I am spoiled rotten in Crazyville. There are plenty of public transit options that include trains, buses and enough taxis to drive a local nuts. Why would I not embrace Uber and Lyft? Here is why, because I have options. I have felt the sting of available taxis drive past and crowded buses skip my stop. I appreciate Uber and Lyft are easy to use, payment is electronic and were first to embrace a mobile app. Plus, I love when any industry is shaken or at least disrupted to make people sit up and notice a change. Unfortunately, after some thought Uber and Lift are no longer in my future and here is why.
I simply do not feel safe. Several Uber drivers have scared me with their driving antics. When we were traveling home from their airport, I saw a Uber/Lyft driver (had both decals) cross three lanes of traffic cutting off several drives. To top it off along with the two ride sharing decals there was also a Baby On Board sign. Scary. This is only one of several examples.
If something goes wrong on the ride, I do not have a safety net compared to a taxi company. The city regulates the taxi companies, background checks the drivers and their vehicles are inspected routinely. None of this is true with the ride-sharing companies. Their core business model is a consumer gets into a stranger’s personal vehicle that has not been inspected and the company has not done a background check on the driver.
Do ride sharing companies create jobs? Uber is valued at $60 billion as a privately held company that operates in 450 worldwide cities. In the United States Uber has more than $160,000 drivers not employees. These drivers are contract workers with no benefits or job security. This is not an example of making job creation, instead exploitation of drivers.
If Uber does go public, who will benefit? Not the drivers.
Riding Sharing is not profitable for the drivers. The hidden cost to drive for these companies is scary. First there is the tangible cost of operating the vehicle from gas, repairs, cleaning, maintenance, insurance and their time in the car are painful expenses. Mix in variable pricing set by the companies along with their cut only goes to prove that the drive is not profitable. This does not take into account if the driver rented the car or leased it directly from Uber with exorbitant rates.
Sadly, both riding sharing companies have said they are eager to embrace a driverless car – that means no drivers with income.
I do see the good ride sharing companies have brought to my town. They serve neighborhoods where traditional taxis and buses will not visit during the dark hours. Their prices are dramatically cheaper than a traditional taxi – sometimes. The other factor is they have forced traditional taxi companies to embrace technology.
Competition might succeed where our current laws have failed. Until Uber and Lyft drivers are held to the same safety standards and guarantee revenue, I am sitting this option out. For now, I will stick with the mobil app for a taxi or the old fashioned universal hand wave to hail a ride.
Do you use a ride sharing service? If so, which one?
Sharon, The Mayor