Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Taxi Cabs: Compete or Get Off the Road

Yes, please.

In what Uber rightly called a "deplorable charade," the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which oversees the operations of the city's rusted-and-busted taxi cabs, impounded five UberX vehicles last weekend. 

Uber, the mobile-app fueled car service that has delivered sober transportation to some of America's most car-dependent metropolises, has been no stranger to the strong arm of ruthless taxi cab unions. But the angst in Philadelphia seems to be unique in that the PPA essentially has the right to impound its competition. 

That would be like allowing Comcast to prohibit Verizon from offering FiOS. Oh wait, that kind of happens here. I think. I'm still on a waiting list.

Anyway, in what amounts to a corporate hissy fit paramount to anything seen on Parking Wars, the PPA has opted to troll the wildly successful Uber, inciting claims ranging from speculative insurance to misconduct on behalf of Uber drivers, despite the PPA's own lack of oversight into its own cars and drivers.

Ah, distractions. Politics 101. Congrats, PPA, you've finally earned your GED. 

But why not compete? Why not end the discussion by investing in a service that hasn't changed since the invention of the automobile? 

The PPA has spent more money on propaganda and sting operations than it would cost to simply copy Uber's mobile app technology and streamline its dispatch service to match. Sure, Uber's cars are cleaner than PPA's rolling Petri dishes, but the primary reason people use Uber is because they can call a car to East Falls and know it will show up and when. 

What's even more mind boggling is the public support for the PPA's actions. Uber is providing an affordable alternative to a DUI, something the PPA should be focusing on instead of lobbying for the status quo.

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