In London (see any other major capital city) vested interest and taxis lobby have been protesting about the introduction of Uber since 2014.
Because for some reason taxis drivers are stuck in a battle to convinced they and the traveling public need to come continuously take a dig at Uber. Of the idea that we still live in early 1900s and moving or traversing a city or going from A to B without some non horse drawn means should be impossible.
The argument against Uber is pretty simple.
Uber and other competitors, adversaries and antagonists like Lyft claim their technology just sits in the background and helps drunks to hire drivers – any one will do really – after a certain hour. If a semi inebriated customer can find his phone an work up the coordination to open the app and press the big button without injuring him or those around him, then the Uber magic happens. Transported from a certain place with copious amounts of alcohol to another place that either has more illicit offering or home to bed.
Its what a taxi used to do.
Years ago after one would need to fight on the streets for the right to driven aimlessly around an unknown city and then be dumped more or less in the same vicinity where you lived.
Now you can avoid all that and simply tap the app to get an overpriced ride from and unknown and unsavory driver.
Even so, the tech giant has long maintained that it is not, in fact, a taxi company.
The company simply provides a platform for people to ‘connect‘ with other people. The fact that those same just happen to want to move them around and one wants to get paid to move them around is simply a happy coincidence.
So by that logic an organizer of an illegal fight to the death pit-bull fight cant be held accountable if the two dog owners use his services to connect and it just so happens to have two Pit-bulls and and of willing fans ready to bet on the out outcome. Hes simply a platform. Connecting people.
So more or less Uber has the potential to sidestep local laws that regulate how taxi companies operate claiming the simply provide a platform or information service.
The European Union’s top court put an end to that Wednesday. It reckon in its infinite wisdom that Uber is a tax service that should be regulated like any other taxi operator.
“The service provided by Uber connecting individuals with nonprofessional drivers is covered by services in the field of transport,” the European Court of Justice wrote in its decision. “Member states can, therefore, regulate the conditions for providing that service.”
It also stated that Uber “exercises decisive influence over the conditions under which the drivers provide their service.” Without the app, “persons who wish to make an urban journey would not use the services provided by those drivers.”
Elite Taxi, the group that brought the case, triumphantly declared that the decision: “Today, taxi drivers have beaten Goliath.”
But its all a zero sum game.
The only real winner here is still going to be Uber and it ilk. Cars or mobility or what ever the heck we are going to call them in a few years are going to be autonomous. So whether you sit in the Taxi camp or the information platform camp the destination point is exactly the same.
So why not come up with a solution that makes everyone happy.
If Uber is not a Taxi service then its an information platform that will eventually migrate to a full autonomous technology based platform.
Eventually Uber drivers and Taxi drivers are going to be shut out of a job in a couple of years anyway. So why not ride that wave? Why could Uber & co not being to call their drivers Beta testers or QA testers just like they do in most technology sectors.
If Uber drivers are happy to give feedback, tips on improving the service and the ironing out of bugs and malfunctions then it sounds to me like they are a band of dedicated Beta testers. And the customers who ride in the connected mobility solutions? Well they can pay to ride as they do today….I guess they would just be called pre-release users and they pay for the privilege.
In the end the dice is set. The only winner is going to be the autonomous transport platform.