Christopher David is a busy man. Within six months, he’s gone from a civil disobedience driver for UBER to the founder of a concept that could be UBER’s (and Lyft’s) downfall: Arcade City.
Chris has blown past his original goal of signing up 100 drivers for Arcade City by the end of the month, with now over 1,100 drivers signed up internationally! All 1,100+ are highly-rated UBER or Lyft drivers, which means they’ve already passed background checks and driving record checks. The growth has been unexpected and tremendous. Arcade City has clearly touched a nerve with frustrated UBER and Lyft drivers who are sharing recruiting links all over social media.
The press has taken notice and Arcade City is again in the headlines in NH and elsewhere:
Chris told the Portsmouth Herald, “it’s still ludicrous that recording a conversation on a public sidewalk could land me in jail at all… Under that same logic, thousands if not millions of videos on YouTube represent potential misdemeanors. Why single me out? I think we all know why.”
The wiretapping statutes in New Hampshire are one of the worst parts of the state. NH is one of only a few states where all parties must consent to the recording, which prevents people from being held accountable for their actions. In many other states, people with undercover cameras can record their conversations in businesses or with government. Here, doing that will get you a possible jail sentence.
Christopher David of Free UBER, Courtesy Coin Telegraph
Monday’s Concord state house committee hearings included a late-afternoon hearing for the “UBER” bill, HB1697-FN and I was there to speak and record the hearing. The bill proposes state regulations for “Transporation Network Companies”, which is legal-speak for companies like UBER, that provide connections between people who want to share rides.
While the ideal “level playing field” is to have zero regulations for transportation across all of NH, we can’t expect these politicians to do that at this point. So, having one set of regulations for the entire state would be better than a patchwork of them across the different towns and cities, which would make compliance for companies like UBER very difficult. If that ends up happening, UBER may just decide jumping through various hoops for each town isn’t worth it, and pull out of NH entirely.
Whether UBER pulls out or not, the bill proposes a fee of $5,000 for any TNC be paid to the “Department of Safety”. This fee will definitely be a barrier to entry for new companies who want to compete with UBER. Not only that, but technology quickly outpaces government, as UBER has show, and Arcade City is going to continue to prove. As I point out in my testimony, the newly announced Arcade City is not going to be a corporate entity, so how is government going to get their precious fee from a computer program?
Of particular note in the video is the apparently dishonest testimony from David Weeks, the owner of Concord’s D&B Taxi. Weeks claims he took multiple experimental UBER rides in Manchester – one allegedly didn’t show up, the next driver couldn’t speak English, and the third driver had a bottle of beer between his legs.
David Weeks, Owner of D&B Taxis, Lies to Committee About UBER
On his fourth and final alleged UBER ride, he claims the driver, when asked, quoted a fare of $27 and asked for a tip or told him to get out! Even if Weeks were telling the truth about his first few rides, his fourth story drips of dishonesty. Now, I’m a newer UBER driver, but as far as I know, the driver isn’t presented with the amount the ride is worth in advance. We only decide to accept the ride based on their pickup location.
Second, though this alleged UBER driver in question could have been breaking the rules, the UBER training video makes it CLEAR that UBER does not require tipping. Yes, drivers can accept tips, but UBER riders are well-aware that tips are not required with UBER, so it would be stupid for an UBER driver to demand one.
Amusingly, in the beginning of his testimony, Weeks claims he doesn’t have an axe to grind! Anyone paying attention knows at the very least, that’s not the truth.
Free UBER founder Christopher David hit the activism scene in a major way on the Seacoast in late 2015, blowing up the mainstream media with his open civil disobedience against the transportation ordinances of Portsmouth, NH. He went in a different direction from most keynoters at Keenevention by getting down into the audience and conducting a group discussion about ending the state in our lifetime. It was epic. Here’s the full video:
An amazing short film released today by local independent filmmaker Zach Cusson chronicles the Uber in Portsmouth saga, including the Free Uber campaign. Footage of one of our Free Uber rallies, with multiple Free State Project early movers, begins around ~9:00.
The film concludes on an optimistic note with a great synopsis by the narrator and some smack-talk by yours truly.
But for Christopher David, this goes beyond just a $25 fee and Uber. As technology continues to advance, he believes that the role of the government is going to become more and more obsolete. More peer to peer networks like Uber and AirBnB are going to continue to pop up, and we won’t need the government to regulate so many aspects of our lives. The heart of the issue is technology moving faster than the government.
“…that this is the future, that people should have the freedom to connect. And you government, you dinosaurs, you’re in the way. So evolve or die.”
That’s the headline of today’s Union-Leader article about the Arcade City / Free Uber effort last night to provide free rides in Portsmouth to whomever needed one.
No commentary needed. The article speaks for itself.
PORTSMOUTH – A stranded Massachusetts woman said police in Portsmouth laughed and drove away on New Year’s Eve when she asked them for a ride back to her hotel.
Alicia Sargent, of Somerville, Mass., told “Free Uber” founder Christopher David about the alleged incident in a recorded interview. David stopped and asked Sargent and her partner if they needed a lift when he saw them on the side of the road leaving Portsmouth’s downtown early Friday morning. They were approximately a mile away from their hotel.
“I came to Portsmouth to have New Year’s Eve, and I was looking up online to see kind of the safe ways to to get around town and one of those safe ways was the police patrol said that they were out, and they were helping people get around town, and unfortunately when we went, and we saw a police officer, and we asked them for a ride home, literally, they looked at us and they laughed and then they said, ‘Good luck with that,’ gave us a thumbs up and kept driving,” Sargent said.
When asked, Sargent said she did not want to pay an Uber surge charge, and did not know the names of any local taxi companies.
Portsmouth police posted two press releases this week on Facebook, and shared them on Twitter, which said there would be extra officers out Thursday night and early Friday morning to protect the public, and that there would be free transportation for those attending First Night.
On Dec. 28, police said a free bus runs between each performance venue, and a free parking shuttle brings First Night participants from the Connect Community Church public parking lot on Market Street to the High Hanover Parking Garage.
A shift commander at Portsmouth Police Department did not want to comment on the alleged incident Friday morning, referring media inquiries to acting Deputy Chief Frank Warchol, who was off for the day.
David, who was not driving for Uber when he picked up Sargent, said he was in Portsmouth with nine other ride-share drivers. They were using the new mobile app David created, called Arcade City. It is a tip, or donation-based, version of Uber.
Warchol said on Wednesday that if ride-share drivers accepted any money from passengers on First Night they would be violating of the city’s transportation services ordinance. Under the ordinance, taxi and ride-share drivers must register with the city. So far, only two Uber drivers have registered.
“I did not instruct our drivers to refuse cash tips, because that would be insane,” David said on Friday morning. “Our drivers provided a much needed service last night, rescuing stranded partygoers who couldn’t find a cab or an Uber. They deserved every penny and more.”
David stopped driving for Uber after his attorney advised him to. He was arrested in November on felony wiretapping charges for posting a YouTube video of a Portsmouth bouncer and taxi driver calling the police on him while picking up an Uber customer outside Daniel Street Tavern. Since then, he has been advocating for Uber drivers, and coded Arcade City.
He plans to officially launch the app at the end of this month.
Read the original Arcade City press release with full details from last night here.