Monday, January 11, 2016

Wonkblog explains: "Why taxi drivers are suddenly getting nicer"

Personally, I wouldn't know if taxi drivers are getting nicer or not. These days whenever I need a rideshare I call Uber and so should you. Emily Badger at Wonkblog has this very interesting take on why "taxi drivers are suddenly getting nicer" and here is an excerpt:
     Taxi drivers are hamstrung in their ability to compete with Uber. They don't control the major lever of competition, the ability to lower their fares. They aren't allowed to surge price either, which can boost the supply of cars when and where passengers need them. In many markets, they can't let riders pay by smartphone or order a car that way.
     But taxi drivers do control many aspects of the quality of a ride. And in one fascinating consequence of the rise of Uber, it looks — in passenger complaint data — as if taxi drivers under new competition may be trying harder to give you a pleasant ride.
What happened in Palm Beach County last year vis-à-vis Uber vs. the taxi companies can generally be summed up this way: the public went into revolt. The public got fed up with the terrible service and demanded change and they got it. Now Uber is here to stay and the county is a better place for it. Undoubtedly, the taxi companies tried cleaning up their act when Uber gained a foothold here but by then it was too late—they didn't understand or care there was a shift in public opinion.

The tipping point may have been when a well-known West Palm Beach resident (I won't give his name but some of you will know who I am talking about) went ballistic one day after another terrible cab ride and he let everyone know about it. He'd had enough. It seemed after that the flood gates opened and there was no going back. Plus a large number of prominent Millennials started chiming in fed up with the status quo.

Two other things: With all the money and work organizations like Discover the Palm Beaches do to attract tourists is one of the first things a tourist sees on arrival at the airport a dirty taxi good for tourism? Of course not. And lastly, I hear it's still difficult to order an Uber ride from Palm Beach County's airport but some have found a clever way around that. What they do is take a short cab ride from the airport to a location nearby and then order an Uber ride from there to their final destination.

For people who live out in Wellington, for instance, that can be a significant amount of money.