Ride Sharing Shakes the Taxi-Cab World

Two taxi cabs on the road

Uber, Lyft, and SideCar have all become words applicable for a quarter in the swear jar in the homes of taxi cab drivers. Just this past September, California officially sanctioned and is now regulating ride sharing in it’s state. In the hearing to vote in it’s legitimacy, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had a landslide vote in favor of the new type of transportation network. Initially, taxis were the only type of service to fit the needs of those who needed a ride instantly, however at the cost of heavy restrictions, guidelines, and mandatory licensing by the state and company. Now, getting a (seemingly cheaper) ride can be obtained with just a click on your smartphone. After that, a “private driver” will show up at your doorstep in minutes and even offer you a chilled bottle of water. We put private driver in quotes because in reality, it is just a stranger with a 4 door car and nothing else to do; no taxi cab license required.

The policy the state held on ride sharing are easy to comply with according to the companies that provide the service. Every company would have to install at least a $1 million insurance policy, and carry out both vehicle and driver inspections including background checks. Although it is the CPUC putting these contingencies on the service, customers would surely feel more inclined to hop in a stranger’s car as well knowing that those rules are applied.

So what is it that compels users to opt for an Uber, Lyft, or SideCar versus the traditional yellow cab? To start, technology has allowed for nearly everything to be simplified, and getting a ride at 2 A.M. has never been easier. Instead of waiting outside on the street hailing a cab that may already be occupied, these services offer their drivers in an on-demand fashion to come to you. Click a button on the app and your driver, ride cost, and arrival time estimate are all clearly displayed. In addition, your credit card information is already stored so no need to stick around scrambling for dollar bills to pay either. Lastly, one of the most compelling reasons to opt for the younger, hotter, sister of the taxi family is price. Prices of taxi cabs versus ride sharing is almost incomparable, add convenience and no one would think twice about hopping in an old yellow car. Lyft and Uber have the most market share in the sector and with the two going head to head competing for prices, lowering costs to customers even further.

Perks for the drivers are also promising. Lyft and Uber allow their drivers the convenience it offers their customers. When drivers work is on their own time; no rigorous schedule and no set hours. The formula is simple, Uber for example, will take 20% of the cost to drive a customer, leaving you take home the remaining 80%. This allows both driver and company alike to be happy, the more you work, the more both parties make money.

This business model has become very popular for those struggling to make ends meet. The reasons to take on Uber and Lyft as a part time job is endless. It’s easy cash at a schedule you are comfortable with and minus a boss breathing down your neck. Many have taken on the weekend warrior job to keep their family or themselves afloat in a weakening job market. Laid off employees or new college grads even sometimes have both apps running and looking for customers because there is no need for exclusivity. Uber has even gone to the extent to say that one can earn up to $60,000 a year, but of course that is all determined by the volume of clients (and spare time) an individual can obtain.

The essential demise of the taxi cab will not come easily however. Uproar from those working in that industry are not a silent crowd, and many violent altercations with ride sharing drivers have been reported. From bricks being thrown at windows, the slashing of tires, and even boxing cars in with fellow taxi cabs, they are not happy with getting the carpet pulled from under them. Lyft has even gone as far as to warn its drivers about going to LAX airport due to its heavy population of taxis. Strikes have also been means of voicing concern but it seems Uber and Lyft are here to stay.