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One way to fix Uber: Think twice before using it

The ride-hailing app has failed to live up to its promises; it's time to avoid it

Farhad Manjoo | NYT 

Travis Kalanick, Uber
Despite months of scandal at Uber, growth for Travis Kalanick’s company has been essentially untouched. (Photo: iSTOCK)

You gasp with each new report on Uber’s toxicity. On Tuesday, there was the harassment and documented in an endless list of internal recommendations by Eric H Holder Jr, the former attorney general, who was hired to peer into Uber’s ugly depths. Then, while presenting the report to employees, an board member made a sexist remark. (He later resigned.) All of it comes after a parade of escalating scandals that seem more fitting at a company run by Tony Soprano than by nerds in

Yet if you’re like many people, in a day or two you’ll shrug, pull out your phone and call up an anyway. You have a meeting across town and the car isn’t driving itself, at least not yet.

Don’t do it — at least not without considering the full weight of your decision, and the many alternatives you might turn to instead. Try Use a taxi, a bus or a train. Heck, hire a limo and a chauffeur with a golden top hat. To encourage a better Uber, it’s time to play the only card you’ve got: If it backslides or otherwise fails to live up to the promises it’s making now, stop using

There’s a lot at stake. Ride-sharing, as an industry and a civic utility, is too big an idea to be left to a company like the one is now. The company that wins this industry is bound to become one of the world’s most powerful corporations. Its executives and culture will indirectly shape how we build cities, how we use energy, how we employ and pay people. We will entrust it with the safety and the security of our families, our streets, our private data and even, conceivably, the national infrastructure.

Yet the we have now is simply not up to that task. Even its board now acknowledges that the world desperately needs a better The company is finally taking major steps to prove it actually is serious about improving, as was evident on Tuesday when Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief, said he would take a leave of absence and the ride-hailing service released a 13-page document of recommendations for changing its culture.
So far, though, we’ve been failing at holding accountable.

Despite months of scandal, with the hashtag #deleteuber sweeping Twitter, Uber’s growth has been essentially untouched. According to the pseudo-earnings reports it regularly releases to the press, its revenue tripled in the past year.

In the United States, its rival has been growing its market share — and that growth has fuelled a huge haul of fundraising — but it still remains a distant second in the market. And remember, this is a supposedly hobbled Uber, one plagued by internal strife, an exodus of executives, a rapidly deteriorating brand and an existential lawsuit stemming from the shady origins of its purchase of a self-driving car start-up.

Yet while it’s plausible that a generic car-sharing company could become such a global force for good, the whole idea begins to seem naïve when you start talking about specifically. In addition to the internal recklessness cited in Holder’s report, this is a company that has repeatedlydeceived, threatened, defied or simply ignored regulators and the press. It has systematically mistreated its drivers. (It has promised to address their concerns in a coming report.)

© 2017 New York Times News Service

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