Posted: March 20, 2013
Going for a free-market rideBy David Sneed
If it drives like a duck, and honks like a duck, what is it?
Well ‘phone app developer’ Uber says they aren’t a taxi company.
That’s a little odd, considering you can e-hail Uber from your smart phone and, within minutes, a car shows up to pour you home from the bar.
Sounds like a cab to me.
Only problem is: Uber ignores Colorado taxi regulations.
If you have a problem with a cab company here, the state deals with it (for you) through the Public Utilities Commission. The PUC are the people who keep the gas company from raising your rates every time you start to shiver.
America is great like that, while in other parts of the world, taxi fare disputes can end with you limping wallet-less back to the lit part of town.
Well, Uber pshaw’s procedures put in place to protect passengers. For starters, their fluctuating fares flip with demand, and they don’t say how much until after the ride.
Your first thought may be: Great! Unregulated is cheaper.
Nope. In some sort of backwards day miracle, the free market has conspired to strip society of rules while simultaneously making it cost more. Four blocks in the rain will be at least $15. If it’s rush hour: who knows. You’ll find out when you get the bill.
Well it’s more convenient than Yellow Cab. Wrong again. Taxi companies have mobile apps too; and PUC licensed hacks have to pick you up.
Here’s the matchup:
- Uber claims to be just a software developer, yet you pay them for a ride.
- Denver area cabs don’t think tech firms should drive people around.
- Chauffeurs (who work for Uber) say it’s just a limo ride, never mind that the service doesn’t meet the state definition for limousines.
You’d think the fight over e-hailing and the definition of “taxi” is between limo owners and taxi companies; but it isn’t. It’s between taxi companies and HALF of the limo companies. The other half opposes Uber.
Why? Because changes will add regulation, not take it away. Changes will add PUC oversight to limo companies making them all simultaneously more expensive and less accessible.
Are the Lincoln Towncars fancier than a regular cab? You betcha’. Do you feel like a king when you roll up to the club with a chauffeur? Of course you do.
And would I use Uber? Yep. I like being fancy sometimes.
But a few tech-savvy inebriates who want to pimp around town is no serious cause for adding regulation to Denver’s transport system, especially when we already have both taxi companies and rules. And those existing rules cover electronically scheduling a bona fide taxi.
E-hails are coming. Heck, E-everything is coming. I’m okay with that.
But do it under existing regulation. If you can get the rules changed: Bravo! I’m for that too. Until then, play by the ones we have.
I just don’t want every random guy with a computer and a diesel Chevette to start up a car service. That’s how it works in Lagos and Mumbai, and I’m not okay with that.
David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at David@EveryoneHasABoss.com