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

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  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @12:58PM (#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:Good? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:05PM (#47351415) Journal

    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.

  • Trust (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:06PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:08PM (#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:Good? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:24PM (#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? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:47PM (#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? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @02:29PM (#47352167) Homepage Journal

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

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"