Uber Could Be Here To Stay Despite Controversy

Above: Toronto wants Uber out of the city. Calgary has already banned Uber completely, and Vancouver is looking at doing the same.

You might have heard a lot lately about Uber, the ridesharing service that started in San Francisco, and is now operating in more than 200 cities worldwide. Customers can download the app, and use it to arrange a ride with a driver in their vicinity. When it started in 2009, Uber only offered full-size luxury cars for hire, but now with its UberX program, any qualified driver with a vehicle can offer rides. There is a lack of regulation when it comes to who can call themselves an Uber driver, but that has brought the cost for customers down considerably.

Unless demand for a ride is at a peak…

Uber has been known to raise their prices to “surge prices” of up to 8 times the regular rates during times where cars are in high demand, such as Saturday night, when the weather is bad, or on a special occasion, like New Year’s Eve. CEO, Travis Kalanick explains that by raising the prices, it gets more drivers out there offering their service, simply because they will be getting paid more. It is all about supply and demand.

While Uber seems like a convenient way to find a ride (if you have the money), the company has not experienced a warm welcome in Canada since arriving here in 2012. In December of that year, the City of Toronto charged Uber with 25 municipal licensing offenses, including operation of an unlicensed taxi brokerage and unlicensed limo service. Hearings are scheduled for May of 2015 in Toronto’s attempt to drive Uber out of the city. Calgary has already banned Uber completely, and Vancouver is looking at doing the same.

One of the biggest problems with Uber is that anyone with a car can become a driver. That means you really have no idea who you are requesting a ride from. Real taxi drivers have to go through a 17-day training course, including a refresher course every 4 years. But Uber says they aren’t a taxi service. They are simply an app that connects people with cars to potential passengers. No money is exchanged during the ride, because the price is charged directly to the customer’s credit card.

Another issue with Uber is the question of insurance, and the safety of both the passenger, and the driver. Uber drivers are only expected to have their own personal insurance for their vehicle, but if they got in an accident while using that vehicle as a cab, it is very possible that their claim would be denied.

Toronto mayor, John Tory said in a statement that most likely Uber isn’t going anywhere, and the city should work with the technology, rather than stubbornly oppose it. Maybe with a little more regulation, and focus on consistent pricing, app-based ridesharing will become the norm. While traditional cab drivers don’t like the competition, the development of an app-based car service was inevitable considering the prevalence of apps for just about everything these days.

Uber is a service the public likes, and by combining the regulation and consistency of traditional taxi services, with the convenience of Uber’s app, we could meet in the middle, and end up with the best of both worlds.

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