Have you realized that it is no longer “catch a cab” but “dial a cab?” This phrase is slowly and probably unnoticeably dying away as the traditional taxis are being placed by digital app-based solutions like Uber and Lyft as well as the other numerous national or regional solutions out there.
The Taxi as we knew it is not more than a decade ago has radically changed. And frankly, even Blind Freddy could see it coming. Think of video Stores, CDs and CD shops, Newspaper agents, and even the rise to beyond imaginable limits of Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba, it is obvious that the Taxi industry was being left behind.
The taxi industry of about a decade ago failed miserably to adapt. Operators in the field vehemently refused to read into this unstoppable change but instead dug in and defended the patch. They failed to trim their sails in time, and as a result, we are saying goodbye to the Taxi as it comes to its final journey, one that is probably not a bad now!But now we have to roll out the carpet for the new modern and progressive Uber and Lyft.
The final kicks of a dying horse
In recent years, the remaining players in the taxi industry have tried a kick at another life by seeking to dent the image of these new solutions to the old age problem of transportation. In various jurisdictions, e.g. Queensland Australia, they have played the fear card by sensationally arguing that Uber and Lyft have created and enabled an environment for sexual predators to thrive. Can hooey get any more than this?!
Well, let us give credit where its due, about a decade ago, taxis were installed with security cameras and probably almost every vehicle operating as a traditional taxi has a camera. But let’s be honest with ourselves. The security camera is controlled by the driver and frankly, it only ensures security for the driver, unless the storage is not remote, but how many are not?
On the other hand, when you log in and book an Uber or Lyft, your details are captured in the system and the system manager, bot just the driver, can see that you are using their services. For the traditional Taxis, once you board, there is no one who knows which Taxi you took!
It is true that risks are almost everywhere, even life itself is a risk. Nobody is safe everywhere always but these claims that have been made by a traditional Taxi driver and their organizations are simply fearmongering tactics that sincerely, won’t bear any positive fruits for them, nor save their dying industry.
Frankly, it’s hard to love a TaxiAt the initial stages after the launch of Uber and its sister Lyft, several governments tried to limit Uber and promote Taxis. Well, let face it, for some of these government Taxis are their cash cows. But in a free market, where pricing determines demand, then Uber was obvious to be the customers’ favorite.
In addition, for some of the jurisdictions where the big man syndrome operates, governments have bound up the Taxi industry all nice and tight, with rules and regulations which are essentially meant to discourage any new entrants and either increase or introduce competition. Taxis in these jurisdictions are owned by the big men or their cronies.
In addition, looking from hindsight, Taxis have typically pushed away customers. Flag fees for a Taxi range between $3 to $7. That not all, booking fees average at $2. Wait, that not all, if you catch a cab from a high-end location, e.g. a five-star hotel, then the fee will be in excess of about $4.
Once you are in the cab, you still have to dig deeper in your pocket as your journey progresses. This is referred to as the card surcharge. It is normally calculated at an average of 10% of the fare. This means that as your journey gets longer, so does your fee grow, SAD!
For the larger part of the history of the Taxi, is has specialized in making itself hard to love, by both investors and most importantly, by customers.
What’s there not to love about Uber?With Uber, everybody wins, including the environment. the government is able to rake in their own share through taxes, licenses, and other jurisdiction-related fees and most importantly, for the once big-man systems, they are better off as Uber is increasingly creating new employment opportunities for the masses.
It is important to note that, with Uber, the customer is able to track the car until it pulls up at the kerb. This way, the customer doesn’t waste even a minute of his/her time. How does the tedious Taxi compare at this front? Not good considering they are pretty much a hit and miss game.
Uber is not angelic and there will be some lousy and clumsy Uber and Lyft driver. But the companies have mitigated against this. As a disgruntled customer, you can rate these drivers and when their rate falls to a predetermined level, they are shut out of the system.
What does the future look like for Cab?Uber, of UberX as it is officially known – was born in California. Currently, it has spread to reach almost every country where there is free trade. People, government and investors have embraced both Uber and Lyft be it even for the few years in some of the nations.
Currently, in California, they are testing and, in some instances, using driver-less cars. Will driverless cars be the next cab waiting in front of your gate when you dial a cab next? Probably yes!
On the other front, Taxi owners and driver are growing increasingly cranky and fearful as their livelihoods are under a serious threat. To operate a Taxi, you have to pay enormous amounts of money on charges and licenses. Even though the market has been controlled tightly for years and companies operating in it thought they were comfortably in the driving sit, the reality is now that they are struggling, and being faced out, not through regulation or forceful eviction, but the system has changed and because of their failure to shape up, they are now being shipped out.
Whether Taxis are able to survive to the not-too-distant future, or whether Uber and Lyft are able to overcome the PR issues that face them as well as government zealousness – e.g. in China, the question is not whether driverless cabbies will pull up on your kerb, but when this monumental change in transportation will happen.