The public believes that TNC Services like Uber and Lyft are better services primarily because the TNC reponse times are much quicker, cars are newer and cleaner, and the drivers are more pleasent.
But, are the TNC Services actually better than the Taxi Services? Sadly, probably not. Allow me to explain . . .
The real reason the TNC’s appear to bewtter than the local Taxi Services is because our government has allowed the TNC’s to have unfair advantage over existing “car for hire” services.
- Taxi regulations impose a cap on the quantity of Taxi Cabs that are allowed to operate in most major cities.
- What this means to a City like San Francisco is the City caps the quantity of Taxi Cabns at maybe 2000 Taxis may be licensed to operate in the City. Unregulated Uber and Lyft have close to 40 thousand cars contracted to work the City. zof course Uber and Lyft are faster, they have a car on every corner.
- Another claim is that the cars of TNC drivers are newer and cleaner than Taxi Services.
- While that may have been true in the past, most Taxi Services have brought new cars in service. Taxi Services in most cities are required to use “Hybrid” or “Alternative Fuel” type cars. Uber and Lyft circumvent this requirement by using the drivers personal vehicle. If drivers were required to have such vehicles, it would seriously cause serious delay in the “on-boarding” process of TNC Drivers and would give value to the drivers which is not part of the TNC companies plans.
- Now, take a moment to ponder what has just been said. 2000 Hybrid vehicles vs. close to 40,000 vehicles with no such requirement. Why would our Government not require “Hybrid” vehicles used by the TNC’s?
- Taxi Drivers are required to take a training class to familiarize themselves with local laws and geographics. To most Taxi Services and passengers it is important that their driver have at least a basic knowledge which direction the Streets and Avenues go.
- Most people believe that a TNC driver is required to know the area in which he drives. The TNC’s are set up so that the driver does not need to know anything at all about the streets he drives. A TNC driver needs to know how to follow a GPS. When a Rider enters a TNC vehicle, including the autonomous car of the future, the TNC car maps out the path the car is supposed to follow, and that is the way the car is supposed to go. Having a driver familiar with the local is not truely part of the plan.
- Taxi Services carry insurance on each and every vehicle in their fleet. There are no gaps in coverage, no underinsured vehicles, and no question of financial responsibility being met for a Taxi.
- For numerous locations served by the TNC’s the drivers are operating with only their personal auto insurance policy. Most of the Insurance Carriers have written into the policy that the driver is not covered if carrying passengers for hire. Technically, this means the drivers insurance is no good when carrying riders for the TNC’s. But, that also is not true.
- Uber and the other TNC’s carry insurance policies that are supposed to cover the Riders while being transported by a TNC driver. So yes, the Riders are insured when being transported.
- The missing insurance coverage is not relative to the Rider. The missing coverage is relative to the Driver. The TNC Insurance Coverage does nothing to protect the driver, and if you are hit by a TNC vehicle not actively enroute to or carrying a rider, TNC coverage does not cover the accident.
- In many States the Insurance Carriers have begun offering TNC Insurance direct to the drivers which is continuous coverage at all times. The problem with having to get additional insurance is somebody has to pay for the additional insurance. With reduced driver rates, it is possible that drivers have let their personal policies laspe because they cannot afford to pay for it. As far as I know, there is no mechanism to identify insurance dropped to the TNC’s so a driver need only verify he has insurance one time per year to drive.
- Driver Identification for Taxi Services is verified by “fingerprint” background checks and each Taxi Driver has a picture Identification affixed somewhere within the car they are driving that provides the drivers identity to the passenger.
- You would think the TNC’s exceed the need in this regard, but not quite true. The TNC’s are opposed to “fingerprint” background checks, so the initial verification of the driver never occurs. The only form of identification used to verify a TNC driver is his Drivers License. I did not think the identity of the TNC Driver important until yesterday.
- TNC Riders are provided all the indentification information on their driver as part of the TNC Phone Application and such information is readily available to any rider on a per trip basis. Yesterday I hired an Uber for my significant other and the drivers name was “not provided.” Wait? “NOT PROVIDED!” WTF!
- Driver identification information is only provided to the person hailing the Uber via the App. Many times the trip is paid by one person for use by another person. So, quite often the rider does not know who their driver is. The posting of driver identification within TNC cars is not a bad idea but use of fingerprint backgrounds is a far better idea.
Were you to take a Uber, Lyft, Limousine, Airport Shuttle Driver, and a local Ambulance and send them to pick up a passenger and deliver them to a set point in the City, the Taxi Driver would likely win the race. Not because he is better than anyone else. He is just better at being a Taxi Driver than the others. TNC’s were never intended to be Taxi Services, until now. Uber and Lyft used to be Specialty Transportation Providers serving a set market. This is no longer true. Today the TNC’s are nothing more than Cab Companies getting away with working their drivers for free.