By Don McCurdy



What’s missing?

Uber and Lyft are reported to have banned a conservative columnist, Laura Loomer, from scheduling a ride with their companies. I have never actually heard of her until now. Laura Loomer didn’t want to ride with a Muslim Uber or Lyft driver.

The reports of the incident brought to mind several things, number one being the laws in Colorado for taxicabs. In Colorado, if you pick up a passenger, he hits you on the head and robs you and calls the next day for service, you cannot refuse.

Uber and Lyft don’t have to play by those rules. New York City has inspectors out dressed as gang bangers ticketing taxicab drivers for refusing street hails. Obviously the rules are different for taxicabs.

Issue two: for a female passenger (which I am not,) the high percentage of assaults on women by ground transportation drivers are foreign born which many of the Muslim drivers are. Now, am I promoting that there is discrimination by woman passengers against foreign born drivers? No, I am not. I’m pointing up the discrimination against taxicab drivers by government agencies.

Not only are taxicab drivers discriminated against by those responsible to prevent discrimination, their real issues aren’t addressed.

While Uber and Lyft get a pretty cushy deal, comparatively speaking, taxicab drivers are compelled to pick up flaggers in high crime, oh, sorry, uh, under served areas or risk losing their license.

Are Uber and Lyft drivers trained, oh, sorry, bad word for independent contractor drivers, or informed that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that they allow service dogs in their vehicles?

Uber and Lyft can bring a great deal of improvement to a struggling industry, but the regulators still have a lot of work to do in helping taxicab drivers get the level playing field everybody talks up. Talk isn’t cheap, it’s free. Well, you know, unless it’s your lawyer.

It’s all justified!

Maryland is reported to be reviewing Uber and Lyft driver’s criminal and driving records after the company hires and screens them. Reports are the state has booted 4,000 drivers from the road with the bulk of them coming from Uber.

It has been reported numerous times that Uber isn’t interested in the city, state or federal government screening their drivers and the issue has been troublesome for Uber in the past.

One of the more interesting tidbits in the story was the statement that a "good portion" of the rejections dated back to 2015 and were not for criminal or driving history issues. Really? If the driving and criminal histories passed what was the reason for the rejections?

Part of Uber’s complaint about Maryland’s screening method is reported to be that the requirements are too vague. Not having specific criteria in the screening methodology make any recap of Uber’s background checks completely subjective. Hmm, sorry kid, don’t like that hair, you’re out of here.

A winning strategy?

A recent article out of Pittsburgh would seem to indicate that taxicab companies are starting to adjust to the Uber upheaval. It appears taxicab companies are taking a page out of Uber’s book and keeping a page of their own book and are providing a hybrid style service that you can call any way you want or just go out and flag a taxi.

The idea is that you can get a shared ride from the phone app, taxicab from a flag or telephone call. The flexibility of the app allows the company to expand when necessary and still maintain their core taxicab business.

Uber and Lyft have spent a considerable sum of money getting their business model accepted in every state, so there isn’t much of a step to opening a "shared ride" service along with your traditional taxicab service.

Prior to the Uber phenomenon it would have been illegal for taxicab services to expand to cover demand in almost every jurisdiction. Equipment and paint schemes alone would have prevented such flexibility.

The introduction of the Uber style regulations have removed some of those barriers and allowed a greater flexibility in what one of the articles referred to as the "rides" industry. Gee, government regulations stifling innovation, who would have thought?

And nobody came?

Reports are that the city of Frederick, Maryland has six permits for taxicabs available, and they’re only $2500 each. What a great deal. Unfortunately, nobody wants them. What used to be a coveted and necessary instrument of the ground transportation industry is now becoming an expensive ball and chain.

Like cities everywhere, the taxicab industry is changing and the permit, medallion or plate is fast becoming an expensive relic of past enslavement. What do you suppose the result would be if the government started reducing regulations to what was really necessary?

Oh, wait, that’s happening. Absent of almost any other changes, just the reduction of unnecessary government regulations has created an economic boom. Is anyone noticing? I don’t think so.


Thanks Bloomy!

A recent editorial from a wheelchair accessible driver from New York City highlighted the folly of government dictating to business how business will be conducted. The wheelchair accessible driver lamented the City government’s choice of the "taxi of tomorrow" versus what the driver could have if the government would get off his back and let him decide what is best for his business.

Something that seems to be hard for regulators to swallow is that their opinion of what is best for the industry isn’t necessarily so. How can that be you wonder?

Decisions like the selection of the "taxi of tomorrow" demonstrate the one size fits all nature of regulation, especially in the ground transportation industry. Some former mayor’s interpretation of a "great idea" is now saddling the industry with a totally unnecessary regulation.

Yes, a vehicle of sufficient size and manufacturing to allow comfortable travel of riders is necessary, but it is not necessary for regulators to decide which vehicle that is. Perhaps, an increase in subsidies is in order to keep the drivers from starving as a result of government interference, uh, regulation of the industry. Yeah, that’s the ticket, a government program to save us from government programs.

Uber Bad boys, bad boys! Lack of regulation pioneers innovation.

Uber has a new mantra, "we do the right thing, period." Uber’s new CEO is trying to straighten out Uber’s perceived bad boy image. Okay, maybe perceived isn’t the right word, how about actual?

While Mr. Khosrowshahi is on the right track, at least in my opinion, internally Uber wouldn’t be where they are in the transportation world if Kalanick, the former CEO, had simply
"done the right thing" and followed all of the rules and regulations.

Uber’s kick down the door style of market entry allowed them the freedom to enter closed markets, elbowing their way past onerous regulations lamented in this column monthly, in order to establish a foothold.

Their bypassing of city regulations while lobbying at the state level was effective on numerous occasions. Lobbying, what a great word, so much less crass sounding than bribing. Yes, Khosrowshahi’s fence mending tour is probably necessary for the kinder, gentler Uber image going forward, but just like the country Uber was founded in, some doors had to be kicked in first.

We may all someday agree that Kalanick is the devil, but his idea has revolutionized the ground transportation industry. Right off the top of my head I can’t think of a better example of regulation versus lack of regulation pioneering innovation. Bad boys, bad!

If you have any comments regarding this or any of my articles please feel free to contact me at: - dmc


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