After the Trump administration’s recent decision to restrict immigration from seven largely Muslim nations, New York City taxicab drivers entered into a work stoppage at JFK airport, creating enormous demand for Uber drivers. Uber responded by eliminating their surge prices, which ultimately broke the taxicab drivers’ strike and increased Uber’s ridership and revenues at the expense of the protesters. As a result, those that supported the drivers advocated [that] Uber users delete their accounts. And tons of people did, downloading Uber’s competitor Lyft instead (which came to Asheville this past December).
As the founder of Cab Hound, an Asheville-based software business focused on helping taxicab companies and drivers adapt to the changing transportation climate, I admire the #DeleteUber movement, as I’m well aware that the wide adoption of Uber has had a negative impact on the taxicab industry, here and around the country. But downloading Lyft isn’t the fix.
Consider this: Historically, becoming a taxicab driver was a great way for many people to provide for their families. In the past, taxicab drivers made a bargain with their cities. They agreed to be strictly regulated (fingerprinting, background checks, pricing restrictions), and in return, they had a monopoly. Today, cities aren’t enforcing that monopoly. And drivers’ most profitable trips are largely skimmed off by Uber and Lyft. What was once a solid path to the middle class has been destroyed in the name of lower prices.
In other words, the #DeleteUber movement — and its Lyft “solution” — is misguided at best. It seemed for a moment to reflect the nation’s solidarity with the people impacted by the new gig economy, which undermines their livelihood. But only for a moment. …
— George Wheeler
President and founder