Kasim Reed picks Uber to win over taxicabs

July 1, 2014 14:39 pm

by Jason · 8 comments

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed recently told The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf that Uber’s fight against an antiquated taxicab industry isn’t going to be easy, but he’s picking the app-based hailing service to win:

I think they’re going to fight a 15 round fight, and I think that Uber’s going to win. And the taxicab industry is going to have to change and get more flexible.

But in the interim, they’re going to flat out fight it out, and mayors are going to be in the middle of it, because the taxicab industry is so old and staid and never had real competition, and now it’s being forced to innovate.

Uber has a real challenge. Uber has to maintain the level of quality that made Uber the brand it is today. And I think that at this point in the life cycle of that business, and that space, they haven’t had time to go out there and do 5 years and 7 years and 8 years to see, is your Uber experience the same. Because I had one the other day that was pretty close to a cab. So they’re going to have to fight that out. I know that I’m going to get a mean letter, Uber.

I love you.

Some House members proposed a measure targeting Uber and Lyft during the most legislative session, but the measure never went to the floor for a vote.

Mark Rountree July 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm

People blame the taxicab industry, but that’s not really fair.

Blame government– the real culprit behind bad taxis and lousy service.

The regulator is government. Governments across the country (and world) have worked with politicians, unions, crime syndicates and businesses that deal in government cronyism to crush competition and rig taxi prices.

Governments make big money in licensing, testing and regulation of taxi drivers. Drivers are normally hard working folks, often up before dawn or after dark and working this somewhat risky second or third job to make ends meet. Drivers often pay taxi corporations to just “rent” their cars for a day. Not much of the fare is left as take-home for the driver, who of course has to pay for his own gas and government-approved commercial insurance (but is prohibited from raising his fees when gas prices or consumer demand rise).

Taxi service is a heavily government-regulated, government-run industry. It doesn’t take a libertarian to do the math on why government-controlled taxi service doesn’t work well, yet Uber does.

Buzz Brockway July 1, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I’m glad you pointed this out Mark.

Mayor Reed could end the fight tomorrow by doing away with Atlanta’s restrictive regulations on taxis. The cab drivers would rejoice as would consumers. The only ones who would be upset would be the holders of medallions, who have a vested interest in keeping competition out of town.

saltycracker July 2, 2014 at 7:51 am

Agree with Mark.

Disrupters, like Uber, are what is moving the economy forward and improving matters. In this case the inefficiency is government that should serve public interests not its bureaucratic agency.

Public interests would be best served if Reed could simplify regulations to issue cost recovering permits to those passing some basic level of public safety/accountability.

It is proving easier to create parallel universes of taxis and Ubers and freelancers.

Will Durant July 1, 2014 at 4:12 pm

New York City will be the ultimate battleground. Medallions currently go for $1 million and no other US city comes close for dependency on taxis. It is a culture unto itself. Driving gypsy cabs there in the past has proven to be harmful to the drivers health on more than one occasion.

Scarlet Hawk July 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Woohoo! Love me some Uber.

Chris Huttman July 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Also kind of important to point out that the Uber model relies on technology and adoption of technology that didn’t exist until very recently. The “old” taxi model continues to coexist alongside car services like Uber in NY where there’s a lot of density/demand for both. Very unlikely to make it in places like Atlanta where a demand service makes so much more sense than just driving around trying to hail fares.

ryanhawk July 1, 2014 at 6:38 pm

And just as important to point out that the “old” taxi model relies on regulations that restrict supply and these restrictions have existed for a very long time. Uber’s emergence depends as much on antiquated regulations as on new technology.

Chris Huttman July 2, 2014 at 9:37 am

True but even if the old regulations are loosened I think you’re more likely to see new entrants go for the Uber/Uberx model than start driving around in deregulated taxi cabs.

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