Honk! Honk! - Medallion Cab Owners
New York City is as recognized for its skyscrapers as it is for it's yellow cabs. It is quintessentially NYC. And, it is quintessentially being wiped out by Uber and Left.
As a frequent user of cab services both of the yellow and App kind, I have for years heard the discontent of all types of drivers as I'm sure other drivers have as well.
Drivers who drive the yellow cabs often complain about the fact that business is considerably slower, and that their earnings are not what it used to be since Uber came about.
Those who drive for Uber are also not happy. They stress that their is a misconception about the salary Uber drivers make. When they compare the costs behind driving either a yellow cab or for Uber they say the costs associated as an Uber driver out-weight the earnings.
Uber has a long history of looking the other way when it comes down to the satisfaction and happiness of their drivers. This has historically always centered around Uber's policy on tipping. Uber for many years made it impossible for a customer to tip their driver through the Uber app. One of the most important features why a person uses Uber is so that they do not have to deal with cash. Thus, leaving cash as the only alternative to tip an Uber driver seemed as if the company has structured its policies to guarantee customers didn't have to tip drivers. This made for many disgruntled drivers.
Uber finally implemented the change many an Uber driver dreamed of-they made it possible to tip through the Uber app. This change seems to be the only positive thing coming out of the Uber camp lately as they have been dealing with several problems as of late. Two of the major problems are a sexual harassment lawsuit involving misconduct by an Uber boss, and a lawsuit against Uber brought by The Brooklyn Center for Independence for the Disabled that claim Uber is illegally violating The New York City Human Rights Law.
Most people love the convenience of Uber, I too, have been content as their customer on many occasions. However, a market controlled mostly by a sole company, as things seem to be leading towards, means that Uber will become more powerful and those who will suffer from a lack of competition will be the customers.
Uber policies have already begun to change, and they are not for the benefit of the customer. Before an Uber driver would start the ride 5 minutes after waiting outside, now it's just 2 minutes. Then there is the use of "customer ratings" now being made visible to customers on the home screen which is irksome. We live in a complicated world, people use cabs to get from point A to point B, and what they do not need is the stress of measuring up to expectations for their Uber driver. Yet, if Uber is your main cab provider you are stuck with the platform they provide as they design and want it.
So what does all this mean for the medallion yellow cab companies that service NYC? This is your time to strike back!
Arro the app that allows people to hail cabs using GPS technology from their cell phones similarly to how Uber works, was the first step taken to fight back against Uber from the yellow cab companies. But, convenience alone is not the only thing that made Uber become a desirable option for riders. An important component that favors the Uber experience over the yellow cab experience is the luxury and comfort of a good deal of Uber cars.
Uber drivers drive their own cars. They also have cars that almost always are better than the yellow cab cars. The yellow cabs tend to be cramped, used looking, and at times comically sad. On one occasion I was in a cab that had a plastic tape funnel employed to bring AC air from the front side of the partition to the back side of the partition. Maybe, in a pre-Uber world this was permissible, but when yellow cabs are fighting for staying power, and trying to sway customers to return, this lack of attention to the quality of their cars is self-defeatingly careless. Their are times with Uber that for a comparable fare to the yellow cabs, a luxury SUV might be the one picking you up. That is the kind of competition that the yellow cabs simply cannot currently compete with.
Uber as well as China's version of Uber called Didi are currently working on self driving cabs. This next step would in my opinion give Uber the upper hand once more against NYC yellow cabs. Similarly consider take-out orders, most people I'd argue prefer to place their food order through an app than by phone to avoid having to speak with anyone. Humans sometimes do not want to interact with others, sometimes we just want to get the things we need without human interaction. Seamless satisfies this urge just as Amazon does for retail shopping.
With this in mind, yellow cab companies, and really city affiliated cabs in all cities, need to recognize that offering apps such as Arro, is not enough to compete with Uber in a few years. Instead, they will need to invest in both new cars and technology, and only then can they secure a future with customers. Cities such as NYC receive millions from the business of city cabs, so it is not simply a matter of preferring a company over another because when you ride yellow cabs part of that fare is reinvested into the city we live in. Although that fact alone should get them the preference of riders, the experience of sitting on the soft black leather seat of a luxury Uber SUV can make one quite forgetful.