Uber

Will James / KNKX

Washington's attorney general is suing Uber over the company's handling of a data breach that affected nearly 11,000 drivers in the state.

You probably never want to hear you've been fired. If you've heard those words, you know they feel like a punch in the gut. Now, imagine that instead of your boss telling you face to face, you get the news from a pop-up alert on your smartphone. That's how it works at Uber.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a law that would allow for-hire drivers, including drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft, to unionize in Seattle.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik's granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday stopping continued implementation of the law until two lawsuits make their way through court.

Uber is in crisis. This week the president resigned, after just six months on the job. Morale has been shaken following a damning account of sexual harassment. The board of directors is so concerned about the CEO's ability to lead, they're looking for a No. 2 to help steer the company.

After less than a year as president of Uber, Jeff Jones is leaving the embattled ride-hailing company, Uber confirms.

"We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best," an Uber spokesperson says in a statement.

Jones, previously Target's chief marketing officer, was brought on by CEO Travis Kalanick last fall to boost Uber's reputation.

Christina Belasco

Portland is launching an investigation into the ride-hailing company Uber in response to allegations reported by the New York Times last week.

The paper reported Uber used a software program called Greyball to identify and then deceive regulators in Portland and cities around the world.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Monday the city needs to know if Uber has continued to use the Greyball program.

On Sunday, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti published a post on her blog entitled "Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber." On her first day working on her new team at Uber, Rigetti says, her manager sent her a string of messages propositioning her on the company chat. She says she took screenshots of the conversations, and brought them to Uber's HR department, saying she expected the matter would be handled quickly and appropriately. And from her account, it was not.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are now working as contractors for the rapidly growing ride-hailing industry, specifically for the largest companies, Uber and Lyft. But a new survey, released this week, finds that Lyft, with its fluorescent pink mustache symbol, is more popular with drivers.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Ride-hailing company Uber is suing Seattle to block the city's new driver unionization law.

The ordinance passed by the City Council allows taxi drivers and drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to join a union.  The city has spent the past year writing the rules for how that happens. 

Those rules went into effect Tuesday, the same day Uber filed the lawsuit in King County Superior Court.

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.

One woman holds up an "Every Driver Counts" sign while another holds one that says "$15 and a Union" at a packed meeting about for-hire driver unionization at Seattle City Hall.
Simone Alicea / knkx

More than 200 people gathered at Seattle City Hall Tuesday afternoon to talk about how drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft could potentially unionize.

The hearing was held to talk about draft rules the city released a couple weeks ago regarding an ordinance the Seattle City Council passed last year.  

Jeff Chiu / AP

Two recent studies from the University of Washington provide some insight into the ways drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft may discriminate against certain passengers in the Seattle area.

Researchers say there's good news and there's bad news. In one study published in this month's Journal of Transportation Geography, researchers found that app-based ride-hailing service was actually faster in lower-income neighborhoods.

As Pierce Transit rebuilds from deep recession-era cuts, agency leaders hope free car rides to the bus stop could expand ridership. 

Pierce Transit, Washington's second-largest transit agency, received a $205,000 federal grant this month to cover rides from app services like Uber or Lyft -- or conventional taxi companies -- to and from certain transit centers. 

In this March 14, 2014, file photo, Jerad Bernard hands out cards to passers-by offering one free ride through the Lyft ridesharing service in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

The Seattle City Council has extended the deadline for the city to figure out out how to implement a law allowing drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize.

The City Council approved the ordinance last year and tasked the city Department of Finance and Administrative Services with determining the rules for how drivers and unions could work together.

Uber and Lyft are fighting, on the same side, to make sure their drivers remain independent contractors — not employees entitled to benefits. So far, no court has compelled these ride-hailing companies to change that. But out in the free market, they're facing an unexpected battle: a new startup that's prepared to offer drivers full employee status.

Juno is not a scrappy, rinky-dink kind of startup. Its headquarters are in the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, 1 World Trade Center, on the 47th floor. There's a majestic view of the Hudson River.

The lawyer representing Uber drivers in the historic settlement — which could total as much as $100 million — is under attack. Critics and even the judge in the case say attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan may not be fighting hard enough, and that she may be accepting too little for the drivers. Liss-Riordan disagrees, and to prove her pure intentions, she is reducing her fees.

A Weak Settlement?

The last couple of weeks have not been pretty.

Uber is built on the scourge of surge. When demand is high, the company charges two, three, even NINE-POINT-NINE times as much as normal for a ride. Riders hate it... but not so much that they stop riding. "Dynamic pricing" has helped the company to grow into one of the largest ride-booking services in the world. What's the psychology behind it? Shankar sits down with Uber's Head of Economic Research Keith Chen to talk about when we're most likely pay for surge, when we hate it the most, and why monkeys would probably act and feel the same way.

After voters in Austin, Texas, rejected a proposal for loosened regulations on ride-hailing apps, both Uber and Lyft have announced they will be "pausing" operations in the city.

In late 2015, Austin's City Council approved an ordinance requiring companies like Uber and Lyft to be regulated like taxis. That meant, among other things, drivers would have to be fingerprinted as part of a background check.

Updated at 2:36 p.m. ET with an editor's note at the end of the story.

Sometimes you call an Uber, and what you thought would be an $8 ride is going to be two, three, even four times more — the result of greater demand brought on by a blizzard, or a baseball game. Whatever the reason, surge pricing is not fun.

It turns out Uber is working to fix it — or, should we say, end it. The move likely will be great for riders, but not for drivers.

Hunting For Surge

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.

Residents in Altamonte Springs, just outside of Orlando, have a new public transportation option — Uber.

The city will be the first in the country to partially subsidize Uber fares. The city will cover 20 percent of any ride beginning or ending in Altamonte Springs — 25 percent for rides to or from the local commuter rail station. An earlier plan to build an on-demand bus system fell through.

In this March 14, 2014, file photo, Jerad Bernard hands out cards to passers-by offering one free ride through the Lyft ridesharing service in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

As people increasingly use Uber instead of taking a taxi or riding the bus, cities such as Tacoma and Seattle have created new regulations to cover the ride-app companies. On Tuesday, Tacoma’s City Council will consider a measure to streamline its licensing process as a way to reduce the burden for city staff.

Under the proposed measure, Tacoma would still require drivers for Uber and other ride-hailing companies to get licensed by the city. But the city would no longer issue drivers a picture identification card or a decal to put on their car.

Victims of a shooting spree are being mourned in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Jason Dalton, the man suspected of killing six people Saturday, was arraigned Monday. Police are trying to determine a motive for what seem to be random attacks.

In this March 14, 2014, file photo, Jerad Bernard hands out cards to passers-by offering one free ride through the Lyft ridesharing service in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

Ask any parent about their biggest challenge — it’s all about the logistics. How to get Suzy to ballet when Johnny has soccer? And your teenager won’t be caught dead in the car you’re driving. But there’s a tempting solution.

Moms of even very young kids find themselves joking about it, but some parents of older kids are actually doing it. They’re relying on rideshare companies — like Uber — to get their kids home from that party Friday night.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

UPDATE: In its meeting Monday, the Seattle City Council voted 8-0 to approve a measure that allows drivers for ride-hailing companies to unionize.

Seattle’s City Council will take up an ordinance on Monday that lawyers say is unprecedented. The council is scheduled to vote on whether to allow drivers for ride-hailing companies such as Uber to form unions and collectively bargain for better pay. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The ride-app company Uber says it now has 10,000 active drivers in the Seattle region. It’s an example of what’s come to be called the “gig economy,” in which people use apps such as Uber or Airbnb to make some extra dough.

But author Steven Hill says these workers who are classified by the companies as independent contractors are being left behind because they lack benefits and the safety net of traditional employment. Workers such as these are sometimes called “1099 workers” because of the tax form they file instead of the regular W-2 form that employees use.