber reaching an agreement to come to Albany, it was believed by more than a few.

While I don’t have a real need for Uber myself – I don’t have the app – I do have feelings about Albany cabs. I HATE them, for the reasons the businesspeople stated. In fact, I haven’t ridden an Albany cab in well over a decade and was surprised to discover the conditions are no better than they were last century.

I missed a wedding within Albany in 1986; I called 1.5 hours before the event, and an hour later, the cab still had not arrived. We walked – it was 87F – and got there on time for the recessional.

Of course, not everyone loves ride-sharing services. Blogger Dustbury notes the pushback by a taxicab association. And for good reason: Uber and Lyft have devastated L.A.’s taxi industry as trips plummet. “Since the ride-hailing services began operating in Southern California three years ago, the number of L.A. taxi trips arranged in advance has fallen by 42%, according to city data, and the total number of trips has plummeted by nearly a third.”

And Uber has its issues. From the Boston Globe:

“On April 21, [2016] the ride-hailing company agreed to pay up to $100 million to drivers in Massachusetts and California who’d sued over being classified as independent contractors. The settlement didn’t resolve the underlying issue, but it did include another provision that could significantly alter the experience of Uber drivers and passengers alike: The company stopped telling passengers that a tip is included with its fees.

“Instead, it’s now telling them that no tip is included or required. In practice, this means that some drivers may post signs seeking tips — but Uber is declining to build a tipping function into its app.” Uber says tipping is unfair because riders are biased.

Austin, TX no longer has Uber.

And Tucson Weekly reports, Say Goodbye to Creepy Uber Drivers, Ladies.

Chariot, the ride-sharing service, set to go live on April 19, is “driven by women, exclusively for women,” according to the app’s website. “It operates similarly to Uber or Lyft, but only women, girls and boys under 13 can request a Chariot, and all drivers are, unsurprisingly, women… This is meant to make us ride-sharing ladies feel less at risk of being violated by male Uber or Lyft drivers. Nice.”

abc18
ABC Wednesday – Round 18