Uber has been having a bit of a rough go of things in Boston the past few days. First a cease and desist order was given to the company after one of its drivers was caught in what played out as nothing less than a sting operation by the Keystone Cops. The city caught major pushback and relented, but today the plot thickens. It seems that someone in Boston is taking the abusive spouse role, promising that they’re only beating on the service because they care.
For those unaware, Uber works differently than a cab. You use an app on your smartphone to book your car, and then you’re charged a rate depending upon the GPS signal that measures the distance that you’ve traveled. No cash changes hands as all billing and tips are handled within the app itself. It’s obviously different than what you see in a normal taxi, and some people aren’t very happy about that fact.
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From a press release sent to PR Newswire, “officials” are “concerned” with Uber and its ilk operating in its fair city:
“Officials say they are most concerned about the physical safety of both passengers and drivers, noting there are no requirements for partitions or emergency buttons in the unlicensed vehicles. There are no GPS requirements to record the exact location of a vehicle during an emergency and no ID or consumer contact information requirements.”
What’s interesting is that, unlike most press releases, this one is purposely very vague about who is behind it. There’s no one group claiming to have sent the message but instead it references a number of folks who would happen to be concerned. Oleg Uritsky, who is stated to be a spokesman for fleet owners says that the concern lies with Uber “bypassing” rules which leads to “no accountability”.
Oh, but before you start getting worried, it’s actually you, dear Uber rider, who is the problem. At least according to the release:
“…there are no requirements for partitions or emergency buttons in the unlicensed vehicles. There are no GPS requirements to record the exact location of a vehicle during an emergency and no ID or consumer contact information requirements.
Earlier this year two Boston cab drivers were violently assaulted, one severely stabbed and the other robbed with his car hijacked and crashed. Without necessary oversight, riders and drivers are left totally unprotected from potential criminal activity.”
To be quite frank, the entire release reads like a PR slander machine with the intention of defaming Uber and similar services. But there’s nothing quite as suspect as an ominous voice whispering into your ear, touting your safety as its goal. I think the final line of the release sums up this intention quite nicely. They’re just worried about you, you see. Because government regulation keeps you safe and prevents Uber from “unleashing a free-for-all that will benefit no one and ultimately prove dangerous.”
Or so they’d like for you to believe.