Uber vs Taxis

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #3049

    I rarely use Taxis, but in the few times I’ve been in need they have not been able to deliver.

    Seems to me this is a situation of an entrenched industry that doesn’t serve people vs a new industry that is thinking outside the box and serving people better.


    Jeffrey Kopp

    Radio Cab is tops.


    Radio Cab is not tops when it’s Saturday night at 11pm.


    Uber is a very interesting experiment.

    They are actualizing free, buyer beware, market ideology to the maximum extent they find possible. They would more fully actualize it, but law is clashing with that goal.

    On a basic level, this is disruptive, and disruptive business models and or technology are generally seen as a very good thing by the VC and start up community overall. Disruption is a condition where the means of doing business or the technology innovation presents a 5-10x cost advantage while preserving a very high fraction of the core value proposition common to both the established business and the disruptor.

    Uber, TaskRabbit, et al. are all examples of micro employment where people can do as much or as little as they like and find worth doing. They are able to capture idle time and need / desire for income and realize a profit from it by providing a market for services featuring smart software able to match those two up.

    On a technology basis, having that market and smart software be ubiquitous enough to function is disruptive. Older markets are not as liquid and responsive, and because of that, they have costs baked in that Uber and friends can avoid, which improves either margin, or makes the whole thing possible on a lower margin, or ideally both.

    The resulting business model really does depend on there not being basic regulations in place, and the established businesses argue strongly that those regulations are there for good and proven and necessary reasons. Notably, they have argued against them in the past, citing the need to “innovate” too. Very interesting.

    Personally, I believe the taxi services could apply technology to improve on their business model while remaining largely, or entirely compliant. This would be an advantage that would benefit them by reducing how disruptive Uber and friends really are, as well as potentially lowering their costs while improving efficiencies and their overall value proposition and perception.

    Why isn’t that happening?

    Uber isn’t all unicorns and roses. Their drivers are contractors, yet they are strongly encouraged to drive for one entity only, are responsible for various costs, vehicle inspections, etc… are not insured, unless they pay for it, and so forth.

    It’s a good gig for somebody thinking they can make a few extra bucks, but as a living wage / career kind of thing, the current arrangement is dubious, or it may simply not pay as much, or may present far more risks than driving a taxi in the traditional business model does.

    Applying strict laws of supply and demand have resulted in “surge pricing”, which can get really, really expensive! It’s not clear how much of the surge fare gets passed to the contractors, read drivers, and or whether or not Uber is being honest and diligent in their attempts to insure more drivers are available at those times.

    Some municipalities have shut Uber down, citing their regulations as necessary, while others have allowed them to operate.

    Notably, some areas suffer from poor Taxi service overall, providing a nice gap for Uber to operate in. Other areas, where service is adequate or better, Uber still operates, and has been seen pricing very, very low, beneath what regulation compliant services could charge, where their value is not so disruptive overall.

    It’s a mixed bag for sure. People who are able to pay, often do, citing the high value of having a service that works better for them overall.

    Reports from drivers vary widely, and there is definitely some discrimination between competing firms where drivers can get locked in to one or the other, where as true contractors, they should just be driving and citing their availability and location to maximize their time and resource investment. Not all is pretty here either.

    Overall, I’ve found Taxi services vary considerably. PDX has been average to above average, but for one case I used to present to them all the time: A short ride home from the Airport.

    I would use the Max to get to the Airport, and when I had late arrival back in PDX, would use a Taxi for a ride home, both to avoid costly parking. Was very nice living 10 minutes from the airport when I flew very frequently.

    4 out of 5 drivers would bitch to no end when I gave them my destination. A couple of times, this annoyed me so much (and that takes a lot when I just want to get home), I declined the ride and requested the cab return me to the airport.

    Of course, that annoyed the crap out of them too, and the whole affair was a complete mess.

    What the shitty drivers didn’t know is I would always tip very nicely, and I did that because I know about the airport queue, and that they are hoping for good fares. Wasn’t my fault where I lived, and paying nicely for the ride made sense as doing that was still a great savings over parking, particularly on multi-day trips.

    Overall, this soured me on PDX taxis. More or less hate it, and will do most anything to avoid that hassle. Some drivers are great, but many are just drivers. And that is fine. But when they are taking it out on me, I totally draw the line.

    Had Uber been operating, I would have tried it. I may still, depending.


    About 2 years back, I used Uber in Seattle when I just needed a ride from downtown to Harbor Island to pickup my sister’s car that just came off the boat from Hawaii.
    I had a limo owner-operator show up who turns out makes money in the afternoon before he does his usual business. I got quoted I think 10.00 and I ended up tipping him 10.00 for a total of 20.00 because of his awesome service and the fact that he drove WAY better especially in a limo than any cab driver I have dealt with in Seattle before. I ended up with his card and have used him a few more times on other trips to Seattle.

    In Portland I would say anyone than Broadway; I’m partial to either Green Taxi or Radio Cab. Broadway, I have never ever ever had a good experience with.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.