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Has Uber Forced Taxi Drivers to Step Up Their Game?

Discussion in 'Uber Drivers Forum' started by Dreamer, Jul 9, 2015.

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  1. Dreamer

    Dreamer
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    Data from more than a billion cab rides reveal that customer complaints in New York and Chicago steadily declined after Uber came to town.

    During a taxi ride late one night a few years ago, a cabbie started berating me for asking him to drive the 25 minutes from downtown D.C. to my home in Maryland. At the time, I thought to myself, At least he took me. In the past, some drivers had simply refused. And, like many other cab riders, I came to expect that his cab’s credit-card machine would be mysteriously “broken” when it came time to pay.

    All that has changed. Nowadays, with a few taps on my phone, an Uber or Lyft pulls up, takes me where I need to go, and then automatically charges my credit card and emails me a detailed receipt. While taxis used to face little competition for on-demand point-to-point transportation, today they find themselves in a cutthroat business. The number of taxi trips in New York City decreased by about 8 percent from 2012 to 2014, and one recent report found that Uber provides almost half of all paid rides in major U.S. markets.

    Any business facing new competition will do its best to keep its existing customers from straying. In regulated industries, like the taxi business, some of those efforts will involve pressuring politicians and regulators to keep competitors out of the market. In France, that opposition has turned violent and even resulted in the arrests of two Uber managers.

    But in addition to the lobbying and protests, taxis—according to the rules of the market—should be expected to respond by trying to make their service more attractive to consumers.

    In the face of new competition, the first thing an industry would likely see is a decrease in prices. In this case, however, taxi fares tend to be regulated—so prices change slowly and an individual driver has little control over them. It’s also expected that new competition will cause existing firms to increase quality. Over time, taxi companies might improve service by modernizing their fleets and introducing new technologies. And, in fact, some cities have introduced apps to hail taxis.

    But the quality of a taxi ride depends on much more than just the fare and the condition of the vehicle. As my angry D.C. cabbie demonstrated, taxi drivers have some control over the quality of the ride. This raises an important question: Are taxi drivers themselves trying to improve quality in the face of competition?

    Last fall, a writer for DNAinfo in Chicago quoted a driver who said that cabbies were “trying to behave themselves,” and noted a decrease in the number of taxi complaints. But quotes are anecdotal, and the number of complaints will fall as the number of taxi trips fall, regardless of competition. In order to determine empirically whether taxi drivers are responding to competition from the likes of Uber and Lyft, I set out to assemble a dataset that would help answer it. In a new paper based on data from New York City, Chicago, and Google search trends, I present evidence that cab drivers do seem to have started offering better service.

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  2. Harry Flashman

    Harry Flashman
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    it is amazing in my 8 years of driving for hire I have heard so many complaints about taxis, yet when I asked if they had complained to the Dept of transport or to the taxi company the answer 98% of the time was no.

    So many have said that the driver did not match his ID. But I have noticed on the other forum people offering to buy uber driver accounts. How safe is uber compared to a taxi?
     
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