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Lyft commits to cutting the problem of health care transportation in half by 2020

Lyft commits to cutting the problem of health care transportation in half by 2020

In the wake of Uber’s entry into the healthcare transportation market, Lyft wants to remind people that’s a space it’s been working at for years, with partnerships across brokers of non-emergency medical transportation that cover nine of the top 10 health care systems in the U.S. It’s adding Allscripts today, and already counts Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ascension and others as platform partners.

Lyft provides API access to these partners and their platforms, and with Allscripts, it’s going to integrate its ride hailing system into their open health platform as well as their electronic health records (EHR) services.

The service Lyft providers to health care companies works via their Concierge offering, a B2B version of its ride-hailing service that allows businesses to schedule and call rides for their patients and clients. The planned EHR integration would take this a step further, automatically detecting special transportation needs in a patient’s file and making that a part of the ride-hailing workflow without any additional work needed on the health care provider’s part.

Lyft has set a goal of reducing the number of Americans who fail to get care for this reason by half by 2020, meaning presumably they’d want to take the 3.6 million Americans who miss an appointment per year right now and make that 1.8 million. Lyft also says it hopes to reduce this number to zero shortly after that.

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Uber launches Uber Health, a B2B ride-hailing platform for healthcare

Uber launches Uber Health, a B2B ride-hailing platform for healthcare

Uber’s launching a new business line called Uber Health that will provide a ride-hailing platform available specifically to healthcare providers, letting clinics, hospitals, rehab centers and more easily assign rides for their patients and clients from a centralized dashboard – without requiring that the rider even have the Uber app, or a smartphone.

The Uber Health value proposition is similar to that of UberCENTRAL, the company’s ride-booking service aimed at business customers who want to provide rides for their clientele, but it’s also tailored for the healthcare industry with HIPAA standards compliance, as well as the ability to use the service on the client-side from even just a landline.

Uber Health’s creation was rooted in some alarming statistics about patient care and healthcare client absentee rates. Uber Health General Manager Chris Weber explained on a call that some 3.6 million Americans miss medical appointments owing to a lack of available, reliable transportation. Plus, he noted that nearly a third of patients fail to show up to medical appointments every year in total.

“Uber’s endeavors into health care trace back to 2014, when Uber first offered on-demand flu shots in large markets across the U.S.,” he said, regarding the genesis of the focus on health within Uber. “Since then there have been similar efforts throughout the world, from diabetes and thyroid testing in India, to subsidized rides for breast cancer screening in the U.S., to many more. That said, all of these efforts have been pop-ups.”

Weber notes that this led them to investigate how they might do something more permanent, lasting and impactful in the healthcare space, and building on the reliability and efficiency of their consumer service, they thought they might be able to have an impact in terms of reducing that number of missed appointments.

Uber Health is designed to do that, by allowing clinics and other medical facilities to book rides on their clients’ behalf, using a simple web dashboard where you input the client name, number and pick-up and top-off location, then select from Uber’s range of ride hailing vehicle type options. The client then receives a text message on their device alerting them that the company or organization has booked an Uber ride for them, along with a terms of service link, and then you get a notice of wo will be picking you up and when, with a contact number and a link to a live, web-based map showing you where they are and where they’re picking you up.

As mentioned, Uber is also working on making patients aware of this information via voice call, which will work with both basic feature phones and landlines, and there’s a printout that clinic and facility staff can fill and provide to the client when they’re leaving their site and going home, too.

Uber Health stores all of the trip information but only in client-side, HIPAA-compliant servers, and that data is never stored on Uber’s own, Weber points out. The ability to view and export the records is key for the organizations in terms of billing and reporting, and provides basic patient info (name and number) along with trip star and end point data.

As for the business model, Uber Heatlh charges its healthcare organization customers only for the cost of individual rides, which are at par with what those rides would cost via the consumer app. Access to the dashboard and the reporting tools are included free. Uber already has over 100 healthcare organizations on the platform, thanks to a private beta that began last summer. The company also created an API to make it easy for those organizations to build the service into their existing patient management software.

Uber Health is not a replacement for emergency service vehicles including ambulances, despite recent attention paid to instances where patients have hailed Ubers while in need of urgent care because they’re quicker to respond than ambulances in some cases. But it is a way that Uber can open up a promising new line of business while also providing a solution to a problem in the healthcare industry backed by the reliability of the ride-hailing company’s consumer service.

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  • Uber launches UberHealth, a ride-hailing platform for healthcare.
Mercedes-Benz takes pole position as World’s Most Valuable Car Brand

Mercedes-Benz takes pole position as World’s Most Valuable Car Brand

Mercedes-Benz has overtaken Toyota and BMW to claim pole position as the world’s most valuable automobile brand, following 24% year-on-year growth to US$43.9 billion, according to the latest Brand Finance report. Mercedes-Benz’s surge in brand value was driven largely by a big rise in forecast revenue as car sales increased by 9.9% to 2.3 million vehicles.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Mercedes-Benz invented the automobile, and is now leading the industry with a brand strategy focused on re-inventing the automobile. Their success has been driven by the introduction of a new generation of vehicles led by their renewed foray into SUVs and smooth evolution of new technologies to move away from traditional internal combustion engines.”

Slipping to second was Toyota (down 6% to US$43.7 billion), just ahead of third-ranked BMW (up 6% to US$41.8 billion). Toyota faces a challenging brand landscape, largely due to a weaker position in China as consumers in that market have shied away from the Japanese manufacturer in favour of more aspirational brands, such as Mercedes-Benz.

Both Toyota and BMW have made efforts to reshape the traditional internal combustion engine a cornerstone of their respective brands. Toyota’s Prius and BMW’s electric i3 and i8 vehicles have very distinctive styling – a brand strategy that contrasts with the very ordinary-looking Leaf by Nissan (down 22% to US$19.4 billion).

Electric vehicle innovator, Tesla (up 106% to US$5.7 billion), has recorded extremely strong brand value growth over the last year, rising from 30th to 19th place amongst automobile brands globally. Tesla’s brand value has been built upon the premium styling of their distinctive vehicles and a very growth-focused corporate vision which aims to bring a more affordable model to market very soon. However, doubts exist whether Tesla has the manufacturing capability in the short-term to satisfy consumer demand in terms of both volume and quality to match the brand expectations that they have created.

Outside the top 10, a number of Chinese brands are enjoying remarkable brand value growth while focusing on the Chinese domestic market, which is now the world’s largest. This includes Haval (up 124% to US$6.8 billion), Geely (up 62% to US$6.0 billion), BYD (up 211% to US$3.4 billion), Baojun (up 98% to US$1.8 billion), and Foton (up 90% to US$1.0 billion). In recent weeks, Geely purchased 9.7% of Daimler, seeking to work on electric cars with the conglomerate, while the German government said it would monitor the relationship.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“The Chinese brands have achieved strong brand value growth thanks to their success in the domestic mass market. Outside China, the brands remain largely unknown, and within the Chinese premium and luxury segments, foreign brands such as Mercedes-Benz continue to dominate. However, Chinese brands are now expected to acquire Western brands in order to leverage their brand strength internationally.”

Aston Martin’s brand value grew with remarkable speed (up 268% to US$3.6 billion) as it took the chequered flag for the fastest-growing brand in the automobile sector. Aston Martin had a very positive year, with its first profit for a decade, boosted by the Brexit-related devaluation of the British Pound. This allowed the manufacturer to continue to deliver a high-quality product, but at a lower cost to international consumers.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Aston Martin is roaring back into the top ranks of luxury car makers. The brand is famed for offering a high-end product, and respected for the quality they deliver. Exploiting one of the strongest series of planned model launches in the sector, Aston Martin is now a darling for investors and a brand that Britain should be proud of.”

Ultra-premium brands such as Ferrari (up 6% to US$6.5 billion) and Aston Martin have become independent from their former ownership by huge conglomerates over the last decade. The independence of Ferrari allows it to leverage its unique brand attributes to cement itself as a global icon of the industry. Ferrari’s brand image has earned it a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 91.5 and a corresponding AAA+ rating, making it the strongest brand in the sector.

Increased consolidation and cooperation elsewhere in the automobile industry is demonstrated through the growing Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance and the continued success of the Volkswagen Group. Each conglomeration is successfully leveraging synergies across multiple brands, with Volkswagen Group holding the most valuable auto brand portfolio at US$75.8 billion, and clear plans to sharpen their brand positioning in Europe and China.

View the full Brand Finance Auto & Tyres 2018 report here

  • Mercedes-Benz takes pole position as World’s Most Valuable Car Brand
EU meetings fire debate on emissions and Mobility Package proposals

EU meetings fire debate on emissions and Mobility Package proposals

Brexit, innovation and decarbonisation, together with the European Commission’s Mobility and Clean Mobility Package proposals, topped the agenda in Brussels last week, as groups from IRU’s EU membership gathered for two days of debate.
The EU Goods Transport Liaison Committee (CLTM) elected its new board members. Vojtěch Hromíř from the Czech Republic’s ČESMAD Bohemia was elected president, Erik Østergaard from Danish member, DTL, was reelected vice president, and Joanna Popiolek from Polish member, ZMPD, was elected vice president.

The IRU Passenger Transport Council (CTP) also met separately to discuss the EU’s Mobility and Clean Mobility Packages, with the posting of workers in the spotlight, and some further dialogue on autonomous vehicles.

The annual Spring Cocktail gave participants the opportunity to hear the latest update on the CO2 standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles from the Director of DG Climate Action, Mr Artur Runge-Metzger.

IRU also launched a short film on the decarbonisation of road transport, highlighting the need for an intelligent transition to decarbonising transport and a holistic strategy for alternative fuels, innovation, training and investment.

  • Clean Mobility at the centre of last week’s IRU activities in Brussels
The ride-hailing business is now way bigger than Uber and Lyft

The ride-hailing business is now way bigger than Uber and Lyft

The ranks of companies in the ride-sharing game have swelled far beyond the likes of Uber and Lyft, past the self-driving gurus like Google sister company Waymo, past even the established automakers.

It’s the question on the lips of just about everybody involved in the transportation business—and a few who aren’t. The ranks of those offering ride-sharing services have swelled far beyond the likes of Uber and Lyft, past the self-driving gurus like Google sister company Waymo, past even the established automakers.

Now they include companies like Bosch, the German company best known as an automotive parts supplier, which last week acquired American ride-sharing startup SPLT. And Sony, which just announced it will partner with Tokyo taxi companies, lending its artificial intelligence tech to the tricky business of dispatch. And even rental company Avis, which purchased car-sharing company ZipCar and is working with Waymo to support a self-driving taxi rollout in Arizona.

Welcome, passengers, to the confused and confusing age of mobility. The central quandary, the reason for these new sorts of businesses and brainwaves about revenue streams, is pretty simple. The automotive industry thinks personal car ownership will plummet in the coming decades. It has already dipped, especially among young people: The share of Americans aged 16 to 24 who held a driver’s license dropped from 76 percent in 2000 to 71 percent in 2013, while car-sharing memberships grew. The supposition (and it is still a supposition) is that the decline will continue, especially in big cities where parking is dear. For the companies in an industry that has spent more than a century selling cars to individuals, this presents a problem.

“At the end of the day, this will lead to consumer choice, and consumers will look for the most economically efficient, and time-wise most efficient, way to get from A to B,” says Rene Schlegel, the president of Bosch Mexico, which used SPLT’s app to organize employee carpools. “The most efficient players will get the best chair.”

It’s a big, big industry that people see a lot of opportunity in. It hasn’t hurt that Uber did not take over the world.

At this point, the players seem to think the best way to win this global game of musical chairs is to wring every bit of value out of every bit of the car. That requires a new way of doing things—and reinforcements from every single piece of the transportation sector. “For shared mobility to be profitable, or shared autonomous mobility to actually be usable, the platform needs to be much more than an operating system,” says Aarjav Trivedi, the CEO of Ridecell, which sells car-sharing, ride-sharing, and autonomous fleet management technology. “It needs to be matching the driver and the app, but also everything that’s going on behind the scenes: from charging and fixing the car to cleaning the car to building the car better.”

Step one to making money off vehicles is much like step one of raising toddlers: You have to convince riders—and businesses—that sharing is good. Today, more than three-quarters of adults drive alone to their workplaces. If you’re providing vehicles on a temporary basis instead of selling them, you have to fill more seats to produce more value. That means getting folks to carpool with other folks. Or with, say, a delivery pizza, if it happens to be going in their direction.

Companies can also can squeeze dollars out of vehicles by finding savvy ways to play the middle man, connecting riders to cars even in spaces in which they have little experience. This looks to be the Sony play. (It helps that Japanese regulations limit ride-hailing services to drivers with special licenses, leaving Uber to operate only in one western section of the country and areas so rural they’re not serviced by public transportation.)

“It’s a big, big industry that people see a lot of opportunity in,” says Erik Gordon, who studies the automotive industry at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “It hasn’t hurt that Uber did not take over the world.” The giant ride-hailing company has thus far failed to monopolize the biggest and most important markets, and suffered a defeat in China. It is also reportedly exploring a sale of its southeast Asian business to the Singaporean ride-hail company Grab.

Ride-sharers can also hike profits by using the information they collect during their passengers’ travels to rethink vehicles. Because carpooling—with cars, with deliveries—might not be as simple as plunking more inside a car. A crushing number of questions must be studied, and aspects optimized, before the automotive industry will feel comfortable betting more money on ride-sharing, and eventually on totally self-driving cars. Designers might want to rethink the backseat, if full-size people are spending more time back there. Seatbelt makers will probably need to sensor-up their clicky bits, to ensure riders are strapped in before the car leaves.

Another reason for the rush into ride-sharing: Everyone involved in building the future of mobility wants in on this vision, and they want to make discoveries about what needs to change themselves, by making their own observations and collecting their own data.

“They want to have control over the technology development path, which includes data, because data drives the development path,” says Gordon, the business professor. “If you’ve got to get somebody else to adopt your technology, that’s a sale you have to make.” Which means your tech has to be good. You—you the automotive parts manufacturer, the electronics developer, the paint guy—have to know how travel is changing, and adapt. If you want to get better at the future, there’s no time to study human behavior like the present.


  • Anyone for a ride?
Waymo 360-degree video shows how autonomous vehicles wor

Waymo 360-degree video shows how autonomous vehicles wor

Fresh on the heels of settling a contentious and expensive lawsuit with Uber, Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo is looking to get out there and educate the public on how its autonomous vehicles work.

In a blog post announcing that Waymo self-driving cars have racked up 5 million miles of driving experience on public roads, the company released a video called the Waymo 360-degree experience.

The video, which is shot in 360, shows how Waymo’s vehicles use lidar, radar, cameras and computer vision to not only see the world around them, but to predict the movement of objects nearby. In fact, the technology equipped in Waymo’s autonomous vehicles allows them to identify objects up to 300 yards away.

The video was shot during a ride around Phoenix, AZ, one of 25 cities in which Waymo’s self-driving cars have been tested on real-world scenarios. But beyond the 5 million miles spent on real city streets, Waymo has also been testing its software through virtual simulations and on a private test track, clocking 2.7 billion miles driven in the virtual world in 2017. The company says that in one day, Waymo cars are driving as many miles as the average American drives in a year.

Exhaustive testing makes sense given that a single accident could severely set the industry back. Public trust is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, and Waymo wants to spin that exhaustive testing into a level of experience the public can trust.

The video is viewable on desktop, mobile, or on a VR headset. Continue here: https://medium.com/waymo/waymo-reaches-5-million-self-driven-miles-61fba590fafe

  • Waymo racks up 2.7 billion miles in virtual rides.
Mobility on Demand: Three Key Components

Mobility on Demand: Three Key Components

Increasingly, mobility customers are turning to on-demand service providers to access an array of mobility options. Mobility on demand (MOD) is an innovative transportation concept where all consumers can access mobility, goods, and services on demand by dispatching or using shared mobility, delivery services, and public transportation solutions through an integrated and connected multi-modal network.

The most advanced forms of MOD passenger services incorporate trip planning and booking, real-time information, and fare payment into a single user interface. Passenger modes facilitated through MOD providers include: carsharing, bikesharing, ridesharing, ridesourcing/transportation network companies (TNCs), scooter sharing, microtransit, shuttle services, public transportation, and other emerging transportation solutions. The most advanced forms of MOD courier services incorporate robotic delivery, app-based courier network services (CNS), and aerial delivery services (e.g., drones).

Fundamentally, MOD is about how people make mobility decisions, how they move, how they consume goods and services, and the stakeholders that make it possible. In this blog, we explore three key components of MOD

1) The principle of commodification;

2) Importance of public-private partnerships and stakeholder groups; and

3) Changes in consumption, goods deliver, and mobility are interrelated and integral to MOD.

Commodification of Transportation Services:

MOD is based on the commodification of transportation services by cost, travel and wait time, number of connections, convenience, and other attributes. Commodification is the transformation of transportation services into tradeable commodities or an economic resource. As part of this transformation, transportation services are assigned an economic value that can be traded or exchanged in the transportation marketplace for other transportation mode(s) or money.

Fundamentally, the USDOT’s vision of MOD emphasizes enhancing mobility options for all users through the integration of on-demand modal services, public transportation, payment mechanisms, traveler incentives, and an array of real-time information services. MOD is about providing travelers with more seamless travel options (i.e., routing, booking, and payment) for all trip segments. This seamless integration improves the user experience and can enable more informed and sustainable transportation choices. See Figure 1 that presents a user-centric view of travel options below.

Importance of Stakeholders and Public-and-Private Sector Collaboration:

To enable a commodified marketplace with seamless physical, payment, and digital integration, public and private stakeholder collaboration is key. The federal government; state and local authorities; public transit agencies; transportation managers; MOD operators; logistics providers; app and mobile service provers; and consumers are all critical. With MOD, everyone can benefit.

1) Consumers benefit from increased travel options and a more integrated, efficient, traveler-centric transportation network.

2) Private transportation providers benefit because MOD connects travelers to service providers and provides an integrated and common platform for mobility services.

3) Public transit providers benefit because MOD bridges the gap between public transportation and private sector mobility services.

4) MOD can also bridge gaps in the public transportation network by extending geographic coverage and service times of transit services.

5) Most importantly, a larger pool of travelers and modal options enables a “network effect,” where modal options are in closer proximity to one another (physical and digital), adding collective value.

Each MOD stakeholder, when integrated together, creates a synergy that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Through public and private sector collaboration, MOD stakeholders can work together to:

– Leverage the positive social and environmental impacts of MOD to enhance accessibility, increase infrastructure efficiency, mitigate congestion and air pollution;

– Receive data inputs from multiple sources and provide response strategies geared to various operational objectives;

– Enable transportation system managers to monitor, predict, and influence conditions across an entire mobility ecosystem and for an entire region;

– Embrace the needs of all users (travelers and shippers) across all modes—including motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, public transit, for-hire vehicle services, carpooling/vanpooling, goods delivery, and other transportation services; and

– Research and integrate emerging technologies that provide additional opportunities to enhance connectivity among travelers, goods, services, and infrastructure and more efficiently manage the transportation network.

Changes in Consumption, Goods Delivery, and Mobility are Interrelated and Integral to MOD:

MOD is more than just passenger mobility. Today, consumption choice is disrupting traveler behavior. The growth of digital and goods delivery services can substitute for trips, while simultaneously creating demand for new ones. An overbuilt retail marketplace, changing consumer preferences, and growth in online shopping and service delivery are changing consumption patterns. Across the industrialized world, consumers in mass are changing how they shop, make purchases, and access goods and services as a direct result of technological innovations, delivery modes, and business models.

MOD is having a transformative effect on urban goods delivery and solving last mile delivery challenges through:

– Growth of Low-Cost, Flat-Rate Subscription Delivery Services (e.g., Amazon Prime and Shop Runner) are enabling consumers access to on-demand delivery marketplaces—a key factor contributing to induced demand;

– Advanced Algorithms are helping merchants and delivery providers optimize the supply and delivery chain, ranging from order fulfillment to identifying the least expensive or quickest delivery route;

– Locker Delivery, already widely deployed by the US Postal Service (USPS), allows consumers to order and have items shipped to a self-service locker at home, work, or an alternative pick-up location. Locker delivery can help consumers, merchants, and delivery providers overcome a variety of challenges, such as weekend and off-peak delivery services and enhanced security (versus leaving a package at a door); and

– Courier Network Services or apps that provide for-hire delivery services for monetary compensation are enabling on-demand retail delivery. These services use an online application or platform (such as a website or smartphone app) to connect couriers using their personal vehicles, bicycles, or scooters with goods.

Continue reading this article written by Adam Cohen and Susan Shaheen:


Passengers who call Uber instead of an ambulance put drivers at risk

Passengers who call Uber instead of an ambulance put drivers at risk

Sick people are increasingly using ride-hail to get to the emergency room, putting drivers in an uncomfortable position and a potentially tricky legal bind.

Mike Fish was driving for Uber 10 minutes outside of Boston when he picked up a second passenger in his Uber Pool who, he said, seemed “out of it, drowsy — almost sedated.” When the drowsy passenger asked him if Boston’s Mass General hospital was the nearest emergency room, “that set off a red flag,” Fish told BuzzFeed News. “I said, ‘Do you need the ER?’ He said yes. It came out that, over the last few days, he’d been passing out and losing consciousness.”

But instead of calling an ambulance to get the urgent medical attention he needed, the sick passenger called an Uber Pool. The shared ride would save him a few bucks, but it meant he’d have to wait for Fish to drop off the first passenger before he’d get to the ER. “I was a little nervous,” Fish said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Ride-hail drivers are, by and large, untrained, self-employed workers driving their own cars on a part-time basis. They’re not medical professionals. But as health care costs have risen and ride-hail has become more pervasive, people are increasingly relying on Uber and Lyft drivers to get them to the hospital when they need emergency care.

A recent (yet to be peer-reviewed) study found that, after Uber enters new markets, the rates of ambulance rides typically go down, meaning fewer people call professionals in favor of the cheaper option. People have always taken taxis to the hospital — there’s the classic example of the woman going into labor in the back of a cab — but ride-hail technology makes it much easier, especially in less densely populated cities. This money-saving tactic might make sense for people in noncritical condition, but it puts ride-hail drivers in an uncomfortable position. They’re forced to choose between assuming potential legal liability if something goes wrong, or dealing with a sense of guilt and the fear of getting a lower rating if they decline or cancel the ride.

Fish didn’t have much of a choice about taking the man to the emergency room — by the time he learned where the rider was going and why, they were already on their way. This happens frequently. But in another instance, Fish willingly agreed to take someone to the ER, a restaurant kitchen worker who’d sliced his hand open while working.

“With Boston traffic, it was probably quicker than calling an ambulance. If you call an Uber, chances are there’s going to be one within a block or two. An ambulance won’t be as close,” Fish said. “I’m not recommending people do that, but in that case, it worked out pretty well. I got him there in six minutes, and he didn’t need attention from a paramedic, so that actually ended up being pretty efficient.”

But legal professor and gig economy observer Veena Dubal told BuzzFeed News that by allowing the injured man into his car and pressing the button to start the ride, Fish may have exposed himself to serious legal liability.

“You’re not liable if you refuse to take them,” Dubal said. “You’re under no legal obligation to care for them until they get in your car, and then you’re a proprietor conducting business.”

If Uber drivers were employees of Uber, then Uber would be liable if something bad happened to a passenger en route to the hospital. But because drivers are independent contractors, they could be held responsible for any failure to provide care during the business transaction.

“There have been cases where business owners haven’t protected people from violence who walk onto their property, and the courts have said there’s a special relationship between the business owner and customer, and the business owner acted negligently by not keeping the customer safe,” Dubal said. “In this case, the business owner would be the Uber driver, once the rider gets into the car.”

As independent contractors, Uber and Lyft drivers can turn down any ride that makes them uncomfortable. The companies also charge riders for cleaning fees and repay drivers for the expense, though drivers say this process is a major headache that can take weeks. Both companies said low ratings or demerits for canceling on a rider experiencing a medical emergency could be expunged from a driver’s record. “Uber is not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals,” an Uber spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “In the event of any medical emergency, we encourage people to call 911.”

Lyft said the same, adding, “If a driver encounters a passenger with an emergency situation, they should contact 911. After that, they should report the incident to our 24/7 critical response line so we can take appropriate action.”

But drivers told BuzzFeed News that neither Uber or Lyft have provided them with direct guidance about what they should do when a passenger expects to be taken to the ER. “As far as ambulances or medical emergencies, to my knowledge, Uber’s never said anything about it,” said Russ Fisher, a ride-hail driver in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “They just vaguely say any ride is your decision, use your common sense.”

When Fisher picked up a young woman whose destination was Mercy Hospital, he didn’t immediately suspect that her ride was urgent. In fact, he’d gotten a ping from her during surge pricing, only to have her cancel the ride and rebook it a few minutes later when the surge went away. So he was surprised when, a few minutes into the trip, she asked him to pull over so she could throw up on the side of the road. Later, she told him she could barely walk and was experiencing the worst pain of her life.

“I was a little nervous when she got out to vomit,” Fisher said. “I haven’t been in a situation like that. I haven’t trained for that. I was torn between whether to call 911 or continue to the ER, but since I was only two minutes away, I figured I’d get there quicker than an ambulance.”

An Uber might have been the speediest solution in that particular situation, but ambulances and the paramedics are prepared to handle emergencies, while ride-hail drivers aren’t. Sirens and lights allow emergency vehicles to bypass traffic and red lights, and the EMTs on board are trained and able to start providing medical care as soon as they arrive on the scene.

And it’s not just the patients who are put at risk when they opt to call a car rather than an ambulance. When drivers give rides to sick people, they’re exposed to germs and the possibility of infection. One driver remembered with horror picking a patient up at the hospital whose colostomy bag exploded on the way home. Another said he had to wipe down the backseat of his car after driving a woman in labor to the hospital. Experienced drivers recommend getting leather or plastic, never fabric, seats.

“If someone leaves bodily fluids, it’s up to me to clean,” said an Uber driver named Jamie.

Jamie was driving Uber in Pittsburgh around 2 a.m. one morning when he picked up two riders headed to the hospital. One of them looked very sick. “I was nervous, but I didn’t say anything. He was in bad, bad shape,” Jamie said. He dropped the couple off at the hospital without incident, but later he found out the sick rider had died of a long-term illness. Jamie was sympathetic, but he wondered why they didn’t call an ambulance. “I drive my kids in the car,” he said. “I don’t want deathly ill people in my car, to be honest.”

Uber and Lyft didn’t create this problem. Emergency medical transportation is expensive, with ambulance rides costing patients hundreds or even thousands of dollars, even if they have health insurance. More than half of Americans say an unplanned $1,000 expense would put them in debt.

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  • Uber or an ambulance?
A damning MIT study shows ride-hailing drivers make median profit of $3.37 per hour.

A damning MIT study shows ride-hailing drivers make median profit of $3.37 per hour.

You’d have to be living in one pretty effective bubble not to have heard the justified criticism that has been leveled at Uber and, to a lesser degree, Lyft over the past several years.

Its sexist workplace culture eventually led to the resignation of cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick last year, but there have also been many stories about how Uber tracked journalists, developed tools to deceive authorities, remotely locked computers to stop police officers from obtaining the information they needed for an investigation, and so much more. Lyft has benefited recently by presenting itself as the anti-Uber that donates to the ACLU and provides free rides to gun reform rallies, but, in truth, its business model is fundamentally the same as Uber’s.

Both companies treat their drivers as contractors instead of employees, which means they don’t get basic labor rights and benefits such as minimum wage, sick days, paid vacation, and health insurance. Since they have no guaranteed earnings, they can be available on the app for a long period of time and make very little money if there aren’t many people looking for rides or there are too many other drivers on the road.

Uber says that their model allows workers to choose their own hours, but the reality is that if they aren’t driving at peak times, their chances of earning a reasonable wage are infinitesimally low. And over the years, Uber has consistently cut driver earnings so they need to spend more time on the road to try to make the same amount of money — which they aren’t always successful in doing. The stories of Uber drivers sleeping in their cars seem to be ever more common.

A new study from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology paints a dark picture of the economic reality of driving for ride-hailing companies. After surveying over 1100 drivers, they found that 74 percent of drivers earn less than minimum wage and the median profit was $3.37 per hour before taxes. Once vehicle expenses such as insurance, maintenance, fuel, repairs, and depreciation are taken into account, 30 percent of drivers are actually losing money while driving for Uber and Lyft in the United States.

The use of Uber and Lyft has already seemed morally bankrupt with the information we’ve known about how they operate for some time, but given the damning new details from the MIT study, there’s no denying that people who use Uber and Lyft are active participants in the exploitation of a group of people who are stuck in a precarious economic situation as a result of an economy ehich enriches the wealthy while punishing the poor and leaving the middle class to fend for itself.

The #DeleteUber campaign that emerged in the aftermath of the first Muslim ban was a good start, but people need to realize that it’s not particular actions of ride-hailing companies that are reprehensible, but the very nature of their operations. Exploitation is fundamental to the business models of Uber and Lyft, and unless you support drivers making $3.37 per hour, you should delete both apps right now.

Oh, and before you respond with how driverless vehicles will eliminate this problem, remember that the technology necessary for their mass rollout is still years and years away. Even Uber’s CEO admits that when they finally start using driverless vehicles — maybe in eighteen months, and that’s a big maybe — they’ll only be able to handle less than five percent of all rides for quite a while, and that’s only under ideal weather conditions.

Ride hailing is not the future of transportation, and the sooner we delete the apps and let the companies go belly up, the sooner we can get back to making cities that work for everyone, not just the well-off, college-educated young people who are most likely to use Uber.

Continue reading: https://medium.com/@parismarx/why-are-you-still-using-uber-and-lyft-eb1ab80c98f7

  • A damning MIT study shows ride-hailing drivers make median profit of $3.37 per hour.
How Norway became the leading EV market

How Norway became the leading EV market

The country of Norway only has 2.5 million cars, yet they own the largest share of electric vehicles in the world. Not only were they early movers, they were also early to market. Their incentive programs have sped up the introduction of electric vehicles to the population, but the buzz has been going on since the 1980’s.
A brief history

In 1989, Norway started its promotion of electric vehicles using the famous pop group A-ha. Fast forward five years and the Norwegian EV producer PIVCO (who later became Think) successfully operated 12 EVs during the Lillehammer Winter Olympics. By this time, Norwegians were starting to catch onto the concept of cars powered by electricity.

Subsequently, the government began to offer incentives and programs aimed at increasing the sale of EVs; while simultaneously working on reducing emissions. In the mid-nineties, they cut the annual registration tax and exempted all EVs from road tolls. The two-thousands saw free access to bus lanes and road-ferries.

In 2008, the city of Oslo launched the first municipal EV charging infrastructure program and by 2012, there were more than 10,000 EVs on the road, accounting for 3% of all car sales. The first plug-in hybrid vehicles (PEVs) were introduced in 2013 and only 691 cars were sold. By 2017, there were 67,171 PEVs sold and 141,951 battery operated electric vehicles (BEVs). That’s why Norway is currently the leader of the pack.
The current market

As of 2017, electric vehicles have a 39.2 % market share in Norway. That figure breaks down to 20.8% for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and 18.4 % for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). The country’s competitive advantage is at least 5-10 years ahead of the rest of the world.

The Norwegian market is filled with early adopters that report unique user experiences and have little range anxiety. By the year 2020, the country aims to house over 250,000 electric vehicles. Since the beginning of this year, 20% of new registrations in the country of Norway are for electric vehicles. So they’re on the right track to meeting goals.

There is a good reason why the country of Norway owns almost a quarter of the world’s electric vehicles. They offer residents an incredible amount of tax breaks and incentives to purchase. Electric vehicle owners see benefits like:

  • Exemption from 25% VAT on purchase.
  • No import or purchase taxes.
  • Toll roads and ferry fees waived.
  • Low annual road tax.
  • Free municipal parking.
  • 50% reduced company car tax.
  • Access to bus and HOV lanes.
  • Exemption from 25% VAT on leasing.

As the market develops, the incentive program will be revised and adjusted accordingly. Plans to revisit these subsidies start later this year. In addition to supportive policy, Norway also has a loyal culture surrounding EVs. The Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association is an organization promoting renewable energy transport and currently has over 35,000 members.

The overall message the Norwegian government wants to send is that low and zero-emissions vehicles should always be more economically beneficial to residents, than diesel powered ones. Despite being the largest oil producer in western Europe, Norway plans to completely ban the sale of petrol vehicles by the year 2025.

It should also be noted that the sale of diesel cars fell from 31% to 23% in 2017 and parts of Norway have now started charging higher road tolls for non-electric vehicles. It is inevitable that it will ultimately become very costly to own a diesel-powered vehicle.

With a ban less than 10 years away, it seems certain Norway is determined to edge out petrol. Currently, the prices are already high and are projected to keep skyrocketing. The carbon price on petrol is 73 NZD per ton CO2. To achieve the substantial reductions of Norway’s goal, prices will have to be increased to at least NZD 520-690 per ton, or the fuel price raised by 50%.

The charging infrastructure

By 2015, it was apparent that Norway might not have been entirely prepared for the exponential growth of EVs. For an average 72,000 EVs on the road, there were less than 10,000 charging points. All of that is now changing.

The European Clean Power for Transport directive has promised one public charging point for every 10 electric cars by the year 2020. If the Norwegian EV population meets the intended goal of 250,000 by the year 2020, there needs to be around 25,000 public charging points available. In 2015, there were only around 1,350. So, it’s still a work in progress.

The good news is that the Norwegian government has launched a program to finance the establishment of at least two multi-standard fast charging stations every 50 km on all main roads in Norway. Additionally, a new network of 180 EV charging stations is currently being constructed. It runs all the way from Italy to Norway and is funded by the European Union (EU).

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• How Norway became the leading EV market