“De-Uberized” ridesharing bill HB1697 passes the NH House

The Free Uber campaign nears its end.

The ridesharing laws of Portsmouth and Manchester will soon be voided by HB 1697, which provides ‘light touch’ regulation of ridesharing at the state level.

This is good news both for Uber and new competitors like Arcade City.

Arcade City grew out of the Free Uber campaign. Our core team realized that while we were defending consumer choice in Portsmouth, Uber was busy lobbying Concord to restrict that choice by attempting to rig New Hampshire’s ridesharing market exclusively in their favor.

Uber’s lobbyists spent fifteen months trying to get Uber’s business model encoded into law statewide. It’s the “Uber model legislation” they are ramming through legislatures across the country, mostly successfully.

After the NH House passed Uber’s version of the bill on first reading last month, a small handful of Arcade City drivers worked with the commerce committee. We informed them of our different business model and provided feedback to help remove the Uber-specific provisions of the bill. They were very receptive to our arguments and did not need much convincing.

Speaking before the vote, the bill’s lead sponsor told the chamber that all of our concerns were addressed:

“Those organizations and entities that sent memos and emails out expressing those concerns, we were able to address all of them. For insurance, we were able to lower the insurance from $1 million to $300,000. We have actually de-Uberized this bill. We have now taken out those things that made [this unique to Uber]. For instance if you want to start a TNC — thanks to you folks it’s only $500 — and thanks to you folks, we have also now made sure that they can do other things Uber doesn’t do. For instance, they can take cash.”

Uber tried to rig New Hampshire’s TNC market in their favor. Arcade City successfully pushed back. On our new website launching next week, we’ll share ideas and techniques to help AC drivers around the world push back against Uber’s attempts to use the force of government to erect barriers to competition.

Apparently Uber is afraid of a level playing field. Arcade City is not.

Hey Uber: That’s one state down, 49 to go.


Oppose the Crony Uber Bill HB1697

While our Free Uber campaign fought to defend consumer choice in Portsmouth, corporate Uber was busy lobbying Concord to restrict it.

Uber bullies state legislatures into adopting ridesharing regulations that encode its business model as law, setting an arbitrarily high bar for mandatory minimum insurance coverage that prices out smaller competitors like Arcade City.

Video and excerpt from my comment to the Portsmouth city council this week:

“I’m here actually to address the fact that the transportation ordinance is about to be overridden if House bill 1697 passes… That just had a hearing a few days ago. I ask that you do whatever is in your power to oppose this bill. I have obviously had my issues with how Portsmouth has handled the transportation ordinance. But I like that I can come here and talk with you folks and not have to go up to Concord and fight with Uber’s lobbyists.

I’m a little miffed by the fact that while I was here the past few months fighting to defend consumer choice, Uber has been lobbying Concord to pass “Uber model legislation”. The bill lead sponsor admits that the bill is based on Uber model legislation, which means that Uber wrote the bill.

Now that I’m looking at this through the lens of an entrepreneur having started a competing service — we have 1400 drivers signed up now across the country, about 50 of them in New Hampshire; we’re going to be launching on Valentine’s Day — now that I’m reading this bill through the lens of a competitor, I’m seeing that Uber has written it specifically to set the bar to price out competitors like me. They are about to encode into law basically Uber’s business model: that if you are not able to come in with a $60 billion budget, you’re not allowed to compete as a TNC. …

I prefer that this issue be handled at the local level. I don’t see any reason to bring it up to the state level other than it’s going to make things more convenient for Uber. I ask that you use whatever influence you have to oppose House bill 1697. Thank you.”

Uber & Lyft Drivers Flock to New Rideshare Startup ‘Arcade City’ After Rate Cuts

Arcade City

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Uber & Lyft Drivers Flock to New Rideshare Startup ‘Arcade City’ After Rate Cuts

Volume of driver signups crashes server; Arcade City app launches February 14th; Uber called a “rolling sweatshop”

PORTSMOUTH, NH — More than 600 Uber and Lyft drivers signed up for new ridesharing startup Arcade City this week in the aftermath of dramatic rate cuts by the two rideshare companies.

“Drivers are angry and rightfully so,” said Arcade City founder Christopher David. “Their take-home pay was just slashed up to 40% by some nerds in San Francisco who don’t even drive. Arcade City is here to do things differently.”

Arcade City is a ridesharing mobile app releasing officially for Android and iOS on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. Riders can schedule rides in advance or at the tap of a button on a “pay what you think is fair” basis.

Arcade City had a successful soft launch on New Years Eve in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. More than 100 passengers were transported safely in donation-based rides by ten drivers, most of them current or former Uber drivers.

“Our goal for January was to sign up 100 drivers by the end of the month to help us test the app,” said David. “Since the rate cuts we’ve been signing up 100 drivers every single day and the signup rate keeps increasing. It’s overwhelming.”

On Friday the Arcade City website crashed under heavy demand of driver signups, forcing server upgrades. More than 30 drivers are now being trained as regional leaders to recruit drivers and riders, with most of the U.S. covered, including Hawaii and as far away as Australia.

“The Achilles’ heel of Uber and Lyft is their centralized management of pricing. This week’s uproar by drivers — and their willingness to join an alternative — shows the failure of that approach,” said David. “You cannot build a sustainable long-term relationship with drivers if you take away their ability to set their own pricing. Arcade City will decentralize those decisions to the level of the driver and their customers.”

David is a former Uber driver and founder of the Free Uber activism campaign centered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In November he was arrested by Portsmouth police on felony wiretapping charges for posting a YouTube video [included below] recorded while driving illegally for Uber in Portsmouth. Last week the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor after a police review found it was misclassified as a felony, but David continues to face up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Arcade City will launch globally on February 14th.


“Uber has said repeatedly that it likes to ‘experiment’ with fares. In reality, they are experimenting with livelihoods. They are experimenting with the ability of some people to put food on their table and to pay their rent/mortgage. That is unacceptable. Lyft just doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to them either. Arcade City does. I am joining Arcade City because I want to see the rideshare industry truly be about drivers and passengers, not executives hellbent on forcing workers into servitude just to discard them when they have no need for them.” –Mason J., Raleigh, NC

“Uber is a rolling sweatshop – and they make us provide the shop! Lyft is better, but heading down that terrible path with growing speed! Arcade City is built on driver experience and geared toward a fair and worthwhile model. With all these drivers from other services we can avoid the pitfalls of Uber and the like. I have a 4.9 rating from 7 months with Uber, 14 months with Lyft and i am ready for an alternative with a conscience!” –Keith Hale, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

“I’m excited to work with Arcade City. They will allow customers to tip through the app, unlike Uber. With Uber they cut our fares by over 40% and they didn’t even give us a warning.” —Philip Heath, Maui, HI

“On Uber’s platform I’m rated as a 4.9. At first I loved it, but their recruiting efforts have caused supersaturation in the market place. There’s just too many drivers here in Denver. In response they cut rates so low that they hurt the driver’s bottom line. It’s hard to make any money with Uber anymore. Having a rideshare service founded by drivers is awesome! We have a direct say in how we do business. Arcade City is providing the means to change the industry.” —Aaron B., Denver, CO

“Arcade City is not about pleasing Wall Street like other ridesharing companies. It provides a platform that empowers both the driver and passenger from a foundation of trust that creates the ultimate transportation experience.” —Michael G. Johnson, Atlanta, GA

“In a market that was ripe for ride share advertising, Uber never seemed to pay attention to the driver’s suggestions and essentially left building the customer base to us. They seemed more interested in over-saturating the market with drivers, and then they cut all of our rates. I’m ecstatic to help build the Arcade City service. One that cares about everyone’s success, not just the pockets of shareholders.” —Jake, 4.83 Uber rating, Wichita, KS

“Rideshare drivers everywhere need to look towards Arcade City. Uber’s blatant disregard for and disrespect of its drivers is beyond reprehensible. It borders on criminal. Arcade City is designed to empower drivers. They are aware that it is the drivers who are the front line and the ambassadors of the company. Drivers deserve to feel appreciated by the company they choose to give their dedication! Join the Arcade City Revolution and be part of a kinder, gentler rideshare experience.” —Scott Goldstein, Philadelphia, PA

“Evolve or Die” — Portsmouth Uber Documentary Features FSP Early Movers

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.”


Stranded Woman Stunned Portsmouth Police Laughed At Her Request For Ride

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.