Do Ride-Sharing Services Like Uber Hurt Commuters & the Taxi Industry? One Rider’s Perspective
February 6, 2019
A common argument against ride-sharing services is that they ruin the taxi industry by driving down industry prices, harm taxi and ride-hailing drivers alike, and will make it harder for commuters in the long run by driving taxi companies out of business.
My Issues With the Taxi Industry
As a person who was born and raised in New York City, I have taken taxis in surrounding areas such as Suffolk County, various surrounding suburbs such as Rockland County, within the city, and in other states.
What I most hated about taxi companies as a commuter is the rampant unreliability and dishonesty. Sometimes, as a student at Stony Brook University or while working in Rockland, when I called to request a taxi, the dispatcher would claim the taxi would be there in 20 minutes. 30 minutes later, I would call back, and they would tell me the taxi is nearby. The taxi would come 45 minutes to an hour after promised.
What Mistakes Did The Taxi Cab Industry Make That Caused Me To Prefer Ride-sharing Services?
One time, I called the taxi company that monopolizes the Bergen and Rockland County area at 6 PM, letting them know I needed to catch the last train out of the area at 11:50 PM.
They reassured me that they would send it. The train station is a six-minute drive. I called them 25 minutes to the time, and the dispatcher said the taxi was on its way. I called again 10 minutes to the time; he said they were right around the corner.
Three minutes before, he simply hung up as soon as he heard my voice, leaving me stranded at work.
The taxi never came. I had to pay extra to take an Uber all the way home, which I was lucky to get in the suburbs at any hours, much less those.
My second issue with taxi companies is that they cheat on prices, especially if they believe you don’t know the area. I have witnessed unscrupulous taxi drivers taking hapless tourists in circles to inflate the charges.
Third, taxis are ugly, rundown, smelly and outdated with often stinky drivers.
Here’s Why I Love the Concept of Ride-sharing Services
That is why, as a commuter, I loved the concept of Uber. My hopes were that Uber would shake up and revolutionize the taxi industry.
When ride-sharing companies were first emerging, taxi companies simply needed to listen to what riders wanted, and adapt the idea of letting riders track the exact time we need to wait for the next cab to arrive, know the cost of the ride upfront, and allow riders to solicit the ride and pay via mobile.
The first two are what all riders need for security that we will be on time and are getting fairly charged, and the last is what most modern consumers of any service or product prefer, to free us from the inconvenience and safety risk of carrying cash.
Reasons Why Ride-sharing Services are Driving the Taxi Industry Out of Business
If the taxi companies had employed these practices, Uber and Lyft would have been quashed before they took off. Riders would have given preference to the local, long-term, established taxi companies over apps from startups we weren’t initially sure whether to trust.
However, the greedy, lazy Luddites who run the taxi industry feel entitled to stunt innovation and natural technological progress, and ignore consumer demands.
They refuse to compete like all companies must under this capitalist society we live in. Taxi companies’ focus, instead, is on discrediting and spite against Uber and Lyft, and using the government to regulate ride-sharing services out of business.
I understand why taxi drivers are depressed and angry about the driving down of their wages that is leading to bankruptcy and suicide, but I hold taxi companies responsible. I also think Uber could greatly improve the way it treats its drivers, though that is another article for another time.
Companies that do not innovate have a short life span. They’re run by individuals concerned with only short-term profits for themselves as individuals, which they put over the company’s best interest and longevity. Capitalism is not a perfect system, but capitalist business owners have the responsibility of establishing a business model that minimizes employee apathy, turnover rates, and damage caused by executive greed.