Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Take cabs while you can or soon there won’t be cabs to take

Uber Eats delivery driver in Santiago, Chile this April. 

     Our flight to Chicago was delayed. So my brother and I retired to a wine bar next to the gate at the Denver airport and ordered the cheese plate. Conversation shifted to arrival home.
     ”Are you cabbing it or Ubering it?” he asked.
     ”Neither,” I said, delighted at the spontaneous riddle I had handed him.
     My brother chewed on this koan.
     ”Ohhh,” he said, realization dawning. I don’t believe he actually said, “Lucky man!” and socked me admiringly on the shoulder, but rather made some kind of appreciative sound I interpreted that way.
     My wife was picking me up. In this frenetic era of Snapchat and Lyft, we still cling to the tradition that you personally collect loved ones arriving at an airport. To not do so is a snub. If my wife were flying home and I told her to take a taxi I might as well make up my bed in the garage.
     This is habit, not law. As the flight delay stretched into evening and the weather soured, she messaged me, asking: do you mind getting home yourself? I did not, understanding her reluctance to be an after-effect of when I came home from South America. She had braved a mid-April blizzard to pick me up at Midway, an experience so harrowing we skipped the ritual glomming of a dozen donuts at Huck Finn’s and simply bolted home.

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  1. I'd come to loath taxis as a transit option decades ago. Calling for one usually resulted in an interminable wait. Especially in bad weather or if calling from a "bad" neighborhood or wanting to be dropped off in one.

    The vehicles we're often filthy and the drivers rude and you worried they'd get you killed the way they drove. If they could tell you were from out of town they'd take a circuitous route to pad the what seemed already expensive fare.

    Hitch hiking was a better option.

    When ride shares started they seemed a much better option and we're definitely cheaper.

    Hailing a cab in most neighborhoods was nearly impossible unless you were downtown and if you were lucky enough to see a cab they'd often drive right past you with their sign lit, especially if you weren't white.

    The ride share is much more egalitarian and reliable.

    If cabs are relegated to the dustbin of history good riddance. Somehow they've adopted a similar model as ride shares become more releble and less expensive.

    Regardless ride shares sure beats driving and the Hassel of parking especially downtown or when drinking.

    Took one to and from UIC for my youngest HS graduation last night no complaints whatsoever. Soon they'll be driverless. Looking forward to it.

  2. We used LYFT in D.C. recently. The drivers said they had driven for Uber and Lyft and Lyft was much more fair.

    1. I to use Lyft in DC and had an early-morning trip to the airport on a Sunday. the driver asked if I had seen any of the city and I said no not really I'd just come in for a wedding. If I had the Time and took me to see the sights. He was an outstanding guide let me get out take some pictures there were no crowds it was awesome. No extra charge. Here earned a big tip.

  3. Having consumed my long gone youth in driving a cab for more than 10 years, I am convinced, not subject to persuasion or compromise, that Uber and others using the same business model have cheated and connived to make inroads into the taxi business. Inexplicably, they have been able to muscle their way into city after city without following any of the rules binding the taxi companies and taxi drivers they are supplanting and that without supplying street pickups that comprise a significant portion of taxi business. Their business model is innovative and attractive and could have been implemented effectively and without any objections (from me anyway), had they elected to purchase an existing cab company and gone about it legally and above board. I hope that the Lightfoot administration will take measures to force Uber and its ilk to comply with existing taxicab laws and regulations and if that drives them out of business, so be it.


    1. I could not agree more. The more I've been forced to use Lyft (due to time constraints) the more I miss regular cabs. I patently do not understand this embrace of these two companies whose business model is completely based off of benefit-less employment along with scant governmental oversight. Neither has any standards for their drivers. None. And if I was involved in an accident, I would rather see the defendant be a cab company than some poor hapless person just trying to eek out a few extra bucks for his/her family.

  4. California, for one, used to have a law against offering transportation for money without a license. It was often used to bust people for giving unwanted types a ride into or around the state, like Okies from the Dust Bowl or immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

    Is that law still on the books? If so, why isn't it being enforced against so-called ride-sharing?

    1. Yes I believe New York had the same type of ordinance against Gypsy cabs they call them. They operated almost with impunity none the less. Cab companies were screwing their drivers for decades. A new generation of drivers are getting screwed by Uber. That's probably why thousands and thousands of people are driving Uber cuz it's a horrible job and they have no other option. Tip well


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