To Uber, or not to Uber
There’s a heated debate in Manitoba right now, and at the center of the discussion is ridesharing app, Uber. I have personally sat in the back of many taxis, and used Uber while visiting other cities.
The Manitoba Liberal Party wants to make it easier for Uber to integrate into Manitoba, saying that the Province must come into the 21st century. The NDP have come out against the idea, citing poor working conditions, and revenue leaving the Province that normally wouldn’t.
So, who is right?
Well, first, let’s weigh the pros and cons of Uber, like responsible adults should.
App based. Easy use.
No cash. Your credit card or bank account are linked to your account.
Your driver is known to you, and you can rate him or her.
Drivers can rate passengers.
Drivers can’t poach fares.
Drivers can’t abandon a scheduled pickup.
Car maintenance discounts.
Uber pays to have the car cleaned if someone gives birth in the back.
Drivers are rewarded for excellent service.
Drivers are encouraged to match music to their customers.
Not regulated. In fact, Uber is self-regulated. When a new driver signs up, their ride and ability is assessed by a highly rated Uberer.
Drivers could be uninsured or unsafe drivers.
Drivers pay for their own gas, maintenance, and insurance.
Lower pay for drivers.
Impersonal business model.
While the pros list is larger, there is some real weight to the cons. Not being regulated is of huge concern, although cab drivers are regulated and I’ve nearly seen the light a couple of times while in the back of a taxi. There are also numerous complaints against cabbies from women about assaults and terrifying incidents.
Still, the unregulated nature of the service is concerning. It’s nice to know there is a regulatory board involved with taxi cabs. The question is, does a rating system keep drivers and passengers honest? Then, once that question is answered, does the system work better than the current regulations?
Uber drivers can’t have a car that is more than 10 years old, and it must have 4 doors. If they have a score of 4.6 out 5 or less, they run the risk of being fired. That all but eliminates the issues with car care, and driver personality.
Then there’s the whole premise of the app—service. If you get in a cab, you often have to deal with music you don’t want to listen to, or conversations between the cabbie and someone on the phone in a language you don’t understand. As far as social decorum goes, cabbies are rude. With Uber, you don’t run into these issues. I have always had a much more enjoyable ride in an Uber car than a taxi.
The last real concern is the fact that Uber drivers are paid less than taxi cab drivers, and they have to pay their own vehicle-related expenses. I’m not actually sure that cabbies don’t have to pay these expenses as well, as I couldn’t find reliable data. The difference is that Uber drivers are taking on this commitment as a part-time position to make some extra cash and get out of the house. Cabbies are relying on their fares to put food on the table.
An Uber Evolution
This all comes down to evolution … no not the God and man debate, but rather the evolution of industry. Very few cab companies did anything to adapt to the new marketplace. If the drivers were more hospitable and courteous, and the industry had adapted, then there would be no Uber, because there would be no need for it.
I believe that Uber would ultimately be good for Manitoba’s economy. Perhaps we’ll even see a correction in the market if the MLP take office. Smart cab companies will train their staff on customer service, and deploy apps of their own. Uber’s mere existence pushes cab companies to be better, to modernize, to have more accountability … and that cannot be a bad thing in my mind.
WRITTEN BY JAMIE HALL Writer, Entrepreneur & Fan of Superman from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada