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In Defense of UBER

You missed the boat, cabbies.  It’s a perfect example of a little too little, a little too late.  Now cab companies are running to local politicians to bail them out since UBER has swooped into town and capitalized on a need – a desperate need.  It wasn’t that long ago that we as consumers were held hostage by cabs  – they were the only game in town.  You picked up a phone – yes, a phone and dialed a number and was greeted by “Cab!” in an annoyed voice.
“Hi, I need a cab to go to Legal Harborside.”
“Address?”
“136 M Street.”
“Right away.”  Click.

Right away could mean exactly that – 5 minutes or it could mean 45 minutes or never.  Ridiculous.

With UBER it’s a click of an app.  You see in real time where the car is, the name of the driver, and make and license number of vehicle.  That’s it.  There is no exchange of money.  They have your credit card information on file.  As soon as your ride is over, you receive an email of your UBER receipt.  End of story.

Sure, occasionally UBER rates surge.  No big deal because they let you know before you order your car and I’ll pay the extra for the convenience of not dealing with a cab you called three times in the past hour that never shows up.  Happened all the time.

So now there is UBER – and thank God – and the cab companies are saying, “Hey, wait a minute!  No one is using cabs anymore because of this service.”  Yes, exactly.  You could have got with the times –  stepped into the 21st century and came up with the brilliant concept but you didn’t.  And now, you want UBER gone.

UBER cars, general speaking, are convenient, clean, inexpensive, and usually driven by friendly and polite drivers.  I know right now there is a handful of you readers saying to yourself, “Yeah, but what about those UBER drivers that have been involved in sexual assaults and other crimes…”  Of course, there are no cab drivers with criminal records or involved in any questionable behavior…….

Recently, our state senator co-sponsored a bill that would regulate UBER, Lyft and other ride sharing services.  Two of the key reasons are public safety and consumer protection.  In my experience, when I hear a politician saying “regulate” it usually means pay the government which certainly gets passed onto the consumer.  In a recent column published by the Boston Globe, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and State Representative Michael Moran defended their position of regulating ride sharing services and deny UBER’s allegations of trying to “destroy” them.  https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/08/05/why-want-regulate-uber/VpzJVS6OEteQAnt2Ss8AAJ/story.html

Why all of a sudden is this bill being filed?  Who other than the cab drivers are complaining about UBER? Maybe the taxi special interest groups forcing politicians’ hands.  Maybe? All I know is, everyone that uses UBER loves it and would avoid ever having to take a cab again.  Maybe our politicians should look at the current restrictive taxi medallion system and work on improving that instead of trying to mess with UBER.

UBER is innovation.  It’s shuttling people all over the city.  It’s stimulating the economy.  Sorry, taxi companies  – either compete with them or you lose.  You’ll become obsolete.  It’s like Blockbuster vs. Netflix.  

Instead of writing columns, maybe politicians should be writing letters to special interest groups and taxi medallion owners and tell them this is a little something called capitalism.  Competition is good for the consumer.  Step up your game.  Stop your whining and hire some innovative app engineers.

If you would like to read the UBER petition you can visit it here: http://petition.uber.org/save-ma/

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About the Author

Peter Gailunas

Peter Gailunas is a lifelong Southie resident and Boston firefighter who sometimes takes it upon himself to tell people what's what. Favorite day of the week is trash day. Big fan of the 311 app, food shopping and cooking. Self-proclaimed "Fastest Man Alive." Married to the editor.

Comments

  1. Regarding safety: with Uber there is an electronic record of the transaction that includes who requested and the name, picture and license plate of the driver coming to get you.  If I hail a taxi on the street there is no record of that pickup ever occurring.  This alone makes Uber way safer in my opinion

     

    It is amazing to me that the State Senator from Southie would propose this bill.  The residents of South Boston rely on Uber to get around town due to the horrible bus system and the taxi system which you described perfectly.

     

     

     

  2. Firstly, as I a guy, I love Uber… It's easy, convenient and reliable… With that said if I had a daughter, I would never allow her to take uber. He stories I've heard from passengers and police are quite unnerving; uber drivers lending their cars to friends for a profit, "gypsy cars" approaching people asking if they called "uber", getting them in the car and demanding cash… The list goes on and on, not to mention, insurance? Taxis offer a minimum of 5 million while an uber might only cover just 250k! 

    Livery services/ taxis are coming around, look at Shore transit and Quincy, they on Marina Bay Taxi Quincy cab, sure Taxi, Milton cab and many luxury vehicles, they offer every rider 25% credit on their fear towards their next ride and soon enough there's going to be working with many local restaurants where you can exchange reward credit for cab rides… "Responsible ride"… Keep an eye out :

     

     

  3.  

    Uber is great. But, ultimately its being run in a gray legal minefield. We love 'competition' and 'free markets' but don't realize that uber drivers and passengers are playing an unfair game. Have you ever been in a car accident with an Uber driver? It's already happened. Insurers refuse to pay for passenger medical expenses and uber drivers damages because 99.9% of the time their policies do not cover commercial use of their personal vehicle. Yes, I wish the cab industry would take note of all convenience of uber, but ultimately, uber and lyft are cheating the system and they will eventually have to fall in line or fall apart. Watch Europe – uber is already getting destroyed. Also, there is nothing 'innovative' or 'clever' about breaking the law, it's just stupid- like running a restaurant without a food license. 

     

  4. I've had to go to the airport many times and have missed two flights because of the cab company.  I even called the night before to set it up and still no show…and then have to tolerate the rudest people on the phone who (if they ever pick up the phone) tell you how busy they are.  Uber has learned to capitalize on efficiency and also good old fashioned manners.  I find it annoying also that the cab driver is yelling into his Bluetooth to someone while taking me to the airport, then just presses the trunk release button for me to open the trunk, get out my luggage and shut it…and then expects a tip…..i would never take a cab as long as there is Uber in the city To which I'm traveling.