Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Uber/Lyft Are Deregulated Taxi Services, Not "Ride Sharing". So Shut Up Already.

Uber and Lyft are services that allow you to hail a ride using a mobile app.  Proponents of these services insist that they are "ride share" services and not taxis, and compare them to dating sites claiming it only introduces people to other people.  I've never used an online dating site, but I'm pretty sure they don't charge you per date and mile that you ride your date.  That would make them an escort service.

So what makes this different from a taxi service hiring independent contractors?  Nothing.  Not a damn thing. The title of Uber's website even calls them a taxi service.  When you order a pickup from one of these services a minimum charge is applied and there are separate charges per minute and per mile with the option of tipping the driver, just like a traditional taxi service.  The driver is also paid 80% of the original fare.  I'm not sure if calling it a "ride share service" is just a poor attempt at confusing people with semantics or if people are dumb enough to actually believe that Uber and Lyft are fundamentally different from a taxi service.  Calling a drug dealer an "unlicensed pharmacist" doesn't change their profession.

Why is this an issue?  Because they are unregulated.  Background checks are performed but there are ways around them.   How do you know that the car is mechanically sound?  There are limits on how old the car can be but that doesn't mean the driver has changed the oil in the past fifty thousand miles or has safe tires.  Taxi services require drug screening and fingerprints.  There is nothing preventing crack-smoking serial killer from driving for these companies.  Imagine somebody starting a restaurant without being FDA approved.

Anyway, if you insist that Uber and Lyft are not taxi services then you are a moron.

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