There are a couple of things going on right now that I am really excited about. One of them is what I like to call the “taxi revolution”.
Uber has been around for a few years now, and as most people know, is a blessing in the “limited medallion” city of San Francisco.
Yesterday the state Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday fined Uber, Lyft and SideCar $20,000 each for what is says is “illegally operating their high-tech taxi and limousine hailing services without the required permits”. The suit also claims the service is unfairly taking away fares from San Francisco taxi drivers. “This is a matter of public safety,” Hagan said.
Um, no… this is a matter of money, and the SF taxi union getting less of it. I am almost 100% sure that all uber drivers have to be TCP certified.
Now there is a little fair market competition, the taxi unions are trying to fight this with money and legislation Right now, you can order your yellow cab direct from Uber (as long as the driver is participating). It cost $1 more than your regular cab fare. The driver gets a 20% tip and you get a clean cab and a screened driver. You know their name, and the direction they are arriving from within seconds of requesting your cab. It is auto-billed to your credit card on file and the ride is a pleasant one. Who doesn’t want that? The SF taxi union, that’s who.
They claim that these companies are “charter-party” carriers that must obtain its authorization before taking to California streets (Authorisation, meaning permits, from, guess who? The PUCS. Lfyt and Sidecar describe themselves as “ridesharing” services, where two individuals agree to share a ride. “Transportation has historically been a highly regulated industry,” reads the Lfyt’s post, “and the existing regulations weren’t designed to imagine a world where two neighbors who have never met are able to connect within a matter of minutes to share a ride across town.” Imagine, that? Connecting with people? Wow, it is like the people can talk to each other without going through a complex telephone game with the governing ordnance.
And the union that was supposed to protect long-suffering taxi drivers? They are now selling those coveted medallion for $30K!
I actually think the ship has sailed on Uber. They are well funded and smart enough to fight their own battles with the city. I am not to sure about Lyft and Sidecar. (I know less about them, but my uneducated guess is that with Uber now offering Uber X and real taxi service AND this lawsuit, they may turn out to not be viable business. Which means I HAVE to get in one of those pink mustache cars soon!) You know, dear taxi unions, if you had released a few more of those medallions early, “we the people” may never even have realized we had the need for the services and they might never have started.
You can sign the petition for Lyft and Side car here.
BTW, my Uber taxi driver last next was an ex-Schwab guy. He gave me a $20 voucher to pass on to any new customer, so please let me know if you want it :).