Libretaxi: a free, open, cash-only alternative to Uber, for the rest of the world


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/03/23/platform-cooperativism.html


#2

I thought we just called those “taxis,” why does there need to be an app for this? Has nobody ever seen August Wilson’s Jitney?


#3

“Yeah, I need a pick up by a cash-only taxi from Crime Alley.”


#4

Yea, I foresee all kinds of problems. Wouldn’t this be a rapist’s dream come true? Won’t it allow robbers to just dial up cars full of cash? If the driver is uninsured, can the person they run over sue the passenger?


#5

Taxi’s still have to abide by some rules, this is more like a organized way for getting a illegal ride (gipsy cab?).

All over the world this is already the norm, this is just a easy way to find that illegal ride without having to go via word of mouth and such.


#6

GAWD yes. I had a whole argument the other day with a friend of mine because he said he “took an Uber” to meet me, and I said “you mean you took a cab.” Turned in to a whole thing. It’s like people think taking an Uber makes them better people than someone who would take a cab. Like it’s more upper class.

Anyway, yes, cabs. Uber/Lyft etc do really solve a problem though, which is dispatch. Before these services one might have a dozen different cab companies available, but knowing which one to call, how long it would take, etc was a pain in the ass. I still remember being in Seattle on vacation and trying to get a cab and spending like 30 minutes calling around.

And that’s even leaving aside the unregistered driver issues, which I would prefer not be allowed.

@Boundegar: hopefully a reputation system would eliminate this problem. If someone requests a pickup in a sketchy area but had no previous ride, a cab would just decline to pick them up.


#7

It depends on the city. In some cities when you talk about the taxi industry you’re also talking about the exploitative, monopolistic and consumer-unfriendly medallion industry (the kind of industry so disinclined to innovate their own dispatch and routing systems that they allowed a predatory and exploitative competitor like Uber to enter their market).

This is why even ride-hailing technology that’s properly thought out (as others note, this isn’t) will ultimately do nothing to solve the problems in this industry if not accompanied by local regulations that prioritise the well-being of consumers and drivers to the same degree that they prioritise the profitability of medallion monopolists or Uber. Currently, that isn’t the case in most urban areas.


#8

It’s not like there haven’t been sexual assaults with Uber.


#9

I think that what most people aren’t reading about this is that it’s supposed to support the word-of-mouth taxis that already exist. People who give acquaintances rides for cash, people who pass around phone numbers for “their guy.”

This is a foreign concept to most first worlders, but it does exist.

If cabs had been quicker to add mobile phone apps for ride hailing, then it probably would just be called a “taxi,” and they would be in a much better position today. (Plus my comment above.)


#10

If you’re in NYC you now have Arro as an option to phone hail a cab.
https://www.goarro.com/

That said, absolutely, unless you’re at the airport, getting a taxi can be a total pain. But I’ve also been in places like Dallas a two in the morning and been able to call a taxi to pick me up at a random street corner downtown with no problems, so I think that issue varies city by city.


#11

What are you arguing here exactly? In a scenario where you’re pretty much guaranteed to be caught because there’s an entire paper trail that leads to the victim and driver being together sexual assaults still happen, doesn’t it stand to reason that even more sexual assaults are going to happen in some kind of free-wheeling, zero-oversight setup?


#12

We call these Gypsy Cabs or Dollar Cabs.
Because this idea is talking cash, who sets the price and what if the rider no shows.


#13

I’m arguing that sexual assault isn’t about one particular kind of set up or another. I’m arguing it’s systemic and women face it quite often, regardless of the structures around them. It makes no sense to bring in the sexual assault argument, when that’s a common enough occurrence in almost any place.


#14

I haven’t used Arro, though I have used Curb, which is good for hailing a yellow or green cab, but the fees are a little too high on short rides, which most of mine are.

My wife uses Via all the time, which is flat-rate fares and actual ride-sharing (in the sense that there might be more than one passenger in the car). Because it’s ride-sharing, it actually qualifies for pre-tax transportation dollars through her work so it saves a lot of money over regular cabs.


#15

If you read the article, you’ll find that the app connects the two people and lets them work out a price on their own. As for no-shows, all prearranged taxis have always had to deal with that.[quote=“waetherman, post:14, topic:97557”]
Because it’s ride-sharing, it actually qualifies for pre-tax transportation dollars through her work so it saves a lot of money over regular cabs.
[/quote]

Interesting. Does it matter whether or not there are actually any other people in the cab? On second thoughts, I’m guessing not – a bus is still a bus if you’re the only one on it.


#16

Nope - always the same price and tax free regardless of who else is (or is not) in the car. The trick though is you can’t request s specific pickup or drop off - it’s always within a block or two, I think. I haven’t used I though since most of the time subways work just fine for me, and that’s still cheaper.


#17

It is true that sexual assault is common enough almost anyplace. In fact, it’s common enough literally everyplace. But that’s only because our global requirement for sexual assault is zero, so we’d have enough even if we had none.

The point here is that Uber drivers have to prove their identity to Uber before they pick you up. So, if they commit a crime, their identity can be discovered.

If you had said that sexual assault is just as common when strangers who are alone together are anonymous as it is when they can be identified, then that would have supported your argument. But it’s obviously untrue.


#18

And yet there is still evidence that this happened. That doesn’t even get into the corporate culture which has filtered out in the past year or so.[quote=“JohnEightThirty, post:17, topic:97557”]
If you had said that sexual assault is just as common when strangers who are alone together are anonymous as it is when they can be identified
[/quote]

And do we have evidence for this either way? I’m not sure we do. Sexual assault isn’t about knowing the person or not, it’s about expressing your power over another human being and is generally unrelated to whether or not the person is known or can be identified.

Sexual assault is a systemic problem, not a specific one, related to one kind of structure or another. It’s also vastly underreported.


#19


#20

I think they’re trying to play on the words “common enough.” That is, [bad thing] would be “common enough” even if there weren’t any, because when it comes to [bad thing], “none” is enough.

It’s a bad joke made worse by the subject matter it’s joking about. I wouldn’t rate it as “offensive,” as its premise is that any sexual assault makes sexual assault too common. But yeah, it just falls flat.