Whether you’re for it, against it or have not yet made up your mind, you probably heard about Uber in the news recently. Transforming the way we use transportation and stirring much controversy in several cities regarding the legality of offering ride-sharing without first obtaining a license, it seems Uber is more than ready to fight back and carve itself a chunk of the market.
I tried UberX for the first time earlier this evening. It took me less than 5 minutes to download the app on my Android phone, create a profile, enter my payment information and set up a pickup location. The car, a clean and comfortable sedan, arrived within less than 4 minutes. We were greeted by a very amicable Uber driver who, he told us, worked for the service on weekends only. The ride was smooth and the whole process – ordering a ride, payment being automatically processed, receiving an invoice in my inbox and being dropped off right in front of my home – was efficient. Without hesitation; five stars.
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Finally, if I were to share my personal opinion as a citizen of Montreal and as a newly converted Uber rider, I would point out that it is in the interest of taxi drivers to support Uber and use this new business model to aggressively negotiate desperately needed changes to their currently archaic and financially crippling taxi industry:
“I hope, if we have enough money, that we can go through the world if we have to, to get rid of these people because there has to be some fairness in this business,” Konjevic, veteran taxi driver, 72, said. “My bills are bigger than the money that I’m making.” — Taxi, limo drivers launch $400M class-action lawsuit against UberX, UberXL, Toronto Star, July 23 2015
According to a 2008 study by Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, a majority of Toronto cab drivers are estimated to make below minimum wage while working over 70 hours a week. While the arrival of UberX in big cities has brought crippling competition to the taxi industry, which stats demonstrate already had a foot in the grave prior, it baffles me why a cab driver would choose to cling to an inefficient business model rather than join the competition (Uber), or at least attempt to initiate a very needed reform in their industry.
The numbers speaks for themselves. From an observer’s point of view, it would seem Uber merely acted as the catalyst that shed light on the already collapsing traditional taxi industry, which is undoubtedly in denial of its own illness. In Montreal, at least some entrepreneurs are trying something new…