June of 2014, a Wall Street Journal Article screamed in its headline, ‘Uber Shocks the Regulators.’
One paragraph in particular is worth citing, stating that:
Uber uses technology to create efficiency by enabling supply to match demand.
Okay, but is that entirely true? Yes, Uber uses GPS technology and a Smartphone App. However, that is not what is the key. What makes Uber more efficient is their contracting of illegal part-time drivers who do not have to commit to a 12-hour shift in a legal taxi.
GPS contributes the more efficient ‘proximity’ method of call dispatch distribution. However, without the fluid supply of almost unlimited drivers and cars, at no cost to Uber by the way, their system wouldn’t work.
No cost? Taxi companies are regulated for safety, NOT TO BLOCK COMPETITION. By using un-vetted drivers (no DOT exams, criminal background checks, drug tests, regular driver record submissions) and unregulated vehicles (no 4000-mile mechanical inspections, no markings, no commercial insurance, no on-spot mechanic or tow service), Uber saves a lot of money. Oh, and add the fact Uber collects nor pays gross receipts taxes . . .
IS THAT MORE EFFICIENT? YES.
BUT IS IT FAIR? NO.
IN FACT IT IS DOWNRIGHT ILLEGAL.
But this blog is about Call-A-Cab, so time to get back to shameless self-promotion.
Four years ago, I struggled with how to meet peak demand, like large hotel checkouts or bar rush. I suggested Yellow Cab create a cadre’ of cab drivers who could be on-call to handle peak demand using their own vehicles. What kyboshed the plan was no underwriting for part-time commercial use of a personal vehicle.
Now, I had been using GPS attached to my Motorola Q (a cross between the Motorola Razor and a Blackberry) since 2006. So, 2012 I started researching taxi tracking by GPS and Smartphones and created the website https://taxiabq.com, Call-A-Cab. It was officially launched live August 6, 2013.
Call-A-Cab worked on the premise that Radio Dispatch worked fine during normal business, but when demand resulted in customers being put on hold the delays in service were unacceptable. With the proliferation of Smartphones, I felt customers could hang up and access the https://taxiabq.com URL and call the closest cab right off the GPS map.
This new efficiency would be a taxi picking a customer up in the time it would have taken them to wait on hold and a taxi finally dispatched! In other words, after waiting on hold seven minutes, giving pickup information to the operator, and the operator giving that information to a radio dispatcher, it could take ten minutes for a cab to finally start out on the way to the pickup. With Call-A-Cab, the customer would call the closest cab, give the pickup information in ten seconds, and the taxi would arrive in ten minutes.
Now, that sounds like Uber, doesn’t it? Well, because of direct phone contact with the taxi it is actually more efficient, and all of the taxis and taxi drivers are LEGAL! And, it launched in Albuquerque almost a year ahead of Lyft and Uber.
Now, Lyft and Uber want the government regulatory agencies to change the law to accommodate their business models. Well, I have news for them. They should have done it legally in the first place. Call-A-Cab did!