Taxis vs Uber:  A War Turned Personal

Many years ago, when I started using ride share apps, I felt a twinge of guilt not calling a taxi.  There was two reasons at that time I didn’t want a taxi. The first is that they were never where I needed one when I needed one, and I didn’t want to talk to a dispatcher.  The second was they didn’t take credit cards.  By this time, I had relented and stopped carrying cash.  So a taxi just became inconvenient. So, the move to ride sharing was easy.

Ride sharing has always been more fun than traditional taxi rides.  I don’t know if it’s in the taxi driver contract, but they seem to hire the least friendly people.  In Vegas a few weeks ago, I did an unintentional experiment.  I caught a taxi at the airport to the hotel. The taxi driver was affable so he was the exception, but my less than 5 mile taxi ride resulted in $30 fare.  Ack! That’s highway robbery! I swiped my card and put in the tip all while cursing myself for not walking the extra few hundred yards to the Uber pick-up spot!  During my stay, I switched back and forth for the first 24 hours and came to the conclusion that Uber was budget friendly. Plus all of our Uber drivers happily joined in to the conversations we involved them in. It made my rides more pleasurable.

That’s my experience as a rider, but let’s talk about my side gig.  I have been saving up to go to Africa in 2019.  Africa was never on my bucket list until I made a connection with someone in Sierra Leone.  And after a little research, I decided this little country on the West Coast of Africa was perfect for my first African experience.  Being a single mom meant that I needed to find money quick and easy.

Signing up for Lyft and/or Uber is relatively simple.  All I needed was a car, insurance, pass a background check and gas money. There was no interview. (I hate interviews. I already have a day job.) Getting paid weekly is awesome. Plus, I set my own schedule.  What does this equal for a single mom= Freedom and Opportunity!

Now, this is not an endorsement of going to drive for a ride share company.  There are issues.  If you don’t live near a city center, you may find that opportunities to have passengers are far and few between.  There are lulls when I don’t make a dime and go home unpaid after an hour. And well, I am not hugely concerned with my safety because I feel pretty savvy but stuff can happen.

With all of this said, my days of ride share driving may become increasingly more complex.  New York City has put a moratorium on new ride share licenses being issued to “study” ride share’s impact on the city. However, taxi companies will have more taxi licenses to issue to pick up the slack in service. To some this seems like a decision based on saving the cab industry.

I have a mixed feeling about this whole moratorium.  One, I get cabs are more regulated and perhaps perceived as more safe. But is that perception only?

I do half support a ride share moratorium because it wouldn’t effect my tide share license, if implemented like NYC. And it would decrease the number of vehicles I have to compete with for fares.  However, I do think that teachers, single moms and other segments of the population benefit from the flexibility of a ride share side gig.  I know I do. So now the fight is at my doorstep, I am sure San Francisco will follow suit soon.


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