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Transportation Technology

How Airports Became Ground Zero In the Battle For Peer-to-Peer Car Rentals 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the nor-the-battle-to-the-strong dept.
curtwoodward writes: "Even in libertarian-infused Silicon Valley, playing nice with the government can be a smart move. That's the attitude at RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car rental service that plans to expand at airports by getting permission first. On the other side is FlightCar, a competitor that would rather fight the power in court. The next couple of years should tell us which approach is smarter. Similar battles are becoming almost routine as startups born of the digital economy confront the real world’s established power systems, particularly in the emerging 'sharing economy,' where online tools help networks of consumers rent things to each other. And as these young companies try to manage rapid growth and fend off threats to their survival, the decision about whether to fight regulators or accommodate them can become another way to gain a competitive edge."
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How Airports Became Ground Zero In the Battle For Peer-to-Peer Car Rentals

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  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @07:12PM (#46635015) Homepage Journal

    ...of how the constant whining about the "free market" is total bullshit.

    The free market created innovation, so the established players want to shut it down. They go whining to legislators, who will put in a reglation because their donors tell them to.

    Concerns about "saftey" and the like are irrelevant... this is the usual crap we see in the "pro free market" USA.

    • by Jack Griffin (3459907) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @07:20PM (#46635091)
      Don't get too carried away, this is all part of the free market process. As you say, Incumbents try to protect and conserve, new players try to innovate and liberalise. The fact that this condition exists means we live in a healthy free market. Sure innovator may not win every battle, but if yo mapped long or even medium term change then innovation, and the free market is winning.
      • by pepty (1976012)

        this is all part of the regulated market process.

        FTFY.

        • Wrong. A free market doesn't mean anarchy. Even the most zealous proponent of the free market still knows the difference between a free market and law of the jungle. We have a free market because ideas and innovation are free to occur. Just because some regulations exist to protect the greater good doesn't change this fact.
      • Don't get too carried away, this is all part of the free market process. As you say, Incumbents try to protect and conserve, new players try to innovate and liberalise. The fact that this condition exists means we live in a healthy free market. Sure innovator may not win every battle, but if yo mapped long or even medium term change then innovation, and the free market is winning.

        Bullshit.

        Telling me that politicians accepting bribes is just "part of the free market system" is absolute bullshit. The entire idea that innovators must outbribe the established corporations is not only untenable, but morally corrupt. Fuck you, and fuck your idea of a free market too.

        • Oh don't be such a dick. No system is perfect, ours certainly isn't, but it's still better than any other I know about. If you disagree you can always move to whichever place it is you think is so great and live a happy life...
          • Nice, trotting out the "if you don't like my country, you can get out" argument when someone calls you on your bullshit.

            • Yet here we are. I accept the nature of the system and happily exist in it with all its flaws, yet you bitch and moan yet still submit to its will. Let me know how that works out for you.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Taxi's service have a very long history of ripping people off, threatening other taxi companies, dropping people off in the wrong place, and extortion.
      There is no reason to think that won't happen to other service where people pay to be driven door to door.

    • by aurizon (122550) <bill.jackson@gEU ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @07:50PM (#46635283)

      AFter WW2, when tens of thousand of men were demobbed, they had ARmy skills,- Shoot - explode -shell, and almost all were taught to drive.
      So they would get a car and offer rides for a fee, from these our cab companies evolved.
      There were more cars and drivers than there were passengers to support them, as a result little walled gardens of taxi rights appeared. As time wen by radio dispatch came along, and that was another little walled garden.

      Now we have an iphone ap = radio dispatch is now dead, but still walking around and tryint to create barriers to alternate dispatch methods, such as the web and iphones.
      Now along comes these cars, web booked via iphone ap.
      The very turf beneath the feet of the taxi business and radio dispatch business is sinking.

      Radio dispatchers, the greedy little fucks, want $400-$600 per month, the plate ownjers want $3000 per month to rent a plated cab.
      They will fight and bribe all the politicians in city hall to keep their little, very very very high profit turfs.

      These turfs need to die, these turfs live of the back of the cab driver and the public. Get rid if these little turfs and drivers will make more and riders pay less.

      We need to free this market, griffin is wrong, this is not a free marker, it is little absolute monopolies(turfs or fiefs) that screw us all.

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        For what it's worth, there are, essentially, two major models for taxi companies.

        1) Taxi drivers are hourly employees who hustle almost entirely for their tips; requirements for who they pick up or what else they might make per fare vary.
        2) Taxi drivers are renters of taxi infrastructure. They pay a daily fee to take a companies cab out, complete with dispatch service, and they hope to make more than the rental fee, which, if they're lucky, they don't have to pay until they get back.

        • by aurizon (122550)

          Yes, there are several models. In Toronto they have a number of radio dispatchers and cab fleets.
          The small get forced out

      • by pepty (1976012)

        Radio dispatchers, the greedy little fucks, want $400-$600 per month, the plate ownjers want $3000 per month to rent a plated cab. They will fight and bribe all the politicians in city hall to keep their little, very very very high profit turfs.

        you left out the taxi medallion owners have $100K to $2.5M sunk into each taxi medallion in some markets. NYC just auctioned off 200 taxi medallions for over $200M. There are over 15,000 taxi medallions in NYC; If NYC turns around and deregulates the taxi turfs then they are facing a ~$30 billion dollar class action law suit from those owners. It would be great to transition to a less regulated market; but the current stakeholders (a lot of them individual drivers with medallions that can't be rented out t

        • If NYC turns around and deregulates the taxi turfs then they are facing a ~$30 billion dollar class action law suit from those owners. It would be great to transition to a less regulated market; but the current stakeholders (a lot of them individual drivers with medallions that can't be rented out to others and who have all of their savings plus a monster loan tied into their cab) will not be going quietly into bankruptcy.

          While I agree that any attempt to deregulate would result in the current medallion owners screaming bloody murder, they wouldn't have a leg to stand on, legally. The city has never made any commitments as to the number of medallions it will issue. It could have another auction tomorrow with a minimum bid of $0.01 and 1 billion medallions up for sale. Of course, it's not going to, particularly since the Mayor De Blasio is 100% in the pocket of the taxi companies, who have been major campaign contributors.

        • Why do licenses cost so much? Seems to me that would be the first place to start.
          • by jandrese (485)
            They cost so much because the supply is held artificially low and NYC is one of the most profitable places to run a cab in the entire US.
      • They will fight and bribe all the politicians in city hall to keep their little, very very very high profit turfs.

        If you think the taxi business is high profit... you're even more clueless than I thought. (Not realizing that vehicles for hire go back at *least* well into the 19th century was the first.)

        • by aurizon (122550)

          It is low profit to the drivers and newly bought medallion holders.
          Legacy medallions = cash cows, radio services = cash cows.

          Most cab companies are filled with legacy medaiilions, although they buy a few to maintain share.
          The biggest racket is the casuals, who drive for a week and go away because they hate it. Usually their hours are logged as a family membersor friends , and after a while(15-20 years) = free medallion. A company will have a few people they can drop driven hours onto, to add to the hours

    • The free market created innovation, so the established players want to shut it down. They go whining to legislators, who will put in a reglation because their donors tell them to.

      True but completely free market gives the same results. Without regulation the established players will shutdown competition by selling services at below cost until competitors go out of business, paying for exclusive rights, using vendor lock-in or any one of a handful of nasty tactics to kill competition. So the problem is not that they go to governments asking for legislation - after all that is what the small, innovative companies have done too. The problem is that the politicians rarely seem to make d

      • True but completely free market gives the same results.

        No it doesn't.

        Without regulation the established players will shutdown competition by selling services at below cost until competitors go out of business

        In the price is too low, other drivers will go home, not "out of business". As soon as the would-be-monopolist raises prices again, competition will reappear in about five minutes. Your scenario requires high barriers to entry. Offering rides for sale in a society with widespread car ownership has near zero barriers to entry.

    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      But you've already identified that this is not a free market, which makes your post nothing more than an extremely poor troll.

      -1, Douche

    • by ruir (2709173)
      Yep, back here the local bus and taxis were too worried about the competition of the emergent car sharing market for people arriving/departing, they were strong arming them and trying to forbid them to do that at the regular pickup places that cabs and normal cars use. Finally after much racket, they established a "parking" zone, which of course only can be used by the companies that pay fees to the airport.
  • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @07:24PM (#46635113) Journal

    It shouldn't be much of a surprise, but just because Silicon Valley is libertarian-leaning, that doesn't mean that the government-run airports in San Jose, San Francisco, or Oakland are libertarian. Of course, even if they were libertarian-run, they might still view taxi service to/from the airport as a profit center, but San Francisco airport in particular is much more likely to restrict access by services that compete with city-medallion taxis.

    • by alen (225700)

      city airports are paid for by debt backed by the fees that travelers pay to use them
      some of these startups are trying to use the infrastructure and avoid the fees
      they aren't libertarians, just leeches

    • by PPH (736903)

      No. They are run by port authorities. Who are about as close to pure socialist institutions as you'll find in this country.

    • by jonwil (467024)

      The argument made by airport operators is that the money they collect from taxis, private car parking, rental car operations and other ground transport is used to maintain the road networks and parking lots around the airport, hence when someone comes along offering a service that (from the point of view of the airport) looks just like a service already operating but isn't paying the same money, the airport is going to say "hey, the taxis are paying, you guys are doing the same thing, using the same roads e

  • by ddtstudio (61065) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @07:24PM (#46635117)

    In the last few days he's posted two highly biased, agenda-driven things on Slashdot's main page. Both take the perspective that it's eeeevil guvmint trying to crack down on plucky, innovative, honest corporations who just wanna do right by you. In the way he presents these highly questionable narratives, there's no no room for the facts that city governments have had long-standing regulations for cab and ride services that require adequate levels of insurance and other means of covering liability when Bad Things Happen.

    One such case of Things happened New Years's Eve here in San Francisco, when a ride-service (yeah, it's not "sharing" if you exchange a service for a fee) driver ran over and killed a child. The company in question, because it had been throwing tantrums and refusing to comply with existing regulations (not to mention publicly ranting that the city was trying to "kill innovation"), didn't have coverage and refused all liability, putting it all on the driver.

    If these companies cannot afford to comply with existing safety regulations, the way cab companies have and do, maybe they aren't a viable business model and need to innovate all over again.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @08:30PM (#46635523)

      With regards to the Uber-X New Years Day accident, you are leaving out some important details. Such as the driver at fault didn't have a paying Uber customer in his car, nor was he on the way to pick one up.

      The best the city could come up with is that his phone was logged into the Uber app....so it's not entirely clear (legally) if his own liability insurance should pay or Uber's. Aside from that it was just a tragic accident, not anything to do with safety of the program. It's akin to an off-duty cop getting into an accident. Because he had his radio, badge, gun etc does that mean the city is liable?

         

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        if a cab does not have a fare riding in it, is it suddenly a private vehicle and not the cab company's responsibility?

        Was the Uber driver out driving that night for any reason other than wishing to land an Uber fare contract in order to earn some money?

        • If a pizza delivery guy, who is reimbursed to use his own car, creams someone on the way to work, and not while delivering, is he personally liable?

          In any case, this isn't about insurance -- that's a smokescreen. It's about using one issue to restrict competition for established players. New companies can get insurance, if that's the established players' only beef.

          Look in the mirror and repeat after me: "...but it's not."

          • by phorm (591458)

            Actually, that's a good question. I also wonder about the reimbursement for the car. Around here, you need to be insured "for business use." The insurance is still your own, though. I'm not sure that most pizza kids can afford the extra cost of "business use" insurance, so they're probably SOL in a lot of cases.

    • I don't know if the headline came from the submitter or an editor, but "How Airports Became Ground Zero In the Battle For Peer-to-Peer Car Rentals" is one of the most egregious examples of needlessly inflammatory clickbait I have seen.

      "Airports", "Ground Zero", "Battle", what images do these words suggest? (Hint: Lower Manhattan, tall buildings, September 11, 2001.) Is it appropriate to invoke those images when discussing a relatively silly and inconsequential spat between taxi providers? (Another hint: thi

      • Headline came from the submitter, which was me. It's also the headline on the main article linked, which I also wrote, so I'm your source of nefarious clickbait for the day. I'm really sorry if the headline brought up traumatic associations with 9/11 for you. Clearly I was not anticipating that, and wasn't intending it. In general I try not to go over the top with headlines, promise! But their function is to make a (hopefully) nuanced, detailed article enticing in as few words as possible. And I actually
    • Maybe that's because government *is* evil and will happily crush anyone in its path? Especially in highly left-wing cities like San Francisco, where by default people -especially those who couldn't cut it in real life and resorted to government jobs - *really do* think that companies are evil, evil, evil and want to make profit by throwing babies into wood chippers.
      • by ddtstudio (61065)

        Citation, please? Peer-reviewed sources preferred.

        (Conservapedia and Mies fan blogs do not count.)

    • Suppose I can take a crack at this one! I not only posted this article, I am its author. (I'm using the singular because I can't tell which is the second main-page posting in the past few days that touches this topic). **TL;DR I'm great! Nothing's "with me," how are you tho you seem mad :(** While I can't quibble with the way you felt the article was constructed or intended - your experience is authentically yours and I respect that - I certainly don't agree with the analysis that this rental-car startup pi
  • by jtara (133429) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @07:55PM (#46635317)

    Great. Now we have a bunch of under-insured, illegal jitney drivers, just like any third-world nation...

    Read the tales of woe of Uber-X drivers who have lost their personal insurance. Yes, riders and the other driver in an accident are covered by Uber-X, up to an inadequate $100,000.

    California Livery law requires $1,000,000 insurance, though, and specific licensing to drive passengers for hire.

    These drivers typically have neither of these, though. And personal policies generally specifically exclude driving for hire. So, driver gets in an accident, Uber pays, and driver is now out of a job (or side job) and is uninsurable.

    • by spasm (79260) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @10:11PM (#46636081) Homepage

      I moved to the US 14 years ago from another developed nation, but had spent a lot of my childhood in developing nations; I quickly found that anything that baffled me in the US abruptly made a *lot* more sense when viewed as if the US is a third world nation.

    • can help to cut some of the insurance cost and any ways what about auto drive cars? they can be driving thought an legal mind field

  • by bytesex (112972) on Tuesday April 01, 2014 @11:38PM (#46636447) Homepage

    Never mind spying governments, Microsoft and/or Apple, or the RIAA - anywhere where the Internet will try to compete with the mafia, the Internet will fail. Because just like the mafia, the Internet is an unregulated bunch, but unlike the mafia, the Internet does not use fists and/or real-life weaponry when it doesn't get what it wants.

    Taxi-business, garbage-collection - Internet people shouldn't even try it. They'll come after you.

  • In Spain 100% of the cab rides (50+) I've taken have had courteous, social drivers (at least as far as Spanish people are courteous), fast, fairly metered, in modern cars with air conditioning, etc. I think a few times they may have taken a slight detour, but nothing I would get upset about. And cabs are pretty much always available, pretty much all times of day. And the prices are fine, cheap even. So, I don't know if this is an American problem but I definitely would not welcome so called peer-to-peer c
  • Grace was a renowned innovator. And her favorite saying was "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission."

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/G... [wikiquote.org]

    For aficionados of Grace, Dave Letterman's interview [youtube.com] is a must-see.

  • It all boils down to companies paying tax to someone one, be it the government or airports in this case.
    As long as everyone pays the taxes, no issues. Try to bypass the taxes and lawyers shall descend upon thee.

    SFO is cheap compared to other airports for taxes, in Vegas it works out to be about 50% tax on top of the rental bill.

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