Friday, 22 April 2016

What I learned from my taxi driver

The Perfect Ride
"The Perfect Ride: a Jewish, Republican Taxi Driver in NYC, from Russia and Israel
with a daughter who lives at Ocean 4 in Miami, Oh...and he Loves Fox News!"
creative commons image clender on Flickr
We love a good story. Especially a good taxi story. Building on our recent Famous fares: Nimoy drives JFK post, here are a few stories of everyday people and lessons learned from inside a taxi.

The Case of the Israeli Taxi Driver - Joel M. Hoffman

"I'll tell you what,” I said to the taxi driver in Haifa who was trying to cheat me. “It’s Shabbat. Whatever price you tell me — that’s what I’ll pay.” It was Friday night, and I was on my way to services at Leo Baeck. As a graduate student at the Technion, I hadn’t yet purchased a car, so I had to rely on public transportation — busses, usually, but taxis Friday evenings and on other occasions when I wanted to treat myself... [read about Joel's experience].

Two lessons I learned from a Taxi driver in Istanbul - Ralf Haberich

Istanbul is a crazy place. Officially this city takes care of 15 Million people, but insiders and locals say this figure easily adds up to 21-22 million if you consider all legally and illegally present inhabitants. If you have never been there you still should be able to imagine the traffic situation. Roughly 12.000 taxis (or as Turkish language says: Taksi) in narrow, hilly, uncoordinated streets blowing their horn for different reasons: warning, information, respect or simply to reach out to an attractive lady walking by. In between fast scooter drivers and now & then luxury Bentleys making their way through the crowded streets... [read Ralf's lessons].

How one Boston taxi driver changed my talk - Collaborative Gain

Yesterday, I had a great and humbling conversation with my taxi driver on my way to my last “Customers Included” book talk of the week in Boston – and it changed what I had to say when I got on stage. Stuart – my driver – was very friendly from the start.... After we put my bags in the trunk and Stuart started us on the trek, I asked him how long he’d been driving. He said he liked his job and had been with this taxi company about a year. When i asked what he did before this taxi company, he started – tentatively at first – to share his life story... [read the lesson].

Related resources
Three Lessons I Learned from a Taxi Driver on How to Get Clients - Nathalie Lussier
Famous fare: Nimoy drives JFK
Dealing with taxi drivers
Do we really hate taxis?
The 420 from PDX

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Moscow has HOW many airports?!?

Moscow has 3 major airports.We recently found a great Russian blogpost that describes the relationship between the 3, and the challenges of moving between them:
Moscow Airport "Infographic" copyright by Andy Frecka
(click to enlarge for full details)
"Moscow has many airports. How many? No one really knows... One time I had a stingy thrifty Dutch friend write me and say that he was flying into Domodedovo (domestic flight) and would then have a departure from Sheremyetovo (International) only 4 hours later. This was to happen during the day. And when I inquired as to his logic, he answered that doing it this way would save him TEN EUROS. Also, he was asking me to pick him up..." [read the rest of this priceless story in Moscow Transfer Travel Travail].
If you enjoy Andy's writing as much as we do, you can follow him on Twitter as @andyfrecka.

But, please, don't call him for a ride.

Resources from
Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME) transportation options and guide
Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) transportation options and guide
Moscow Vnukovo Airport (VKO) transportation options and guide
Moscow Layover Ideas & Things to Do in Moscow

Related resources
An Aeroflot Nightmare: How I Got Placed Under Virtual Arrest in Moscow
Airport nightmare: Russians seize concertmaster’s violin
Hundreds Miss Sheremetyevo Flights Because of Road Work
STUCK: The meaning of the city’s traffic nightmare - New Yorker
Getting around Moscow by metro and public transport

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Piper, the Airport K9

To get a good look at Piper, click the photo above
Meet Piper the Airport K9. The 8-year-old border collie has worked at Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) since 2014. A wildlife control "airport K9", Piper's job is to scare birds away from the runway.

Piper became famous this week when he won this year's Shutter Shootout Photography Contest from the U.S. Coast Guard. Read the full story here, including how you can follow Piper in social media.

Related resources
Shutter Shootout 2016 Photo of the Year - Coast Guard Compass
Cherry Capital Airport Dog Wins US Coast Guard Photo Contest - Up North Live
Piper Airport K9 Profile - Traverse City Airport website
Airport K9
Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) transportation guide

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Why we shelved Uber updates

Did you know that there's a beer called Hacker?
An interesting thing happened on the way to this month's Uber news update post: Blogger got hacked.  Better said, Blogger posts about Uber got hacked. Something like that.

As there are a lot of Uber stories in the news each month, so about 6 months ago we gave up trying to stay on top of developments (not really our focus anyways), and switched to a monthly summary of the previous month's most notable news, posted on the 1st or 2nd of the month.

About a week ago, I began building the Uber news recap - March 2016, collecting stories, buiding links, and so on.

In the process, I was intrigued to learn the news about Uber's challenge to hackers, offering rich rewards to find bugs and issues in their software. Brilliant, I thought.

As I was gathering links on the best coverage of the initiative, I was dumbfounded to learn that Uber had backtracked, rolling back the amount of the rewards. Whaaatt?!? This was after the programming community had already started to work on the issues, racing each other to compete for the prize(s). Really, Uber? Are you really that stupid? Even I, a relatively non-techie observer on the sidelines was able to put 2 and 2 together: if you are a technology company, who are the last people you want to piss off? Hackers. And how could you make it worse? Draw your flaws to the attention of the hacker community, wave dollars in front of their eyes, then snap the purse shut. SNAP! I picture an alligator's jaws open wide, luring it's prey in, then snapping shut in a flash!

Stupid, stupid, STUPID!

All this while Uber is bleeding millions (or is it billions?) in Asia, chasing a market that's so far eluding it. Maybe Uber's resources would be better spent getting its house in order, maybe it should have honoured its offer to the hackers (jeez, ya think?!?!?).

So, it was with amusement last week that I discovered that my March Uber news recap - once written, with links to stories all about the lure and the misstep - wouldn't save properly. I got an error message, and my post preview looked weird. When I looked at the HTML for the post, I could clearly see it had been hacked. Or maybe there was a virus on Blogger designed to attack posts about Uber, or maybe this story. Whatever it was, the code was a huge, unfixable mess, with links garbled wherever Uber was mentioned. "Ah, and so it begins," I thought.

Hacking a blog website to mess up stories is, I'm sure, child's play to a hacker. But it sure makes me wonder what will, or could, come next for Uber, as it has made itself so vulnerable to its newly created enemies.

Editor: In the end, we decided that our news recaps weren't adding much value, so just decided to drop them, and devote our blogspace to other things, but thought we'd share our thinking, our experince and predictions. And, we're posting this story, sans links, to hopefully be less likely to be hacked.

Friday, 25 March 2016

New Manila UBE Express Airport Bus

Great news for travellers to the Philippines: there is a new premium express bus service to/from Manila's busiest airport.

An initiative of the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, UBE Express began service at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) in February 2016.

The UBE Express operates from Terminals 1, 2, and 3 on two routes: Roxas Boulevard Route (designated stops at Midas Hotel, Hotel Jen, Manila Hotel, Mall of Asia, Entertainment City) and Makati City Route (stops at Glorietta 4 and 5, Ascott Hotel).

The premium bus service flat rate is PHP 300. Automated fare collection and an online booking system are planned. For now, approach the transportation desk personnel curbside at arrivals for assistance.

Each 24 passenger UBE Express bus is equipped with WiFi, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV), Global Positioning System (GPS) and large baggage compartments. Trained drivers and an on-board attendant man the buses.

"With the introduction of the premium bus service, passengers can expect shorter queues for transport vehicles at the curbside areas of the terminals,” says Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado .

Referred to by locals as NAIA, the upgraded service at Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be appreciated by airport staff, reducing demands for the regular buses and Jeepneys they depend on.

Related resources

Premium airport bus service now available
Taxi prices drop in Manila... or do they?
Manila's latest colorum taxi scam
Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) transportation guide
Headed to one of the most dreaded airports? (list includes MNL) - advice from LayoverIdeas
Manila Layover Ideas and Things to do in Manila

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Famous fare: Nimoy drives JFK

Our thanks to the
Thanks to Leonard Nimoy website
for posting the above story, for all to enjoy
The Day JFK Rode In My Taxi - Leonard Nimoy

To make ends meet, Leonard Nimoy once drove a taxi, and met some interesting people. Here's the story of the day in 1956 when he drove JFK:

They had those cab stands where a phone rings; if you’re next in line to take the call,” he pointed out, “and they tell you where to pick up the fare. Well, there was a call and I answered it. I was instructed to pick up a Mr. Kennedy at the Bel Air Hotel. “When I pulled up at the driveway,” Leonard continued, “I asked the doorman if it was the Senator from Massachusetts. He just shrugged and said, ‘I don’t know.’” After a 10-minute wait, a tall, slender young man with a shock of unruly chestnut hair came through the door; Leonard recognized him immediately. [read about Nimoy's conversation with JFK].

The famous fare had quite an impact on the actor, as he revealed in a commencement speech to Boston University's College of Fine Arts Class of 2012, [read more in Leonard Nimoy said a chance meeting with a young JFK changed his life - Business Insider].

Nimoy also spoke about the encounter in an interview with Esquire in which he reflected on his life [Leonard Nimoy: What I've Learned - Life lessons from the late 'Star Trek' actor - Esquire].

It wasn't his only interesting ride, as told in How Leonard Nimoy faced death at gunpoint. We're glad he came out that one unscathed!

Ed. Even more interesting than a "Leonard Nimoy / Spock was my taxi driver" story would be... we wonder if there's one out there?

Related resources
Thanks to Leonard Nimoy website
Facts about Leonard Nimoy that you might not have known
14 great cities where you can eat like a cabbie

Monday, 7 March 2016

Flat taxi fares for Paris airports

Taxi Parisien
Parisiean taxi
creative commons image arianta on Flickr
Budgeting for your Paris vacation just got easier.

It's official: taxi fares to/from both of Paris' busiest airports – Charles de Gaulle and Orly – are now required to charge flat fares. And surcharges are restricted.

Flat fares to/from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and the city's "Right Bank" (locations on the north side of the Seine) are EUR 50. Flat fares to/from CDG Airport and the "Left Bank" (south side of the Seine) are EUR 55.

The flat fares to/from Paris Orly Airport (ORY) and the Right Bank have been set at a EUR 35, while fares to/from the Left Bank are set at EUR 30.

These fares apply for up to 4 passengers, and there is a EUR 4 surcharge for a 5th passenger (though pets are free). Reservations incur a EUR 4-7 surcharge.

And here's more good news: NO baggage surcharges are permitted.

Related resources
Paris airport taxis now subject to flat fees
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) transportation guide
Paris Orly Airport (ORY) transportation guide
Paris layover ideas and things to do in Paris
Layover City: Paris

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Price slash on Toronto's UPExpress

UPExpress at Bloor Street station
creative commons image wiki commons
As we reported in October in New hope for Toronto's UPExpress, the slick new Toronto airport train had suffered since its opening with ridership far below projections. Marketed to the business traveller, the high fares on the empty trains were unaffordable for airport workers, and an annoying indulgence that few local travellers would fork out for. As the messy back story behind the launch fares has emerged, the pressure was heating up.

Now, 9 months after the service began, the Toronto Unuion Express airport train is being reborn with lower fares. The $27.50 cash fare will be slashed to $12. Presto card holders will pay $9, versus the prior $19. Airport workers will see their monthly pass price drop from $300 to $140. The new rates come into effect on March 9th.

And Torontonians are happy: according to a survey by the Toronto Star, 51% say the fares are fair now, and will avail themselves of the rail service. Better late than never!

Related resources
Metrolinx set UP Express price high despite warnings
Torontonians on board with lowered airport train fare, poll suggests
New hope for Toronto's UPExpress
Toronto joins the 21st century with Pearson airport train
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) transportation guide
Toronto City Billy Bishop Airport (YTZ) transportation guide

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Uber news recap - February 2016

Hot commodities on eBay
Now here's good news:
Who knew?
Headlines and analysis
Uber in Canada
Global news

Related resources
Dear Canadian Taxi Monopoly: your Uber Boogie Man doesn't scare me
Taxi Truths campaign puts lipstick on a pig
Canadian Taxi Monopoly is attempting to curb consumer choice
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Pimp your (taxi) ride

There was a story in the Daily Mail on February 16th that caught our eye. It would be hard not too.

Be warned, if you read this piece, you'll be adding Mumbai to your bucketlist and planning a trip to take one of these cool rides...

Check out the photos of
these fantastic cabs in the
original article
Pimp my ride: Inside India's technicolour taxis - Daily Mail

Interesting story about artsy taxi interiors created by the Taxi Fabric, an art collective based in Mumbai.

Connecting young designers with drivers, the initiative has transformed 26 cabs so far.

One taxi has even been featured by Coldplay in their Hymn for the Weekend music video [full story]

Taxi Fabric

To learn more about Taxi Fabric, visit their website.

Are you a designer? You can even apply to design a cab...

Or follow them here:
@TaxiFabric on Twitter
Taxi Fabric Facebook page

Related resources
Taxi Fabric website
Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) transportation guide -
Mumbai layover ideas and things to do in Mumbai -