By on October 17, 2012
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Score one more for government control, corruption, and general silliness. New York’s TLC threw down the glove a while ago on the “Uber” application which allows taxi and “black car” drivers to arrange rides over the Internet. This isn’t the first time TLC has acted all crazy and stuff. Wait, wrong TLC. Oh well — the sentence two previous to this one applies even without the link.

You can’t fight City Hall — after all, this is the same commission which magically decided to replace every taxi in New York with Japanese minivans assembled in Mexico that didn’t actually exist at the time of the decision, and nobody said nothing, yo. No surprise, then, that Uber is leaving Gotham like Batman riding that bomb out to the ocean in the last Dark Knight film.

Sorry for spoiling the film for you, if you haven’t seen it. However, it turns out that Batman wasn’t on the plane. He actually checked some code into Wayne Enterprises’ subversion or ClearCase or whatever that fixed the autopilot, and he’s hanging out in Italy with Anne Hathaway. Because he totally had a bunch of time to code while he was busy saving the world. I want to believe that the autopilot was written in GNU C++, by the way. But anyway, he isn’t dead.

Oh, damn. Now I’m really sorry. Also, the chick in the Crying Game was a man. And Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze. I have to stop doing this. DARTH VADER IS LUKE’S FATHER AND ALSO LEIA IS HIS SISTER SO WHAT WAS THAT WHOLE KISS ABOUT WHEN HE CAME OUT OF THE WEIRD HEALING TANK OOOOH?

Where were we? Yes. Uber. According to The Verge, Uber asked everybody to come in for their checks this month — and hand in your phone while you’re at it, please. This shutdown only applies to Ubertaxi: the “Black Car” service is still up. For now. But probably not for long. Because Uber is the smartphone app the city deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

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38 Comments on “New York Uber Uber...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    I was surprised by the reaction in NYC. In Boston and DC the public was 100% behind Uber, but in New York the public seemed very much opposed.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I knew lots of New York yuppies that had been mugged and were still against quality of life improvements instituted in the ’90s, even as they started families in the city. They’ve been conditioned to not act in their own best interests.

      • 0 avatar
        dude500

        Though CJ’s comment assumes that the TLC’s and the people’s interests are aligned (which they’re not), it does surprise me how much New Yorkers miss the “good old days”…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I don’t assume that the TLC’s interests and the people’s interests are aligned. I commented that it is no surprise that New Yorkers are supporting the TLC’s actions against their interests, in this case in the form of blocking Uber, which they’d only use if they found it advantageous but are supporting having that option removed from their confusing lives.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      The TLC has nothing to do with the public. The TLC is a government run regulatory body that runs the cab business in NYC and is strongly opposed to things like competition.

  • avatar

    “However, it turns out that Batman wasn’t on the plane. He actually checked some code into Wayne Enterprises’ subversion or ClearCase or whatever that fixed the autopilot, and he’s hanging out in Italy with Anne Hathaway.”

    If i had the choice between, hanging out with Anne Hathaway or stay in a soon to explode plane, i would choose the plane.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Seriously, Luke and Leia are siblings? No sense watching them now. :( Wait, are they still related in the Bluray edition?

  • avatar
    Morea

    I prefer the Dead Kennedy’s version myself.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Just back from a 7 week stay in NYC. My reaction is that:

    1. They cannot replace the current fleet fast enough. The largest number of hacks is still Panthers, but they are beat up and climbing down into them is painful. But, not nearly as painful as climbing and twisting myself into a Ford Escape. The Escape’s rear doors and seats are for small children only. The best vehicles were the Transit Connects, but the rear seats are woefully short of leg room.

    2. The real problem with taxis in NYC is that there are not nearly enough of them. Getting a cab to go from the Village to midtown at 9 am on a clear day was almost impossible. The city has made noises about issuing more medallions, but the owners of existing medallions are hysterical about not being diluted. Some compromise needs to be reached.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      1. Pushing the life of the existing equipment is a probable reaction to any regulatory constriction on choosing its replacement.
      2. The fine line between non regulation chaos and draconian bureaucracy in a market isn’t fine at all. Yet, people with zero trust in markets always swing the tiller so hard they take us backwards.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        The life of the equipment is already regulated. Panthers are bad, but they are out of production. Escapes are worse.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Panthers were the best choice left, it’s now likely Tahoes.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Panthers were the best choice left, it’s now likely Tahoes”

        Transit Connects.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Maybe Transits. I don’t know much about them. Can they last?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        They can only push the life so far. After a certain number of years and miles the TLC forces replacement. Before you grumble about excessive intrusiveness in business, in the “old days” the cabs were constantly being brought back from the dead. They were rolling bondo buckets with creaky suspensions, seats, and really uncomfortable. Now, they have to be replaced. And now there is GPS so tourists can see if the cabbie is trying to screw them. And credit card readers are required. And A/C on demand. Costs for rides have gone up, yes. But the quality of the service has improved greatly. I’d say it is a “fare” trade…

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Just because you couldn’t get a cab at one particular time in a particular location doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t enough cabs, Absolutely need a cab at a given time and place? Dial 7 (or 6 or 4 or one of the other all-the-same numbers that summon a black car). Or take the subway. Lots of trains go to midtown. A bonus is that they’re cheaper than the cab and, generally, don’t get stuck in traffic.

      The flip side of this is the chaos caused by having more than one empty cab dive across four lanes of traffic to chase the fare with the suitcases. That’s lots of fun for those of us who occasionally drive our own cars in Manhattan.

      BTW, ClearCase sucks. SVN is so much better, especially with Tortoise.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        The only fares they care about are the ones with the suitcases. Try getting a cab at the Javits Center after a show if you’re going anywhere other than the airport. They will literally wave you off or refuse to take you. And there are no subway lines anywhere NEAR the Javits Center.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        I avoid the Javits Center as much as possible.

        My software company once exhibited there and between the “10×20″ booth with the giant pillar right in the middle of one side (which, of course, wasn’t shown in the floor plan), the fact that they lost the half of our booth display we couldn’t use (no liability! you signed the required waiver! tough luck you’re out 5K) and the mysterious charges from “exhibition services” that appeared on my corporate Amex card (which doesn’t offer the same charge dispute services as personal cards), I will never,ever exhibit there ever again.

        On the bright side, the 7 train will run there once the extension is finished in a couple of years. By then, I hope to be long gone.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        The 7 train will never be completed. Ever. If that ever gets finished, people can take the subway to JFK and the cabs lose their airport fares.

        And everything other than the pillar that you’re complaining about isn’t Javits, it’s Freeman. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        Landcrusher: I don’t recall seeing any Tahoes as yellow cabs. There were a few Toyota Highlanders. Tahoes are in the black car fleets. But, Tahoes are not easy to get in and out of.

        I know that all of you are specimens of perfect health because of your exemplary habits and years of dedicated physical training. But, I am a decrepit old man, and my wife has numerous health issues, and we were in NYC to take care of our daughter who just had spinal fusion surgery and had a very limited ability to walk or climb stairs.

        Bunkie: 1. “Just because you couldn’t get a cab …”

        We lived in the city in the 70s and 80s. We just spent 7 weeks there. It was our observation over the entire 7 weeks that it was much harder to find a cab now than it was back then.

        The incident of Thursday 10/4 was added only as a matter of verisimilitude not as the sole data point. Data was gathered over 7 weeks by 2 knowledgeable observers.

        2. “Absolutely need a cab at a given time and place? Dial 7 …”

        It is very kind of you to spend our money like that. For those who are unfamiliar with the City, and the transportation options, you can call livery car services to be transported through the City. But, a. they charge a premium over metered taxis, and, b. they are not always available, either.

        On the morning of 10/4, I called a livery service. But they could not help us. Looking for a cab was a second best option.

        There are also livery services, that require credit checks and establish accounts. I have such an account. On the Friday next after 10/4, I used that account to hire a car to take us to LGA. The service was wonderful. The car was a clean and newish Cadillac, the driver was courteous and drove safely. It cost about 6X what a metered taxi would have cost.

        3. “Or take the subway.”

        Wow, what really helpful advice … for somebody else going somewhere else, at some other time. We will just have to wait for the 2nd. Ave line to be completed. (little inside joke there:

        http://www.mta.info/capconstr/sas/description.html)

        4. ” That’s lots of fun for those of us who occasionally drive our own cars in Manhattan.”

        A wise man once told me not drive a private vehicle in Manhattan. He said: “take the subway. Lots of trains go to midtown. A bonus is that they’re cheaper than the cab and, generally, don’t get stuck in traffic.”

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Robert,
        My point wasn’t what’s the best cab for you, it’s what’s the best cab for the cab company. Since they are protected by the medallions, they don’t have to worry about your desires. I suspect if they don’t use Tahoes its because they aren’t allowed.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “The real problem with taxis in NYC is that there are not nearly enough of them.”

      Yep, you have it right. That’s just the way they like it. The regulation helps them keep it that way.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      “3. “Or take the subway.”

      Wow, what really helpful advice … for somebody else going somewhere else, at some other time. We will just have to wait for the 2nd. Ave line to be completed. (little inside joke there:

      Sorry, but I have very little sympathy. The village to midtown? You have lots of choices. East village? F, 6, N or R trains. West village? A, C, D, B, 1,2,3,9. The only time I took a cab mid-day in recent memory was on my way home from foot surgery. For follow-ups I took the bus. By the way, the new Select buses can be an excellent alternative to cabs. Again, choices.

      4. ” That’s lots of fun for those of us who occasionally drive our own cars in Manhattan.”

      Ha-ha. Very funny. You miss my point which is that you have *options*. My car lives in a garage most days and is mostly used to get out of town and to carry me and my gear to band practice in Queens on Thursday nights. Most of us who actually live in the city have a good idea of how to get around and, frankly out-of-towners who like to complain about how NYC does business just sound like whiners.

      The funny thin is that lots of us are happy to help you figure it out. We understand that so much choice can be overwhelming. The next time you’re in the city just ask. It beats complaining.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        Bunkie: Let my try again. You are both condescending and insulting.

        I have used public transit in NYC for years and years. I go back to the day of subway tokens. I was most likely ridding the MTA long before you were born. Really, I know how to get around the City.

        Further, since you are so free to give totally useless advice to strangers when you will not spend a minute to understand what their problem is, I will feel free to spend the rest of my life ignoring you.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        Robert,

        I came back to re-read what I wrote because I felt your comment about being condescending and insulting deserved consideration. I believe that you are right and I do apologize.

        But I still think your solution would create more problems than it solves. And, being born in the mid-fifties, I’m more mature than you think.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      I have been living in NYC for TEN years – which sorry beats 7 weeks.

      And there are PLENTY of taxis. Here is the problem – they SHIFT CHANGE at peak hours. So right around rush hour in the morning and right around rush hour in the evening. So its quite hard to catch cabs at those peak times.

      Don’t assume because you couldn’t catch a cab in touristy area at peak time that they have any real shortage of medallions. WHat happened is some years back the taxi drivers were fighting over the peak hours – so they picked the misery loves company plan..

      FWIW the long wheelbase panthers are by far the best cabs. The hybrid cabs lack room…especially the escape but the Camry is not great either.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Score one for entrenched monopolies!

  • avatar
    JohnTheDriver

    ClearCase? Jebus what are you 600 years old? The kids are all using GIT now, and have been for … pretty much forever.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      LoI am 40 years old and sold my first piece of software— “Worm Race II” for the Apple ][+ with color adapter, for $5 to a couple of kids in my Catholic school — when I was eight. So yeah, 600 feels about right.

      As for why it was Worm Race II, not Worm Race, that found a buyer, I cannot remember. The idea was that you bet money on three or four lines that “raced” across the screen. Worm Race II added a two player mode. $5 was a lot of money but it included a Verbatim double-sided 5 1/4″ disc which cost me about a buck and a half.

      I bought my 911 with money earned as a ClearCase admin for an 8-million-line proprietary app server that ran on Slowlaris. A decade ago. Nowadays github seems to have mojo but I have escaped the biz, yo. Sorry to ramble.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        “I bought my 911 with money earned as a ClearCase admin for an 8-million-line proprietary app server that ran on Slowlaris.”

        I feel your pain. My last experience with ClearCase was akin to dealing with the Chinese bureaucracy. It took up to 45 minutes to create a new view fo a developer. And the combination of the long view names combined with the listbox that was barely 200 pixels wide (without scrolling) made choosing from the myriad views on any large project a real crapshoot. We dumped that turkey went to SVN and never looked back. But the real problem with source control is that it requires developer discipline combined with a well-defined strategy. My experience is that without a release manager who controls the creation/merging of branches, it’s not likely to end well.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    Maybe the status quo will change in NYC when Bloomberg is gone after next year and people will be able to drink big gulps again or whatever ? Anyhow they couldn’t have made a movie full of more plot holes than that last Batman movie with even the end being a head scratcher as to if it was reality or an imagination of Alfred the butler . Big disappointment all around !

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Seems to me this is the free market working as it should. Oh, I know, its this bright and shiny Utopia that perfectly defines working economics. The reality is Greed, as some who work on Wall Street and comment on TTAC have alluded to, being a very fickle mistress who likes things they way they are and can become violently reactionary when it comes to change. These fortunates rig the system so it continues to work for them at the expense of the masses standing in the rain, hoping for a yellow cab to stop and take them uptown.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      Haha. I hate to break it to the 99% but working on Wall Street isn’t that hot. You should be protesting at Googles or Apple’s headquarters.

      They have been taking the money out of banking for a while now. Banking has been suffering a brain exodus for a while now with the new money crushing regs flowing into it..

      Bankers just suck at PR. Your average Doctor makes a crapton more money then the average banker..and often both went to Ivy Leagues.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        I am a wall streeter who lives in my townhouse on 77th near madison 2 weeks out of the month … the rest of my time is spent in my Wellesley home, or my Newport Beach, CA home. Back to NYC. Most wall streeters will never ride in a cab or black car. Those things smell and can have bed bugs in them. Trains are out of the question. The wall streeter either drives their private vehicle or has a driver of their private vehicle. I drive my private vehicle, and driving is not that difficult as long as you maximize your time on the west side highway or the FDR. Secondly, I know pleanty of doctors and they make a fraction of my salary. However, I have no respect for any wall streeter while tons of respect for nearly every doctor. If I had a second chance at life, I would become a doctor. I would rather make a much smaller but still substantial income while helping people. That seems like a much easier way to heaven. And, I did not go to an Ivy league. In fact, most wall streeters did not go to an Ivy league, but nearly all wall streeters graduated near the top of their class at a well above average college. I know a few that actually graduated from UM Ann Arbor, and a few from UCLA.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …..Trains are out of the question. The wall streeter either drives their private vehicle or has a driver of their private vehicle…..

        Not necessarily true. Plenty of Wall street types take the Long Island Rail Road or the Metro North Rail Road. There the ones with the fancy cars in the RR parking lot or they have a “station” car…usually nothing in the middle…and most are on a 4:30 train going home…

  • avatar

    “Sorry for spoiling the film for you, if you haven’t seen it”

    Hmmm. I seem to recall a friend who told me he was Tivo’ing the race when I texted him that the problem with Dario Franchitti winning the Indy 500 was having to watch Ashley Judd hog camera time.


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