Opinions Uber Public Transportation
In this article, we draw on people’s attitudes towards public transportation in Bucharest, with a focus on car sharing services, like Uber. The research consisted of an online survey conducted on our platform www.questia.ro and it was active between 9 and 12th of January 2018. The survey covered 500 respondents, living and working in Bucharest, with a +/- 4% margin of error when reported to the Romanian online population.
In this context, in December 2017 the mayor of Bucharest proposed new conditions to the Taxi regulations in Bucharest. She proposed that all taxis on the territory of the city must have dispatch services, as well as other requests like sanctions for those who refuse to take people to a certain destination and for those who take tips. Regulations also refer to taxi drivers' decent look’; smoking in the car is forbidden, playing loud music as well, talking on the phone and engaging in sensitive topics with clients. Moreover, each customer should have the possibility to pay with the credit card, as well as order a taxi online. The penalties include 4.500 to 5.000 RON fees. Also, car-sharing services like Uber and Taxify are targeted. The project proposed by the mayor was approved by a majority in the General Council meeting.
Uber is present in Romania since 2015 in cities like Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara and Brasov. There have been many protests against Uber in these cities, especially by the taxi drivers. The last one was on the 20th of December, in Bucharest, when hundreds protested against unfair competition from Uber and Taxify and the fact that they don’t have transport licenses.
During 2017, the car-sharing company, Uber has passed through many scandals, incidents and controversies, typical for the ‘gig economy’ actors. The company uses an app, the drivers work flexibly, the drivers are paid per job, and the company denies them the employment rights to which they are legally entitled. However, last year, in the UK, Uber lost its appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be classed as workers with minimum-wage rights, in a case that could have major ramifications for labor rights in the growing gig economy. Last year, the European court of justice (ECJ) has ruled Uber as a transport services company, requiring it to accept stricter regulation and licensing within the EU as a taxi operator. Uber had denied it was a transport company, arguing instead it was a computer services business with operations that should be subject to an EU directive governing e-commerce and prohibiting restrictions on the establishment of such organizations. The decision in Luxembourg, after a challenge brought by taxi drivers in Barcelona, will apply across the whole of the EU, and cannot be appealed against.
Following The Guardian’s timeline, here are some top events that the company has passed through in 2017:
#DeleteUber goes viral - Uber’s decision to lift surge pricing during a New York taxi drivers’ work stoppage in protest of the Trump travel ban prompts a viral #DeleteUber campaign.
Susan Fowler speaks out - Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler publishes a blog post with allegations of widespread sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
Greyball deception revealed - The New York Times exposes Uber’s use of Greyball, a tool to systematically deceive authorities in cities where Uber was violating local laws.
Drivers underpaid by millions - Uber admits it has for years been underpaying New York City drivers by tens of millions of dollars.
Toxic culture reaches breaking point, Kalanick resigns - Uber fires 20 employees following the conclusion of an investigation into sexual harassment and workplace culture.
Uber is sued by an Indian passenger who was raped by an Uber driver after reports reveal that a top executive had obtained the woman’s medical records, allegedly in order to cast doubt upon her account.
CEO Travis Kalanick resigns.
Unsafe cars leased in Singapore - The Wall Street Journal reports that Uber had rented fire-prone cars to drivers in Singapore, despite knowing that the vehicles had been recalled over serious safety concerns.
Uber loses London license - Uber loses its license to operate in London due to a lack of corporate responsibility. The company is appealing the decision.
Massive hack cover-up revealed - Uber admits concealing a 2016 breach that exposed the data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers, failing to disclose the hack to regulators or affected individuals. The company paid a $100,000 ransom to the hackers to destroy the information and keep the breach quiet.
Stricter regulations - The European Court of Justice delivers a major blow to Uber when it rules that the startup is a transportation company, forcing it to abide by stricter regulations.
Following Uber’s recent history, it is clear that the company needs to become more ethical in order to survive. On top of that, the issue of taxation is another sensitive point of the company: Uber is able to avoid VAT by exploiting a loophole in how the tax is collected for business-to-business sales across EU borders, which arises because it treats its 40,000 UK drivers as separate businesses, each too small to register for VAT.
In our survey, we wanted to find out people’s perceptions on Uber, as well as the frequency they declare they use such a service.
There are some discrepancies between how people travel during the average weekday and the weekends. The subway, followed by the bus and the tram are the most used means of transportation during the weekdays. On the other hand, people prefer traveling by their car during the weekends much more than during the weekdays. The bus and the subway are also frequently used during the weekends, as well as the bicycle when the time is appropriate. Taxis and Uber/Taxify are used to a lesser degree, especially during weekends.
Asked what are their opinions on several public means of transport, the subway is seen positively by most respondents (81.2% have a good opinion about it). Next, buses are seen positively, however only by half of the respondents. Car sharing services, like Uber or Taxify, are seen positively by almost half of the respondents, although another half responded that they don’t have an opinion on this. This finding can be interpreted either as a lack of knowledge and implicitly few interactions with the services (considering that it is one of the less used means of transportation on a regular basis), or that the opinion they have is not skewed in one direction or the other. Another interpretation would be that the don’t know score can be read as a negative score. However, when it comes to the taxi, most people have a bad opinion about it.
Respondent’s opinions about the tram and the trolleybus are almost equally shared: some view them positively, while others negatively. This has to do with the fact that these means of transport are most times stuck in traffic and they don’t function on a clear schedule.
We asked respondents wether taxi apps or ride-sharing apps should be legal or illegal in Bucharest. The majority is in favor of such apps, with a slightly higher negative rate for Uber/Taxify. This shows that respondents prefer having alternatives and rather have positive opinions on these apps.
Finally, the fact that taxi apps or ride-sharing apps are viewed positively has to do with their usage: more than half of the respondents say that they prefer using such an app when they want to order a taxi/car. Moreover, both taxis and ride-sharing apps are used when people are in a hurry or want to get as fast as they can to a place. This is in line with the fact that even though only a few respondents said they used such means of transportation, they prefer using them during the weekdays.
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