More Uber

Many of the pro UBER comments that appear in the media and the comment sections for newspaper websites make three arguments in favour of UBER.

First, UBER X is cheaper.  This of course is true except when you really need the service and surge pricing takes effect.  Prepare to lose all that is saved by using the illegal and unsafe UBER X in one surge pricing incident when it costs $100 or more to get home.  However, the big unsolved issue is the lack of proper insurance.  Saving three or four dollars – or even $20 – is not worth the risk that one could be injured in an uninsured accident.  Rehab takes money and in the worst case scenario lifelong assisted care takes lots of money.  This risk is not worth taking.  Finally, respect for the law is an important concept.  UBER X is illegal.  Embracing lawbreaking is not a defensible behaviour.  How would you feel if someone decided to “share” your iPhone or Bicycle.

Second, reactionary posters – using anonymous pseudonyms – quite regularly post the most horrible things online.  Attacks are made on the “Taxi Union”, various racist comments are made and suggestions are made that all taxis are dirty and decrepit.  First of all, there is no Taxi Union.  Drivers are independent contractors, most of whom are renting cars by the day.  A lucky few own their own car and plate and make a little bit more.  However, the income – pre UBER – for Taxi drivers has never been excessive.  They are amongst the worst paid in our society.  There was – and may still be – an extremely weak Taxi Association.  It is little more than a newsletter publisher for drivers.

The racist comments are despicable and not in keeping with our modern multicultural society.  Most of us in Toronto have moved on to a modern world and are not stuck in the prejudice of the past.

I ride cabs regularly.  The ones i have been in have been clean and well kept.  There are no KFC boxes on the floor or any of the other nonsense that regularly appears in posts.

Finally, and this is true, reference is made to the fact that the vast majority of City Standard Plates are owned by investors who – under various schemes – rent to the actual drivers.  Every time the City puts up Taxi fares, the plate and or car rental is increased by those investors.  This leaves the majority of the drivers scraping by on a paltry income.  I have talked to drivers – pre-UBER – who told me they worked their twelve hour shift and then had to get a top up from the bank machine to pay for their car rental when they returned the car.  The Taxi Plate oligopoly does need addressing.  It is unfair.  A license granted for a nominal amount by the City should not be a tool to reap huge profits and consign drivers to relative poverty.  However, the City is taking action on this front and a solution – though elusive – is within sight.  Further work in this area is necessary.  However, the short term answer is not complete defiance – ignoring and disrespecting the law.

 

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