Posted: 2017-11-15 06:35
But man, what a mess. This isn’t your typical Uber-is-a-shitty-company story, either. If these claims are true, it seems Uber actually put people’s lives at risk in order to save money. The company reportedly gambled with minivans that could spontaneously combust, because it would be a big pain to fix them, and well, the drivers and passengers would probably be fine. Then it had a party while these explode-y cars were still driving people around! (If you haven’t deleted your Uber account already, today’s a great day to take action. Here’s how.)
The brazen behavior really fits well with the “move fast, break things” mantra. Essentially, Uber made Singapore the first Asian city where its service would be available, but the company had trouble finding drivers, because owning a car in Singapore is prohibitively expensive. As a slapdash solution, Uber then reportedly set up a separate company that bought cars in bulk from shady importers who operate in a grey area of the law. The cars were cheaper this way.
Let’s all say it together: Ugh, Uber, ugh! We’re like five minutes into the company’s “685 Days of Change” apology tour and more awful Uber news is already coming out. The Wall Street Journal reports that the multi-billion dollar startup rented dangerously faulty cars to hundreds of drivers in Singapore, after the model had been recalled. According to internal messages obtained by the paper, Uber knew about the recall, too.
As soon as we learned of a Honda Vezel from the Lion City Rental fleet catching fire, we took swift action to fix the problem, in close coordination with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority as well as technical experts. But we acknowledge we could have done more—and we have done so. We’ve introduced robust protocols and hired three dedicated experts in-house at LCR whose sole job is to ensure we are fully responsive to safety recalls. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve proactively responded to six vehicle recalls and will continue to do so to protect the safety of everyone who uses Uber.
The Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board have all accepted Related’s proposal but that doesn’t mean that it’s a done deal. “The green light to build never really happens until you get the last permit,” Ruth Shikada, Santa Clara’s assistant city manager tells Mercury News.
Thankfully, the driver wasn’t injured, but Uber quickly heard about the incident. Did they pull all of the faulty vehicles off the road? Nah, that would be too expensive. Instead, the company allegedly told drivers with Honda Vezels to take their vehicle in for service without specifying the problem. In February, when Uber threw a party celebrating the conclusion of the PR and safety nightmare, the Journal reports that “65 percent of the defective Vezels still hadn’t had the faulty parts replaced.” Uber says all of them are fixed now.
“The regulators were pretty skeptical at the start, I have to say,” Stephen Eimer, an executive vice president with Related tells Mercury News. After much back and forth, Bay Area regulators have finally accepted Related’s technical document that outlines how the site would be made safe. A foot-thick concrete barrier would be laid over 85 square acres. Housing would be built over shops and restaurants to create more distance between the residents and the waste. Sensors and alarm systems would monitor gasses and a separate system would collect and dispose of it.
While other landfills in the area have been used for retail, nothing on the scale of what Related’s asking for has been approved before. Keith Roberson, senior engineering geologist with the water quality control board, called Related’s proposal “a solid plan,” and he worries about setting a precedent. He emphasized that all proposals will have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. More research and monitoring will be necessary before any approvals will be made.