I grew up in NYC. I took cabs my whole life.
I started taking cabs when I was 9 years old because it was too late, and dangerous, to take the subway home. Those taxi rides were always exciting as the drivers reminded me of modern day pirates. They were always colorful, crazy and almost always immigrants. Taxi drivers seemed a strange species of human that inhabited New York City whose lives I found fascinating. What a cool job…driving around the city, picking up all of these eclectic people! I was secretly jealous when a high school acquaintance of mine became a taxi driver and worked for years driving around “Gotham.”
It was never easy to become a taxi driver in N.Y.C. Getting a livery license was cumbersome and expensive. Driving a cab also had its hurdles to be scaled. You had to “rent” the cab for at least 12 hours at an exorbitant rate. If you wanted to own your own vehicle, you had to buy a taxi medallion and they could run close to a million dollars.
If you did rent a taxi for the day, you had to hustle during those 12 hours and work non-stop to make money. Given the hassles associated with driving a cab, most people otherwise inclined to do so opted out. In addition, there was a bit of a stigma to driving a cab as most New Yorkers looked down on cab drivers.
Uber dispelled that notion. Given the chance to drive a taxi, New Yorkers (and many all across the country) flocked to Uber to become drivers. What happened? Uber removed the road blocks, hurdles and stigma that had previously been deterrents. Uber dispelled the notion that people didn’t want to work doing “menial work” as many politicians claim in the immigration debate. The genius of Uber is that it tapped into a hungry part-time work force and into the reservoir of cars that were not being used.
- You are your own boss. You decide how much you make. You are an entrepreneur and some “Uberpreneurs” make over $250,000 per year.
- Easy Application. The application is simple and straight forward. After a background check is done, you are on your way.
- No taxi license required. The state used to control the amount of taxi drivers that were on the road and collected fees for licensing. With Uber , drivers by pass this whole process.
- Flexibility. An Uber driver can work as often, or as little, as they want. The phone/application can be turned on at any time to work and turned off just as easily. Thus, the driver creates her or his own schedule on the fly.
- Meeting new people. I have been very impressed by Uber drivers as they seem like really intelligent and nice people. In addition, their cars are always clean.
Uber has many critics precisely because it has exposed many of the fallacies of both the taxi industry and governmental bureaucracies.
Here in Austin, I have seen advertisements where the ads warn riders of getting into a Uber car because…” you have no idea who your driver might be. He might be a criminal a rapist or even worse.” But underlying that argument is that insidious intention to perpetuate the fallacy that anything not sanctioned by the state is dangerous.
What the ad is not saying, but implying, is that by driving with a licensed taxi company the government is guaranteeing your safety. However, its an implication they cannot warrant. Simply put, the state hates people making decisions on their own without governmental approval and, more importantly, thereby precluding the state from collecting the fees that go with licensing.
Uber drivers are rated. The customer rates the driver as well as all future customers. They rate and comment. So when you get into any Uber taxi you have a reasonably good idea of who your driver is. Not so with state licensed taxi drivers where all your given is the drivers name and license number. The rider has no other way to evaluate the driver, her or his disposition, or the overall ride about to be had.
I believe the Uber revolution is here to stay . In the early 90’s, Ebay and its users made a fortune by extracting value from unused items in their homes. Uber is doing the same thing… by tapping into the workforce of people who want to make extra money as well as tapping into all those vehicles that would otherwise sit idle. Its a necessary use for human capital and an efficient use of vehicles.
Companies in the future that can tap into unused supply and allow people to work directly with each other, operating outside our Leviathin government, will be the ones to grow and prosper. And the people who take ownership of their careers and learn how to make income in a variety of ways will be the ones that move ahead.