Uber is in the news a lot here in Canada of late. It's one of those topics I'm torn on.
On one hand Uber is a good thing. It directly connects drivers and riders. It streamlines payments and is so convenient.
On the other hand, the drivers who are licenced taxi drivers are taking a huge hit. They were already being screwed by a semi-corrupt licensing system. As always it's the last person in the economic chain that gets squeezed the most. The fact that it was a tech startup that implemented this idea give you idea on how stagnant the taxi business had become.
Taxi licenses have become a business. Since there are finite number of licenses in most cities, investors would buy them up. Since new licenses are rarely issued, they could see these as an investment. These people do not own taxis, do not drive taxis, hell they do not even own taxi companies. This is what drove up the prices of these licenses upwards of millions in some place. They just milk the value of their holdings.
Here is why I feel bad for the real taxi drivers. In most cities here in Canada UberX is illegal. You can not be a driver for hire without the proper business insurance and license. Drivers who are doing everything right in the shitty system they have are being squeezed out by UberX thieves. Of course not having insurance lowers the prices you charge! It's an unfair advantage. Same goes of all the other costs a licensed cab driver must endure.
What we really need is a middle ground between what Uber has become and what traditional cabs are. There has to be a small amount of oversight, insurance and regulation. I think removing cab licenses as a investment can really affect some change. It would also allow a company like Uber to purchase cab licences and join a more level playing field.