In a technology-driven society it’s hard to find an industry that is not being affected by the changing digital world, and the taxi business is no exception.
Uber, a smartphone app that has now globally threatened the taxi industry, has riled up cab drivers throughout Europe, leading them to protest and turn cities into parking lots.
On Wednesday June 10, major European cities including: London, Madrid, France, and Berlin faced traffic jams and grid-locks from cab drivers attempting to have their voices heard.
Founded in San Francisco 2009, and worth almost 18 billion dollars, Uber has become a main competitor for the taxi industry. Using GPS to locate the nearest available car creates cohesive communication between users and drivers with the simple push of a button. The features on the app are simple, yet compensate for what cabs cannot do- allowing riders to actively track vehicles and virtually split the fare with friends.
This unified protest from cabbies across the EU exemplifies the challenges facing Uber as they try to continue building their global presence.
While the app is found useful by most consumers, it is a threatening presence in the eyes of cab drivers, and considered a threat to user safety. There are no regulations for Uber; therefore drivers have no verification of licensing or legitimacy, which could potentially put riders’ lives at risk.
Not only is user safety threatened but Uber’s growing presence puts jobs on the line. Cab drivers can’t compete with their strict government regulations. Uber’s ability to charge customers without having to comply with the law gives them an unfair advantage.
In retrospect this protest might not have been in the cabbies best interest. It definitely received a lot of attention, but not in the way drivers were hoping.
Jo Bertman, Uber’s UK and Ireland manager stated on the day of the protest, "Today we're seeing an 850 percent increase in sign-ups compared to last Wednesday. The results are clear: London wants Uber in a big way.”
The Bottom line is that people do not want to be inconvenienced; why avoid technology when it can make your life a little easier?
The legality issues of Uber and its continued use in cities is now left in the hands of courts across the globe.
Edited by Maurice Nagle