I said the bastards would do this

Hi Tim-
We thought you might be perhaps interested in the below commentary from Gary Buffo, President of the National Limousine Association (NLA) and Scott Solombrino, Co-Founder of the National Limousine Association (NLA).
Saturday’s horrific shooting spree by an on-duty Uber driver in Kalamazoo, Michigan is the most recent, tragic illustration of inadequate safety, communications and driver vetting policies by ride-hailing services. Despite highly publicized campaigns where the service proclaimed itself “the safest on the road” with “industry-leading background checks”, which is the subject of two massive class-action lawsuits, it is now clearer than ever that substantial and consequential steps need to be taken to protect passengers and the general public.
Gary Buffo, President of the National Limousine Association (NLA), responds:
This tragic occurrence highlights how the current operating procedures of ride-hailing services fail to protect passengers, drivers and the public at large. As we now know from first-hand accounts, this driver was acting irrationally and operating his vehicle erratically not only in the hours leading up to and between these senseless shootings, but also in the days and weeks prior. Although it may be impractical to suggest that a large company such as Uber should be aware of the emotional state of all of its drivers, it is not unreasonable to expect a real-time review and action plan in place to flag and manage passenger issues and concerns.

-President of the NLA, Gary Buffo

Scott Solombrino, Co-Founder of the National Limousine Association (NLA), responds:

The fact that a service is app-based does not make it an exception to the rule. A company that knows and interacts with its employees and/or drivers is able to flag problematic behavior. Without a reliable method of contact to report concerns about drivers and ride experiences, I fear that we will continue to see disastrous consequences as a result of a lack of due diligence and basic communications standards. In this case, no new laws are even required, just a reliable method to monitor, respond and react to situations as they arise.

-Co-Founder of the NLA, Scott Solombrino

Buffo and Solombrino sound like bit part characters in the Sopranos really. Not all that surprisingly…..

19 thoughts on “I said the bastards would do this”

  1. They also fail to mention that TfL put special restrictions on limo businesses because of their niche industry’s infamous track record of supplying dangerous vehicles for hire.

  2. While we’re at it we need to shut down gyms. It’s good to know that limos are so much safer. To bad we don’t need them as leaving the house is so dangerous.

  3. I think they should be free to inform me of Uber’s lax driver vetting. And I should remain free not to give a fuck about a one in 100 million chance of getting a psycho-killer driver on a bad day.

  4. The odd thing is that his passengers all survived, so where are the grounds for complaint in terms of his job?

  5. How does any vetting pick up somebody who has no criminal history and accurately predict they will commit a crime in the future? I worked in taxi licensing for six years. The biggest flaw in the vetting is the inability to predict the future. You can only go on known facts, and back that up with properly resourcing monitoring and enforcement.

    In UK taxi law any authorised officer can pull any taxi driver or vehicle off the road and suspend his/her license with immediate effect. They can then appeal over the heads of the licensing board to the magistrates court and the revocation is suspended while that appeal takes place, which is an acknowledged potential flaw.

    And another thing to the trade bodies. Licensing is there to protect the travelling public, NOT to protect the jobs of the trade.

  6. jgh

    I understand, but isn’t Uber at the end of the day just a bit of software – a sort of “networking” app. Did I get that wrong – and in which case Uber2?

  7. You know, I don’t think it was Uber taxi drivers who set up those paedophile rings to abduct, drug, and rape all those kids in Rotherham and Manchester and Rochdale and Oxford and……

  8. “A company that knows and interacts with its employees and/or drivers is able to flag problematic behavior. Without a reliable method of contact to report concerns about drivers and ride experiences,”


    See here just today: http://www.samizdata.net/2016/02/why-a-traveller-loves-uber/

    Uber absolutely tracks every single one of their driver’s journeys so erratic behaviour is tracked far more reliably than for ordinary cabs. The app also provides a far simpler mechanism for a consumer to report a concern than for a traditional cab.

  9. The Uber debate is great. I’m noticing a decent number of millennial Twitter-lefties who like, and use, uber, and who are seeing the protectionism for what it is.

    It’s like the anti-ecig thing. Sharks are being jumped. Lessons are being learned.

  10. PF: Yes, Uber is nothing more than a taxi “radio control” centre, as have existed since the invention of the messenger boy. It’s just a booking centre that several taxi drivers chose to use to centralise their bookings through a single contact point. There is no difference between them and any other private hire booking centre that coordinates more than one taxi.

    What Uber as a company have been trying to do is claim that they’re not a taxi booking office, so don’t need a taxi booking office license (b***locks!), that they’re not a fleet hire company, so don’t need a taxi fleet licence (correct), that their drivers are not “real” taxi drivers, so don’t need a taxi driver’s licence or a taxi vehicle licence (double b***locks).

    I’m perfectly happy with how much tax Uber pays. It’s best practice for the taxi coordinating office to make as little trading surplus as possible so that the driver’s fees are as low as possible to maximise the drivers income. Just like a flour mill co-op, or a trawler-owned fish dock.

    And remember, those drivers will be paying higher income tax than the control office would be paying corporation tax.

  11. The Pedant-General: Private Hire individuals and Taxi Hire Booking Offices are required to keep records of bookings, so the drivers can be tracked, albeit not to the minute-by-minute metre-by-metre granularity that a remote vehicle tracking system can do. But we can, and have, seized booking records and in-vehicle GPS systems as evidence, or have been offered them as evidence. For instance, a chap accused of plying when seen picking up people who appeared to flag him down showed records saying he’d called in to say he was signing off for the day and was taking some friends home.

  12. jgh

    Interesting. Is there a difference between a taxi “radio control” centre, say in a hut at a railway station, and a software app (not necessarily Uber) which anyone can sign on and log in to (either with a car or as someone who wants a lift), and which might even be conducted on an off shore server?

    Ie, is it illegal (without obtaining a licence) for someone with a car to log on to a site on their i-phone, receive a message from someone saying “I’m on the corner 100 yards away, can you drive me to the cinema, for a fiver” and complete that transaction? The app might coordinate the payments between the parties, but might not need to in Uber V2?

    I’m just curious as I’m completely ignorant on this?

    And if yes, it is illegal without a licence, can one imagine what changes Uber V2 would need to render that process no longer illegal?

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