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Mayors of Atlanta & New Orleans: Uber Will Knock-Out Taxi Industry

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the one-ride-share-to-rule-them-all dept.

Government 273

McGruber writes Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu agree: there will a 15 round fight between Uber and the taxicab industry that currently enjoys regulatory capture, but after a long fight, Uber will win. Landrieu says: "It actually is going to be a 15 round fight. And it's going to take time to work out, hopefully sooner rather than later. But that debate will be held.....But it is a forceful fight, and our city council is full of people on Uber's side, people on the cabs' side, and it's a battle." Mayor Reed of Atlanta also expressed how politically powerful the taxi cartels can be: "I tell you, Uber's worth more than Sony, but cab drivers can take you out. So you've got to [weigh that]. Get in a cab and they say, 'Well that mayor, he is sorry.' You come to visit Atlanta, they say, 'Well that Mayor Reed is as sorry as the day is long. Let me tell you how sorry he is while I drive you to your hotel. And I want you to know that crime is up.' This guy might knock you out. I want you to know it can get really real. It's not as easy as it looks."

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273 comments

Good? (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about a month ago | (#47351261)

Not really seeing a downside if the industry is this fragile. It's like claiming that lemonade stands will "knock out" the snapple industry.

Re:Good? (4, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a month ago | (#47351383)

Any industry that can be replaced by technology, should be.

Hopefully we start evaluating laws that exist solely to prevent competition (Taxi cab franchise badges).

Re:Good? (5, Interesting)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a month ago | (#47351415)

Further, UBER is just a first shot across the bow. The next one will be automated "city cars" built by Google, that will pickup and drop off people at work and take them shopping and whatnot. The end of the taxi is coming.

Re:Good? (5, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a month ago | (#47351531)

Further, UBER is just a first shot across the bow. The next one will be automated "city cars" built by Google, that will pickup and drop off people at work and take them shopping and whatnot. The end of the taxi is coming.

It will be a subscription based 'private club' service to get around taxi regulations.
Wealthier and frequent flyers will all sign up and get whisked efficiently to where they are going, Taxi operators will go bust. Hapless families on their once-a-decade flight get left waiting for a bus.

This is the normal filtering effect of the travel service industry. It serves to physically separate the savvy and/or wealthier travelers from the great unwashed.

Re:Good? (1)

joshuao3 (776721) | about a month ago | (#47351679)

You mean, kinda link a limo service does now? In other words, there's already a "private club" service that let's the wealthier and frequent fliers get whisked efficiently to where they are going.

Re:Good? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a month ago | (#47351737)

"Hapless Families" will adjust. They will figure it out. And those that don't will be few, and far between. However, I'm sure that people like you will no doubt take up the cause, in an effort to assuage your guilt over using these services.

Besides, I don't understand why a full size Tesla doesn't pick them up, and drive them to the airport, with all their luggage. Or the occasional "huge" family getting picked up in a Van or Limo that seats 10-14 people.

Unless, of course, you're speaking for yourself being "hapless", since it is clear you can't figure out even the simple solutions to the imaginary problems you see with technology.

Re:Good? (4, Informative)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a month ago | (#47351853)

While I tend to be pro-link and pro-uber, it's clear to me that taxi's are required to serve bad areas and less profitable areas while link and uber are not.

Part of the process of transitioning to link and uber may eventually require percentage of service of these types.

Otherwise, we'll end up with great competative service in the profitable areas and poor to no service elsewhere. Which will be a failure of the public transportation system.

Re:Good? (1)

un1nsp1red (2503532) | about a month ago | (#47352017)

You seriously don't think this happens already? Taxis are "required" to do lots of things they don't (like take credit cards). See how many taxis will pick you up or drop you off in a shit neighborhood. Hell, I've been denied taxi service to good neighborhoods just because the cab driver didn't feel like going that direction. Oh, and taxis are not part of a public transportation system.

Re: Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47352065)

Taxis don't do any of that. Try getting a taxi in a bad neighborhood in DC. Try getting one that will take you from DC to VA or MD. They won't. Lyft and Uber will take you anywhere you want to go, and we'll pick you up from anywhere in their coverage zones. Lyft and Uber can go into these low profitability areas and get passengers easily, because of the smartphone app, but taxis would have to go up and down each and every block to find someone waiting for a cab.

Re:Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47352087)

"Hapless Families" will adjust. They will figure it out. And those that don't will be few, and far between.

No, those who will not figure it out will be numerous, as a lot of people are poor and are living off debt. The govenrment has hidden the debt so a lot of people don't even know they're hapless, or one missed payment away from being hapless. If/when uber and other private entities take business away from public services, the govenrment won't receive the revenue it needs to keep the charade going, and when the system collapses as a result many many people will suddenly find themselves in the hapless category.

Some people think the collapse needs to happen (starve the beast, let the market readjust, blah blah), but it doesn't change the fact that lots of people will suffer during/after the readjustment. Call it growing pains as a euphemism if you want, but suffering is suffering.

The GP is silly for trying to invoke feelings of guilt over the suffering, but the answer isn't to pretend suffering won't happen. The answer is to just not feel guilty about it. It's better to be honest and admit that the medicine will be very tough to swallow.

Re:Good? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a month ago | (#47351781)

No they won't. There will be services for one off; which is a lot of people.
IF not, well then create a service. You could take thousands of 'hapless families' to a major airport everyday. The last time I went to the airport I used a service that ONLY picked up seldom fliers. That had many cars and according to the owner, were doing very well. He then offered me a job.
SO, I suspect those people will be ale to get to the airport.
Seriously you're just making up problems.

Re:Good? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a month ago | (#47352089)

Hapless families on their once-a-decade flight get left waiting for a bus.

...or they'll just call up a private airport shuttle service, like anyone with a brain in SanFran does now (because the airport shuttle services only cost you $30 from Mission to OAK, whereas a taxi will cost you around $60-$80 for the same distance.)

Oh, and most decent hotels have complimentary shuttles on top of that, throughout the country.

You don't get out much, do you?

Re:Good? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351589)

UBER is a dispatch & logistics company. They will be first in line to run fleets of automated vehicles...and not just for transporting people. Freight is a much bigger market. What UBER is doing now is not what they have in mind for the future. All they care about now is getting brand recognition. Picking fights with taxi companies and getting news articles is just cheap advertising.

Re:Good? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a month ago | (#47351695)

I'm sure they will. But so will anyone with capital to buy fleets of automated cars. This is going to change the transportation industry (not just cabs)

Re:Good? (4, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | about a month ago | (#47351795)

The next one will be automated "city cars" built by Google, that will pickup and drop off people at work and take them shopping and whatnot.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, such a car has yet to be demonstrated. Google's demo vehicles are incapable of taking riders anywhere apart from a set track of stops, like a Disneyworld people-mover ride.

There's still probably a need in some cities for street-hail livery, which is what classic yellow cabs are -- in NY you can wait 5-10 minutes for the Uber or hail a cab in 30 seconds, and frankly the cabbie will be less of a pain -- my experience with Uber drivers in Manhattan has been a pretty mixed bag. As long as humans are doing the driving it might still be advisable for the drivers to get background checks and have commercial licensing and insurance, such things are prudent and won't kill the magic free market pixies that flutter about e-hailed car services.

As I understand it, city governments have a few simple problems with Uber-

1) Ubers can avoid poor neighborhoods at will, and there's really nothing the city can do about it. I live in LA, and if you live in, say, Watts, you must call a cab if you want a car, no Uber will find you there, because it's "the ghetto" and there's never an Uber within 20 minutes. Taxis can be and are required to pick up from all parts of the city, and their statistics are closely monitored by regulators to make sure they do.

2) Uber's trip pricing structure is very free-markety but it conflicts with most city's basic taxi regs, wherein a trip's price is a fixed formula of distance and time, no special charge for time of day or pickup/destination location. Uber can't provide this, because they use rate premiums to recruit drivers. Again the system is completely open to various kinds of discrimination, and the pricing process is completely private and not open to any sort of public accountability or scrutiny -- even they drivers, who are nominally the service providers ("Uber is not a transportation company"), can't control it.

3) These of course lead to the more philosophical dispute, namely, Uber handles the hailing, transaction processing, driver and rider ratings, and branding of the interaction, but whenever there's any sort of trouble, Uber can vehemently claim they have nothing to do with the driver or the ride, that it's none of their business, and governments and harmed parties must direct all their laws and lawsuits at little sole proprietors. This is a little too clever by half for some people and while following the letter of the law tends to skirt the equities a little too close.

All of this is totally fine as long as e-hail livery is a "premium" service, but some cities rely on taxis as a critical part of the transport infrastructure, and that's when price disparities and availability blackouts start to be problematic, politically.

Re:Good? (4, Interesting)

taustin (171655) | about a month ago | (#47352167)

And it's only a matter of time before organized crime smells the opportunity to take over the entire taxi industry, without regulation.

Re:Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351809)

First offshore-based, tax-evading, fraudulent shot - for sure... Go on with your paid self-promotion.

Re:Good? (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | about a month ago | (#47351515)

This isn't replacing the taxi industry with a technology, it's pitting a highly regulated industry (taxi cabs) with an unregulated variant. Taxicabs pay huge amounts of money to run a taxicab. If you want to loosen regulations on taxis, fine. But Ueber is an attempt to create an unlicensed, unregulated market where a licensed regulated one exists. It has about zero to do with technology.

Re:Good? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351633)

That only shows how bad and harmful such regulations are, and the best way to get done with them is to put it in competition the regulated service with something non regulated and let people vote with their wallets about what they prefer.

Re:Good? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a month ago | (#47351727)

As Lawrence Lessig mused "code is law". We don't need governments to try in substitute their feckless ancient law for our code. Imagine-- millions liberated by the promise of technology to start building their societies on Python, Perl, Malbolge and other industry standard codebases instead of leaving those sorts of decisions to outmoded, inefficient, and frankly just embarrassing artifacts of the so called democratic revolution. We live in the 21st century, people, and it's time we stopped paying homage to 18th century political philosophers and their devotion to the clockwork universe.

Re:Good? (0)

geekoid (135745) | about a month ago | (#47351803)

Bullshit. That would cause anarchic, and create a huge class rift. Things must change, but to treat society as 'code' is foolish and ignorant, at best.

Re:Good? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351739)

What the regulations provide is some level of security for both passenger and provider. Uber is very new; it won't take long before there are fake passengers luring drivers into traps to be robbed, and fake drivers doing the same with passengers. Until Uber can provide a satisfactory means to prevent that, they are rightly prohibited from operating.

Re:Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351975)

You swear this doesn't already happen all the time with private-call taxis.

Re:Good? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351647)

Indeed. But the Ayn Rand capitalists cannot see beyond the dollar signs. I'm in favour of taxis and for-profit travel services being heavily regulated, not for the sake of preveting competition, but for safety, vetting, someone to sue should something go wrong, tradition, and a whole host of additional reasons. I would not get into a car driven by someone who just throws a mustache on their ride and says they know the city. I agree with the stringent requirements London has for taxi drivers. I think this should be a requirement. You should be able to tell me at least three ways to get to any one place -- without a map, without GPS, without tech aids. Can't? Then you have no experience as a driver and I should, by default, not trust you. Uber drivers don't know the cities like taxi drivers do. Some shortcuts will get you killed. Experienced taxi drivers know where to not take their charges. Uber doesn't. I'll take experience and tradition over newer and faster, thank you. Novelties often equal heresy. This is one of those times.

Re:Good? (1)

tipo159 (1151047) | about a month ago | (#47351685)

Where are mod points when I need them?

Re:Good? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351771)

There's a huge difference between the two business models and regulations.

Uber, from a consumer's perspective, has more regulation. You know who your driver is ahead of time, you have an added sense of security. Especially if you are a young woman in the city, just getting into a random taxi isn't always the safest thing. Sure, there have been some incidents with Uber, but at least there is non-repudiation and the offenders are easily caught.

Also, from a driver's perspective, it is also much safer because there is implied regulation of the customers. Again, because you know who you are dealing with, and because there is no cash involved, it's a lot less likely you're going to pick up someone and get a gun shoved in your face for all your cash which you need to keep on hand. And you KNOW you're getting paid. And if someone damages your car or vomits in it after a night on the town, there are mandatory fees for that, which the driver will get reimbursed for automatically -- unlike a normal taxi.

And from a minority perspective (young black males, latinos, etc.), the regulations on the books which are not enforced are automatically, via technology, enforced. How many taxis stop for random young black males in the city? How many even go to bad neighborhoods? They are technically supposed to, but you'll always get a response "oh, sorry, I'm off duty now"...can't do that with Uber.

Taxi companies are failing because their business model is outdated, their service is deplorable, and they're simply not safe from the driver's or the consumer's perspective. Not because of over-regulation. The technology and business model makes most of the regulation moot.

Re:Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351777)

I *do* think Uber needs some fine-tuning and should be subject to regulations and held liable when necessary. These are problems that will be worked out and compromises will be made on both sides.

That doesn't change the fundamental fact that Uber is well-received by its customers and is in high demand wherever they run service. People hate the current state of the cab industry - the drivers are rude, drive irresponsibly, overcharge customers, balk at taking credit cards, and are overall resistant to modernizing their industry.

Re:Good? (2)

butchersong (1222796) | about a month ago | (#47351875)

Welcome to the internet my friend, disrupting oligopolies and weaving communities from strangers for over 20 years now ;)

Re:Good? (3, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about a month ago | (#47351999)

it's pitting a highly regulated industry (taxi cabs) with an unregulated variant.

Unregulated versions have existed in many cities for a long time -- for example, private hire cars in the UK. In the US, the equivalent is not unregulated (limo services) but it is much less regulated than taxi services. People were prepared to pay more for the convenience of a taxi.

What Uber brings is the convenience of a taxi combined with the advantages of existing unregulated services. That's where technology comes in -- it provides the convenience.

Taxi services are now suffering because of a combination of historic greed and anti-competitive actions. By that, I mean the sale of medallions, which brought in revenue to cities (greed) and made it difficult or impossible for people to start a taxi business (anti-competitive). However, those medallions are a huge cost of running a taxi which is not incurred by services such as Uber.

Re:Good? (3, Informative)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about a month ago | (#47352123)

Taxis need regulation so that you don't have flocks of angry seagulls fighting over fares, or criminals picking up marks.

Given that the fighting still happens, and the conning still happens, I'd rather trust a website with a reputation based system, than a taxi driver.

Re:Good? (2)

westlake (615356) | about a month ago | (#47351977)

Any industry that can be replaced by technology, should be.

Every industry has a technological base and a social reason for its existence.

Taxi services have a long history of abuses which the geek conveniently chooses to forget. Perhaps because for him the taxi is a convenience and not a necessity.

In a neighboring city, black and poor, the only accessible, affordable, suburban sized supermarket is a cab ride midtown.

In the hospital district.

Re:Good? (1)

slew (2918) | about a month ago | (#47352129)

Hopefully we start evaluating laws that exist solely to prevent competition (Taxi cab franchise badges).

Are you willing to go so far as minimum wage and immigration laws? Most folks have a line to draw somewhere. Depending on your politics...

Usually when the paycheck of one's friends/neighbors line gets crossed, opinions start to shift. When it finally gets to your paycheck, that's often a bright red line for most folks... The mentality is like this: first they came... [wikipedia.org]

Re: Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351391)

Almost every business that serves the public is regulated.

By skirting the regulations, uber is worth billions. They have siphoned those billions from those who have lost their jobs and are struggling.

So, having the cash of SONY, they CAN afford to play inside the regulated public market. They CHOOSE not to do so.

Re: Good? (1)

TWX (665546) | about a month ago | (#47351503)

I expect that many of the regulations that apply to existing livery vehicles will be applied to uber services if the drivers or cars are used for more than a certain number of paid trips per year, or miles per day, or hours operating per day.

Many laws covering livery vehicles exist for important reasons. Too many vehicles on the road congesting the streets. Extra danger from drivers that aren't even recorded as providing livery service making followup after-the-fact difficult to impossible. Vehicles that are unsafe due to poor design or poor maintenance. Vehicles that have reliability problems.

A central system to purchase rides is not a bad idea, especially if the passenger either doesn't care who provides the service so long as the prices are competitive, or if the passenger is specifically looking for the lowest fare and can see such. I could see taxi services going from renting the cars to the drivers, providing radio dispatch, etc, to simply renting the cars and letting the drivers use the service to find fares, but I don't see many of the 'lessons learned' laws governing private paid transportation going away simply because someone offers another method to find a ride.

Re: Good? (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about a month ago | (#47351661)

By skirting the regulations, uber is worth billions. They have siphoned those billions from those who have lost their jobs and are struggling.

If we held back technological advances because of job losses we'd still be tipping elevator operators and routing our calls through Ethel at the local central office.

Re: Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351423)

I'm not going to follow regulations. I'm adding drugs to my lemonade.
I'm going for the same vending spaces as you.
I'll be cheaper because I don't need a factory, I have an army of formerly employed people willing to use their private kitchens to advance my commercial interest.

Fuck uber. Billions of dollars siphoned from the desperate.

Re:Good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351691)

"It actually is going to be a 15 round fight. And it's going to take time to work out, hopefully sooner rather than later. But that debate will be held.....But it is a forceful fight, and our city council is full of people on Uber's side, people on the cabs' side, and it's a battle."

"It actually is going to be a 15 round fight. And it's going to take time to work out, hopefully sooner rather than later. But that debate will be held.....But it is a forceful fight, and our city council is full of people on Uber's side, --with unions-- on the cabs' side, and it's a battle."

The cabbies goofy argument is it will wipe them out as you said, but ultimately people are going to trust someone licensed, compared to some random stranger. ""Not really seeing a downside if the industry is this fragile. It's like claiming that lemonade stands will "knock out" the snapple industry."" While this isn't a bad analogy, it would be closer to the cabby industry complaining or being anti-public transit. Really that is what this amounts too, another extension of public transit, so I can see why the New Orleans and Atlanta mayors would be supporting Uber as opposed to other defunct US city mayors who are union sympathizers and want to help the unions keep their monopoly over whatever industry they still have grips on.

Unions dont want competition and a majority of people aren't willing to trust a complete unlicensed stranger. I don't know what these mayors have planned but there will probably some sort of licensing or medallion for people that are drivers of the Uber service, which would make sense, but I can promise you the cabby unions will bitch and moan over something else, like independent drivers free from the union.

Having said all that I'm not sure how wide spread the union is in this industry but like every other industry you adapt or die off.

Re:Good? (2)

tmosley (996283) | about a month ago | (#47351927)

They're just blaming Uber for what they themselves have done to the taxi industry. It should cost NOTHING to start a cab company, aside from the price of your cab and fuel. But government intervened on the side of big cab companies to force them to pay huge amounts for permits to decrease the competition.

If Snapple had lobbied to force other drink companies to pay a million dollars for each distribution truck, you can bet that whatever drink companies were left would be charging outrageous amounts, and would probably try to ban people from drinking tap water. Such an arrangement would certainly be taken down by a series of lemonade stands.

Uber has just pointed out the inefficiency and waste that has been created by government interference in the transportation industry.

Threats? (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a month ago | (#47351281)

Is Mitch Landrieu threatening to have Taxi cab drivers assault customers if Uber prevail?

Re:Threats? (3, Insightful)

pspahn (1175617) | about a month ago | (#47351323)

I am utterly confused about that whole statement. Uber is worth more than Sony? People getting knocked out? I'm not sure what we're talking about right now.

I sort of get what the article is about based on the summary, but it is not appealing enough to warrant clicking on something (I have no idea where that link has been) that would explain the confusing summary.

Re:Threats? (2)

alta (1263) | about a month ago | (#47351357)

I know how you feel. I was ok through the first half but by the time I was at the quote near the end I was lost.

Author Fail
Editor Fail

Re:Threats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351475)

Haha I had to click on the comments to make sure I wasn't the only one that couldn't understand what the heck that summary was saying.

Re:Threats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351597)

I am utterly confused about that whole statement. Uber is worth more than Sony? People getting knocked out? I'm not sure what we're talking about right now.

I sort of get what the article is about based on the summary, but it is not appealing enough to warrant clicking on something (I have no idea where that link has been) that would explain the confusing summary.

I think that someone was trying to do a horrible job at injecting that whole Guido "you're gonna be wearin' concrete shoes" vibe going on here that is supposed to be quaking us right down to our boots.

I'm shaking alright, but it's from laughter. Needless to say the Guidos of the world need to up their intimidation game if they're going against the Internet. Otherwise, I'm getting out my popcorn to watch the old timers get schooled in ways they never dreamed of.

Re:Threats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351603)

>

I sort of get what the article is about based on the summary, but it is not appealing enough to warrant clicking on something (I have no idea where that link has been) that would explain the confusing summary.

I have no idea what the article is about. Could someone explain what Uber is?

Re:Threats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47352047)

Re:Threats? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a month ago | (#47351905)

I believe it is a disingenuous statement to mislead. It is technically true. However, there is an important but subtle distention between the value of a company and market capitalization.

Sony is a much larger company. However, from accounting 101, Assets – Liabilities = Equity. If we use assets as a proxy for company size (which is not quite true but good enough for this post), as one increases liabilities, equity gets smaller. Sony has lots of liabilities, so its market capitalization is much smaller than it size.

In addition, market capitalization does not care about the companies' current profitability (which is actually a better term than size) but its future profitability. Sony is a big average company. Because of its size it would need multiple home runs to really change its probability. Uber offers the prospect of large growth and large future profits. It is that tempting hope that makes Uber more valuable than Sony. That being said, maybe Uber is not worth 17b. For some hard numbers, see

http://fivethirtyeight.com/fea... [fivethirtyeight.com]

Not going to be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351319)

I'm sure it would be more of an issue if cab drivers spoke English.

Uber my dead body (0)

johnstrass1 (2451730) | about a month ago | (#47351333)

Whats next in this free market slaughter hurting the public's long-standing service industry??? Car dealerships?? http://www.npr.org/blogs/money... [npr.org]

I love getting into strangers' cars (1, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | about a month ago | (#47351343)

I am sure drivers are perfectly law abiding and safe without any background checks and drug testing. It is completely impossible to have part time and internet enabled taxi drivers who are still checked out and issued a license.

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about a month ago | (#47351489)

I am sure drivers are perfectly law abiding and safe without any background checks and drug testing.

The ratings-and-feedback systems maintained by Uber and others is more efficient at flagging bad drivers, than any government-run certification authority can be.

It is completely impossible to have part time and internet enabled taxi drivers who are still checked out and issued a license.

What's with this obsession with licensing? Why must engaging in more and more activities be turned from a right (which only the Judiciary can suspend after a trial) into a privilege (which the Executive may or may not grant on a whim)?

Serving alcohol? Must have license (100 years after the "Dry Law" was abolished). Serving "hard liquor"? Need another license. Performing in costume? Need a license for that [nymag.com] ... Wish to keep and bear a weapon — something explicitly enumerated in the Constitution as a right — need a license... Where do you, Illiberals, get off?

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (4, Insightful)

tipo159 (1151047) | about a month ago | (#47351769)

What's with this obsession with licensing?

The skills that one has to demonstrate to get a commercial drivers license is higher than to get a regular car drivers license. Same goes for a motorcycle license. Why shouldn't one need to demonstrate a higher level of skills in order to be allowed to get paid to drive other people around.

I don't trust Uber to verify that their drivers have the skills needs to drive me around safely. Uber's background check that somehow missed one of their drivers was a sex offender.

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about a month ago | (#47351887)

Why shouldn't one need to demonstrate a higher level of skills in order to be allowed to get paid to drive other people around.

Why must one be allowed to get paid in the first place? And why must "higher level of skills" be a requirement — even for the customers, who are perfectly satisfied with average level of skills?

Uber's background check that somehow missed one of their drivers was a sex offender.

So what? Plenty of locales allow (ex-)felons — including sex-offenders [wkow.com] — to drive taxis today.

If you want to be driven by above-average drivers only, you can request a higher-rated driver from Uber (and pay more per mile) or — if Uber's vetting process seems insufficiently rigorous to you — go for a different company altogether. But don't try to impose it on the rest of us.

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a month ago | (#47351835)

A) Reviews have some inherent issues, and should rarely be trusted.
B) Reviews depend on after the fact; which is pointless if you are dead.
C) Licensing came about AFTER abuses. Every. Single. One.

"..you, Illiberals, get off?"
This isn't an liberal / conservative issue. How does it feel to turn every issue into a liberal/conservative issue? TO rephrase: "How does it feel to be Fox's cum stained bitch?"

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (2)

mi (197448) | about a month ago | (#47352043)

Reviews depend on after the fact; which is pointless if you are dead.

One of the dangers, that the GP is afraid of, is being driven by a sex-offender. I — an ugly middle-aged man with portbelly — have no fear of being raped and no prejudice against known sex-offenders trying to work for a living. Why would I be any more "dead" driven by such a person, then by somebody else? And why shouldn't I be allowed to be driven by such a person, if that's 1 cent cheaper per mile or if he can get to me 3 minutes earlier? What safety — permanent or even temporary — is gained by depriving him and me of this essential liberty to engage in a mutually-agreed upon business transaction?

This isn't an liberal / conservative issue.

Requiring a license for more and more activities reduces our freedom to engage in them — sometimes in direct and obvious violation of the Constitution even. This makes such requirements illiberal and people, who advocate them — whatever they call themselves — illiberals.

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47352195)

How does it feel to be Fox's cum stained bitch?

Oh, the classy sophistication of a Liberal!..

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (1)

taustin (171655) | about a month ago | (#47352201)

The ratings-and-feedback systems maintained by Uber and others is more efficient at flagging bad drivers, than any government-run certification authority can be.

I'm sure that will be a great comfort to those who are the reason for those bad ratings. You know, the people who get ripped off, kidnapped and held for ransom (I need another $500 or I'll just dump you here), or worse.

And the cops will be less than enthusiastic about chasing those bad drivers down, when there isn't a multi-million dollar a year company to fine the hell out of.

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351529)

User reviews worked for the Silk Road (heh) and it can't work for drivers?

Wait for driverless or take the train.

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351799)

If I get into a taxi, there is a very good chance, I'll get out at my destination with my wallet lighter for the fare + tip, but will be there.

Same thing happened with Craigslist. It became fertile ground for criminals to find prey many of times. I wouldn't be surprised that a service that doesn't check/regulate drivers might have people check in to the service... but not check out... or if they do, it would be in a local dumpster.

Of course, with out a filtered, licensed taxi service, the perp can be far, far, away before anyone realizes someone is late to their destination... permanently late.

Re:I love getting into strangers' cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351831)

I am sure drivers are perfectly law abiding and safe without any background checks and drug testing. It is completely impossible to have part time and internet enabled taxi drivers who are still checked out and issued a license.

Wake up. Those pill-popping drunk felons driving cars are all around you. Every single day. Uber hardly created that, and taxi cabs don't make you immune to it either.

Ironically it's the young adult texting and driving who has become the real killer on the road. Your chances of being killed by a text message are far greater and increasing every single day. Learn to identify and address the real issues.

Review system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351969)

Wouldn't a driver review system sort that out quickly?

I'm not willing to ride with someone with less than 2/5 rating.
I'm willing to pay $X/mile for a 3/5
I'm willing to pay $Y/mile for a 4/5

Re:Review system (1)

iamacat (583406) | about a month ago | (#47352101)

Dead passengers don't rate. Driver's former cellmates do.

Taxi Medallions (5, Insightful)

adisakp (705706) | about a month ago | (#47351359)

Uber, Lyft, Sidecar etc. all avoid the enormous cost of Taxi Medallions (which are hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some places pushing 7 figures) -- PER CAB !!!!

However, circumventing medallions is not necessarily a bad thing considering the downsides of medallions [priceonomics.com] .

Re:Taxi Medallions (1)

adisakp (705706) | about a month ago | (#47351373)

Also, a bit of the "customer roulette" is removed in the ride sharing apps since Drivers can rate their Passengers. With Lyft, if a driver gives you a poor rating, they will never get you as a customer again.

Re:Taxi Medallions (1)

adisakp (705706) | about a month ago | (#47351393)

And with Sidecar, you actually have to enter where you are going before you request a ride so drivers don't have to take customers that would make them drive somewhere they didn't want to go.

Re:Taxi Medallions (2)

Primate Pete (2773471) | about a month ago | (#47351457)

And this is why Sidecar, Uber, etc. will not put cabs out of business. Riders want to go where they want to go, not just where someone else is going. You will always need a cab to get to a bad part of town from a nice part of town because yuppies won't drive you there, but taxi drivers (usually) will.

Re:Taxi Medallions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351735)

You will always need a cab to get to a bad part of town from a nice part of town because yuppies won't drive you there, but taxi drivers (usually) will.

A lot of cities require that taxi drivers can't turn someone away basted on their destination as long as it is within some defined area of the city and its suburbs. Taxi drivers don't want to go a lot of places either because they will lose money getting back to busy, profitable areas. If both regulated and unregulated businesses are allowed side-by-side, the unregulated will offer cheaper options and not pursue money losing options, while the regulated ones might not have any choice and will just lose money when left with money losing options they can't turn down. If the whole industry is de-regulated, expect to see some routes difficult to travel on, regardless of which service you use. With some luck, one of them might give the option to pay extra, or make you pay for the taxi's round trip, or just end up amounting to renting a private car.

Re:Taxi Medallions (1)

mveloso (325617) | about a month ago | (#47351437)

Taxi medallions are so expensive because medallion owners want them that way. By restricting the medallions, they restrict the competition.

Has this resulted in better service? In NY, ask the people in the outer boroughs if they can get cabs.

And good riddance! (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about a month ago | (#47351405)

Taxis exist not to provide income to drivers or tax-revenue to medallion-issuing locales. We want them to get around. If a better way to do that arises, great. Have them disappear the way horse-drawn wagons got "knocked-out" by the automobiles.

Re:And good riddance! (4, Insightful)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a month ago | (#47351717)

Sure, but I think things like Uber and AirBnB are sad. Middle class people didn't used to have to drive strangers around or rent out rooms in their homes to make ends meet. I see these as sad signs of the times, not as innovation.

we won the race to the bottom! USA! USA! USA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351829)

people didn't used to have to drive strangers around or rent out rooms in their homes to make ends meet.

Just like Cuba.

Re:And good riddance! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351945)

We want them to get around.

That's true. However the regulations currently (among other things) force cab drivers to pick up any fare, no matter where the fare is going. Uber drivers don't have to, and will almost certainly not take fares to sketchy neighborhoods. Which has the end result that some of the poor with the most need to "get around", won't be able to.
Maybe Google's self driving cars will solve this, but Uber or Lyft won't. I live in DC; even with the threat of fines, some cabbies won't pick up a black fare just on the off chance that they'll have to go to a rough neighborhood.

So what if cabbies vent (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about a month ago | (#47351411)

London cabbies have a history of spouting right wing horseshit continuously as they drive you along, it doesn't seem to have the lasting effect on the passengers that the mayor fears.

Was that quote from Mayor Reed? (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about a month ago | (#47351417)

The quote at the end of the summary sounded like it was from an illiterate nutjob; was that from Mayor Reed? I feel sorry for Atlanta...

Re:Was that quote from Mayor Reed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351497)

It's probably pretty accurate unfortunatly

Trust (2, Interesting)

ADRA (37398) | about a month ago | (#47351427)

I'm not really following what the guy's saying, but it all comes down to trust.

In the US, I assume you need to have a certain level of certification to both open a cab company as well as be a driver in said cabs (insert rude jokes about cab drivers here..) and Uber is the laizez faire of cabs. Anyone can become a cab at any time, sort of like a car share, but on demand, and most likely participants who don't know one another (like cabs).

The problem comes from trust. When you step into a cab in the US, you have the assumption of not being ripped off, driven around the block, driven dangerously fast, robbed blind, etc.. If lets say I pull up into the Airport and see "NY Taxi Service" or "NY Economy Taxi Service", "Or NYC Taxi's" all posted on their cars, I have no idea if this is a legit signage from a company that has long ties to the area, or a fly by night that is going to take me for a ride.

Try going to countries that have any less enforcement and you get all people trying to look out for you to AVOID xyz because they'll take you for a ride, and maybe they won't and the helpers are just paid by a competing taxi service. Losing an industry that may be fat, but is forced to follow stricter rules for the public good seems like a justifiable trade-off, but I'm open to hearing other opinions on the matter.

Re:Trust (4, Insightful)

tibit (1762298) | about a month ago | (#47351605)

When you step into a cab in the US, you have the assumption of not being ripped off, driven around the block, driven dangerously fast, robbed blind, etc.

This is the funniest shit I've read in a while. I hope you're not serious. So, how many cab rides a day do you take, and where exactly?

Re:Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47352061)

When you step into a cab in the US, you have the assumption of not being ripped off, driven around the block, driven dangerously fast, robbed blind, etc.

This is the funniest shit I've read in a while. I hope you're not serious. So, how many cab rides a day do you take, and where exactly?

Mockery is not an answer. Is your Uber driver on prescription meds, but still working because they need the money?

Taxi drivers may break the rules. Uber drivers don't have rules.

Re:Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47352001)

Riding in cabs has scared me several times. In Chicago, the guy was jerking, driving way to fast, and muttering to himself. The car sounded like it was about to fall apart. In San Francisco, cabbie drove like he either had to pound the gas or stomp the brake. The entire ride was this constant acceleration/braking endeavor despite the lack of traffic. Denver, the cabbie kept making phone calls while driving me to the airport!

Contrast this with Uber, I've always been impressed at the professionalism and the range of quality newer vehicles that are well maintained. Drivers, that I got, have never driven in a way that frightened me or made me think they weren't paying attention.

Licensing does not mean quality.

I work IT in the taxi industry. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351445)

If uber and lyft and the likes carried the same insurances and had the same background checks our drivers had then I welcome the competition but they don't. My company has multiple smartphone apps, GPS tracking, text to ride, and a fully staffed call center to handle bookings and complaints. We do have a logistical advantage that has made us the leader in our metro area. Lyft is here and not making a dent in our sales at all. The only complaint we have made is follow the laws that are in the books. Run meters and carry commercial passenger insurance.

Re:I work IT in the taxi industry. (-1, Troll)

tibit (1762298) | about a month ago | (#47351651)

So, lack of focus and multiple shitty apps instead of one good one is somehow good? The heck?! I don't care about a call center, personally. I can type it in better than some phone jock can write it down. As for complaints - do you post each complaint publicly? Because, see, the public review systems work that way, and I'd rather have it public than hidden. There's zero transparency to your complaint resolution process. Logistical advantage, ha ha.

Uber should be stopped (4, Informative)

wytcld (179112) | about a month ago | (#47351463)

Uber is abusing its drivers. It advertises "1 million dollars!" of insurance. But that insurance only covers your passengers and victims, and only if you're at fault. It doesn't cover you, or our vehicle, or anyone at all if you got struck by another vehicle, perhaps one without insurance. And your private insurance on your car will not cover a thing if you're driving the car for hire.

There are perfectly good reasons for regulating taxis. As well, there are good reasons for building solid mass transit options so taxis won't be so needed. Allowing Uber to operate puts the public, and its drivers, at risk for no reason beyond the desire to drive down pay below the already barely-subsistence rates that taxi drivers earn. If you don't have a commercial drivers license, and you're not driving a licensed commercial vehicle, and you don't have full commercial insurance, you shouldn't be taking fares. If you are, that's criminal in many places, as it should be. Uber's executives should be arrested for criminal conspiracy.

Good (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about a month ago | (#47351477)

Protected garden industries occasionally need to get overturned.

Now, I disagree with them. The first time someone books with Uber and gets murdered/raped/whatever, the formal, licensed taxi services will enjoy a renaissance.

Right now, however, they simply don't appear to justify their premium - particularly when so many cabs are disgusting, greedy*, etc.

*note: I personally believe that taxis THEMSELVES are rarely as greedy as they appear, and this leads me to my main point: the cities are more concerned about their monopoly license REVENUE than any industry per se, and to that extent, fuck them.

apart from that whole (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351485)

apart from that whole taxi company but where all of the drivers actions have no direct legal responsibility on the company should any proverbial shit hit the fan thing, even structured offshore to avoid and put as much distance between the founders and society, good luck with that

holy english language batman. (4, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | about a month ago | (#47351507)

This summary reads like a stroke victim. im willing to assume the mayor of new orleans is probably drunk, but are we sure the mayor quoted from Atlanta isnt from, say, Atlanta Nicaragua?

Re:holy english language batman. (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a month ago | (#47351723)

I think this is how you spot people who don't read.

Re:holy english language batman. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351747)

Your post reads like a stroke victim.

I'm willing to assume the mayor of New Orleans is probably drunk, but are we sure the mayor quoted from Atlanta isn't from, say, Atlanta Nicaragua?

Fixed that for you.

Why would you even write "im"?
Too lazy to press Shift? Too lazy to use apostrophes?

Re:holy english language batman. (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a month ago | (#47352155)

They read to me like they were live one-on-one verbal interviews. Nobody speaks the same way they write, you know. (For instance, you can tell I'm writing here because no profanities were used).

What he said? (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about a month ago | (#47351527)

Anybody understand what he said?

Re:What he said? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351601)

It's too bad he couldn't have used a car analogy.

Cab vs Uber (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351573)

Taxi cab pulled liberal/conservative Romney flip floper when America needed libertarian Walton

Coming soon: self-driving cabs (1)

seven of five (578993) | about a month ago | (#47351683)

Self driving cabs will eventually displace both traditional taxi drivers and Uber. The drivers can make as much fuss as they want, but they've only got another 20 years tops before they all become irrelevant.

This will not end well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351687)

Are you going to trust someone from Uber to drive you home from a club at 2am in the morning?

What kind of normal, reputable, people are awake then?

It is one thing to hitch a ride during the day from A to B, but at night, especially late at night?

Sam (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351763)

Ride-sharing is a fraudulent transportation model. It profits on blatant refusal to comply with regulations, on non-payment of municipal business permits,
on evasion of local taxes and regulatory fees. This failed model has been tried before. Self-regulation of public transportation services by private,
and in this case - a private offshore(!)-based corporation, is dangerous, irresponsible and just doesn't work.

Just a few days ago - a young woman was kidnapped by a "well"-rated Uber driver:
http://www.reviewjournal.com/trending/uber-driver-arrested-kidnapping-drunk-woman

Consumer protections? (1)

Berkyjay (1225604) | about a month ago | (#47351773)

For those who are knowledgeable about this subject. What sort of legal protections does a rider have in the case of an accident in an Uber/Lyft vs. a registered taxi service?

Mike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351783)

Ride-sharing is not about "safety" or "creating competition" It's about all that CASH that your local municipality was taking IN from issuance / transfer of transportation business permits and their subsequent regulation. They want that. They could care less about anything else. City revenue LOST is literally ride-sharing law-breakers PROFIT. How, you ask? Simple, ride-sharing private corporations aggressively refuse regulation and refuse paying for business permits claiming a "new" business model (well, because "GPS"). Where city made MILLIONS - city will now get PENNIES. There is nothing else but a THEFT from municipal coffers. Ride-sharing private corporations will flood local markets - and minimum wage drivers will wait for hours for 1 single smartphone dispatch. Who benefits from all this madness? Ride-sharing California-based oligarchy. That's who. If THEY truly wanted a FAIR competition - they would pay SAME EXACT expenses that all your local transportation businesses are paying daily. That would be FAIR. But that would mean a FAIR competition. And ride-sharing corporations would lose that in A DAY - so they perpetuate a myth of them being special and different.... "well, because GPS". Ride-sharing is a FRAUD on a mass-scale. Shame to all local politicians who sell out their local economies and their local businesses for the sake of 2-3 California ride-sharing oligarchies
If we call for FTC to take a look at this whole matter - then let's begin with closed-door cartel-like meeting that ride-sharing multi-BILLION dollar private California corporations had just a few months ago to "shape up" their common strategies..That would be a good place to start investigating this ride-sharing fraud. And here are relevant links to read:
1. http://pando.com/2014/02/25/ridesharing-companies-meet-to-discuss-public-liability-insurance-wont-share-details-with-the-public/
2. http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2014/01/24/uber-admits-to-dirty-tricks-in-nyc.html
3. http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/Ride-Service-May-Pose-Risk-to-Passengers-256639641.html
4. http://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=32579=
5. http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/05/our_taxi_company_plays_by_rule.html

Re:Mike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47351965)

You are such a blatant shill, you are not even attempting to hide it.

Re:Mike (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a month ago | (#47352199)

I am sorry, how is it that your cities are entitled to this money? Aside from bribing politicians and ensuring fat paychecks for taxi companies, how does it bring any benefit to the people using public transportation?

So you are either shilling for taxi companies or politicians. Either way you failed to explain why this is a problem.

How ironic for Atlanta to complain. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about a month ago | (#47351901)

While I have my own misgivings about the randomness of non-taxi service, it's ironic that Atlanta's complaining about something being stolen from them - especially when their "economic development" department solely exists to steal companies from the North.

I'll take a regular cab, thank you. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about a month ago | (#47352075)

I don't know why anyone would want to hop in a car with someone of dubious character, who may or may not have proper insurance, who may or may not have a proper driver's licence, who might be driving a jalopy in any sort of condition, but hey, people hitchhike all the time so to each his own.

Meanwhile, Uber will do fine until the first woman gets raped by an Uber driver, or until the first few Uber drivers get robbed or killed.

Oh they are worried... (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a month ago | (#47352159)

The only thing the Mayors are worried about is the fact that it is a tax revenue stream for them. Regulatory capture allows taxi companies to charge extortionary fees, which are payed in taxes and "campaign gifts" to local politicians.

While I am not against Uber and Uber drivers paying their fair share of local taxes, all these local chieftons are worried about is their paycheck.

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