Friday, February 26, 2016

The Phantom Responds to Lyft's Whining About having to Inspect Their Vehicles Like Everyone Else Does




“…Lyft is not aware of any evidence in the record indicating that vehicles used by Lyft drivers which are predominantly used for non-commercial purposes present any greater risk of equipment failure than other personal vehicles with which TNCs share the road, which are not subject to any inspection requirements under California law.

My Reply,

The argument is beside the point. The mere fact that the vehicle is transporting people presents a greater risk to them thus making the inspections necessary.


 Nor is Lyft aware of any evidence in the record of a single instance of TNC equipment failure causing an accident.”

My Reply,

Whether Lyft is aware or not aware of what their vehicles are doing is hardly a reason for the CPUC to make or not make policy – although it’s highly unlikely that Lyft really is unaware of these things since the Lyft driver app keeps both GPS and financial records of every mile and every dollar that Lyft vehicles drive – from which Lyft takes 20%. 


The very phasing of their argument in these terms, then, indicates that Lyft does indeed know and is aware of equipment problems and isn’t saying. 

This leads to question of why Lyft isn’t actually offering proof that their rides are safe?  

If Lyft has had no accidents due to equipment failures, you would think that they’d be eager to prove it. In fact, they are constantly claiming to a "safe" form of transportation for which they provide no evidence at all.



“ … 78% of Lyft users nationwide drive fewer than 15 hours per week on average …” which means that 22% of their cars are more or less driven full time.

My Reply,

First, this self-reporting so there is no proof that it is true.

Second – Lyft doesn’t mention how many cars they actually have on the streets. So …78% of what? 22% of what?

Indeed, during the California Senate Committee hearing on February 17, 2016 titled "Ride Hailing Disruption: Establishing a level-playing field in the transportation-for-hire market", the Lyft representative repeatedly claimed to Senator Hueso that he didn’t know how many vehicles are operating as Lyfts. Once again ­– highly unlikely.

But we can do a little math on our own given various statements. For instance, in July 2015, Lyft president John Zimmer claimed that Lyft vehicles took an average of two minutes to pick people up throughout San Francisco.  In the context of the interview, he was clearly claiming to be as fast or faster than Uber.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said at the time that Uber had 22,000 vehicles in San Francisco.

Using that figure: 22,000 x .78 = 17,160 cars x 15 hours = 257,400 hours per week (hpw).

Using figure Two: 22,000 x .22 = 4,840 cars x 40 hours  = 193,600 hpw = 451,000 hours per week.


Keeping in mind that the above calculations are based on figures that are half a year old and don’t include Uber cars  the total number of hours per week that TNC vehicles are on the street has to be over one million.

Compare this to taxicabs using maximum hours of 20 hour per day 6 days a week. (Something you rarely see now.)

2000 taxis x 20 = 40,000 x 6 = 240,000 hours per week.

Clearly TNC vehicles need to be inspected on a regular basis and some of the leased cars will easily go over 50,000 miles per year.



Lyft continues to believe that the TNC-administered 19-point inspection requirement imposed by D.13-09-045 provides ample assurance that TNC vehicles are safe to operate, and the Proposed Decision cites to no contrary evidence. 

Instead, the proposal appears to be premised on the mere supposition that “TCPs performing their own vehicle inspections may choose to save time and expense by performing inspections that may not be as rigorous and comprehensive as those at licensed facilities…. Lyft is not aware of any evidence supporting this assertion and strongly disagrees with the suggestion that TNCs are not adequately incented to ensure the safety and reliability of the vehicles which transport their users and serve as a tangible expression of their brands in the public sphere.”

My Reply,

“Lyft is not aware of any evidence supporting” the assertion that some people might cheat or take short cuts in the inspections or not do any inspections at all?

No evidence?

How about the simple fact that both Uber and Lyft continually refuse to give accurate information to California regulators about any part of their operations – why would they tell the truth about car inspections?

If that isn’t a good enough reason, how about 5,000 years of recorded human history? Any straight narrative will do but I personally would recommend the Bible (not for religious purposes mind you but for its literary, historical and psychological value), Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and Shakespeare’s Tragedies – especially Macbeth and King Lear.

The lesson of human history is that some people will not only cheat, but also, steal and even kill if it’s to their advantage. Not inspecting a car properly can cause people to be killed.


Finally, without any record of evidence regarding the costs associated with obtaining a BAR-licensed inspection, the Commission lacks sufficient information at this juncture to balance the economic burden imposed by this new requirement against the regulatory objective it hopes to achieve.

“Economic burden?” The cost for inspecting a car is two or three hundred dollars.



Lyft arrives at that conclusion, in part, because of the decision’s repeated use of the phrases “at the appropriate mark” and “whichever occurs first,6 which appear to reflect an intent that enhanced inspections apply only after a vehicle has been subjected to substantial commercial use, and in part because a contrary interpretation – that BAR-licensed inspections are required before a TNC vehicle has experienced any commercial use – is unnecessary and would have a harmful impact on consumers.

What would have a “harmful impact on consumers” would be to get into a Lyft car and be in an accident because the vehicle hadn’t been properly inspected.

Lyft is acting (whining) as if they are personally being targeted with an unfair set of rules. Getting a car inspected before it’s driven commercially (or driven at all) is standard practice, not only in the cab industry, but also throughout the transportation business. Indeed, any piece of equipment that could harm somebody should be inspected before it’s used. Would you ride in an airplane before it was inspected? Would you turn on the gas in a new building before it had been inspected? You are more likely to be killed in a car than you are in either of these other scenarios – especially if you are riding with a non-professional, untrained driver in an uninspected vehicle.

Here is an update from "Who's driving you?" of Uber and Lyft incidents that unfortunately were not staged. 


  1. I don't think one inspection per year per vehicle is asking too much for a business's public safety procedure.

  2. Woaw, this blog brought up some good facts. I've never known that everything was self-repoted, seems pretty sketchy to me. Thanks for sharing, keep it up!