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Do we live behind the moon? We want Electric Scooters!

I mentioned last week that I was in San Diego recently and I totally appreciated the easy availability of the Uber service, something we are sorely missing in Ireland, just because the National Transport Authority is protecting the Taxi Cartel here for no good reason.

And there is another great thing that San Diego (and many other cities on the USA) offer that falls under the headline of “transport” and that we are still missing in Ireland. San Diego has electric scooters everywhere that can be rented for short trips by anyone via a simple app. There are thousands of scooters everywhere and all you need is register with the service provider (Lime or Bird), download an app and then pay a $1 release charge per trip and 15 cent per minute of a rental charge.

If you use the scooter for a long time, it can get expensive: A 1 hour usage will cost a total of $10. But at 15 miles per hour and with a reach of about 30 miles, you can could certainly cover quite a distance in that hour. In addition, the main target seems to be relatively short trips of closer to 10 minutes than an hour. And for that, using a scooter is a fun way to get from A to B. All this is hugely helped by the fact that you can park the scooter at any street corner (as long as it doesn’t obstruct), so it doesn’t have to be brought to a specific base (unlike the Dublin Bikes, for example).

I zipped around a little and it was a lot of fun!

In Dublin we lately see more and more people commuting on Electric Scooters (which they own), but unfortunately using a scooter in Ireland is still illegal and there are currently NO plans in the in the Department of Transport to look into “Personal Electric Mobility Vehicles” (PMV or PEM). We really do seem to live behind the moon!

Electric mobility is looking like the BIG change to our transport system in the future and I mentioned recently that by 2020, the Irish Government would like to have 20,000 electric cars on Irish streets (but will probably fall way short of that). If electric vehicles is the future, then it is high time to start looking at other electric vehicles as well.

We want Uber!!

Last week I was in San Diego for 10 days for a training course (and a couple of days holidays added to the end). I had originally planned to use day passes on public transport to get around, but it turned out that the websites painted a nicer picture of the public transport system than it was in reality and it started at the airport when the “promised” facility to buy their equivalent of a LEAP card could just not be found.

So right after arrival we had to change our plans and the options were either Taxi or Uber. The distance from the airport was about 8 miles. With a taxi that would be $24, with Uber it was $16. Not a bad start! And it just continued like that! We did about 10 Uber Trips altogether and had not a single bad experience. All drivers were extremely friendly, some were chatty, some not. All drove well and responsible and all had other jobs and only did a few hours of Uber driving per day or per week. Not once did we have to wait longer than 4 minutes until we were picked up and not once did a driver take “the scenic route” or tried to use any other trick to increase the fare (because they can’t!!).

If you don’t know how Uber operates let me explain it briefly: Uber drivers are private car owners who only need their mobile phone to become an Uber driver. When you book an Uber trip, the customer specifies the start and end point on an app and is told the full price in advance (the driver can’t change it and there are NO surcharges). The app for the driver is a SatNav system and tells the driver exactly how to get to the destination, so the driver just needs to follow the instructions. At the end of the trip you don’t pay by cash or card, instead the app sorts out all payments from your credit card to the driver. So you thank the driver and leave the car. A completely cashless system.

It is just brilliant! BUT we don’t have it and if the National Transport Authority (NTA) is not reigned in soon, they will not allow us to have Uber. Why? Because they are protecting the overpriced and regulated Taxi business. Taxis are outdated and Taxi regulation is harming, not helping customers.

You might say/think that we have Uber in Ireland, but it is a bastardised version of the proper Uber. In Ireland only licensed Taxi drivers are allowed to transport passengers for money, so Uber is just the middle man that connects you with a taxi driver via the app. It has some features of the proper Uber system because you make the contact by app, but the app doesn’t tell you what the price will be and the price is NO different than the normal taxi price. So, Uber in Ireland is not Uber and that is all thanks to the National Transport Authority (NTA).

I think the idea of Uber is brilliant and – without a doubt – it will be the private transport model that will outlive the regulated taxi industry. And in a few years we will look back and wonder “Why, oh Why did we stick to this completely outdated taxi model for such a long time when we easily could have moved to a more modern model?” Yep, I Know, it sometimes feels like living behind the moon! :-O

No fairness regarding M50 tolls!

Are you a person that usually pays the bills you get? And do you expect that other people do the same so that you don’t fund and support them with your money? Toll payments on the M50 don’t work like that!

The Public Accounts Committee of the Dail was told by Nigel O’Neill of the public sector organisation Transport Infrastructure Ireland that in the last two years a total of EUR 10.1mio was written off in unpaid tolls. :-O It gets your blood boiling when you think that this bridge that is now owned by the state, forces you and me to pay the toll, but one car out of every 22 will get away paying nothing. Over 1 mio journeys remained unpaid as RTE reports.

MyTaxi increases charges by EUR 2

I know, they would argue that they are not doing that, but if you check your wallet after using a MyTaxi Taxi, you will have EUR 2 less in it than last week, so to me that is an increase.

But let’s start that story at the beginning:
On Wednesday MyTaxi informed their customers that from midnight on that same Wednesday (Thanks for the advance warning! :-O ) MyTaxi drivers would (be allowed to) charge a EUR 2 booking fee for all bookings via the app or phone.

According to MyTaxi, they had told their drivers not to charge that fee in the past, but they are not telling them that anymore and consequently the drivers will/might add that EUR 2 now.

The charge is allowed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) which regulates the taxi fares, so MyTaxi think they are fully compliant with all rules and regulations and probably to add insult to injury, they are claiming on their website (ie.mytaxi.com/pricingpolicy) that “We’re confident that by implementing this change, mytaxi drivers will offer an ever-improving, market-leading service when you need it most.”

Ask your customers and you will be told that you aren’t providing an “ever-improving” service.

I am no expert on Taxi fare history, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that “booking fee” is from the olden days when taxis where “controlled” by radio. You rang their head office/dispatcher and the head office told the driver where to pick you up. The EUR 2 were possibly the charge the head office got. But since you can’t request a MyTaxi taxi any other way than through the app (unless you go to a taxi rank) and because that middle man is not there anymore, it might be that that booking fee is well outdated!?

Either way, it is an effective increase of EUR 2, so now before you drive a metre, you will have to pay EUR 5.60 during the day and EUR 6 at night and – as I reported last week in the Dublin News section of the Dublin Event Guide – this charge will increase in February to EUR 5.80 and EUR 6.00.

I hope we will get the proper Uber service soon (not the crippled Uber service that we have currently)! It seems that some taxi competition is urgently needed. I am aware that Uber is not perfect either and the fact that they lost their license for London in the last few days shows this clearly, but I’d think Uber is fixable.

 
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