Peter Ashlock (PeterAshlock)

Ride Apprentice

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  • I take a walk every other day for about an hour and a quarter and no longer have the leg cramps I had when I didn't get any exercise. When I drove a taxi for ten years I ran in the park for about twenty minutes every single day.Getting some vigorous exercise is manditory.


  • I would complain to the Airport Commission as well as serve notice to Uber that you have done so. Make a paper trail, show them photographs of your car displaying the Uber logo and the time stamp of the picture and the location to show you are in the right.


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     2 years ago in  The End of An Era: The New Uber Bonus Policy

    If you try to parse every single ride by what kind of scam Uber/Lyft are dangling in front of you then you will not make much, you cannot chase every carrot they dangle because they are essentially an illusion and always have been, right from the first so called surge priced fare. No one gets rich, but you will make a basic income if you accept virtually 95% or more of the fares as they are offered and take them without complaint. You make the system work for you, not by trying to play the system but by working and if you get a tip, that's nice, if you get a "bonus" fare, that's nice, the bottom line is very basic. If they offer you a couple of hundred bucks for taking so many fares in three days, then go for it, hit the number, if you know your way around, know where and when people are active, you won't have a lot of problems. Just don't expect much more from the company because they are not there for anyone but themselves, just like the drivers.


  • One thing that seems to be forgotten in all the comments about "guaranteed wage" is that taxi drivers have no guaranteed wage either. Their system is more fair to the driver though because it is structured to include the costs of doing business in the fare. The taxi driver pays a flat fee to the company to "rent" the car for the shift, they are then responsible only for the gas. That flat fee covers all the issues regarding the vehicle, insurance, maintainance, wear and tear, depreciation, etc. Thus the driver is only responsible for the income generated after they have covered their "nut", the gate fee for taking the car out. After the unions lost their power, the taxi drivers also had no benefits.


  • Another aspect to this predictable low brow mentality by Uber/Lyft is the outrageously bad navigation system. If you know your way around you will notice that often the route suggested by the GPS is strangely long and circuitous, if it can route you onto the freeway to go all the way around the city to a point you could go to more directly on the city street, often it will. That is why I ignore the navigation system except for short rides into unfamiliar neighborhoods and sometimes ask a passenger what route they suggest, if I am new to an area.

    I had engineers in the back seat discussing the GPS/navigation system and talking about how they were instructed to design the system to choose the third best route of the options.

    In order to maximize the possible income from these systems it is in the drivers best interest to take as many fares as possible in as short a time as they can find them, take the passengers by the most efficient route possible so you can get rid of them and find another fare. This is really only feastible by knowing your way around and not being dependent on the GPS. All the systems allow the company to control the driver, if the driver has more knowledge than the company there is nothing they can do other than try to punish drivers for not following a prescribed route which is not likely to happen because there are too many things out of control of the company and that is where the drivers need to focus. Similarly like a UNION, an excellent institution when done right, to protect the drivers.


  • In the nineteen seventies and eighties as a cab driver in San Francisco I knew casually three other drivers in the companies where I worked who were murdered by passengers. When I was a new driver and naive about how people act, a couple set me up one afternoon and then attempted to rob me and stab me in the process. They were not successful because I was able to get away from them with only a minor scratch from the mans knife.

    I never had such a close call again because I became more alert to the kind of things I needed to do to prevent such a situation from happeneing. As a driver in those days it was a cash business and drivers often ended up with close to two hundred dollars on them at the end of a night. I always made it clear to my passengers that I was alert to them, that I was no fool and would not put up with aggressive behavior, if I got worried about a passengers actions I would pull over and throw them out, if they threatened to report me to the police or the company I always told them I was all for it and would happily go to the police or give them my name to complain to the company. No one ever crossed me and I never had further problems.

    Just befpre I quit driving I ran into a driver I knew who asked if I had heard what had happened to him the night before. He had picked up three young African Americans that to him looked out of place in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco and took them to a side street near California and Polk near Nob Hill. Two of them got out and the third remained in the back seat and put a knife to his throat. The driver, who knew how to protect himself, had only put his foot on the brake, the car was in gear, stepped on the gas and shot forward, thus slamming the passenger into the back seat, he then stopped quickly, pulled out a gun he was not supposed to carry and shot the passenger in the face. He reported it to the dispatcher, the police were summoned and he was told that they had to take his gun and he should report to the Hall of Justice the next day so he could be cited for carrying a concealed weapon, which he was not allowed to do. At that time to my understanding, it was not leagal for an average citizen to carry a concealed handgun. Times have changed. I would not have a job where I had to carry a gun, personally, it isn't worth the stress.

    When I first learned the details about driving for Uber in 2011 the first two things that I liked hearing were that no cash was handled and drivers were only offered a fare one at a time. That meant no exposure to being robbed for my money and that other drivers could not steal my fare from me, because they would do so in a heartbeat if they could get away with it.

    The most important thing to remember as a driver is that this is YOUR CAR, you are entitled to respect and safety from your passengers. I play calm music in the car and make it subtley clear when necessary that I am in control of what goes on iside my car. Anyone is free to complain but I NEVER have problems with passengers anymore.


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     2 years ago in  How do I pay for tolls?

    When I first drove with Uber as a black car driver in 2011 I was expected to pay the tolls for passengers. I immediately complained to the company that owned the black car, a limo company. They said no one had ever complained before. I said that in the history of taxi driving no driver had ever paid their passengers bridge tolls. I had to collect receipts for this expense for two years, complaining all the while, submitting them as a cost of doing business expense with my taxes before Uber, around 2013, announced brightly that the passengers would now be charged for a bridge toll! I imagine I was not alone in my complaint.

    I would guess they finally realized that the GPS could detect the crossing of a toll bridge or other toll roadway and thus charge the passenger for the fee. As a driver I have a Fastrak transponder that allows me to pass through a toll gate in my region, it charges my account, funded by a credit card and I am paid for that same toll by Uber in my next pay transaction.

    At the end of the year on the tax statement I receive is special box indicating what the total amount of these refunds has been. My accountant does the rest.


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     2 years ago in  Celebrity Passengers

    I am probably too old to recognize anyone who qualifies as a celebrity these days but as a taxi driver in the seventies and eighties I had a collection of folks who were famous. These days they all have private drivers, I mean why would anyone famous take an Uber car unless they are already cheap and willing to take a gamble on an amateur driver who doesn't know their way around except to depend on the GPS.

    In the past I drove Van Cliburn ( a famous Chopin pianist) Allen Funt (Candid Camera) Leonard Nimory (he was in Star Trek) Donald O'Conner (Singing in the Rain and a lot more), Count Basie (jazz pianist band leader), Ron Kovic (Born on the Fourth of July), Alistair Cooke (Masterpiece Theater host)James Beard (chef and cookbook author) and Marlon Brando, who you may have heard of, at least after he was in the movie The Godfather.

    What I noticed about some of these folks was that often their publicists were with them and almost immediatley announcd after getting in the car, "do you know who is in your car? This is_____" And I would say something like, "well, I wasn't paying attention, how nice to meet you!" Not all of them were recognizable to me, but I certainly knew who they were. Of those who had to tell me who they were, Ron Kovic was the nicest and the most gracious, and I drove him twice, memorable for having to help him into the car and put his wheelchair in the trunk. I wished I could have talked to him longer, he was that nice. On the niceness scale, Marlon Brando was as good as it gets, sitting in the front seat and chatting all the way to the airport and tipping by paying double the fare.


  • It is my impression that this is the behavior of some foolish person who is just dying to not have their rating as a passenger be less than 5, as though it mattered, which I don't believe it really does. The company tries to intimidate drivers by telling them they will be kicked off if their rating drops below some number, and it might be that those who are sloppy enough to have that happens should be discontinued, but I would not necessarily expect the companies to be fair about this. That is why there used to be unions, to protect the drivers from such abuse by the companies.  Soem of these folks eagerly tell me they will give me five stars (hoping I will do the same) and are surprised when I tell them I am not worried and I don't really care how they rate me.

    People try to not be the one to cancel becuse they think it reflects badly on them, in order to do that well, it might be best to simply not put yourself in that position, to be a grown up and accept your lumps on the ocassion when you do have to cancel and move on. I seldom cancel anyone, but on the ocassion when I do I don't hesitate becasue I know I do it infrequently and so I can afford to when the need arises.

    I give almost everyone five stars simply because I am more interested in finding the next fare than dwelling on the last one. In order to get less than five from me a number of extreme behaviors need to come into play. When I discuss this with passengers I tell them that generally someone has to be screaming obscenities at me, waving a gun in my face and vomiting. That will cost you stars from me. Vomiting gets you one star. gross talk about sex may result in the loss of a star depending on how it is expressed, but to be not considered as present when certain topics are discussed can be insulting and they say discression is the better part of valor.


  • Passengers tend to assume that the GPS is a kind of god that knows everything. I have to explain to them that it is about as good as the camera in the My Little Pony camera from Mattel Toys. It is amazing that it works at all, but routinely being off by a half a block to three blocks is common. It cannot distinguish one side of the street from the other and passengers are frequently not where they are "supposed to be". I once had a passenger berate me for not picking her up at the pier in Redondo Beach California when I was waiting for her at Pier 39 in San Francisco, some 300 miles north.

    Most passengers are completely ignorant as to why their rides are so cheap and I have to explain to them the economics of why a taxi costs more, and that a ride share car is cheap because it is heavily subsidized by the venture capial firms on the one hand and by the drivers on the other hand, who are not being paid fairly for the extreme depreciation of their cars. This is the consequsence of being unregulated and taxi's are regulated. You would think I might be an enemy of the taxi indusstry but I am not.  I drove a taxi for ten years and know quite well the part of that industry that deserved the slap in the face they got from the new paradigm and also know full well what it is that they do better. Most passengers think the taxi's are some how for some reason "evil" and ride share cars are the salvation of humanity and both are wrong.

    THe other peeve is the arrogance to imagine that ANYONE is going to make the world a better place with their app. In the sixties people thought putting LSD in the reservoirs would make everyone love each other, end the war and bring on endless free love. How's that working for you? A modicum of humility rather than hubris would actually make the world a better place for everyone, in my inconsequential opinion.

    And then there is the endless chattering about what ever new gadget, the boys babbling about getting laid, the girls going out together to get drunk and see if there are any eligible men and all the new bars and restaurants and the endless displays of entitled behavior of the over paid and hopelessly naive. All this is simply the human condition in this little spot on the globe. For me, it goes in one ear and out the other, I play mellow jazz which often gets me compliments, I now the city better than the GPS becasue I was once a taxi driver and as much as I hate to admit it, I am actually a professional, I don't take shit from anyone and as a result, almost no one gives me any, I generally just ignore it unless it's in my face somehow. Even if they throw up. I drop them off, I take pictures, I turn them in on the spot and instanctly begin to clean the car because I carry supplies in the trunk and then I usually go home and have a glass of wine.


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     2 years ago in  What's the dumbest Uber for XYZ idea you have ever heard?

    There was the Uber for kittens, for an ice cream truck, for christmas trees...There was Travis Kalanick (the original CEO and chief moron) suggesting they call the company boober because it could bring girls with big tits in to the bro's in the coding team. With Uber the dumb ideas flowed like champagne at New Years until they got rid of the CEO and began to take them selves more seriously. Now they have some catching up to do, but they seem to be trying.


  • All this talk about "gaming the system" leaves me baffled. Why anyone thinks they are going to make much money by tricking a customer or Uber/Lyft into a payment, is really more trouble than it's worth. What it proves to me is that the so called culture of the drivers in these services are no different and no better than the cab drivers the newer systems were alleged to replace. This kind of work attracts a certain share of mostly male, lazy drivers who seem to see the system as an opportunity to scam and get money for less effort.

    When I drove a cab there were drivers who bragged about taking tourists the long way around in order to increase the fare. What they neglected to realize was that you make more money by carrying MORE PASSENGERS than you do by robbing the ones you have!

    People know that there is a culture of deception, they can smell when people are not on the level and those who don't have time to just do the job and get on with it make it harder for those who are here to work.

    As far as "fake vomit" and other scams, doesn't anyone check the metadata on the digitial image that shows exactly when an image was taken? I experimentend with this with Lyft a few months ago when I had a fender bender and they wanted images of the damage to the car. I sent them the right images, but I stripped the metadata and they refused to accept the images until I gave them an image that included the correct data. So why would fake vomit pictures be of any use? Are drivers eating pizza, drinking ipekac and taking pictures of their own vomit in order to rip off passengers?

    Some people have no class. I guess that is how they want the world to treat them, and it probably will.


  • I have driven for Uber for over six years and don't reallly find this statement to be entirely true. When you deal with the public, you deal with a wide range of human realities. I drove a taxi for ten years before I drove with Uber and Lyft and have spoken at length to the very famous to the very infamous at one time or another. I developed a system for how I would decide to throw people out of the cab when I could no longer tolerate them. I'd give three strikes and you're out. After the first indication I had a problem fare I'd say, politely, "are you sure you really need this cab"? and if they didn't get the hint, after more bad behavior I'd say "you don't sound like you reallly want this cab very badly" and if they basically ignored me then I'd stop the car, sometimes in the left lane, in traffic, get out, open their door and say, "THIS IS WHERE YOU GET OUT!" and if, as sometime happened, they tried to pay me, I'd refuse and say I didn't want their money and if they wanted to complain, here was the company business card with my name on it. I seldom had problems.

    I find that one of the tricks to managing the inside of car with passengers is to have calm music on, I play mellow jazz, mostly Ben Webster and I SELDOM get any kind of complaint. When I do, it is someone close to to 21 years old who had been drinking and cannot live for five minutes without their personal soundtrack. If they want to change the music I always let them and once in a great while I am pleasantly surprised, but best of all, a vast majority of my passengers compliment me on the music and tell me it is calming and restful. I tell them it keeps me sane and we laugh together.

    In this way, I have kept control of the inside of the car. If the passengers are otherwise troublesome, I tend to be quiet and alert, professional, polite and reserved, like a butler that is dealing with a foolish drunk rich man who must be indulged.

    My criteria is that the public is entiteled to a ride UNLESS they break the rules, which are that they cannot approach me screaming swear words, waving a gun or vomiting. As long as people can manage to keep their hands and their mouths to themselves, it is my job to get them where they want to go because that is how I pay my rent. I give everyone five stars UNLESS they vomit or do something otherwise extreme, I just don't have time to "judge" every single person. You'd be surprised how many nice people there are and to those I sometimes give out my postcards of my artwork, if they are interested.