By Olivia Van Arsdale, ’17
On the surface, Uber and taxis seem to be almost equivalent services. However, in many places, Uber is not only keeping up, but getting ahead.
For example, TIME magazine reported that San Francisco dropped almost 65 percent of monthly taxi rides within two years of Uber being offered starting in 2012, with the rate dropping from approximately 1,424 to 504 rides per month.
Even in the taxi hub of the nation, New York City, taxi rides are down 10 percent- which is not as drastic as the change in the price of an NYC medallion (essentially a license to drive a taxi). They decreased from a record $1.3 million in April of 2013 to $840,000 in March of 2015 according to Business Insider, and they’re dropping still. The price of medallions is derived exclusively from demand, which means that being a NYC taxi driver is looking like less of an attractive option to potential candidates.
While Uber and taxis seem similar, the reason Uber is beating out the latter is because Uber drivers aren’t held to the same standard as taxi drivers; they are regular drivers who passed background checks, which means it’s a lot easier to become an Uber driver than a taxi operator.
In addition, Uber rates are often a lot cheaper than taxi rates, and riders are usually expected to tip taxi drivers, but this is not part of the culture for Uber.
Taxi drivers are also bound with many more legal restrictions. In San Francisco, along with having no criminal record, a potential taxi owner must complete training at a school like the Taxi Driver Institute, get fingerprinted, and take the official class and test for the company to which they apply.
There are also specific rules for conduct in their vehicles. In many places, such as San Fransisco, local governments have had to relax restrictions on taxi drivers in order to keep the industry from being obliterated entirely.