Is Driver Income a Problem?

By Don McCurdy

Is the pie bigger?

A recent news report from Portland Oregon indicated that last year Portland residents took ten million taxicab and shared ride trips. While the report was primarily whining about the fifty cent tax on each trip, the number that jumped off the page at me was the ten million trips.

Having operated in a city that was approximately the size Portland is now, the ten million number is staggering. The number of trips our industry generated was between two and three million. So, where did the increase in trips come from? Operating on the simple economic theory that a lower price increases demand which, perhaps, justifies part of the increase, there has to be more to the story.

No accurate study has been conducted that I’ve heard of, but if I were Uber or Lyft I would be finding out why and touting it as a by product of the ease of use of our service and the price competitiveness.

There is little doubt in my mind that Uber and Lyft have increased the size of the pie in the ground transportation industry, if for no other reason than their gyrations increasing the profile of the vehicle for hire industry.

Is driver income a problem?

Drivers in various cities are complaining that drivers are not making enough money to support themselves. Beyond the setback of an Uber pedestrian fatality, Waymo appears to be making serious headway in their driverless taxicabs.

Waymo’s “Early Rider” testing has been well received by passengers with some actually falling asleep. With no driver behind the wheel, the riders initially were somewhat freaked out but soon settled in and enjoyed the ride. Image:

As more objections are overcome, the drivers who are being displaced won’t have to worry about their income from driving. They’ll have to find another occupation. We are probably several years from all taxicabs and shared ride vehicles being widespread, but the end appears to be nearing for the ground transportation driver.

I would suppose that there will be companies that still use human drivers, not unlike the horse drawn carriages around Central Park.

How does that work?

Lyft is reported to be offering “subscriptions” to selected users. Reports are that 30 rides are offered for $199 or 60 for $399. The subscription prices are reported to be for trips under $15. Regardless, having a subscription would certainly buy brand loyalty.

Several different scenarios were offered and I’m sure it will take some adjusting to get the figure absolutely correct, but this could be the beginning of the end of the privately owned car.

In large cities there are already segments of the population that don’t drive, so it’s not a stretch to think that a larger segment of the population will simply stop driving, especially as the chore becomes automated.

Will personal transportation become the “utility” of the future? How long will it be before a transportation version of “unlimited data” is available on our cell phone bill? I wonder who is already working on that plan? “It’s easy to see without looking too far that not much is really sacred.”

One of the “benefits” of getting old is that you get to see a lot of stuff.

According to reports, the President of the United States’ personal attorney had his office raided by the FBI in an effort to obtain his communications with a New York based bank regarding a loan he obtained using his taxicab medallions as collateral. Now, I’m not privy to every search warrant issued, but I believe this to be a first in my recollection.

You could most certainly make the argument that if he borrowed a hundred and thirty thousand on his twenty Chicago medallions it was bank fraud because, in my opinion, twenty Chicago taxicab medallions are worth about a dollar ninety-eight. That said, I doubt that the feds have the same opinion of their value. I’m not real sure what they’re fishing for, except that Cohen knows Trump and that seems to be good enough.

Now, you might ask yourself, how it comes to pass that the world is informed about the “secret” investigations being conducted by the Southern District Court of New York. You know, the “mother court,” the most prestigious of federal courts with the exception of the Supreme Court, the one that the best and brightest prosecutors and public defenders get assigned to, the one that even has its own television show.

Well, if they’re so professional, if they’re the best and brightest, how come their investigation details are all over the news? Sounds like a bunch of loudmouths to me. In fact the entire United States Department of Justice seems like a leaky row boat.

It seems to me that if you want to claim a level of honor and prestige you actually have to act like it. It’s less than forty-eight hours since the “raids” on attorney Cohen’s offices and his private files are all over the news from “sources close to the investigation.”

The totally amazing part of the entire last sixteen months is the amount of success the president has had in reviving the economy with little or no help from his party and nothing but obstruction from the other party.

You would to be willfully blind to miss the point that none of the establishment politicians on either side of the aisle give a damn about what’s good for the working class in this country.

The other point that is inescapable is the amazing amount of courage and fortitude being exhibited by President Trump. There are not very many people in the ruling class that could
withstand half of the incredible onslaught that President Trump has dealt with since day one of his announcing has intention to run for the office. He has exceeded my wildest expectations by a wide margin.

I call BS

Reports are that Lyft was offering free rides to students to the March for Our Lives. Now, either the Lyft group wants any kind of free publicity or they’re happy with the idea of repealing the Second Amendment.

I thought it quite embarrassing that the students grief was so callously used by the media and the left, okay that’s redundant, to promote their gun control agenda. Not only was the Second Amendment under attack but the First Amendment was also under attack when one of the poor suffering students, who are demanding the elimination of my rights, also demanded a boycott of advertisers of a pundit who didn’t tow their political line.

It was clear that the students the media chose to manipulate weren’t interested in solutions to the problem of their safety, but promotion of gun control. So, for all of you gun control activists pretending to care about the safety of the students, I call BS. As for Lyft offering free rides to such an event, why would you want to alienate potential customers?

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

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