Tom Bastek | August 06, 2015 1:00 PM ET
Taxi vs. Ride Sharing: Taxi Companies' Efforts Are Misplaced
Lately, taxi companies have been up in arms because of ride sharing companies like Lyft and Uber muscling in on their territory. Not just a new competitor, these services have a distinct advantage over traditional taxis because they aren’t having to shell out the same kinds of fees and adhere to the same regulations.
In Birmingham, Alabama, the city council has declared that in order for Uber to come to town, they need to not only comply with a long list of restrictions, they also have to charge the same rates as taxis. Now hold up a minute. The last time I checked, we are living in a free country with a capitalistic society.
This industry is not a utility and should not be regulated. Aside from that, the real reason why the cab companies are fighting ridesharing every way they can is because they are getting beat at their own game.
Uber and Lyft have figured out a better, faster and cheaper way to deliver the service that essentially hasn’t changed in the last 40 years; maybe longer. Ride sharing companies provides convenience, safety, consistency and accountability — and at a cheaper price. With ride sharing, you don't have to deal with a company that says that the cab will be there in 15-20 minutes and it doesn’t show for 45. You don’t have to worry about the cab missing you or standing out in the rain waiting, because the app tells you when the ride is outside.
So the question is: Why hasn’t anyone ever really complained about this before? Because we all assumed it was just the way it was and because there has never been a choice – until now.
What you get with a car service like Uber or Lyft that you are not getting with a cab service is a car when you want it, that you can follow to your destination on a map. You have a picture of the driver and a name. You know how much the fare is before you even book it. You even have a way to rate the driver after the trip, and reach back out to the driver if, heaven forbid, you accidentally leave something in the car. When is the last time you ever left something in a cab and got it returned?
There are many stories about how big corporations failed to follow the changes in society and became dinosaurs in their respective industries. It almost happened to IBM; if McDonalds doesn’t make some serious moves this year, they going down the same path. Innovation and renovation are the seeds of growth and stability in companies and industries.
And until now, the most we have seen in terms of innovation in cabs was how they could squeeze more advertising into and onto each car, and the ability to take a credit card (albeit normally with a huge fee attached). There are many proponents of the cab companies’ saying that ride sharing has to go. Were these people also there on the side of the newspapers saying that news on the internet had to go, too?
To be fair, there are a few cab companies who are starting to come around and invest in mobile apps and other technologies, but they may be too late to the game. The majority of the companies are spending their time and money trying to find ways to make it harder for Uber and Lyft to do business, instead of improving on their own. Even if the ride sharing companies had to jump through all the hoops that every governing body is requiring of them and even if they charged the exact same amount for a ride, the world would still choose ride sharing over the cab companies.
The reason is that this new option is just more efficient, convenient and accountable. The cab companies that want the ride sharing companies to be on a level playing field in terms of permitting and price, had better pray they don’t get what they wish for. Because then, the only difference between the companies comes down to technology. And you already know who is winning that game.
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