Tag Archives: Uber

Sirott and Murciano chats about Chicago Blackhawk’s Marian Hossa, Uber drivers have Uber problems, Johnny Jet with travel tips, CBS 2’s Rob Johnson calls in, plus more! – 6/21/17

Sirott and Murciano chats about Chicago Blackhawk’s Marian Hossa, Uber drivers have Uber problems, Johnny Jet with travel tips, CBS 2’s Rob Johnson calls in, plus more!

Chicago sued for banning ads in ride-share vehicles

CHICAGO (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Chicago that seeks to overturn an ordinance banning advertising inside the private cars used by ride-share company drivers.

In its federal lawsuit filed Thursday, the Minneapolis-based technology company Vugo contends the city’s ban violates the company’s constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection.

Vugo attorney Jeffrey Schwab says the regulations favor the taxi companies at the expense of Uber, Lyft and other ride-share company drivers.

Vugo’s network allows ride-share drivers to display ads, news and entertainment on a tablet attached to the back seats of their vehicles.

Chicago Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said the city is reviewing the lawsuit. He notes the courts already have upheld Chicago’s right to regulate the ride-sharing industry differently from the cab industry.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ken Bone Endorses Cubs, Uber

Jen DeSalvo, WLS-AM 890 News

Ever since last Sunday night’s second presidential debate, the nation has been suffering from a case of Bone-fever, meaning that the media and public can’t get enough Ken Bone.

The red-sweater icon has been pressed for his voting decision, but has deflected by endorsing two things that are near and dear to the heart of many Chicagoans; Uber and the Chicago Cubs.

“Everyone wants to know if I’ve decided … and I have uberSELECT helps you ride in style like me,” Bone tweeted on Thursday.

He was also offered $100,000 to appear on an adult webcam site, but luckily he chose to go the route of Uber and the Chicago Cubs.

From NBCChicago: Kenneth Bone, who became an instant meme after Sunday’s second presidential debate, is backing the Chicago Cubs in the postseason, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

“I’m not going to bear any animosity at the Cubbies,” Bone told the Sun-Times. “They’ve had a tough run of it.”

Unfortunately, Bone was forced to cut the interview short before responding to a question about whether he’d turn up at Wrigley field during the Cubs’ playoff run.

Read more about Ken Bone’s Cubs Endorsement Here: Debate Star Ken Bone Backs Cubs’ World Series Bid | NBC Chicago

What it feels like to sit behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber

By Matt McFarland, CNN

About 20 minutes into my ride in a self-driving Uber, I got a nonchalant offer: Did I want to sit behind the wheel?
I’d already seen our Ford Fusion get cut off. And then there was the flatbed that veered into our lane, forcing my cautious test driver to take control and steer us to safety.
We’d navigated around impatient pedestrians, cyclists and unmarked railroad crossings on Pittsburgh’s narrow, well-worn roads. The conditions felt a lot tougher than my first trip in a fully self-driving car, about a year ago at Google’s headquarters.
“Oh sure, I’ll go for it,” I said, feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. I knew my editor wouldn’t be happy if I said no.
So in a gravel lot a stone’s throw from the Allegheny River, I left the safety of the Fusion’s backseat and climbed behind the wheel.
The two Uber employees I was riding with provided a crash course in how not to, well, crash. If things got hairy, I could hit the brake or a giant red button on the center console to regain control of the Fusion.
Starting Wednesday, Uber will be offering Pittsburgh customers the option of riding in about a dozen these cars. Passengers will sit in the back while two Uber employees in the front seats monitor the car’s performance. Uber isn’t saying when it will expand self-driving tests to other cities, or when the cars will operate without test drivers.
If self-driving cars work, the impact on society could be huge. Roads may become safer and transportation could be cheaper and more accessible — but many drivers may lose their jobs.
For this revolution to happen, people will have to be willing to literally go along for the ride. Research has shown that most U.S. residents aren’t ready to trust self-driving cars yet. The Pittsburgh trials are a way for Uber to see how customers react to the cars, and what makes them uncomfortable.
For me, there’s nothing alarming about riding in a self-driving car. But I started worrying once I was behind the wheel.
“Just don’t crash this car,” I thought as I adjusted the mirrors. The Fusion was decked out with a small fortune of computing gear — 20 cameras, seven lasers and 360-degree radar coverage. It has more computing power on board than you’ll find in a typical small business, one Uber engineer told me. Repairs would be especially expensive.
On River Avenue, I hit a chrome button on the center console and the car was suddenly driving itself. We plodded along at 25 mph, vigilantly honoring the speed limit. I held my hands gently on the wheel, and could feel it shifting back and forth ever so slightly to remain in the middle of our lane.
As we approached a red light, the car eased to a stop behind a Kia. So far, so good. The turn signal flicked on, and we soon turned right onto the 31st Street Bridge.
The car corners at a consistent angle, making turns that are slower and wider than the typical driver. At another intersection, a truck blared its horn as we turned, apparently frustrated with the car’s scrupulous style.
The car’s first real test with me at the helm came a few minutes later on Penn Ave. The car put on its right blinker and slowed for a turn. But a cyclist was overtaking us on our right.
I’d driven the old fashioned way, all the way from Washington, D.C., for a moment just like this. Could the car handle a tricky situation?
The cyclist kept pedaling, pulling a half-car length ahead of us at the intersection. The car appeared to have aced the test as we started another methodical, gentle turn. But a chime sounded, indicating that the car wanted me to take over. I guided the car through the rest of the turn. It was more than the car was programmed to handle on its own.
A few blocks later, the car was back in autonomous mode and hugging the right side of the lane, just a couple feet from a row of parked cars. I resisted the urge to jerk the wheel to the left.
We passed the parked cars without incident and came up to a truck parked in the middle of our lane, facing the wrong direction. I tapped the brake, and piloted the car around the track, following the advice of the safety drivers. They felt the car could handle the challenge, but wanted to err on the safe side with a newbie behind the wheel.
I spent almost an hour in the Ford Fusion, and six minutes behind the wheel. Between the test drivers and myself, we intervened five times. The drivers are taught to be especially cautious and will intervene even if the car doesn’t request it.
If Uber’s cars are ever good enough to drive around Pittsburgh without a test driver behind the wheel, Uber’s business will rapidly transform. Customers could book less expensive rides because there’s no need to pay a human driver. Uber believes self-driving cars will hasten a shift to a world where no one needs to own a car.
Uber is testing in Pittsburgh because it hired a group of robotics experts from nearby Carnegie Mellon University. The city’s nature also provides a range of useful challenges.
Aaron Steinfeld, an associate research professor working on autonomous vehicles at Carnegie Mellon, believes there is no better city to do autonomous vehicle research.
“We have everything going on here,” Steinfeld said. “We have weather, we have hills, we have bridges, we have tunnels, we have all kinds of drivers. We’re in the sweet spot of East Coast and Midwest drivers so you see all sorts of behavior.”
The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

A License Proposal for Ride Share Drivers

Photo Credit: Uber
Photo Credit: Uber

By Bill Cameron, WLS AM News

At Chicago’s City Hall…there’s a new proposal to make ride share drivers get chauffeur licenses just like cabbies have to do.

Cabbies turned out in force at city budget hearings to applaud City Council Transportation Committee chairman Tony Beale’s idea.

“If we just alone, just ask the Uber drivers to pay for a chauffeur’s license, just a chauffeur’s license alone will bring us $12-million, $12-million. That’s a lot of money!” said Beale.

Many other aldermen endorsed the idea in the name of fairness, but the mayor’s regulator Maria Guerra Lapacek said it wouldn’t really clear $12 million.

“There’s no way that with the staff that we currently have that we can handle that level of incoming licenses,” said Lapacek.

And Uber has been pointing out it already pays millions to the city in ground transportation fees.

@ Copyright 2015 WLS News

Uber driver shoots man who allegedly shot at group on Logan Square sidewalk

(CHICAGO) An Uber driver put his concealed carry permit to use Friday night when he pulled a shotgun and opened fire on a man he saw firing a pistol into a group of people on a Logan Square sidewalk, according to prosecutors.

Six blasts from his shotgun injured a 22-year-old man identified as Everardo Custodio, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Custodio suffered wounds to his shin, knee and lower back and was still in Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on Sunday, when Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas refused to grant bail on charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and illegal possession of a firearm.

The 47-year-old Uber driver “was acting in self-defense and in the defense of others,” Assistant State’s Attorney Barry Quinn said.

Custodio, who lives about a block from the site of the shooting, was the only person injured in the confrontation that happened about 11:50 p.m. in the 2900 block of North Milwaukee Avenue.

The Uber driver had dropped off a passenger minutes before the shooting occurred, said Uber spokeswoman Jen Mullin. She had no comment on the driver’s actions other than to say the company requires all its drivers to abide by local, state and federal laws pertaining to transporting firearms in vehicles.

Quinn said the Uber driver, who could not be reached Sunday, was parked in his car when Custodio began firing in his direction, aiming at the nearby group of people.

Police patrolling the area heard the shots and arrived to find Custodio on the ground and bleeding. Police also recovered a handgun found near Custodio, Quinn said.

Uber plans to interview the driver and the passenger he dropped off before the shooting, said Mullin, who did not know where the driver stowed his shotgun.

The driver was still an active driver for Uber as of Sunday night, Mullin said.


© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

Uber finally gets city license after safety guarantees

(CHICAGO) Chicago has finally agreed to license a ride-sharing giant whose investors include Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother, but only after Uber signed off on strict new security measures to protect riders after two of its drivers were charged recently with sexual attacks.

The decision to issue a “transportation network provider” license to Uber comes nine months after a divided City Council approved the mayor’s ride-sharing ordinance and three months after Lyft and Sidecar were granted similar licenses, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

It also follows painstaking negotiations between City Hall and Uber that produced a promise to go above and beyond both city requirements and the “panic button” Uber has already unveiled.

Sources said the city license is contingent on Uber’s promise to:

– Cooperate “to the full extent possible with police investigations that involve police complaints stemming from rides on the company’s platform” or complaints against its drivers “whether or not the platform was actually used to secure the ride.”

– Use up to 10 off-duty police officers to conduct monthly “real-time audits” that “monitor, track and correct any quality or safety issues.” The secret shoppers must be hired by an “independent third party” to, among other things, make certain the driver name, photo and license plate number matches the information on the driver’s Internet application.

– Implement a notification system to promptly alert City Hall whenever drivers are deactivated for criminal charges or safety concerns.

– Offer an “in-app” safety checklist to be displayed to each new user before rides are requested, in addition to the driver’s “photo, name, vehicle make and model, license plate number and driver rating.”

– Use GPS to track the “time and route” of each ride for the purpose of providing data to the city “should an incident occur” and “without a demand for a court-ordered subpoena.”

– Give riders the option of using the app to “share an estimated time of arrival with select individuals,” such as family and friends.

– Check the city’s list of “suspended, denied and revoked” chauffeur’s licenses on a weekly basis and “immediately deactivate” those who appear on the list.

– Implement a “physical identification” system for drivers that uses a “prominently displayed Uber trade dress or emblem” to make it easily visible to passengers and law enforcement personnel.

– Conduct “multi-layered background checks” that go back seven years to search for “DUI violations, drug-related driving infractions, any crimes related to alcohol and drugs and any crimes with sexual elements or involving minors.”

– Implement a “zero-tolerance policy” for driving under the influence of alcohol and either legal or illegal drugs that impair driving ability. The policy must be “communicated clearly” to drivers in all training and materials. Uber must also have staffers available around the clock to investigate rider complaints.

Last month, mayoral challenger Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) accused Emanuel of political favoritism, pointing to the conflict posed by Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel’s investment in Uber.

Fioretti charged that Emanuel passed weak ride-sharing regulations and failed to tighten them, even after charges were filed in those two alleged sexual attacks on Uber X passengers.

Transportation Committee Chairman Anthony Beale (9th) joined Fioretti in the demand for tighter regulation and advised Chicagoans not to use Uber until safeguards are implemented.

The strings attached to Uber’s new license give Emanuel an opportunity to counter the favoritism charge.

“Mayor Emanuel has made it clear that Uber would not be licensed in Chicago unless they implement and maintain strong public safety measures that will protect all riders,” mayoral spokeswoman Elizabeth Langsdorf said in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The city has been working with Uber over the last several weeks to . . . ensure they address several safety concerns. . . . We are now at a point where we are confident that the company is implementing necessary additional measures to ensure public safety . . . because they have met the strong public safety standards that the city demanded, Uber is being licensed as a ridershare provider.”

Beale said he’s satisfied his concerns have been addressed.

“If they’ve been licensed, all the safety issues have [been addressed] and the playing field [with taxis] has been leveled, I don’t have a problem with it,” Beale said.

Does that mean he’s now comfortable enough to ride Uber?

“Me personally? No. I would not use Uber. That’s just me. That’s my personal opinion. I’m just not comfortable with Uber,” Beale said.

Beale isn’t the only one who’s still not comfortable with Uber.

The United Taxidrivers Community Council has called for a cabdrivers “day of action” from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday to protest UberX’s “growing threat to the traditional cab business.”

The union hasn’t said what it plans to do during those hours. But it claims that Uber now has 13,000 drivers who “steal” 2 million rides a month away from Chicago’s taxicab industry.

That has forced 3,000 cabdrivers to abandon their taxis and leave the industry, possibly forcing small fleet owners and single-medallion owner operators into bankruptcy.

“If Uber drives cabs out of business, who will serve the majority of Chicagoans who do not own smartphones?” UTCC Secretary Peter Ali Enger was quoted as saying in a press release.

Yet another union vying to organize Chicago cabdrivers, Cabdrivers United/AFSCME Council 31, is planning its own protest for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

AFSCME officials claim there has been “little-to-no enforcement” of the ride-sharing regulations, putting cabdrivers and the riding public “at risk.”


© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC

Uber panic button coming to its Chicago mobile app

(Chicago)  Uber plans to add a panic button to its mobile app in Chicago that users can press to alert police if they feel threatened, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Uber’s Midwest Regional Manager Andrew MacDonald could not offer a specific time frame on when the feature would make its local debut while addressing the Sun-Times editorial board Thursday. He said it would happen in the “next several months.”

Uber General Manager Chris Taylor said it was unclear if Chicago would be the first U.S. city to test the safety device but noted that “as it is perfected, it will become something that is more broadly used.”

The panic button was first implemented in India earlier this month following rape allegations against an Uber driver.

Two Uber drivers in Chicago were charged in recent months with sexually assaulting a passenger.

The upcoming safety measure was alternately referred to as an SOS button or a panic button by Uber officials Thursday.

The measure would be in addition to a sort of secret shopper program that was rolled out in January in Chicago. It employs 10 off-duty Chicago Police officers to take Uber rides one day a month and report back on the experience.

Uber drivers, who provide about 2 million rides a month in Chicago, have been warned the program exists, which creates a deterrent effect, said Phillip Cardenas, Uber’s head of safety. But the off-duty officers do not feign conditions that leave riders most vulnerable: intoxicated very late at night, Taylor said.

First-time users in Illinois, since January, also get a safety lesson in how to use Uber in the form of a screen pop-up on the app.

Cardenas said rider feedback via the Uber app is also constantly monitored. Simply using the word “creepy” to describe an “Uber” driver would likely cause officials at the company to disable the driver’s account and investigate.

Cardenas noted that background checks that are conducted by Uber look seven years back into a potential driver’s criminal history — two years more than required by the city. He described Uber’s background check practice as a “gold standard” of the industry and equated it to the process used by one of the nation’s largest daycare providers.

Perhaps the greatest safeguard, though, is the fact that both rider and driver provide large amounts of personal information to Uber, and both are being tracked by GPS during the course of a ride.

“The reality of it is, if you have bad intent, an Uber trip is the worst place to commit a crime,” MacDonald said. “To put it crassly, you’re going to get caught.”


© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC