Think twice before paying someone to drive you around to play Pokemon Go!

I have seen a couple of articles recently about how inventive people are deciding to offer their services to people who want to be driven around “safely” while playing Pokemon go. They will charge $25 an hour  and will go from place to place in the Pokemon Go world to help you catch them all.

But you should be very careful as someone seeing a ride while playing your game. Make sure you know the rules of your state before jumping into some strangers car who has gone through no background check at all.

State laws have certain requirements placed on people who drive people around for profit. It is possible that some of these people who are charging $25 an hour are not doing so legitimately. For example, in Louisiana there are certain requirements placed on drivers operating in a transportation network (TNC). There are also other requirements placed on drivers who are operating for profit but not in a TNC. If your driver is not a TNC driver (who in Louisiana must facilitate the ride through an app) then the driver will have likely been required to go through several other steps. If they haven’t, they are driving illegally.

Also, in Louisiana Uber and Lyft are required to have insurance covering passengers. If your person giving you a “Pokeride” is not driving under the umbrella of Uber or Lyft and an accident happens, it is possible that the driver’s personal insurance might not cover your damages either. And if your driver doesn’t have a lot of net worth, well, you could suffer a personal loss because you cant recover from the driver.

This is why I urge everyone trying to get a ride to do ridesharing to make sure to go through Uber or Lyft or make sure that your driver has the proper licence and insurance to be operating commercially in the area where you are catching them all.

Do you play #PokemonGo in #NewOrleans

#PokeRides are here! Are you hunting #Pokemon playing #PokemonGo in the #NewOrleans area? Maybe you live here. Maybe you are travelling here for fun or business and want to play a little Pokemon Go while you are here. Let me be your guide.

If you didn’t know, Pokemon Go was developed by Ingress and many of the PokeStops and Gyms are in the same places as the Ingress portals are. In fact, Ingress portals and PokeStops share the exact same picture.

I am a level 16 player in Ingress (currently the highest level). I have been playing since December of 2014. I know many of the high concentration locations of Ingress portals. This means I will also know where to go to get some good Pokemon Go play time in.

Furthermore, if you haven’t used Uber or Lyft before, just clicking on the Uber or Lyft logos on my front page will get you credits to make your initial rides cheaper. My van fits 6 additional people. Your group could get many cheaper rides if they all signed up for codes and used them effectively.

If you would like to schedule a “PokeRide” with me to take a group of 6 people around the city, please use the contact form below and we will work something out. I will be coordinating with other trusted drivers/players in the city as well if for some reason I  cannot make the time that you would like.

#PokemonGo and Ridesharing

#PokemonGo fever is reaching epic levels in the first week of launching. You might be asking me why on earth a ride sharing blog is discussing augmented reality games. The answer is simple; people who play the game may need to get from place to place safely. They also may want to do so in a way that allows every player to pay attention to the phone and have someone else pay attention to the roads.

So why not merge the two together. It is the summer, and that means the slow season for transportation in New Orleans and some other cities. Drivers are definitely going to be happy to give you a lift so you can drive around.

If you are a Pokemon Go player who has never taken a ride in an Uber or a Lyft you are in luck, Both companies offer first time rider credits. On my front page I make it easy for you to get ride share credits. Just click on the logos for each company and sign up. It will tell you how much credit you get (with Lyft the credit is split over a certain number of rides).

If you are a driver, you may want to consider stocking up on charging cables. This may be the best investment ever with players who are playing a game that will be using more of their battery than normal.

 

 

Rider Advice: How Ratings Work

I will be honest. I am proud of my 4.91 rating as a driver for Uber. I am also proud of my 4.98 rating for Lyft.  That I am rated so highly means that I have done something right and have satisfied a vast majority of my customers. The 15 non 5 star rides I have given on Uber and the 1 on Lyft does make me wonder what I did to deserve a rating less than a 5. If I didn’t get a 5, I messed up some way.

I do feel that sometimes riders may not understand the impact that their ratings have on our ability to drive. There is no set formula that is published that will tell you when you can no longer drive for Uber or Lyft. However, it is the consensus that once a driver gets below a 4.6, proactive measures are taken. A driver may be forced to pay for a class to be a better driver. A driver may just be banned from using the application altogether. So when  you give a driver a rating below a 5, it says that something was lacking with the service your received.

Put another way, let’s say all my riders believed that a 4 was above average. If everyone rated me a 4, I would quickly be prevented from driving for either of the ride share companies.

Personally I am to give 7 star service. I try and go above and beyond for every customer. Both applications only allow for a rating between 1 and 5 inclusively. So I obviously cannot receive a 7. If I aim higher than a 5 and miss my mark, I can still get a 5.

So how should you rate your driver? I have some guidelines that might help you out based on the quality of service you received.

5 stars: Your riding experience was good and you had no problems. Your driver picked you up in a timely fashion and dropped you off using the quickest route possible (either via some routing software or via a detour because of personal knowledge that is better than the software). The driver was polite, friendly, and offered you extras like water, a cell phone charge, or some helpful tips if you are a tourist.

4 stars: The ride was ok, but was missing a few of the things that would have made it a 5 star ride. It isn’t terrible but the driver has areas to approve. (If the driver was obviously new, consider still giving a 5 star rating while giving helpful tips, or refer the driver to this blog to get tips on how to be a top notch driver).

2-3 stars: The driver missed most, if not all, of the marks on getting a 5 star review. Perhaps the car was messy and it was obviously not just a previous passenger who left items in the car. The driver may have lacked courtesy in one way or another. Contacting customer service about the driver might be called for depending on the circumstances.

1 star: The driver was unsafe and unprofessional. You should report the driver to customer service and complain about the ride you received.

This is not an all inclusive list of things to keep in mind. It is possible that I might come back and add some additional reasons to give a rating lower than a 5. Just remember that any rating lower than a 5 is going to tell any good driver that something was wrong with the ride, at least in some way. If the driver did nothing wrong, a 5 star rating is likely in order.

Rider Advice: Should you tip your driver?

Lyft currently offers their customers the ability to leave a tip for their drivers if they are so inclined in the application. Uber does not offer that functionality yet. Until recently Uber had basically sent a message to riders saying that their rides were all inclusive and that there was no need to tip. However, after a settlement with riders, Uber will now be telling riders that no tip is included. Uber will also be allowing riders to post that the gratuity is not included in the cost of the fare.

But that doesn’t really answer the question of what a rider should do or not. Of coarse as a driver I would love it if each and every customer of mine gave me a tip. But it is not my job to make your decision to tip for you. That is a decision you have to make. However, I would offer some things to consider when making that decision.

A) If they are both operating in a city, Uber and Lyft are often competing for both riders and drivers. Many drivers will drive for both companies. Many riders will have both applications as well. The rates they charge for riders in those cities will be competitive in order to attract business. This means that the prices will go lower to the determent of drivers. If you feel that the value of the ride you received was worth more than the base fare that you were charged, perhaps it is worth it to add some tip money to the overall cost of the ride.

B) Tipping tells drivers that they are doing their job well. It is positive reinforcement of good behavior. Many times drivers will go above and beyond to make your experience as comfortable as possible. Did your driver offer you a complementary beverage or candy? Did your driver provide cell phone charging cables or give you control of the radio? If your driver spent extra time, effort, and money to make your ride special, it could very well be worth a tip.

C) How far did your driver have to travel to pick you up? Many times your driver will be right around the corner. Sometimes your driver may have to drive 20 minutes to reach your location. Some drivers may just reject calls from such a long distance because your fare does not include the trip to pick you up. If a driver accepts your ride request and that request takes him a good distance away from where he was, that might be something worthy of consideration for a tip.

D) How far did you ask your driver to take you? Regulations vary but drivers can reject trips of certain lengths as well. If a driver accepts a trip that could have declined because of distance, it might also be something worthy of consideration for a tip.

I likely will not have covered every possible scenario that might cause a person to leave a tip to a ride sharing driver. But I can tell you that every time you give a tip to your driver, even if it is just a couple of bucks, it will make that driver very happy and you will be telling that driver that you received awesome service .

So how can you leave a tip? Isn’t one of the benefits of ridesharing that you can be cashless? Well, Lyft makes it easy by including it in their application. However, since Uber does not provide a cashless tipping mechanism, I provide my riders with a paypal link so that they can tip me that way. Just see my tip jar on the front page.

Counter-intuitive actions by some auto insurers.

When I decided that I would like to try ride sharing to gain some extra income, I made sure that I dotted all my i’s and crossed all my t’s. One of my biggest concerns was  insurance. I didn’t want to do anything that would cause me to lose my existing policy. I told them that I was considering driving for Uber and that I wanted to check with them first to see if that would be a violation to the terms of our agreement. They replied that it was fine for me to do so and that I just needed to remember that while my application was logged in that they would not cover any claims. This is the stance that a reasonable and intelligent company would take on the issue.

Think about it a second. My insurer covers me for all of the driving that I do; 365 days a year for 24 hours each day. Now I am telling them that I will be offsetting their risk when I drive since Uber covers insurance coverage while the application is online (at least in Louisiana). Each hour I am online giving passengers a ride is an hour that they do not have to insure me. Yet they collect the same money from me as if they were. That should be an actuary’s dream! If I was a vehicle insurer I would hope that my customers would drive for a ride share company. Not only do I insure them for less hours in a day, but I also will likely have a more careful driver who will be less likely to drive like a maniac when not driving for business purposes because they would want to make sure their car is always ready to deliver passengers.

Yet for some unknown reason that is not based in any sort of common sense or reality, some insurers are dropping Uber drivers from their policies. I have known of a couple recently who were notified that their insurance coverage would be ending.

I have worked within the insurance industry. I have a fairly good knowledge of how it works and how risk is assessed. The decision to drop ride share drivers who are covered by a different insurer while they do their ride share driving is absurd to say the very least. I have debated this topic with several in the insurance industry who have been unable to make a convincing argument as to why I am wrong on this.

Insurers better get with the times. People are deciding to become ride share drivers every day. And it makes no sense to turn away riders who will be covered by a different insurer.

Until that happens, I urge all drivers to make sure they are with an insurer that will cover them adequately and reasonably .

 

My letter on ride sharing to Jefferson Parish

The Jefferson Parish Council in Louisiana is thinking of establishing some new ordinances for ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to follow. The wording of the law has provisions that Uber and Lyft have previously opposed in other areas of the country. I cannot imagine they would embrace them here.

That being said, I wrote a letter to one of the councilmen to try and sway his opinion. Feel free to share this with other governmental officials who you feel threaten the ability of drivers to participate in ride sharing.

Dear Councilperson,

I wanted to write to you as someone who does drive for Uber and Lyft as to my experiences with them . I feel that there are some issues that have not been addressed but should be before any vote is taken. This is going to be a long letter.

The first and foremost issue to discuss is that the taxi companies did this (opened a market to other opportunities)  to themselves. When I have discussions with local riders on this issue, the riders will often tell me that their choice that night was not between a taxi or an Uber. They tell me that their choice that night was between taking an Uber or driving their own cars. We are not taking business away from taxi drivers. They did that to themselves by alienating people from the industry (especially in Jefferson Parish). This helps to explain why an Orleans Parish study done on the transportation industry in 2015 showed that while the number of tax rides fluctuated only slightly (from 2.4 million to 2.3 million) that the number of Uber rides was 1.2 million. This means over a million people wanted an Uber ride who didn’t want a taxi in Orleans Parish alone.

I remember several rides during Mardi Gras when I would pick someone up in Orleans Parish and take them out to Jefferson Parish (several times to Kenner). The people were so thankful that I was willing to drive them home because the taxis refused to give people who live in Metairie and Kenner transportation (despite this being a violation). On several of those drops offs I received calls from other areas of Jefferson Parish from people needing a ride. They couldn’t get a taxi to come to them. Uber was their only option. One customer told me that they were stuck downtown until 4am one night because a taxi was unwilling to take them to Metairie. That person will never use a taxi again.
Let’s talk about safety for a second. Let’s say Uber is allowed to use their own background checks that they use in Orleans Parish and all other municipalities in which they operate. Who is that hurting? If taking a ride in a vehicle from someone with a stricter background check is important to the customer, that customer is still free to use the taxi. But if they are comfortable using an Uber, then it is really only Uber taking the risk that a driver they hire is a “bad person” who happened to make it past the Uber screening process. Only Uber opens themselves up to liability because of the decision to use the kind of background checks that they use. Uber, by having GPS tracking that records the entire route from start to finish, also makes it a lot harder to get away with doing something bad because the company knows every turn you took during the ride. This is more safety than what a taxi provides.
But there is more to safety than just background checks. It has been shown in several cities that the addition of Uber has helped to radically reduce drunk driving. Cities see less DWI and less alcohol related traffic deaths because a person was able to call an TNC for a ride. I am sure that these cities also had taxis. But the addition of Uber and Lyft reduced drunk driving even more.  How does this impact Jefferson Parish? Well all those people I talked about who couldn’t get a taxi to bring them back home to Metairie or Kenner or any other part of the Parish, if they didn’t have a TNC to call, would have to take a car to go drinking. This means they are more likely to drink and drive. But if they know they can take an Uber to go out and come back home, they are less likely to drink and drive. The “why don’t they take a Taxi” argument doesn’t work because these people have already sworn off taxis.
So then let’s get to the other argument made by the taxi industry that Uber should have to follow the same laws as taxis do. My question to that is “why?”. First and foremost these are two different companies. I help prove that by showing how many people were added to transportation totals in Orleans Parish. People are not choosing to take Ubers over taxis. They are choosing to take Ubers over their own personal vehicles.
But that isn’t the only difference. There are many people who do TNC driving part time. I am one of those people. Many people like me only go out when the demand is high. Sure there are some full time drivers. But many of us are doing this to supplement another income source. It doesn’t make sense to regulate part time ride share drivers like full time taxi drivers.
State law agrees with my point. RS 45:201.1 defines the laws of the state for TNC. It is “Part C” of the motor carrier law. 201.4 exempts personal vehicles from the requirements of Parts A and B of the motor carrier law.
“”Personal vehicle” means a vehicle that is used by a transportation network company driver and is owned, leased, or otherwise authorized for use by the transportation network company driver. A personal vehicle is not a vehicle subject to Parts A and B of this Chapter or engaged solely in interstate commerce.”

This means that all of the requirements and exemptions to taxis that are defined in parts A and B of the law do not apply to cars used by drivers for TNC.
So when State law requires a certificate to operate a public carrier vehicle (like it does in Part B of the motor carrier law) that requirement does not apply to TNC because state law specifically exempts it.
When state law requires the full name and certificate number to be visible on a vehicle providing transportation services (like it does in Part B of the motor carrier law) that requirement does not apply to TNC because Part C specifically exempts personal vehicles used by TNC.
When state law requires for hire vehicles to display a meter (as it does in Part A of the motor carrier law) personal vehicles used for TNC are exempted from those requirements in part C of the motor carrier law.
When Part A of state law requires “for hire” license plates and a class D license to operate a for hire vehicle, personal vehicles are exempted from those requirements because of the specific exemptions in Part C.
I could go on with additional things that taxis must have as stated in Parts A and B of the motor carrier law that TNC are exempted from in Part C of the motor carrier law but I am sure that you get my point. The State of Louisiana sees these types of transportation services as being different from each other, with TNC getting less regulation because of the nature of the service being provided. So the argument that parish laws should treat Uber and taxis the same isn’t very logical at all.
Furthermore, if you look at RS 33:4792 (the law that allows municipalities and parishes to draft legislation to further regulate all transportation services) it states that the municipality has the authority to control entry into the market and can regulate “any other requirement adopted to ensure safe and reliable passenger transportation service even if it is anti-competitive in effect”. The same law says that safe and reliable transportation is vital to the State of Louisiana. So not only does motor carrier law exempt TNC from many requirements placed on taxis, this law says that parishes and municipalities can give different sets of rules to different companies, even if the rules for one are anti-competitive.  Why? Because having safe and reliable transportation is the compelling state interest here. So the argument by the taxi industry that TNC should operate under the same laws as they do is incorrect under state law.
Uber currently operates in Orleans Parish under their municipal code. They have fees and other regulations set up that the ride sharing companies seem to find reasonable. I cannot speak for Uber as I do not represent them on this issue. However I would tend to think that if Jefferson Parish drafted similar legislation to that of the Orleans Parish requirements that Uber and Lyft would likely be happy to keep doing business in the Parish
If Uber and Lyft pull out of Jefferson Parish because an ordinance is passed that makes them feel that they cannot operate in a profitable way, I won’t likely be effected. The vast majority of my rides originate in Orleans.
But consider the irony here. Liberal Orleans Parish had a shortage of transportation services (as can be seen in the million Uber rides given in 2015) and they solved it with a free market solution. Conservative Jefferson Parish is rejecting the free market solution and is instead seeking to over regulate an industry to a point where they will leave if the suggested ordinance is passed.

Welcome To RideShareDan.com

My name is Dan. I currently do some part time driving. Sometimes I do it for Uber and sometimes I do it for Lyft. The idea for this website was twofold. I wanted a way to be able to have new riders get their credits without having to type in codes. I also wanted to be able to give riders the opportunity to leave a tip if they choose to do so. And so, I registered the domain (and to my surprise it was available!) .

There is so much more to discuss with the ride sharing industry so in the weeks and months to come I will be blogging about the ride sharing industry including what I feel are good tips for drivers, good tips for riders, the legal issues surrounding this new and exciting market, and everything in between.

I will also be adding more content including ways for regular passengers to connect, a better feedback feature so that I can find out how to best improve the service I give as a driver, and other features that I may feel are interesting. Until then, welcome!