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ride-booking services

After years of requests from drivers, Uber has added a tipping function on its app
Flickr photo/Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures (CC BY-ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/kAYh8Z

Passengers who use the ride-hailing app Uber will now have the option to tip their driver.

The company has refused to offer it until now, even though drivers have long requested it and competing app Lyft already allows tipping.

Ride-hailing firm Uber has fired about 20 of its employees, including some senior executives, after an investigation into more than 200 sexual harassment and other workplace-misconduct claims.

The company is not commenting on the findings of the report from Perkins Coie, which was hired after former Uber engineer Susan Fowler last year alleged that she was sexually harassed, and her complaints disregarded by the company's human resources department.

Drivers and professional lobbyists for the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft are urging state lawmakers to replace what they call a "patchwork" of city regulations with uniform statewide rules for their industry. They testified in Olympia Wednesday that this would expand the availability of the smartphone-based ride-booking services.

Uber and Lyft are gradually expanding their coverage in the Pacific Northwest beyond the major metro areas. Uber launched its smartphone ride-booking service in Kennewick and Yakima, Washington, last week and similar-sized Oregon cities may get their shot in 2017.

A few years ago, the Urban Institute undertook a massive experiment to measure discrimination in home rentals and sales. The researchers sent hundreds of people in dozens of cities across the country to act as applicants trying to rent or buy apartments and houses. The "testers" were given similar credit histories and financial qualifications.

Uber provided drivers like Suzy Harrison with shirts that say, 'I Drive, I Vote.'
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Seattle’s attempt to offer collective bargaining to the city’s Uber and Lyft drivers is facing delays.

The ordinance allowing those drivers to unionize was scheduled to take effect in September. But city officials say they aren’t ready to implement it yet. And they still need to settle a divisive issue: which drivers will get to vote on the union when the time comes.    


In its first-ever transparency report, Uber has revealed that it has given federal and local U.S. agencies information on more than 12 million riders and drivers between July and December 2015.

This kind of report is not uncommon in the tech industry, but this particular one does something extra: It uses the report to take regulators to task for what Uber sees as excessive data sharing, making a case that it frequently tries to narrow the scope of requested information.

A bus moves into traffic on Delridge Way in West Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke talks with Geekwire reporter Taylor Soper about uberHOP, a new pilot program that started in Seattle today. UberHOP cars run set routes during high traffic times, much like public transportation. 

Uber General Manager Brooke Steger and chief adviser David Plouffe at the company's Seattle offices.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Industry players and union leaders are bumping elbows as the campaign over collective bargaining for Seattle’s for-hire drivers intensifies.

A Lyft for-hire car rolls down a street in San Francisco.
Flickr Photo/urbanists (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel speaks with financial journalist Felix Salmon about a bill headed to the Seattle City Council that would allow for-hire drivers to unionize. 

Protesters rally as part of the National Day of Action for Higher Wages on Capitol Hill, Seattle, on April 15, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Todd Mundt

Unions and low-wage workers held rallies around the state Wednesday to push for higher wages.

Twenty-one protesters, including seven Seattle University faculty members, were arrested after occupying an intersection near the university, which has blocked adjunct faculty members' efforts to unionize.

A line of Car2Gos in the South Lake Union district of Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Car-sharing company Car2Go expanded in Seattle this week. That means a little more competition for parking spots that can already be hard to come by. Is the city trying to make life harder for car owners? And is that fair? Bill Radke talks with Seattle journalist Erica C. Barnett.

A panel in the Idaho House agreed to introduce legislation Thursday that would define ride-sharing services like Uber in state law -- and trump local efforts to regulate them.

Perhaps no single company has stirred so many emotions this year — across so many continents — as Uber.

In 2014 Uber became more — much more — than a car service: The Silicon Valley startup became a symbol for capitalism itself.

The company's value soared from under a billion to about $40 billion, making it one of the most valuable private companies on Earth. But it also has become mired in turf wars, legal battles and scandal.

Hypergrowth And Backlash

In France yesterday, taxi drivers blocked some roads around Paris and at airports to protest the ride-for-hire service Uber, which allows customers to summon rides from drivers who may not have actual taxi driving licenses.

The demonstration came as France’s interior minister said UberPop — the low-cost service of the company — would be banned after the first of the year.

Uber has already been banned in Spain and the Netherlands, and it’s also been banned in parts of India, after a driver in New Dehli was accused of rape.

Uber modified the Portland City Mark (as seen here), prompting a cease-and-desist letter from the City of Portland for trademark violation. It was one of a number of legal actions taken against the company. Uber has since removed the image from their blog
Uber Blog

Ross Reynolds speaks with Aaron Mesh, news reporter for the Willamette Week, about why the City of Portland is suing Uber, the San Francisco-based ridesharing company. The city has sought an injunction against the company and sent two cease-and-desist letters -- one for violations of city code, and another for trademark violation in the use of the Portland City Mark.

Online rental brokers like Airbnb, VRBO and Flipkey in San Francisco may be finding some success renting to visitors on a nightly basis, but people concerned about a shrinking rental market have turned to legal action and protests.

In the city's North Beach neighborhood, for example, protesters recently gathered around a three-unit apartment with flats an online broker rents to vacationers. This used to be the rent-controlled home of elderly tenants until out-of-town investors bought the building and evicted the residents.

This summer, more people than ever before are booking rooms on Airbnb and using carpooling websites and smartphone apps to get around on vacation. The new "share economy" can be a money saver in areas hard hit by the economic crisis, like southern Europe.

But in sunny Spain, authorities are cracking down.

In Barcelona — one of the top destinations for European tourists this summer — police are pulling over and ticketing drivers suspected of using the private taxi app Uber.

Airbnb

“Sharing” has become a popular suffix in the news these days, mostly in regards to transportation like ridesharing and bikesharing. Your living spaces can now get in on the action with sites like Airbnb and Vacation Rental By Owner, which allow you to rent out your home or a room for short stays.

Amy Radil

On June 16, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that a stakeholders group had agreed to lift restrictions on the growth of rideshare companies. In exchange, companies like Lyft and Uber would meet the same safety and insurance requirements as taxi drivers.

A Lyft for-hire car rolls down a street in San Francisco.
Flickr Photo/urbanists (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced a new way forward for car services.

Murray said a new agreement has been reached that does not cap the number of people who drive for Uber X, Lyft and other similar rideshare companies.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Seattle’s new regulations on rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber were supposed to take effect this week, but now they’re on hold. That’s because a group, backed by rideshare businesses, has filed signatures for a ballot referendum to bring the rideshare rules to a public vote.

Flickr Photo/Andrew W. Sieber (CC BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Dawn Gearhart, spokesperson for Teamsters Local 117, about why the Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association has filed a lawsuit against the app-based transportation company Uber for unlawful and deceptive business practices.

From Uber's Facebook page.

Marcie Sillman talks with Brooke Steger, general manager for Seattle Uber, about the new limits to ridesharing Seattle's City Council passed Monday.

KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

You may see fewer cars with pink mustaches on the road in the coming months.

Seattle’s City Council yesterday gave final approval to a plan that would limit the number of cars that rideshare companies like Lyft, UberX and Sidecar can operate.

As A First State To Regulate Ridesharing, California Offers Its Progress

Mar 13, 2014
Flickr Photo/Bill Rosenfeld (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carolyn Said about California's state-wide rideshare regulations. Said talks about how they are playing out in San Francisco and what Seattle's proposed driver caps could mean for rideshare companies all over.

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

A Seattle City Council committee has voted to impose limits on rideshare companies Thursday night. The council’s compromise seemed to disappoint everyone, from rideshare companies to taxi owners.

The council’s committee on taxi regulations has been wrestling with how to regulate rideshares like Lyft and UberX for months.

Flickr Photo/Amancay Maahs (CC BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Steve Humphreys, CEO of Flywheel, about how the company's new smartphone app allows users in the Seattle area to arrange, track and pay for taxi rides.

Flickr Photo/~C4Chaos (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The ongoing debate about how to regulate ridesharing in Seattle seems to be coming down to a fight over numbers. The Seattle City Council is considering capping the number of licensed rideshare drivers but is getting pushback from the companies who thus far have been operating in Seattle illegally.

Flickr Photo/Spiros Vathis

Rideshare companies have been flourishing in Seattle – illegally. On Friday, the City Council will consider a new plan to finally regulate taxi-alternatives like Lyft, Sidecar and UberX.

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